How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives. What we do with this hour, and that one, is what we are doing. – Annie Dillard, The Writing Life
Thresholds. Doorways. Call it what you want, certain times of year signal to me: plan ahead! My Januarys look similar with tidy wish lists, the letters tall with hope. Come March, I’m crafting garden plans in my notebook, gleeful at each perennial bud. I crave new recipes in September, and often add a cold-weather skill to my repertoire.
It’s soul deep, this serial longing for renewal, for a life that breathes with the seasons. There’s a natural rhythm to our days, and I used to let it flow around me, rather than purposefully utilize it. But life with young children makes one scrutinize the details.
A few years ago I realized I didn’t need to adjust my schedule for my kids’ monthly growth. I’d been in such a state of flux – and so sleep deprived – that I hadn’t noticed. Finally! I thought, I can match our week to what we like to do together.
Excited, I began by introducing kids’ cooking night – it didn’t last, don’t worry, because I am not better than you. They were 3 and 5, and the mess was staggering. But this evolved into our baking day. I’ll admit it’s still a mess, but now we’re all older and everyone helps clean afterwards.
Our weekly rhythm calms the water around here. We know what we’re doing and the things we love top the list.
In winter, chilly weather helps us prioritize time at home, and I enjoy this rest. We do more crafting, drink hot chocolate, make Friday night pizza. I keep our weekly rhythm easy and light. A long view of our winter weeks look like this:
Sundays: Home tasks (deep cleaning + maintenance); Potluck in the evening
Mondays: Nature hike + free play with our homeschool group
Tuesdays: Morning errands + then the library
Wednesdays: Adventure day (a museum or exploring away from home); Music in the afternoon
Thursdays: Baking day (bread and pizza dough for Friday, then something sweet)
Fridays: Art mess day; Family movie night with homemade pizza
Saturdays: Family project (anything from a puzzle to landscaping)
By summer, hot chocolate magics into ice cream. Our art mess paints the yard, the garden fences a swirl of color slowly fading in the rain. Evenings expand and we wander the neighborhood after dinner. We grill tacos instead of pizza, and some of our movie nights morph into game nights on the deck.
How do I build a rhythm?
Start by thinking of a single thing you’d like to do each day, just one. It can be as easy as Sunday morning pancakes. This activity anchors your day. Begin adding your chosen activity, and the next one, on a repeating schedule through a few weeks.
After a month, reshape.
How’s it going? Is your morning less hectic? Do Wednesdays require bursts of energy? Jot a loose order of the day’s events based on what usually happens. After Tuesday’s social event, will you need recovery time or a brisk walk? Add it! Adjustments are often necessary to mold your rhythm into a useful shape.
Aligning daily life with our goals simplifies and creates space to do the things we want. The rhythm has room for progression and change, but I also look forward to recurring events, measure my days by baking and potlucking. It shapes our week, our month.
When does the rhythm change?
Whenever you need it. If we move or someone changed jobs, we’d need a total rewrite. Otherwise, make adjustments as they come up. Our weekly rhythm flows with the seasons. Potlucks turn into picnics and schedules adjust by sundowns.
Don’t forget about friendship
Prioritize bonding time by scheduling a weekly gathering. We host a potluck, but you could do a cooking club or game night. Choose a time that works for you. Invite a handful of people, or two other families. Face time with a regular group deepens friendships quickly, plus we know what’s happening every Sunday evening.
No matter the season and its pressures, I’ll guide my heart toward respite and cultivate a rhythm level with my priorities. I need it ever more. Build a rhythm around your own precious goals and feel restored, week by week.
As much as Christine Emming enjoys every day of her week, Thursday’s baking time remains her favorite.