Here’s the problem. Strict schedules are hard to follow. Daily life throws our neatly planned schedules curve balls every day. With our babies, a new sleep schedule, teething, or an appointment during a regular nap time is enough to throw the schedule off. The older our kids are, the more things to throw it off: classes, play dates, school events, sports, birthday parties. The list is endless. So how do we give our children the consistency they need while living present in the curve balls each day brings?
The answer is simple. We shift from being locked into a schedule to creating family rhythms that help our children know what to expect no matter when it happens.
When I brought my oldest home from the hospital, many of the books I’d read said to put him on a schedule. So I set the alarm on my watch to go off every three hours as a reminder to start the feeding, diapering, awake-time, sleep cycle again. The watch became my master and I its slave. I became more concerned with keeping my baby on the schedule than being in tune with his needs and the circumstances of the day. Three days into it, someone wisely took the watch off my wrist and challenged me to start paying attention to life. I found that when I paid more attention to the rhythms I was creating for my son and less to the schedule we were trying to keep, everyone was much happier.
All of us have different parenting styles. Some of us thrive on having a strict schedule. Some of us thrive on having no schedule or structure at all. Both extremes have strengths and struggles. Too much schedule and we become locked into that schedule that we miss out on the unexpected adventures of a day. Too little schedule and chaos easily pays us a visit.
I have learned that keeping a schedule is far less important than establishing a rhythm. Rhythms are the way we do life. From the consistency in the way I respond to my children when they struggle with a choice to the expectations I have of them at the dinner table to the love and affection I shower on them everyday, these rhythms create a safe environment where my children know they are loved and how life is done.
Here are some questions to ask yourself about your family rhythms:
- What family rhythms do you have?
- Why are those rhythms important to your family?
- How are those rhythms communicated to the members of your family?
- Are there areas of life that could benefit from having a specific rhythm applied to them?
If you struggle to find the balance between schedules and rhythms, I’d love to chat with you. As a PCI Certified Parent Coach, I work with parents on discovering their parenting strengths and applying those strengths to help them build family rhythms that help their family thrive. Click here to schedule a free 30 minute phone consultation.