When you are trying to Find Your Rhythm

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Fall is such a wonderful time of year.  The kids are back in school, and you are able to find some way back to a good rhythm.  At least, that is how it is supposed to go.  What happens when you are still trying to find your rhythm more than halfway through September?

Easing back into a good rhythm and routine is important for everyone.  Going from the lazy days of summer to two tests and a paper the next week is probably not the most enjoyable way to start a new season, or a new school year.

For several years we have been homeschooling all year, so that our days allow a little more wiggle room to ease into our school year.

But, with fall, comes more obligations and activities, and trying to fit those into a good rhythm is challenging.

No year seems to be the same, but this year seems to be a lot different for me than it normally is.  Perhaps it is because I am doing real school with two kids instead of just one, perhaps it is because Lucy is showing me all of her crazy sides at the ripe old age of almost 3.  Perhaps it is because we haven’t had a proper vacation in too long, and my husband is home for a lot of long weekends – definitely a different way of easing into the fall rhythm.

So what is a mama to do?

I have always loved routines and schedules.  I love time management, and making sure that I can get the most done in the least amount of time – so that I am able to use free time to pursue my passions.  In college I was able to arrange my schedule to only have classes a couple times each week, giving me the rest of the week to work and study.  Most of my friends didn’t understand how it was even possible that I only had classes in a certain block of time, rather than all over the place.  It is what worked for me; I wanted my schedule to work for me.

After I had kids, I essentially threw the schedule right out the window.  No matter how many baby books I read about how every baby is on a schedule, mine refused to comply.  Instead of feeding every two hours, she would go 2 hours, then 3 hours, then 45 minutes.  Instead of being a slave to my clock, I had to move towards a more relaxed rhythm.  The stress that I felt when my baby wasn’t following the schedule immediately lessened (although it has never really gone away, it is just hidden now!).

From that point forward, rhythm was the new buzz word.

The problem with rhythm, however, is that it changes frequently, at least by season if not more often.

We started school in earnest at the beginning of August, and it hasn’t been working.

I’m not enjoying it as much as I typically do, and I think part of that is because I needed some perspective on how much we should accomplish in a day.  I was doing too much, and rearranging the schedule of the day, but not the priorities of the day.

I love this quote by Albert Einstein –

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.

Now, I didn’t think I was doing that, and perhaps you don’t either.  But, doing the same things day after day, and trying to put them in a different order to maximize your time, or to encourage your kids to complete specific tasks, it doesn’t work, something needs to change.

While I concentrated on all the subjects I thought my kids should do in a day, I was forgetting my primary purpose in homeschooling – to raise lifelong learners, kids that turn into adults who will fearlessly pursue their passions.

Obviously my kids still need to learn, so do yours.  However, I don’t need to force so much information down their throats at one sitting, and I need to learn to follow their interests more.

Homeschooling is wonderful because there is so much information available to learn, but it is also so complicated because there is so.much.information.  Deciding which subjects to study, which interests to follow, it is constantly moving – which is why your rhythm changes so often.

I recently read a book called Minimalist Homeschooling.  The premise is not about a certain type of homeschooling (I thought minimalist homeschooling = unschooling), but instead figuring out your priorities and fully engaging with those priorities. 

You cannot teach your child everything, you cannot do every activity that you want; you need to make choices based on your values.

Every season is new, every year is new, your schedule and routine and rhythm is going to change.  Accepting that it is going to change is the first step to finding your rhythm.

Don’t try to squeeze everything in.

This can be a slippery slope.  We want the best for our kids, so we try to give them all the experiences, but that ends up backfiring.  Either the child is not into the activity/subject/sport and it is like pulling teeth to get there, or you are run so ragged that you spiral into a ball of stress. 

One way to help you figure out what is important is to have a conversation with your child – an honest one.

Do they really love all the sports they are playing, or do they play them because you have always signed them up, or perhaps they enjoy going to see their friends?  Do they want to try something different?  Is your child really excelling in music, or do they hate to practice?

As homeschoolers we can often try to overcompensate with activities because even though we know deep down that our kids are not missing out we still have that fear.

It is hard to rank activities and subjects and sports, but that is exactly what you must do if you are going to find a rhythm that will work for you and your family in this season and every season going forward.

In the fall we start to slowly ease back into activities and subjects after a pretty lazy summer where we mainly work only on science and spend as much time outside as possible.  But, the weather is beautiful in New England in the fall, so we are still spending a lot of time outside doing nature walks, studying leaves, reading outside on a blanket.  It isn’t necessarily the time to be sitting down to a lot of seat work.

Once the snow comes, because it always does, and it is bitterly cold outside, we spend more time inside, plowing through books, doing a lot of seat work, and generally enjoying a bit of hibernation.

Settling into a rhythm is challenging when your day is not dictated for you.

Start with your most important items, and then fit in what you can around those most important items.  This works for homeschool, it works for public school, it works for any type of situation.  Start with what is most important, and then try to fit in what you can around those different areas.

The goal of creating a rhythm is so that you are mindful of your days.

It is easy to watch the days turn into weeks turn into months, and not quite know what happened during that time.  You can go on autopilot, and not fully experience any of it because you are constantly moving to the next thing.  If you love a full schedule, that is amazing, but make sure that you are fully in each task and activity, experiencing every bit of it.  If you struggle with a full schedule, that is OK too.

You should lean into your rhythm, and fully experience life through those choices.  Not all are fun, some are necessary and can be less than exciting, but they all give some opportunity for growth, for challenge, for change.

It is OK if your rhythm doesn’t work out on the first try – that is why I am here, right now, writing to you.  Our rhythm hasn’t been the best this fall, but last week we were able to change a few things around, and I lightened up on what we needed to do in a day.

One thing that has helped us is to go for a walk first thing in the morning. 

Townsend House

We typically spend a lot of time outside playing in the yard, but we usually do our walks in the evening when dad gets home from work.  But, last week we started our day with a walk, and that little change in our rhythm seemed to improve my kids’ attitudes, and they were more diligent in the seat work that I do have them do every day (math, reading, writing).  We also spent more time reading out loud as a family.

The school part of our days last week went from an all day event back to school being done by lunch time.  Everyone’s attitudes improved, and we were still accomplishing almost everything that I wanted to in the week.  Instead of trying to do every subject and activity every single day, we concentrated on a few things each day, and were able to accomplish more in the same amount of time.

What is one change you can make to your rhythm to make your day run better?


  1. We are ALL ABOUT schedules and routines in our house. It took us a few months after my first son was born, but we figured it out and stayed on a schedule ever since.

  2. I love the Einstein quote too! I think schedules are great, but it's important to stay flexible and try to change things up sometimes when things get out of sync, like you did when you started your day with a walk.

  3. Having a schedule or a plan is good! Keeps us organized and shows us how to practice good time management.

  4. WE had just gotten into a good routine, and then we had a hurricane which threw it all off. We are just now getting back into a routine. I know my kids and I do so much better with a good routine.

  5. We homeschool, which allows our days to be a bit more lax than they were when we were in public school. We have a great little rhythm right now, but it took us forever to figure it out.

  6. I'm no good at an hourly schedule, but I do have a daily one. I like that you call it a rhythm - that really sounds more like what I do, rather than a strict, watch the clock kid of thing. And you're right, it does change all the time!

  7. I am glad to have came across your post. I often have a hard time getting my rhythm back or in the groove of things as many say. I to figure out how to get more organized and on a schedule.

  8. I cannot live without a schedule although scheduling completely depends on the person because we have different learning curves. I think it's nice that you decided to change things and loosen up a bit, now you know what works for your family especially your kids and what doesn't. It's less stressful for everybody involved. Sometimes, things really need to be changed in order for it to work.

  9. I've always loved that quote too! I think it's great to try different things to see if they work for you and serve your life better!

  10. Every year it is a slightly different schedule and rhythm. I apparently can't seem to be content and always have to try to add something in.

  11. Having a schedule in my home is what keeps me sane and my family in order. We try to switch things up a bit but we always have to have a few things in a routine.

  12. I think flexibility is really important. We gather together in the morning and again at night to read. Those are grounding. In between, meals also help us gather and plan the parts of the day that are to come. I like to have an idea of what we will do during the day, but if my children are really into a book, project, or it's beautiful outside, we shift. I also find that re-evaluating our rhythm each season is necessary.

  13. I can never homeschool, it's one of my fortes. I really admire parents who do. And I think you're doing an amazing job with the kids. It's nice to change things from time to time especially when it's not working the way you want it.

  14. I base my whole day on priorities. What the highest priority is is based on my values. If it doesn't match my values, and it is a seemingly high priority, then I re-evaluate and figure out why this came to be. A lot of soul searching but so worth it.

  15. I feel like this is something I struggle with almost daily. Finding the right routine and the right balance is so har when you have little ones at home. I'm constantly challenged by how to fit everything in and feel like everyones needs are met, including my own. I love your advice

  16. It can be so hard to find balance, no matter the season we are in. I seem to be getting more busy and more out of balance.

  17. It really depends on my day, week or month. Sometimes I stick to a schedule, sometimes I let tasks dictate how my rhythm flows. I think the best thing to do is to find what works best for you and your family. Some people thrive on routine and schedule and some work better when they go with the flow.

  18. I admire you for all of your hard work and dedication when it comes to homeschooling. It's an awesome thing you're doing. :)

  19. I make a list of things I want to accomplish and things I want to do with the kids (neither of which are school age) and most those "to-do's" do not have a scheduled time. I do my best to finish everything and spread the love over the entire week as to not set myself up for failure on an overly ambitious day lol. You know your family and what works best for you. Once you find that rhythm,it feels like all is right in the world!

  20. I definitely have a hard time when my schedule is all out of whack. I need it to ground me...so I definitely need to try and relax a bit!

  21. Having a schedule of things to do can be quite handy so it make things less hectic. I know someone who is homeschooling her kids too and I must say it isn't an easy thing to do.

  22. I admire you so much for home schooling, it is an amazing thing you do. I can imagine it must be hard to get your rhythm back after the break but it sounds as though you are getting back on track.

  23. I agree! When you try and squeeze everything in (which I have a habit of doing) you tend to lose your focus and get overwhelmed. Finding your rhythm can be challenging sometimes x

  24. Selling our home, buying a new one, and moving this month has our routine all crazy. I can't wait to get back to a normal scheduled routine with some calm worked in!

  25. We are really big on prioritizing in our house. Coming to the realization that you can't get everything that needs to be done done in a single day is so key.


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