Does this sound like a bad late-night infomercial? I know, but it's not; it's for real. What is this "secret"? It sounds almost too simple to be as powerful as I have experienced it to be...it's rhythm.
What do I mean by rhythm? I mean a predictable, reliable order to your family's days, weeks and seasons. Having an order to the things that need to happen each day helps our children feel oriented and held in the loving arms of family life. When they know what comes first and what comes next, they are much less likely to resist or go against the flow; we all want to be a part of something joyful and lovely.
Where are some places to "apply rhythm":
- Getting out the door in the morning
- Coming back into the house after school or activities
- To anything that happens - or that you'd like to happen - on a daily or weekly basis in your home.
When we link things together in a rhythmic way (i.e. we come in the door and we take off our shoes; our shoes get put here and our coat gets hung there), they usually get done without a lot of talking and negotiating, because "that's what we do." If you have young children (7 and under) singing can be a wonderful way to increase rhythm (i.e. we sing this song as we wash our hands before eating). Older children love rhythm just as much as younger ones; it just may look a little different. One way we've added more rhythm to chores recently is to pull the recycling bin to the bottom of our back stairs on the night before garbage day; my boys take our indoor recycling bin to the porch and lob boxes, cans and containers into the open bin, basketball style. "Time for the recycling NBA!" is all I need to say for this task to get started.
Now, I'm never one to sugar coat family life, and this is where this post diverges from a late-night infomercial: I'm not going to say that rhythm will solve "all your problems!" or offer a "money-back guarantee if you are not 100% satisfied with rhythm," but I will encourage you to give a good try; it's not a miracle, but it is one of the best tools I've found.
*If you'd like to explore the power of rhythm, as well as many other ways to increase joy at home, sign up for Simplicity Parenting 101. Class starts the week of April 4th.