One of the best things I started
doing as a mom was unconsciously implementing rhythms into my day.
Rhythms are habits meant to create fluidity.
They’re things that trigger
other things or things triggered
by other things.
These do not have to be complicated!
Rhythms are some of the most-autopilot-type things we, as moms, do throughout our day. They are likely ones you’re already doing and just haven’t specifically named. These can be applied to cleaning, getting out of the house, naptime, quiet time. Any time!
For example, I have rhythms that are literally visual signals for my kids, my family, or myself. At breakfast when we wake up, I open the shades and the back door to let the light in. At naptime midday, I turn off the big overhead lights. At bedtime, my nightstand lamp goes on. These help my brain (and my kids!) to visualize and understand our day is starting, or “Hey, it’s rest time, let’s be calm.” Or, “okay time to wind down for the night.”
These things can happen; and likely do — naturally. But you can also slowly set them in place to serve you and your daily flow of living. Whether you are a stay-at-home, work-at-home, or work-out-of-the-home mom or dad, you are busy and you need these!
While the ones I use might look different than the ones you do, here are just some that have been particularly helpful to me in this season of young kids.
In the morning while I let the dog out, I click on the coffee maker to brew. My daughter starts her morning preschool work at the dining room table, which I have set out the night before, and I put my toddler in his chair for breakfast. While they are sitting and contained, I put away the dishes set out to dry the night before and empty the dishwasher.
To help me with my rhythm I look for triggers to go to that next step. Dog outside = press the coffee maker, kids contained = put away dishes without my one-year-old opening all the cabinets or grabbing at the glass plates.
These are the crucial first moments of our day, and while things don’t always run smoothly and perfectly, I can depend on them to get me started. Simplicity wins. And it also helps us function. So do rhythms that involve coffee because… priorities, right!?
Nap Time Rhythms
Every nap time, I put my youngest down and immediately throw in a load of laundry, make a cup of coffee, then sit at my computer to work. When my son wakes up from his afternoon nap, I grab pajamas for both kids to wear to bed while I am already upstairs and then set them in the bathroom on the counter. You may think getting pajamas to wear five hours later sounds insane, but hear me out.
It seems almost silly or trivial, but when they’re in the bath downstairs at 6:30 p.m. and their pajamas are upstairs in their dressers, no one’s leaving kids unattended to grab them. Signals and rhythms, once again, saving the evening chaos from more chaos!
I also do a speedy ten-minute pickup of the main areas during nap time to “reset” the day. This is quite literally a visual signal for reset, much like opening the blinds at the start of the day.
My major nap time triggers are: come down the stairs and pass the laundry room = start the washer, turn his sound machine off = grab pajamas.
Sounds simple enough, right?
Every night I load the dishwasher after dinner. I also preset the coffee maker to run smoothly in the morning. Big lights in the main areas go off, lamps go on. Dishes get washed and set out on the mat to dry to be put away in the morning. When I shower at night, I set out my pajamas and also set out my clothes for the next day on my dresser.
My triggers here are: turning on the shower = get PJs as well as clothes for the next day, kids ready for bed = big lights off, coffee maker prepped, load dishwasher.
For cleaning-specific rhythms, I do at least one load of laundry a day. I change the sheets generally on Sundays, but definitely on the weekend. I don’t have a specific schedule I follow for cleaning, but try to weave in these signals throughout my days and week.
I have tried a schedule like “Monday – vacuum, Tuesday – wash all the laundry, Wednesday – deep clean the kitchen” and it doesn’t work for our changing life and daily routine. If this works for you, great!
Smaller and more subtle triggers feel less overwhelming to me. The biggest difference I’ve found in leaning into rhythms and triggers is that they are habit-forming guides and they just tend to stick longer. I’ve found that strict and detailed daily cleaning schedules feel almost defeating to me because our days look different from week to week. If I don’t follow the “Monday Schedule” exactly, I feel too defeated to attempt Tuesdays, and then I’m thrown off for the whole week. A lot of the time, in changing seasons, rigid schedules don’t last.
If I know I’m going to bed every night or that I pick up the kitchen after the kids are asleep, I can instill things into our routine based on those things. Not just because it happens to be Thursday night.
These routines and habits serve me and my household. They may not look like yours and that’s okay (you may enjoy creating systems instead!). Take some time after reading this to think about your day and what you already do. Maybe write down some rhythms you notice you do already. Or take note for a whole day and jot down some of the things you need to get done.
Can you give your kids or yourself a way to remember how to do them, a way to connect them to something else? Identify the signals that trigger them and evaluate how you can do them more efficiently or even at all. See the routines serving you in your house already, what needs to be altered, and what can be tossed aside in the season of life you are in. These habits and rhythms are not to make you and your household run like robots! They are simply tools, which later turn into unconscious habits.
When we spend so much time at home, it is important to create a sense of fluidity and flow within our days. Habits triggered by signals or other routines are the easiest ways I’ve found to adopt this mentality. Your house will be running smoothly in no time! Well…as smooth as it can with kids running around, let’s be real.
Kailyn is a wife and mama to two wild, blond babes, currently living where the military sends them. With an Early Childhood Education and Psychology degree, she is a Kindergarten teacher-turned-mama turned-freelance writer.