By Diane Hwang
Our family has experienced a lot of change in the last six months--our daughter born, my husband started a new career as a police officer, which has required long hours at the police academy and late night study sessions, and we also moved into our own apartment after living with my parents for the last two years.
With all of the change, I found myself with zero routine except for my toddler’s nap in the middle of the day, and I was beginning to feel more drained than ever. Being home with two kids under two is no easy task without a routine, and I found myself randomly and desperately filling our time so that I could just make it to the evening when my husband would be home and the kids would be in bed, only to find myself overwhelmed by the fact that I’d just have to repeat it all again the next day.
As the chaos and unpredictable days weighed on me more and more and even began impacting my children’s mood and behavior, I cried out to God for help and was reminded of a scripture out of Matthew:
“Walk with me and work with me - watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you.” (Matthew 11:29 MSG)
In the following days, as I thought about that scripture, the word “rhythm” kept repeating in my mind. I realized that with all the changes in our family life, I had overlooked the importance of establishing a rhythm for our family during this new season. I realized that if I didn’t set a rhythm for our family, it would be unfavorably set for us and we’d be left with unpredictable days that left us exhausted, unproductive, and unfulfilled.
Upon this realization, I began the process of creating a rhythm for our family in this new season of life and prayed over how I could set a flexible framework for how we would spend our time so that our days would not only be productive, but also full of rest and play. I focused on three different areas:
1. A Daily Rhythm
Raising little ones is exhausting and I often wonder where my time goes each day as I’m pulled in multiple directions to do the dishes, color with my son, feed my daughter, grocery shop, etc. As I’ve prayed about what a good daily rhythm looks like for our family, God has been so faithful to help me create a flow for our day that includes not just tasks that need to get done, but also time for play with my children, time to recharge for myself and time to connect with my husband. And the beautiful thing about a daily rhythm is that it is simply a flow that frames our day, without dictating it.
Our daily rhythm for this season includes:
Playtime outside after breakfast
Coloring or sensory bin play while I prepare lunch
20 minutes for myself to sit down and recharge during the kids afternoon nap
Target (who doesn’t love Target?!), the grocery store or other errands after their nap
Storytime before bed
Time to connect with my husband while we eat a late dinner after the kids are in bed
2. A Weekly Rhythm
Have you ever stopped to think about your last date night with your husband and realized that weeks have passed since you last had one? I know I have. If we are not intentional about scheduling weekly activities and commitments, our weeks fill up and we’re left with zero time and energy for the things and people who matter most. This is where establishing a weekly rhythm is so helpful.
A weekly rhythm could include:
Date night with your spouse
Family Movie Night
Dates with your individual children
Ballet class or soccer practice
3. A Yearly/Seasonal Rhythm
Establishing a yearly rhythm is so fun because it involves prioritizing different activities or traditions for our families to enjoy throughout the year. Many of these traditions can be organized around the seasons and they create special memories that our children will remember when they grow up and start families of their own.
Some examples of a yearly rhythm:
Enjoying a pumpkin patch day in the Fall
Looking at Christmas lights in the Winter
Going to a tulip festival in the Spring
Taking a family vacation in the Summer
Getting away, just the two of you, for your wedding anniversary
I’ve found that there won’t be peace in someone else’s rhythm for my family, so it’s important for us to cultivate daily, weekly and/or yearly rhythms that are specific to our family and the season of life we are in. Instead of getting bogged down by the parenting world’s clashing opinions on how much or how little to implement structure, routine and activities for our families, we can instead find freedom and rest as we partner with God to establish a rhythm that fulfills the unique needs of our family. Then, just as the scripture says, as we “walk with Him, work with Him and watch how He does it,” we will align ourselves with God’s rhythm for our family and it’s in His rhythm that we will find peace and balance for our days.
Diane and her husband have been married for three years and are raising their two small children in the rainy, but beautiful city of Seattle. After years in sales, Diane is enjoying her life as a stay-at-home mom and volunteers at her local church while her husband begins his new career as a police officer. She’s a lover of coffee, fresh mountain air, quality time with family and friends, and the Pacific Northwest. Check her out on Instagram and Facebook!