I am back again with the final part of our daily schedule. Thank you again for those of you who have followed along with this mini blog series. For those of you just jumping in, you can find the first two blog posts containing the beginning portions of our daily rhythm here and here.
When I am part way into preparing dinner I bring whichever child is playing in the nook into the kitchen to help me cook. The one-on-one time is precious and I am grateful for the opportunity to continue teaching my daughters how to be helpful. Some days it takes creativity to come up with tasks to involve my helper, but there is usually something she can do. Dropping potatoes in a pot, peeling garlic, sprinkling herbs, pouring water or broth, and throwing things in the garbage or sink are just a few of the more regular jobs I assign.
The day is done. It has been long, and we now come together in the presence of a good meal to discuss it. While the plans were mapped out at breakfast, the accomplishment of them -whether glorious or horrendous – are spoken of here at dinner. The question of, “What did you do today?” sparks explorations into what we learned today, laughed about today, cried about today, were excited or scared about today. The triumphs of a three-year-old are rejoiced over with much gusto while tummies all around the feast are being filled. Today’s dinners have me looking forward excitedly to dinners of the future, when discussions will turn from Peter Rabbit to David Copperfield.
As mealtime is wrapped up, we all try to help finish up the day’s housework by clearing off the table and loading the dishwasher. Even our two-year-old twins carry their dishes and silverware to the sink and help to load what little things they can. We are seeking to form this as a habit in our children at a young age for the future blessing it will bring to the whole family. As they grow, our children will take an even larger part in cleaning up after dinner, which will ultimately give us more time together as a family in the evening.
The time leading up to bedtime finds us all together as a family. Most evenings we play and read together. On evenings when I give the children baths, Adam uses the opportunity to spend one-on-one time reading with each child. (And that is just one example of the many different ways we try to be intentional with one-on-one time with our children.) Then we get them ready for bed together, which in many ways resembles an assembly line.
The children’s bedtime routine is a simple one, but I think it’s very important. I believe children find comfort and security in having regularity even in the final moments of the day, which for our children includes a specific bedtime. When the girls have been tucked in and we’ve chatted for a few minutes about the wonderful things their dreams might consist of, we pray with them. Then we sing a song of their choosing, followed by The Doxology. After that it’s goodnights and thrown kisses all around before we leave them to their merry gallivant into dreamland.
Once the children are in bed, Adam and I have several hours to spend together every evening. As I mentioned in “The Small Hours” (from my first post), we see our time together as very precious because of the many other demands on our attention. We, therefore, choose to almost always spend our evenings together. Even if we are not doing the same thing, we try spend our time in the same room. We have chosen to daily prioritize our marriage, and closing our day together seems like a natural part of this.
Thank you for spending the time to learn more about our life and how we manage day-to-day. I would like to make a few final notes here that I think are important as a follow up to these past three posts.
First, I want to point out that Adam and I try our best to be purposeful when scheduling our day. We believe there is value in having reasons for why and how we do things. For instance, throughout the rhythm we have created we put emphasis on the strengthening of all different relationships within our family. You may have noticed that there is time for our children to themselves, time for them with siblings, time for them with one sibling or one parent, and time for them with the whole family. That was designed intentionally.
Furthermore, throughout the day there is in some ways a widening of boundaries. Our children begin in their smaller quiet time areas, move to their playroom, some time in the kitchen, outside, etc. We purposed for this particular structuring of our day to be a paradigm of the big picture: their lives. They begin as children with helpful boundaries and as they grow in maturity those boundaries are widened until they one day leave the home as responsible adults, capable of making wise decisions for themselves.
And finally, while we have found these methods to work for us, they are just that – methods. The real driving factor behind our rhythm is principals. We ask ourselves what principals we are trying to follow and then find the methods that best meet our needs. If something in our schedule sounds like a good idea for meeting a need in your home, by all means use it. But please only use what is helpful to your family. We all have our own rhythm.