Especially because yesterday after a weekend away from our kids Zach and I looked at each other (upon our return home and subsequent reuniting with said children) and said, "We are so lucky to have such good kids."Probably it hasn't always been this way, though select amnesia would tell me it has been this good for so long that it feels like always. Let's just say the rhythm we're currently in is really nice. So what's working?
1) Me staying-at-home. This is not to say it's necessary for a rhythm, this isn't for everyone so please don't read it like that. But for our family? It works, really, really well. All of the kids are in school from about 8-2:30 every day. I teach classes at our Y a couple days a week but for the most part I'm not working. This works for us because it enables me to get all of our "home stuff" done before the kids get home. That means laundry, cleaning, baking, grocery shopping,
2) Ages of the kids. I don't know if this is necessarily something that is currently working for us but I have to believe it's connected. The kids are at really easy ages right now. They are all old enough to clean up for themselves. The older 3 of a range of chores that they are more than capable of completing well which is not only nice for me but also nice for them to gain responsibility. They play so well together. Seriously well together. Yesterday Zach and I were a little
3) This article I LOVED today. It speaks to the way we parent so much. After homework and reconnecting with the kids, they are sent outside until dinner. Quite a few times a week I'll go out and read and watch them interact but I've found by and large they get along much better without me there. I've noticed when I'm there they recognize me as a mediator. When I'm not there they seem to work out disagreements a lot better knowing I won't be able to choose sides, etc. This isn't really a weather related thing either. For the most part my kids have been outside year 'round. There are a few exceptions but for the most part I just have them dress accordingly and then go wonder. I really attribute their strong sibling relationships to getting outside so often. Indoors can make kids feel pent up and boxed in but the outdoors the possibilities really are endless. They've come back from hikes holding hands, with arms around each other telling tales of saving bunnies from certain death, rescuing their sister from a mud puddle and the like. It.is.amazing.
4) Schedules. Schedules. Schedules. We rarely go off schedule. I tell the kids what is ahead for the week on Monday and rarely stray from that. For our kids who need schedules for their sanity, this is essential. As long as we do this, there are a lot less fights and a lot less negative energy in the house.
And perhaps most importantly...
5) a really good marriage. Again, this is not to say single mommies and/or daddies can't find a rhythm, this is only to say this works so well for us. I think you all can agree that when there is stuff going on in the marriage it automatically trickles down to the kids. It doesn't matter if you never fight in front of the kids, kids are great at reading every last strained facial expression, body language and energy in the house. True or false? Zach and I have hit the best rhythm of our marriage yet and I have no doubt that's one of the main reasons the rhythm of this house is so good right now. This is, of course, not to say we never fight because we do. But everything has changed in the last months and it has made all the difference.
Something else I want to recommend for you out there? Meditation. I do it every day, usually twice a day. I'm sure that scares a lot of you but it doesn't have to. You don't have to repeat any mantras or words or make a big deal out of it. Just try to carve out a few minutes every day to just be. I like to listen to calming music and zone out. Typically I wake up before the kids and meditate before waking them up for school. Our mornings since doing this have been 0 hassle, 0 whining (from me OR the kids. ;)) and just so.much.better. I also try to do it before I pick them up from school. I want my time with them to be good. I want their memories of me to be good. I don't want them to remember a frazzled, hurried, overzealous mama. I want them to be able to see very clearly just how thankful I am for every second I get with them. I've found when I meditate the stuff that can get in the way disappears. I am so present with them now, and that is huge for me.
There you have it. A few of the things that work for us around here. I can't wait to read more. If you are participating or just want to leave in the comments a few things that work for you I would LOVE to hear it! I gain so much from knowing and hearing from you all.