After listening to the undercurrents in your family you might find there some overall problems with attitudes, fighting, helping out, or tiredness, but chances are you can also identify certain times of day or transitions that cause mayhem in your day to day. For me, as an introvert and Highly Sensitive Person those times usually center around trying to find quiet moments to think, zone out, read, write, or simply not have to respond. As a homeschooling mom of 3 with a work from home husband this can get a little dicey. I keep having to change my strategies about how to approach my need for quiet, while still making space for the variety of needs of everyone else in my house.
For you the sticking point might be centered around naps, going places, fitting in exercise, making time for activities you love, or just moments when people get a little too tired or hungry without you noticing. Each personality, expectation, or need adds a new dimension to making our daily lives work. There are a lot of things we can choose to opt out of, but some things (like personality) can only be adjusted to. It’s tempting to graph out every hour of every day with what each person will do at what time and expect it to just work. But life in a family demands a little more nuance and flexibility so I like to start with a small routine to organize or strategize just a piece of the day. Even just one small set of changes can make a big difference in how the day goes.
When the kids were smaller, I started a routine we call quiet reading time. It’s morphed over the years, but at first it was to create enough quiet in the house so the baby of the family could take a nap. Now it’s more a sanity saver for me and a calming reset for them. Even if no one sleeps we take an hour or so of individual quiet reading. They liked looking at books once they settled in to it and it allowed me a little break (more or less) from all the needs while the baby napped.
It has worked well for a really long time (in kids years), but it just doesn’t work anymore. They interrupt or ask for something or get in fights every 20 seconds or so (ok maybe every 8 minutes), you get the picture. They get bored or want to do something else. Or they need 20 million snacks or every possible curiosity solved. I know I’m going to have to rethink and shift my expectations, their activities, and maybe even the timing a little to make our afternoons feel less fraught. But I know I still want a routine in place because they help me be more flexible and intentional with our energy.
Here are some questions to help you shape a new routine for your day.
- When is it? Can you adjust?
- Who has key needs?
- Where do those needs conflict?
- Why do you want to change?
- Whose priority is it?
- How can you make it valuable for everyone?
- Can you rethink or adjust your expectations to take off the pressure?
- What can you change?
So here are my answers for my current sticking point:
- When is it? Quiet reading time. 3-5 pm. Can you adjust? We could move it an hour or two earlier
- Who has key needs? I need quiet, they need to play/read alone, but also want to play with the neighbors after they get home from school around 3:30.
- Where do the needs conflict? My need for quiet vs their need to play outside vs their need to focus on something quietly.
- Why do you want to change? So I can get an actual break and there is less conflict about what to do.
- Whose priority is it? mine
- How can you make it valuable for everyone? change how I frame it. If we want to play outside when the neighbors get home we either need to do quiet reading time earlier or just have the expectation they will have to wait until 4:30 to play outside with the neighbors.
- Can you rethink or adjust your expectations to take off the pressure? yes. I can exhale when they interrupt, and create a little more space and structure by being clear about timing and expectations.
- What can you change? I can change/plan what they are given options to do, be clear about when they can play out with the neighbors, take myself out of the room, and maybe expect less quiet and settle for calm/content. Also: audiobooks/learning app time used more strategically.
How can you adjust one routine for wholeness so it’s addessing everyone’s needs more effectively?
- only try to adjust one segment of your day at a time.
- try a routine, but if it doesn’t stick don’t worry about it. Chances are you can find another solution.
Let me know how it goes!
I’d love to have you join me on Instagram in March for a fun photo challenge! I’ll be writing about all things #wholetogetherfamily and I’d love to follow along with your thoughts and photos as well! All the info is in this graphic ->