Rhythms and Routines: the Flow of the Week

The following is by editor Kara Fleck.

On Monday I shared some thoughts about daily rhythm and routines and gave you an outline of our family’s rhythm.  Today I’m going to talk with you about weekly rhythm and routines and share my family’s general weekly schedule.

Just like daily routines vary from family to family, weekly routines are also very personal.  What is practical and works for one family may not apply to another.

I’ve heard from some parents that it is actually less daunting to begin incorporating rhythm and routines on a weekly basis, rather than a daily basis.  Whatever works for your family and is the best fit for YOU is the way to go, in my book.

Weekly Anchor Points

I  have found that it helps the flow of my family’s life if our weeks have anchor points, just as in our daily rhythm.

For example, I try to run all of our errands and schedule all of our appointments on the same day of the week.   Having a regular library day helps us keep overdue books to a minimum and having a set appointment day helps with overseeing the many different care providers for a family of five.  Knowing what day of the week I’m doing the grocery shopping aids in menu planning, too.

I want to share with you two key components of my family’s weekly routine. Keep in mind that we are a family of five with one parent working outside the home, one parent working from the home (and thus with the kids during the day).  Our kids are nine, four, and two and we also homeschool.

Activities as an Anchor

We have a rotating schedule of activities. This gives me the best of both worlds:  it breaks up the potential tedium of life with small children with something fun to do each day, and it allows me to go on “auto pilot” as far as my planning of each week goes.  The variety and the ease are what make this routine worthwhile to me as a parent.

When I was in elementary school, I can remember knowing what day of the week it was by what activity we had in school that day – music, art, gym, etc.  I knew that the comfort of those rhythms was something I wanted to offer my own children in our home environment.

We have had a weekly painting day at our house since my oldest was a toddler. Over the years we have added in other daily activities.

Last year, I also began include a fine motor skills day (such as lego, puzzles, using a small loom for weaving, etc.) after noticing the positive effect it has, not only for my younger children, but also for my oldest.  As Jillian’s finger strength and dexterity improves, I have found that so has her handwriting.

Our activities rhythm looks like this:

  • Monday – cooking and baking
  • Tuesday – watercolor painting
  • Wednesday – coloring
  • Thursday – fine motor skills/handwork
  • Friday – practical life (monthly: fire drill)
  • Saturday – library, running errands

These activities can (and do) happen at other times during the week, too. Coloring  happens on a daily basis around here and so does cooking, certainly.   But these are the days I am intentional and plan for.

I make sure that I have the supplies ready and that I’m prepared.   I set aside a specific block of time for the day’s activity and then I join in with the children, too.

Color as an Anchor

This is an idea that I first read about in a kindergarten curriculum book.  We’ve been following the Colors of the Day for years.  I started to incorporate color when  looking for ways to gently and easily create a rhythm with very small children. Color has certainly been easy to include into our days.

The rhythm of the colors of the day looks like this:

  • Monday – purple
  • Tuesday – red (or pink)
  • Wednesday – yellow
  • Thursday – orange
  • Friday – green

You can read more about how we use the Colors of the Day in this post on my Rockin’ Granola blog.

Now, I am certainly not naive enough to think that when I have a house full of teenagers we’ll still be observing the color of the day.  But right now my kids – especially my four and two year olds – think it is fun and it makes other aspects of my life, including the laundry, easier.

Other Weekly Rhythms

We have also had unintentional things come up that ended up becoming a steady part of our weekly rhythm.  For example, my son Max thinks the garage trucks that come down our street every Wednesday morning are the coolest vehicles there are.  So, Wednesday mornings will usually find all activities in our household coming to a stop when the kids hear the roar of the trucks turning on to our block on trash day.

Some activities might only be a part of your weekly rhythm on a seasonal basis.  For example, gardening tasks, a weekly play date at the park, or visiting the farmer’s market might take place during warm weather months.

Other Possible Routines:

  • A phone call to Grandma and Grandpa
  • Saturday morning donuts
  • Date Night for mom and dad
  • Family movie and pizza night (we call ours the “Friday Night Nest”)
  • Play dates or play groups
  • Weekend sporting events
  • Music lessons
  • Church, worship

Families might find that some variety, or even incorporating a monthly routine, is useful, too.  We try to make one of our errand days per month a field trip day where we visit a zoo or museum.  There are holidays, extended family get-togethers, and special events to consider, too.

And, just like anything else, sometime life happens and the week doesn’t go according to plan.  That is okay, too.  I just try to pick up where we are and go on from there. Being flexible is another useful tool for a parent.  Remember, this is about adding some peace and some ease to your week, not about perfection.

What Works for You?

A color a day and one activity per day have been easy layers to add in to my family’s weekly rhythm. I hope this post has given you some inspiration if you’re looking for simple ways to add rhythm to your days with young children.

I would love to hear about your family:

  • Do you have a weekly routine?
  • Did you perhaps find it easier to implement in the beginning than a daily routine?  Or more difficult?
  • How did you decide what to include your weekly routines?   What to leave out?
  • What other factors affect your routine?
  • Does your weekly routine change with the seasons?

If you’ve blogged about your weekly rhythm and routine, I’d love for you to leave a link in the comments so that others can check it out.

What works for YOU?

About Kara

Kara Fleck is the editor of Simple Kids. She is a small town mama, writer, knitter, bookworm, and hooligan. Kara lives in Indiana with her husband Christopher and their four children Jillian, Max, Lucy, and Amelia. You can find more of her writing at KElizabethFleck.com.

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  1. Such a lovely and informative post – thank you for sharing your thoughts! I wrote about the rhythms to our days in this post: http://countingcoconuts.blogspot.com/2010/06/daily-rhythm.html. It has since changed a bit now that we’ve begun homeschooling – you can read about our school routine here: http://countingcoconuts.blogspot.com/2010/10/our-school-week.html.

    Counting Coconuts´s latest post: Wheres James

    • Thanks for sharing, Mari-Ann. I love how you come together more than once during the day for songs and stories :-)

      I’m finding that I have to tweak our routines each year as the kids get a little older and our family changes. We add layers in, we take layers out.

      I agree with you that having those rhythms in place is a comforting, fairly easy, and even pretty fun way to flow through the week. :-)

      Best wishes!

  2. Jennie G says:

    I like this concept of routines, but it seems when we try to start with daily and weekly routines I feel constricted by them, like I just added a bunch to my to-do list. I guess I’m still working on it.

    • You know Jennie, I certainly think this is one of those areas where one size doesn’t fit all: for some it might bring more stress to try to implement something like this.

      If you find it is something stressing you out and NOT a helpful tool, then it sounds like it isn’t a good solution for you. Less is more :-)

      Whatever works the best for YOU is the “right” thing, for sure!

      Best wishes!
      Kara @SimpleKids´s latest post: Surviving the “Witching Hour” as a Single Parent and a Dinnertime Distractions printable- too

      • Jennie G says:

        Thanks for your reply Kara. I’ve been thinking about how well my kids respond to routines. My kids do better when they know what to expect (less resistance, more peace). I think the problem with the past routines I’ve written is I try to incorporate a bunch of new ideas or activities. With three little boys I need to remember that, for me, a simple routine is best. That I should outline the activities we already do in a routine, instead of incorporating a lot of new activities when I begin a routine. Thanks for all of your insights on Simple Kids!

  3. Yes! Routine is very important to my children both at home and at school, and clearly eases transitions throughout the day/week. Because they know what to expect.
    I know of a fancy private school which prides itself on running on a nine day routine– and the kids are handed a complicated schedule to track it. “Look we know it’s messy but it teaches them to CHECK the SCHEDULE!” As if getting kids glued to a smartphone at 12 was the secret to future success. And all this can be yours for just over $30,000 per year.
    Sad, right? Breaking the natural rhythm of the family week and for what?

  4. I love reading about your rhythm Kara! We have a similar week here, and I agree that there are a lot fewer late library books when we make one particular day our library day. The cool thing I’ve noticed about having a consistent rhythm is that we pick up patterns and routines (garbage day, or the Tuesday bells from the church down the road) and even have made friends. We see the same clerk at the library each week and he and my son have developed a fun rapport — they look forward to their weekly chat! When you end up doing things at the same time, it’s amazing what happens. My 4-year-old said to me recently, “Mama, I know when we finish morning schooltime that my tummy will start rumbling!”

  5. Jennifer says:

    We don’t have a weekly routine, simply because our daily routine is dictated by work/school/preschool attendance. I can see how it would work for a SAHM, but, for us, it’s simply another layer of complication. That said, I do like the idea of coloring day, etc. and/or a color-theme day that may be easy to incorporate into our evening routine. More likely though, I’d be more likely to announce “today is…” on the spur of the moment when I’m having a difficult day with my kids as I prepare dinner, etc. after work. :)

  6. I have three children, one in the third grade who is in public school, an afternoon Kindergartener, and a 3-year old. I would love to incorporate some of your ideas for my daughters, particularly the coloring and watercoloring. We already go to the library on Tuesdays and we are learning how to draw using the Mona Brookes Drawing with Children book on Sundays.

    I am intrigued by the picture of the really cool crayons or pastels that you have in one of your pictures. Can you let us know what they are?

  7. Shawntanet says:

    Thank you for sharing these wonderful ideas on rhythm and routines. I am a WM with 2 little girls and I feel it’s so important for them to have an “anchor” each day especially since I work. Yes, it is more work but it is worth every minute. We love having a rhythm and the predictable “activity” or excursion each day. I’m constantly tweeking it so that it feels tranquil. I find that if I get a nice 7 hours of sleep, I can do anything! :) Thank you for this, as I’ll be studying this post, and tweeking once again.
    Many Blessings.

  8. Sometimes I think that having a routine is not only good for the kids, but good for me too! It keeps me on track. If Monday is library day, and it is a rainy day, I will still get us out to the library, instead of pushing it off to another day when the sun is shining. Having the routine helps me to not fall into the “I don’t feel like it today” trap. Of course, there are times that we do have to be flexible!


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