Life goes fast. Modern family life is often perceived and experienced as a mad, unrestrained and chaotic race, where our youngest child goes crisis after crisis and where our oldest child does not even respond to our thousandth repetition to brush his teeth. We're going to be late, go hop, go! We often get the impression that our only tools are repetition, threat and reward systems. What if there was an even more powerful tool, at the heart of which both adults and children feel comforted, enveloped, naturally motivated? A tool that would not only allow family members to feel connected to each other but also that would add fluidity and efficiency to our days? This hidden treasure is family rhythm. Like a heartbeat, a breath, the rhythm can bring us lightness and connection. It hides everywhere: in the diurnal-nocturnal cycle, in the cycle of the seasons, in the cycle of passing years. It hides in nature, in plants that grow and die. It hides in our households: the morning cycle, where we wake up for our day, which we recharge and then leave for our activities. It hides around meals, where we take the time to choose, prepare, cook, serve, share, celebrate, pick up. Unfortunately, family rhythm is often inaudible in modern chaos and congestion. We talk about schedule, routine, system, but very little rhythm, this rhythm which protects, which heals, which transforms. A rhythm in which we celebrate the simplest gestures, and in which each member of the family develops a sense of peace and harmony, of community. Family rhythm is all the anchors that come back day after day, year after year. This is what allows us to situate ourselves in time, as a family. This is what creates our precious memories as an adult. It’s not about setting up a quarter-hour schedule, your eyes on the clock, stress running through our veins. It is not a strict routine, set in a quarter turn without anyone looking at each other, where our adult mind is focused only on the next task to do. Rhythm, that is what guides us, allows us to move through time and space without making ourselves a slave. It makes everyday life more fluid and allows our children to follow the flow much more naturally. It makes transitions easier for the little ones, and gives us more mental space to mother when necessary. The landmarks secure the children, are not elements of surprises or destabilizing. They know what's coming. And if we nourish their intrinsic motivation early, which we pace solidly, the children will take part more and more naturally in their daily rhythm, and eventually, we will no longer really have to intervene. Even within the daily rhythmic flow, there is space and time to see, observe, know. It's fluid, it changes with the seasons, the needs of our family. And since we better observe what is happening at home when we pay attention to the rhythm, we can then act and change according to our priorities, let go of what clutters us, no longer serves us. All of a sudden you can choose. Through the rhythm of our days, I try to make my children feel safe, that they learn to trust this world in which we live. Through our rhythm, I try to accompany my children so that they become empathetic, strong and confident. Where are these rhythms hiding? All over. They are like the breaths of our days. In the morning, when the body is lifted. We breathe out for a long time while stretching. Around meals, to nourish our body and nourish our family spirit. Around rest, outdoor games and activities with friends. When the family is reunited, reconnect, all together, in the evening around the table. When we wish each other good night, in the evening. The rhythm is also found at the weekly level: supper at grandma's on Sunday evening. Family day out. School, daycare, work days. The Friday movie night or the Saturday morning ski lesson. Like weekly deep breaths. Inhale Exhale. They offer the possibility of creating small rituals surrounding our favorite moments or our most difficult moments, to breathe lightness, relationships, contact. They allow us to highlight precious moments in our daily lives. What we actually choose to create. It is our great family weaving. What do I like most about the rhythm rather than the routine? It is that it offers the perfect balance between constancy (so important for children, and parents!) And flexibility, which allows you to adjust the flow of our days according to needs, seasons, adults and small family changes. It allows you to be more flexible internally, to feel less taken, less rigid. This internal flexibility allows us to reach our goal more easily and calmly, like leaving the house in the morning. It creates space and more natural movement so that the child can do what he has to do more easily, with less repetition and hurry. It anchors the comforting and warm idea "that's how it is with us! And the children collaborate more naturally in a well-paced and less rigid context. The adventure of parenthood is filled with as many precious moments as difficult situations. Our sense or perception of who we are as a parent is often determined by how we respond to difficult situations, the “stormy” moments of parenting. In my opinion, it is very relevant and revealing to explore on the one hand how we respond to the most difficult moments, and on the other, the possibilities of rhythms, in order to find our own place, to create our culture. family. This family culture is based on our reaction to ordinary everyday situations and not on special events. It is the suspended moments, the in-between, that shape the reality of our relationships. The creation of a fluid and sustained family rhythm is a strong and powerful tool for these suspended moments to flow gently (or more gently, let's be realistic!) And that they give way to all these isolated minutes for the connection between us and our children, between siblings and between us and our spouse. A rhythm that lets you know what is coming (for us and our children) while leaving room for spontaneity, for freedom. The rhythm allows the establishment of meaningful rituals for the whole family. For example, at home in the morning, we have a well-established rhythm. My two older children are self-sufficient and things flow pretty smoothly every day, no matter what time they wake up. And through this rhythm, we take a few seconds every morning to give us a family hug, all 5 together. During this hug, we sing the phrase "We are a family", then we relax our embrace to continue our activities. This mini ritual which takes only a few seconds changes everything in our day. The children who were in crisis come out of the smiling hug, their hearts filled. We feel connected and ready for us detach, and leave for our day activities. My kids love it so much, that if someone cries or we forget to cry, they remind us and ask for it without fail. Little tricks to create a family rhythm:
- Take the time to visualize the rhythm of your weeks and your days.
- Are there things you could let go of to reduce the overwhelming, shortness of breath, pressure you feel your children are feeling?
- Are there moments that are particularly problematic in the rhythm of your days? The morning run? Chaotic meals? Lack of time to play? Are there gestures and rituals that you could create with your children to strengthen your rhythm and make the transitions more fluid?