If I asked you what a typical day for your family looks like, what would you say? Often times when I ask parents this question most say, “There is no typical”. Family life today is more about randomness and improvisation than rhythm. Wednesday wash day? Snack and milk after school? Sunday dinner? These kind of weekly traditions rarely occur anymore. The consequence? Stress, misbehaviour, lack of family connection and overwhelm. The antidote? Creating more rhythm in your home.

Rhythm, often called routines or rituals, calms and secures children. Author Kim Payne says that our children need to feel like there is an “author behind how things are done in their family.” In other words, they need to feel like mom and dad say, “this is what we do, there is order and safety here.” The payoff is that “gentle parental authority is established” at the same time as comfort is being created. It’s truly a win-win situation.

When parents hear the word rhythm or routine a feeling of stress often arises because they do not see how creating one is possible. With so many after school schedules of multiple children how is it possible they think. Along side this parents have different work schedules that often makes creating a routine difficult.

But…what if I told you that increasing the rhythm of your home life could actually SIMPLIFY you and your children’s life? What if I told you that you could establish deeper emotional bonds with your children by creating traditions or rituals? How about the fact that your children would misbehave less and laugh and giggle more?

The fact is is that the busier you are the more you and your children need and will benefit from the establishment of a sense of rhythm to your family’s day.

How do you begin? Choose basic activities that need rhythm (usually the ones where your child struggles ie. coming to the dinner table or getting dressed). Beginning a new ritual will take a couple of weeks, one month for older kids, before they become habit and occur on autopilot, but if you are consistent you’ll experience amazing changes in your family life. These new rituals or repetitive behaviours will become natural and your child will eagerly await them.

Here are some ideas that you can start with:

Family dinners

Think about the time that most of your meals could begin. Then think about how you could create small rituals around this time.

Some things to consider:

* Can your child be a part of the process? (Setting table, lighting candles, preparing food alongside you? Serving? Cleaning up?)

* Could there be a symbolic start to the meal? (Everyone says one thing they’re grateful for, say a prayer, light a candle)

* The ritual does not need to be drastic or complicated, just decide how this time in your day could be made more rhythmic.


Think about when you want your children to go to bed every night, even on weekends. Then think about how you could create small rituals around this time.

My family’s sleep ritual goes like this:

At 7:30 pm we countdown from 10 minutes

Clean/Tidy up together

Celebrate our tidy house by either playing a song together, each using a different instrument or by doing a fun dance and song

Go upstairs to brush teeth

Put on pajamas with small plug light on only

Read one story

Say, “Good night Sweety, I love you. Have a good sleep.”

Close door

Mommy and daddy relax together for the rest of the evening

If you have a very irregular schedule of who is picking up and dropping off the children etc., a good idea is to use bedtime to “preview” the next day for your child. Children may not be in control of their day but they need to know and understand how it will play out. This will provide them with both security and comfort.

3) Create what Kim Payne calls “pressure valves,” rituals that provides us and our children with a release of emotional steam.

Think about times during the day when your children could have free play, without your attention or entertainment, or reading time, or time to eat a snack and chat with you.

Now that you have chosen one area to build in some rhythm, have a family meeting to review the new rituals for older children or, if you have little ones, just start the new ritual– they’ll recognize the pattern soon enough.

Now the only thing left to do is to enjoy these small, rhythmic rituals with your children and experience the peace that they can bring to your family.

Author's Bio: 

Erin Kurt, parenting & life coach to working mothers, and founder of ErinParenting, is also the author of Juggling Family Life and creator of The Life Balance Formula and the How to Get Your Child to Listen program.