Every decision we make throughout the day takes energy from us. A normal person has tons of tiny and usual decisions to make in a day, but a mom has tens of thousands of all kinds of decisions to make in her day. Not only do we face decisions in our own selves (Should I eat yogurt or oatmeal for breakfast? Should I respond to emails now or get my workout done first?), but we face decisions being put in front of us by our tiny humans - all. day. long.
Mom, can I have this?
Mom, can you turn on Bubble Guppies?
Mom, can I play outside?
Mom, can I get a snack?
And every one of those questions makes your wheels turn, trying to recall when was the last time he ate, how much TV she’s already watched today, if the weather is good enough for playing outside without a sweater, and on and on and on and it’s really no wonder we start the day out like Mary Poppins and end it like Cruella.
Enter: The Solution
While facing “decision fatigue” is normal and inevitable, there is something you can do to simplify your life and alleviate this sneaky form of weariness by a lot: rhythms.
Rhythms are things you do habitually, as part of your normal day to keep things running smoothly, except you don’t have to make decisions about them- they’re like automatic part of your daily checklist, even the time of day they’re accomplished is rhythmic!
I’ve found in my own life that rhythms are key to escaping survival mode in motherhood - they keep you from bottlenecking in your life, from barely scraping by, from totally losing it at the end of every day.
Here are some rhythms I’ve implemented in my life that help automate some of the key aspects of my role in my family -
Waking up early and knocking out my most pressing tasks
Rinsing dishes, wiping the counters and giving the floors a quick sweep after each meal
Going to the gym or practicing yoga in the yard every morning after breakfast
Setting snack times with alarms on my phone so the kids aren’t constantly asking me
Having these things sort of on auto-pilot spares me lots of decision-making and ensures that the most important things happen each day. By waking up early and conquering my most important tasks for the day, even if the day goes completely south, it’s okay because the toppest priorities were done at 5:00 this morning.
By rinsing dishes, wiping the counters and sweeping up every time we finish eating, I’m using about 3-5 minutes of my time, but it’s sparing me a meltdown later when the kitchen is a friggin’ disaster and I’m exhausted from a long day.
By doing some kind of exercise every morning after breakfast, everyone in my family knows that’s a daily routine for me, the space is there for me to make that happen, and I can stay healthy and feel good at the start of the day. This keeps me sane!
By setting snack times at two specific times during the day, I’m removing the need for my kids to constantly be asking me for a snack. Kids like to snack when they’re bored (don’t we all?) and it can easily agitate me to the point of yelling, which I don’t want to do. I can solve this problem and save myself a lot of agitation by just setting the precedent with snacks in our house. I recently added the part about having a certain sound that goes off in my phone so everyone knows when it’s snack time and they’re not asking me if my phone has gone off yet the entire day.
For most of our daily frustrations, there’s a rhythm we can create that will help our day run a little more smoothly, and all that adds up to a more joyful life - I think that’s a pretty good deal.
Ready to put rhythms into action in your own life? Click to download my FREE rhythms workbook.
Do Rhythms Make A Dull Life?
Now, recently we were talking about rhythms in my Facebook group and someone said, “Doesn’t having everything in rhythms create a super boring life? I think I’d die of boredom if everything was rhythmic.” This questions caught my attention because I thought the same thing up until a few months ago, and it’s the reason I avoided living this way for so long. I wish I could go back and grab my own face and yell “You’re missing out on so much by trying not to miss out!”
First of all, not “everything” is rhythmic in my home. That WOULD be boring. And incredibly weird and unrealistic. Just a few key parts of my day are set in rhythms to help me do a good job in my role as wife, mom, and CEO of my company.
There are a lot of things on my plate, and I have seen firsthand that I cannot do a good job and stay kind to my family if I don’t have a few rhythms set in place.
I had this one day where I was doing an interview for a Canadian radio show and the entire time, I was whisper-shouting at one of my kids because he kept asking for a snack while I was on air.
This might not seem like a big deal, but when a typical day in your life includes being “on air”, you’ve got to figure it out and get some basic things on auto-pilot because you can’t do it all. It has worked so well for me and I know it still would if I didn’t work from home, so I’m sharing it with you all in the hope that it will clear some of the chaos for you as well.
Secondly, rhythms actually free me up to be more spontaneous and live my life. I’m not Type A by any means, even though a lot of people look at my life and think I am, so I have to work very hard to adopt a few Type A traits in order to run my home and my life even somewhat well. What I found when I got “boring” and adopted rhythms was that they actually allowed me to randomly take the kids out for a hike after lunch if I wanted to, or stay in and watch Disney movies all day because it’s raining, or go out for lunch and linger in the aisles of Target while the kids munch on popcorn. Rhythms allow me a lot more freedom because, again, the big things are already done - they were done on auto-pilot, so I’m free to actually live my life!
If you’re struggling to get even the most basic tasks in your life done every day, and you feel like you should have it more together by now, listen mama… I so get it. Grab a handful (or three) of grace and start over today, right where you’re at.
Implementing Rhythms in Your Life
Let’s brainstorm some areas in your life where rhythms would really help you out.
Think about what you do on a typical day, in a typical week. Do you work outside the home? Inside the home? Are you a stay-at-home mom? Do you homeschool? Write out your typical day’s schedule (if there is one) and look at where you have gaps of time to get things done.
For example, if you’re a stay-at-home mom whose kids are homeschooled, but go to a class outside your home every Wednesday morning, Wednesdays are probably a lot more stressful in your home. Rhythms can help with that.
If you’re a work-outside-of-the-home mom with a kid who plays baseball every Monday and Thursday evening, rhythms can help you get things done in the mornings and get out the door with everyone fed for baseball two nights a week.
Think about what kind of rhythms would help you out. What never seems to get done that really needs to? Do you always scramble to figure out dinner on the nights when you have Bible study? Maybe part of that morning’s rhythm should be to put a meal in the Crock Pot.
See where I’m going here? You can totally do this, and I bet it will really help you out!
If you need a little help, download my Developing Rhythms packet. It will help you get started and apply this post to your own life.
Most people already have at least one or two rhythms developed. What are yours? What are the rhythms you want to add in to help you further? Share in the comments!