Looking at Beauty from unusual angles helps me see things that are right in front of my face in a different way. When we think of time, we often feel like there’s not enough of it, or we feel challenged by time. What would happen if we looked at clocks and calendars, days of the week, months of the year, and seasons differently? What if age lines, a normal part of life, were seen as trophies for a life well lived, battles we have waged, storms we have weathered, our heads bent back in laughter as we howl at the wind trying to barrel us over?
In our family, we are creatures of habit. We like to know what is coming next. We have little family rituals for each day of the week that the kids enjoy and they help us mark the time until we have a weekend again when we will be together all day long. They are little things like computer time, or mid-week game night, Sunday evening America’s Funniest Videos. They don’t cost anything, and they can be held up as the reward at the end of the day to help the kids maintain some sort of order.
We live on a farm now, and it is a new season in our lives. It is not an overnight process to turn a city girl into a country girl, but some things I’ve adjusted to quickly. Like the views, the endless skies and the blazing sunsets every single evening. I am learning a whole new appreciation for the seasons. There are wildly different chores to do during each of our seasons. In Springtime, there are baby animals to tend to. They need to be fed and watered and played with in their pens. The goats especially like to chase the kids and play soccer with them. Later, closer to summer, there will be all the plants that we have been growing from seeds to put into the ground.
What farm life is teaching me is to treasure every season for what that part of the year offers. With a garden coming in, we are seriously looking forward to some fresh tomatoes. We are nearly out of the jam we made last year from our blackberries, so we are eager to make more of that.
During the colder, early dark months, Friday Family Movie Night works really well. But as the sun is starting to come out and stay out later into the evening, it just seems wrong to close the blinds to watch a movie before bedtime. As we talked about the changing chores for this time of year, I realized that our family time rituals needed to change with the seasons also. Instead of Family Movie Night, we are instituting Family Fire Pit Fridays, where we can sit around a fire pit on the patio.
Then we decided to add Family Stories to the evening. Scott and I thought we could pull out one fun photo from either one of our childhoods, or from when the kids were really little, and tell a story about that time. As we get more practiced in having this as a thing we do each week, we envision the kids asking for stories about particular times in our lives, like, “What do you remember about your first day in First Grade?” If we put one little picture in a book along with the corresponding story, and we do this on a regular basis, we will end up with one heck of a Family Keepsake. I don’t think it has to go in any certain order. It can jump around all over the place. That’s how memories work, but the steady rhythm of every Friday night telling a family story is what makes this so rich.
Our kids absolutely love knowing what to expect in the evening. They look forward to the things we are going to do together. I would love to share that it helps them stay calmer, but that would not be true. My children are anything but calm. However, during periods when we’ve been too busy to stick to our evening rituals, they don’t manage as well. They get stressed out because we are stressed out. Ritual soothes us all. The steady rhythm of knowing that it’s Tuesday, and we know what that means provides a backdrop for our lives, an almost musical cadence. Most of our activities don’t take up the whole evening. Some of them only take a couple of moments, but we do them consistently every week, and that makes them special.
As I organize my household chores – breaking them down into the things I do on Monday helps me get something done, and then stop doing stuff and learn to relax. My chores are done! I get so much more done if I plan ahead. I am a working mom. I am a Branch Manager. Organizing the things that I need to do so that each day of the week has a focus makes me and my employees more productive. We aren’t floundering – hoping we achieve unspecified goals. We know exactly what we are hoping to accomplish any given day, and we strive toward those goals with energy and excitement. Our Daily Staff Meetings have a theme each day of the week. We know what to prepare for that meeting. We know what to look forward to discussing as a team. The same thing happens at home.
Goals are wonderful. Calendaring the activities we do on a regular basis is a common enough thread. Family photo books or scrapbooking is super trendy. This is not rocket science. Looking at these little moments on our calendar as part of the ritual that makes life beautiful because we have something to look forward to; that is something that will sustain us through endless days of lists and chores.
We can create habits and create memories by doing the same fun thing every Tuesday Night. Grown-ups do this. (I mean I remember as a Single Person doing things like this!) They have Pub Quiz Trivia every Wednesday and Salsa Dancing on Friday. Well, we are moms with families and we are every bit as exciting and saucy as a Pub Quiz, because we are building traditions into our families by using our heads, our hearts, our stopwatches and our calendars. We are organizational geniuses who make play out of cleaning the house and growing a family!
photo from here