Family Rhythm Part II: Reclaiming your family rhythm after a disruption


Just when I was saying that we are settled in our Autumn Rhythm, everything was turned upside-down last week.

To start with, on Monday my daughter had her eye scratched by another child at our gym class. On Tuesday she told me that she had pains in her eye so we had to immediately find and consult an ophtalmologiste (luckily she is fine now). But our Art Day was a “Doctor Day”. Wednesday was a national holiday: we spent some time together as a family and we went to the forest . On Thursday my daughter didn’t feel well. She spent the day on the sofa with a blanket, feeling sleepy so we cancelled our plans to meet up with friends at the playground, as usual. Anyway our friends had a bike accident, they were fine but, understandingly, not in the mood for the playground anyway.

On Friday I thought we can finally get back to our rhythm and go to the museum as scheduled but my daughter wanted to reclaim everything she missed during the week so she painted in the morning and we met our friends at the playground in the afternoon.

Disruptions in the Family Rhythm

In one week we had all the scenarios that can interfere with a family rhythm. Things get in the way of a settled rhythm but this is real life. It doesn’t always work according to the plan.

Although there is nothing more natural than going with the flow of whatever comes, I have also noticed that these disruptions bring a bit of a chaos that is difficult to recover from.

This week we are still trying to get back on the track. And we had to change the day of our gym class. From this week on we will have gym on Wednesdays instead of Mondays.

My daughter didn’t like all these changes and I have noticed that they had an impact on her. The predictability of the past weeks helped her have a clear idea of what day we were and how our days would look like, more or less. Without our rhythm she felt lost and frustrated.

Disruptions in the family rhythm can take many forms: illness, bad mood, unexpected situations you need to handle, … but also holidays, vacations, celebrations and their preparations.

What can you do?

Sometimes there is nothing much you can do. You need to see that doctor, navigate the best you can a week of high fever or make the preparations for a birthday. I personally don’t think it’s bad to change your rhythm or even to have no rhythm at all. In fact, it depends very much of your personality type and your children’ personality types. Some people need structure, other function better without one

But if your child thrives with a rhythm, here are some ideas of what you can do

During the disruption:

  • If you can, keep a minimum of your usual rhythm. It can be just one little thing. For example, if reading books is part of your bedtime ritual, try to stick with it and read your child a book before going to bed. This will help your child connect with something familiar and comforting .

  • with more than one child, if rhythm is also important for the other children, try to keep some of the key activities- those who are the most meaningful for them

  • replace the planned activity by something that suits better the new circumstances but it’s still part of the same theme. For instance, Thursday is our Music Day and we usually listen to our Music Together CDs, play instruments and dance. With a poorly little girl lying down on the sofa, we couldn’t do much of a dance but instead, we played some quiet music.

  • if you use a calendar or wheal of time, keep marking the days. Explain that you won’t be doing things as usual and explain the situation but name the days in your family rhythm (“Today it should have been our Art Day but we need to go to the doctor”). It will help your child have a sense of the passage of time

  • if all this is too hard, just let it go. You can’t do more than your best. Things will settle down anyway. It’s just a phase, don’t beat yourself up.

Reclaiming your rhythm

  • After the disruption, you have two choices:

    • you either start again with everything you usually do in your Family Rhythm

    • or you can start gradually

    … depending on what works best for your family

When we travel and come back home, it usually takes me one or two days to get back on track. During this time we navigate a mixture of our Weekly and Daily Rhythm and unstructured time. We need time to put everything in it’s right place (and do tons of laundry!) but we also keep some of our rituals and some of our favorite activities.

  • If you and your children thrive when organizing your days and weeks according to a rhythm, then you might need to focus on reclaiming it as soon as you can

We are still in an “in-between phase” after our disruptive week but slowly going back to our Autumn Rhythm

I would love to hear how you are dealing with disruption in your rhythm (either here on the comments or on Instagram)