I am facilitating a series of Parent Book Group Discussions right now with the book Tending the Flame: The art of Unitarian Universalist Parenting, and one of the points in the book is about crafting family rituals. Author Michelle Richards points to another book - The Book of New Family Traditions - to say that families should have a daily ritual of connection, a weekly ritual, and a strong tradition of honoring milestones and special holidays.
This got me to thinking about my family's traditions and rituals. We have a strong bedtime ritual, of reading a bedtime story, supervising the teeth brushing, etc., and then carrying the kids up and tucking them in. But Richards proposes that mornings are another time families should foster strong rituals of connection.
Mornings, huh? Morning tend to be stressful times of scrambling to get out the door on time, yelling at each other to hurry, and general rushing about.
Well, I can't recommend something to other families at church that I can't make work in my own family, so I had to look at my family's morning rhythm. How can I make it smoother?
I've been intentionally working on this for two weeks now. I am setting my alarm clock for a half hour earlier than before - a smooth morning is a long morning. Then I am taking a short time for myself (stretching/yoga, making coffee, tidying up whatever needs tidying), before I go and gently wake up the children. I go up and give them a "morning kiss", then let them sleep in another five minutes (mommy snooze button), then set out the breakfast on the table and get the kids down for that.
I have to get up earlier to get this done. I have to put a smile on my face and make breakfast and put energy into making the rest of the family's morning smoother. But - the payoff is that the rest of the family has been much calmer and happier. An upfront energy investment in establishing a healthy rhythm for the family is paying off with fewer snit-fits from the kids, a husband who comes home from work happier and more ready to help at home, and calmer days.
Rhythm matters. And we Can control it.