Our Autumn Rhythm

November 17, 2017

In the summer our daily rhythm takes a slight holiday. It must be something deeply ingrained in us from our childhoods, during those seemingly endless months of summer vacation where we somehow did everything and nothing. Or maybe it's just us celebrating our freedom after months of snow followed by rain, and then suddenly sunshine! Whatever the reason, any semblance of a "typical" day somewhat falls to pieces. The absolute liberation of jacket-free (and mitt-free, and scarf-free, and boot-free) weather plus the eternal sunshine of summer invites extended outdoor play, a tendency for spontaneous adventures - and bedtimes quickly become a suggestion rather than a rule. And it feels good. It feels good to feel lighter and freer for a while.

But after two whole months of free-spiritedness and staying up with the lingering sun, we reach the end of August craving the comfort and consistency that comes with the natural slowing-down of Autumn. The shorter days, the dip in temperatures - for me it's a welcome invitation to stay close to home, to fill our apartment with warmth and comforting food, to recharge, to rediscover our rhythm, and to revisit seasonal traditions.

I've shared an older version of our rhythm before in an interview, saying that it's what grounds us, and helps us focus on what's important in our lives. We started to adapt a rhythm to our days a little over a year ago when we were introduced to the Whole Family Rhythms guides and Simplicity Parenting by Kim John Payne. I wanted to share our current rhythm intertwined with the changes and traditions that come with autumn.

Our Autumn Rhythm

6:30am | Rise and shine
Ramona and Patricio roll out of bed around this time to make breakfast together, and let me cozy up and read (or sleep) for a while. I would love to be one of those people who can wake up before the rest of the house to prepare for the day or get a little yoga in, but I'm just not there yet.

7:30 | Breakfast, Morning chores, Prepare for the day

8:30am | Outdoor Play 
In autumn we head outside first thing after breakfast for a walk - bundled up at first, and then slowly shed layers as the sun starts to wake and warm up. We bring a basket to collect nature treasures - I find it's the best time of day to collect leaves before they're dried out by the sun. On Thursdays, we always walk to the library during this time.

10:00am | Free Play and Theme of the Day
Ramona has free play time while I prepare lunch - and then we settle into an activity relating to our theme of the day, which changes throughout the year.

Monday | Kitchen
Tuesday | Paint
Wednesday | Play
Thursday | Create
Friday | Explore

You can read more about our daily themes here.

12:30pm | Lunch

1:30pm | Naptime
While Ramona rests I fill this time with activities that recharge me - reading, writing, editing photos, or some handwork (usually needle felting).

3:30pm | Free Creative or Sensory Play
The first half hour after Ramona wakes up we usually cuddle, read and have some one-on-one play time, because waking up can be hard, and she's still a little sensitive.

I start to prepare dinner. Ramona is often eager to be involved in the mixing, cutting, and tasting, but she's free to float back and forth between free play. I leave out a simple creative or a sensory activity on a small table in the kitchen for her to explore and play with if she chooses. Creative activities include beeswax crayons or pencil crayons, chalk, child-safe scissors, glue. Sensory activities include water, goop, playdough, modeling beeswax, popcorn kernels, clay.

5:30pm | Dinner
With the arrival of autumn, two things about dinnertime have changed. First, we reintroduced candlelit dinners as the days grow darker, giving a cozy atmosphere to mealtime. Second, we changed our weekly meal rhythm to include soup! The coziest of all meals! Butternut squash, potato leek, sweet potatoes and lentils!

Autumn Weekly Meal Rhythm
Sunday | Homemade Pizza
Monday | Soup + Sandwiches (sometimes chili or stew)
Tuesday | Tacos (taco bowl, nachos, burritos, enchiladas, etc.)
Wednesday | Pasta and salad
Thursday | Free Day (anything goes)
Friday | Stir fry (Stir Fryday, haha) and dumplings
Saturday | Free Day

We started a weekly meal rhythm at the beginning of this year, inspired by Simplicity Parenting by Kim Jon Payne. We've found it so incredibly helpful. Having the same type of meal on the same day of each week helps to easily plan ahead while grocery shopping, knowing which main ingredients we need, and solves the problem of trying to decide what the heck to make at the end of the day when we're feeling the most exhausted. And we don't get bored because we switch up the type the ingredients. I generally don't even make a grocery list when I go grocery shopping anymore (unless there's something specific we've run out of) - I just look at what's available or on sale and plan around it based on our meals (i.e. if zucchini is on sale, we'll have zucchini on pizza and in pasta that week).

6:00pm | Family Time
After the table and kitchen are cleaned we all settle into some family time. In the early autumn, when the weather permits, we try to go for walks before the sun goes down. In summer we were often outdoors between dinner and bedtime, which was wonderful, but I love how the shorter days help us slow down and just stay in. We bring back nightly dance parties in our living room, an occasional movie night, guitar sing-a-longs or yoga. On Monday evenings we usually grocery shop, on Wednesdays we usually run any small errands, always together.

7:00pm | Bedtime Routine
Bathtime (every other night), then we read stories together in our bed, talk about the favourite parts of our day, say family prayer. Ramona nurses briefly before she chooses one of us to sing songs, tell stories, and cuddle her until she falls asleep in her bed (as the days grow shorter, she falls asleep sooner).

8:30pm | Self-care and time with the husband
Sometimes a show or a movie together. Or time to pursue our individual interests - reading parenting books for me, painting for him.

10:30pm-ish | Bedtime

Weekends | Family Traditions
On weekends, we don't follow our usual rhythm. There is a different flow and energy with papa home, and a more relaxed weekend mentality. Breakfast drags out till mid-morning, then we slowly tackle chores and home projects together, and then either go for a special outing on Saturdays, or church on Sundays.

Weekends are the time that we create family traditions in. And I feel like this is the first Autumn that Ramona can really experience the apple picking, pumpkin carving, leaf pressing, Halloween. She has the language and comprehension skills to talk about and better understand everything that's happening, to really be involved. And that's when I think it really starts to feel like a tradition - when everyone feels equally a part of it.

Apple Picking

I love that this photo from last year in a fox bonnet is so similar to the photo from this year of Ramona in a bunny bonnet.

Family Hikes
We give up our after-dinner family walks once daylight savings hits the first week of November (because it's dark by 4:00 pm), so often our family outing on weekends is a hike before dinner. This becomes a highlight of our weekend, being able to experience the season together.

We've always loved to dress up for Halloween together, and of course, now we include Ramona into the fun. We made it a tradition to visit Downey's Farm each year the weekend of Halloween in costume (unfortunately this year it was pouring rain the entire weekend and we were sick, so next year!).

First Max from Where the Wild Things Are, then Ash from Fantastic Mr Fox, and this year a Reindeer. This year was the first year she seemed to sort of have a grasp on Halloween (it's a pretty confusing and weird holiday), enough so that when I asked her what she wanted to dress up as a week before, she said "a deer." Not pictured is the pretty cute little tail that I made and pinned on the bum of her jumpsuit.

Pumpkin Carving
This was the first year Ramona was really into pumpkin carving, and that we actually made an effort. She helped to scoop out and carve a small pumpkin that she had painted the week before - and I'm sure next year she'll have some more input on how to carve the face.

Whew. That was a long one. Thanks for taking the time to read if you did. This season is such a beautiful time to build on traditions and create new ones, and settle into a strong home rhythm. xx

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