Get down to the rhythm

Welcome to the 5th post in our series exploring how we can create a more soulful, thriving family culture this year. So how’s it all going so far?

Last time we chatted about how to create a family purpose agreement – bit of a boring name for simply exploring what matters most to us as a family, and putting our purpose into action.

Today we’re getting down on the domestic dance floor and thinking about creating life giving family rhythms. What does that mean?

Creating a family rhythm helps us put our purpose and values into practice. Rhythms help us to keep in step with each other, so we dance dazzlingly together. Just like in Strictly, (much loved/loathed celebrity dance competition for those not in the UK)  the first thing the professional dancers do is tell the celebrity beginners what the new rhythm of the dance is each week – Waltz, Quickstep, Samba, Salsa, Jive or Charleston etc.

The rhythm determines their steps.

StrictlyAllCast

If you have ever had the misfortune of attempting to dance with someone who lacked a sense of rhythm then you will grasp the importance of it.

I went to an all girls school which used to partner with the local all boys school for joint ballroom dancing lessons in preparation for the school formal. (The anticipation of dancing with real life boys caused many ripples of excitement around our school corridors for months.) Tragically, my excitement rapidly turned to trepidation when my dance partner left my toes feeling like they had each gone nine rounds with Mike Tyson.

Enough said. Still wince at the memory.

Mark and Lisa Scandrette say this in their book ‘Belonging and Becoming’ on which this blog series is based:

‘Family rhythms are shared agreements about how a family spends its time. It’s bigger than any one member’s desires; it’s a standard tempo all surrender to and abide by. That rhythm provides the pace and dance steps to help you move through life together without crashing to the floor or stepping on each other’s toes…Rhythms are good habits we create to allow our deepest values to shape the cadence of our lives…The calendar doesn’t lie. You can say you have a certain purpose, but your schedule reveals what you really believe is important.’

Ouch. Take a moment now if you can and have a wee sneak peak with me at our calendars for the coming two months.

Does it reflect what matters most?
Is time and space created for the people who matter most?
Are there any glaring gaps?
Anything you expected or intended to be in there which hasn’t yet been designated a time slot?
Any clashes where priorities might need to be chatted through, and tradeoffs made?

Obviously not everything that matters to us features in our calendar. Daily rhythms don’t usually get written down formally. But we all know they are important to create space for.

Here are some tried and tested daily, weekly, monthly and yearly rhythms that have helped families to dance well together. Would love to hear what your family does to get into the same groove on a regular basis and the impact that is having?

Daily Rhythms

Family meals – eating together is the natural place to connect, share, tell stories, discuss problems, pray, share inspiring verses. Some have a special weekly meal such as Saturday morning pancakes on the beach, or Sunday lunch.

Twilight Time – Just before bedtime is a time when children may open up about concerns, and when you can reflect on the highs and lows of the day. Reading a devotional book together as a family can lead to special times of sharing and praying about life, and the wider world.

Get Outside – ‘Park in the Dark’, or special cycle rides, or walks/jogs/beach time together creates screen free chances to share quality time and make memories.

Household Jobs – Involving the kids in jobs might seem like a challenge (certainly is for me!) but it can actually be fun and provides time together when you also get essential stuff done. Blasting music and dancing around the kitchen while drying the dishes certainly helps make it less dull I find.

Weekly and Monthly Rhythms

Family Fun Time – Whether it’s pizza, popcorn and movie night, or hiking up a mountain together some families find it helpful to pick a time of the week to ensure this happens regularly and create expectation around it.

Faith community – Some families have a screen free or device free afternoon/evening or even whole day to rest, reflect and reconnect with their faith community and/or with each other.

Parent date time – Nurturing our romantic relationship so often gets neglected – but we know it creates intimacy which provides security for our kids. Some families swap childcare to ensure they have regular time together – are there people you could explore this option with if not doing so already?

Parent – Kid dates – Scheduling one on one time with each of your kids helps create special memories, and creates space to share things that may not come up when the whole family is together.

Parent Solo Time -All of us need time to recharge and refuel. Some of us like to go to a special place to retreat for a day or weekend, while others do it with close friends. We have found it so refreshing to give each other some ‘time off’ to go and refuel, and it usually benefits everyone in the long run!

Seasonal Rhythms

Holidays or Stay-cations – Whether its home or away, creating time to do something different together as family, is so great to bond together and to create memories.

Birthdays – Deciding how you want to celebrate – with special experiences rather than expensive gifts for example – can become a hallmark of a family which engenders a strong sense of identity and reflects what matters most to you.

Connecting With Extended Family – If family is scattered geographically, then scheduling in time to spend with them avoids long periods of time passing without managing to fit in time together. Sometimes this has to happen virtually via Skype if the distance is too great – but this connection still makes a big difference.

Community Service – Some families find creative ways to serve their local community, or raise money for a local charity through fundraising events or joint activities. Some plan a family trip overseas to serve together on a project, and in this way, model together their values of service, compassion, generosity and being a good global neighbour.

What rhythms already help us put our purpose and values into practice?
When and how during the week will we connect as parents, as a family, and as parent and child?
What are one or two rhythms we would like to try in the coming months?
What do we need to add to our schedule or take away from it to make these a reality?
What will help us remember and maintain our shared rhythms?

Would love to hear from you.
Which rhythms are rising in your household?

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