Recently our lives, like so many others’ lives, fell into unexpected disorder. In the blink of an eye, we were expected to set aside the basic rhythm of our daily lives—the very pulse by which we order our days. What a challenge, especially in America, where our national ethos is largely defined by the fact that we live and die by the workday and where productivity gives us a sense of fulfillment and meaning. We’re expected to adapt to the rollercoaster of emotions and uncertainty brought on by two opposing yet powerful forces: the massive onslaught of information and a looming unknown. Oh, and our kids are home from school. All day.
It’s not lost on parents that our kids are affected by all that’s going on, too. They know more than we often realize, and their emotions are piqued just as much as ours. So, what can we do—for the sake of ourselves and our kids—in this time of unprecedented disorder to find a new pulse for our days that look so different from just one week ago?
Where to start?
Consider calling a family meeting to plan a daily schedule. Involving your kids in the planning will help give them a sense of routine and control over their new, albeit temporary, reality.
First, think about the things you need to get done. Whether you are working remotely, staying at home, or hiring a babysitter, what needs to be done every day? Your work, school work, chores, meal/snack prep/clean-up, naptime, playtime, reading time, exercise?
Second, think about what this time might offer in terms of things you’ve been meaning to tackle at home. Make a list of those things together: cleaning out closets, sorting toys, sorting files, touching up paint, finishing old projects—the possibilities are endless. Mark a few of those wish-list-to-do-items that seem manageable with all parties present, but don’t set your expectations too high. Visions of perfectly aligned shirts hanging in ascending shades of color? Back away from that idea. Slowly and immediately.
Finally, consider with your family how your daily routine can be ordered around prayer and conversation with the Lord. Set times for prayer as guideposts in your daily schedule that mark the path from waking to sleeping for your family. Prayer will supply spiritual nourishment, calm, and certainty during this time, which will require patience and fortitude we can only muster with the help of God’s grace.
Choose three times for prayer with your family:
Morning: Once the kids are dressed and beds are made, have breakfast and then settle into a comfy spot for a short prayer. Perhaps a Rosary (or decade), Divine Mercy Chaplet, Morning Prayer, or Lectio Divina. The Hallow App is a great way to access daily prayers and devotions.
Noon: After lunch and clean-up, meet with your family to pray the Angelus.
Night: Before getting ready for bed, join the daily prayer of the Church with your family. The McGrath Institute has a beautiful guide with video tutorials for Lent.
You will see that these guideposts of prayer reset the pulse of your day, and allow the rest of your time to unfold around them with a new sense of grace-filled order.
Now for the fun part!
Get out a clean, crisp, white sheet of paper. Gather markers (you could even color code!) and get ready to make a glorious schedule out of the things you and your family worked together to prioritize.
Start by saying a prayer for guidance and for the Holy Spirit to accompany you while you reorder your daily routine. First, mark your prayer times. Then think about how to order the rest of your day around those times. What is most important? How can you order the things on your lists so that your day is balanced? Is there time for work? For rest? For play? Is there time for you to work together to care for your household?
When you’re done—freshly penned schedule in hand, bright and gleaming with your hard multi-colored work—post your beautiful accomplishment in a spot where your whole household can see it. Then begin your newly ordered routine, with your family rightly oriented to receive the love and peace of the Lord.
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