As our life has quite abruptly and drastically shifted, along with everyone’s around the globe, I have been reflecting on our daily rhythm and working at reorganizing our schedule into a work-play-rest rhythm.
We used to really enjoy a lazy Saturday with no plans or structure. The kids would play, my husband and I would chat and sip coffee in our pyjamas, and we’d maybe go for a walk or bike ride if everyone was up for it. After a full week of school, work and other after-school activities, it felt really good to rest on a Saturday. It was part of our rhythm.
But then COVID-19 shocked us into a new reality, and suddenly every day was a Saturday for us and not so special anymore.
Once spring break was over, I knew we needed some structure to our days at home. I started developing a schedule with my kids, brainstorming what we wanted these home-school days to look like and trying out our new daily rhythm.
I wanted to be intentional with our time, yet not rigid with it. What I’ve come up with is a simple work-play-rest rhythm to our day. We start our day with reading and school work, then playtime (usually outside), and then rest, which means my toddler has a nap and the other three kids have independent quiet time in their room or outside. We loosely follow this rhythm again, with another block of school, often followed by a bike ride, then settling down in the evening and reading before going to bed.
I know many people aren’t at home with kids all day, and those who live alone, for example, are in a completely different situation than I am. But I do think this rhythm of work-play-rest can be helpful for anyone.
My kids have a Winnie-the-Pooh book called Pooh Helps Out where Pooh wants to “do nothing,” but finds it quite boring, so he asks Piglet if he wants to do nothing with him. As the story unfolds, Pooh ends up helping each of his friends in different ways, and at the end of the story Pooh says, “Whew, it feels good to rest. Doing nothing is much more fun after a busy day of helping.” I think we all know this feeling. If we are working or helping and keeping busy, then rest is all that sweeter—not boring at all!
Choosing to be intentional with our time, and making a plan for when to work, when to play and when to rest, is a great way to stay physically and emotionally healthy. Try brainstorming ideas of what you consider work, play and rest, then set goals and make a schedule. For those working full time, it might be the play and rest that’s the harder part to identify and prioritize, and with the new limits to our lives we might need to get extra creative!
While making a schedule for my kids wasn’t so difficult, prioritizing all three aspects for my own life has not been so easy. I have had to get creative with my own rest, but within my busy days I do make it a priority to fit in quiet walks at the river, prayer time in the evening and phone calls with family.
I hope you can also find a healthy work-play-rest balance!
Christina Bartel Barkman, with her four little ones and her pastor husband, seeks to live out Jesus’ creative and loving “third way” options.