Anchors in the day provide kids with predictable structure helping them feel calmer and able to trust their needs will be met and we will keep them safe.
Last week I wrote the post, High Structure Parenting for Anxious Kids. As I wrote, I recalled another significant key to creating calm days for our family.
Anchors are solid, predictable events that hold our day in place.
These anchors may not occur at exactly the same time each day (at least not for me), but they occur in the same order and same basic time period.
When the children were young and I homeschooled, those anchors were Breakfast, Quiet Hour, and Dinner.
The kids had routines flowing around these anchors. In the morning they got up and dressed, did chores, helped with little ones, and then we paused.
Anchor #1: Breakfast
Following breakfast there was schoolwork, little ones playing, diapers, morning naps for babies, more chores, more playing, more schoolwork, morning snack, laundry, chores, schoolwork, lunch – you get the picture. Then we paused again.
Anchor #2: Quiet Hour
Our Quiet Hour routine started with Wogauyu being tucked in after having a bottle, or later a cup of milk on my lap when he was a toddler, while I sang songs. When he was a little older he joined Eby for a story. Then I read the Bible and books to my youngest girls, followed by everyone heading to their own napping spot with a stack of books. Older kids took their school work or a good book and went to their rooms. This was my time to rest, read, or write.
One hour later the house was busy again with schoolwork, playing, dinner prep, friends, chores, sports practices, and on the day went until Russ walked in the door and we sat down around the table, pausing for the final anchor of the day.
Anchor #3 Dinner
As much as possible we gathered as a family for dinner. We still had many young children home and it was relatively easy to get most of the family around the table. There were routines with prayers, candles on the table, and everyone sharing about their day.
We were also living within the realm of trauma with our little ones from “hard places” and dinner was difficult many nights. We simply did our best.
Dinner flowed into bedtime and the day came to a close.
These anchors gave our children solid places to pause each day, to know that a part of the day had come to a close, and the next part was beginning.
I also knew that I had made it through a segment of the day and whatever had happened, even if it was a disaster, it was done and a new part of the day was beginning. I had a shot at starting over, and there were plenty of days when I needed that.
Life looks a lot different now, but there are still anchors.
Anchor #1: School Prep and Breakfast
Anchor #2: After School Snack/Homework
Anchor #3: Dinner
Our children still need the predictability of anchors in their days. Three-day-weekends and school breaks are challenging for kids from “hard places”. They may be able to tolerate the lack of anchors on Saturday, and Sunday provides a few of its own, but add in a Friday or a Monday, and sometimes that’s just too much.
Making a schedule and hanging it on the refrigerator, even for our middle schoolers, provides them with anchors and routines relieving anxiety by letting them know what to expect.
What are your anchors?
They may be entirely different from mine. I love hearing how different families live – share your thoughts here or on my Thankful Moms Facebook page.
I have new designs in my Etsy Shop! Cate and I are having fun dreaming up beautiful new necklaces and cuffs. She even designed a necklace to go with the theme of the talk I gave at Created for Care, “Trust the Author”. You may notice we renamed the shop Cate Florey Studio rather than Thankful Moms. This is for paperwork/business reasons. The jewelry is still exclusive to me.
If you’re new to my blog and met me at Created for Care, I’m so glad you’re here! Wasn’t Created for Care fabulous?!