Anchors in the Day for Calmer Kids (and Mom)

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.

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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 in the comments.



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Let me introduce myself. Russ and I are the parents of twelve children by birth and adoption, and sometimes more through foster care. I'm the creator of One Thankful Mom which has been as much of a gift to me as to my readers. In 2011 I became a TBRI® Pracitioner* and have lived and breathed connected parenting ever since. I'm deeply honored to be the co-author, together with the late Dr. Karyn Purvis, of The Connected Parent; it is her final written work. I love speaking at events for adoptive and foster parents. I'm also the co-founder of The Adoption Connection, a podcast and resource site for adoptive moms. I mentor and encourage adoptive moms so you can find courage and hope in your journeys of loving your children well.


  1. amy
    February 8, 2017

    Ours are similar, settling in for school (home school), lunch & rest time, dinner. But even more than that I have grown into knowing that what works for us now, is rhythms of being. We don’t a tightly set schedule governed by the clock, but we do have rhythms. Each day has it’s chores that should be done before school. Wednesday is our in town day. School has a certain order, even if the timing is never quite consistent. This rhythms keep my kiddos, and honestly myself too, in a more peaceful place. Knowing what to expect and when keeps us all moving more, well, together. Thank you Lisa, for diligently continuing to share with us your life. If is a blessing to be able to share in your life; the only thing better would be to share a chat and a cup of coffee! =D

    1. Lisa Qualls
      February 9, 2017

      Amy, I like that – rhythms. I really don’t follow schedules based on the clock either. It leads to stress, and falling behind within minutes of the day beginning. We flow through the day following our routines, using our anchors as guides. Rhythms and routines add peace, not stress. Great way to put it. And yes to coffee! Maybe one day we’ll end up at the same retreat/conference at the same time and we’ll get to do that.


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