I have long told myself that there's no way I can have a consistent schedule while caring for a baby, because babies are so unpredictable! Diaper explosions, bouts of fussiness, and moments of small crisis can erupt out of nowhere. When you add in random events that interrupt a "normal" week at home-pediatrician appointments, parties, coffee with friends, meetings-the whole business of mothering a small child just seems anything but compatible with normal schedules.
For the first few weeks of life with Peter, things were unpredictable, and I think it is good that I focused taking care of the baby and myself without trying to adhere to any particular schedule. However, as the weeks flew by, I noticed that Peter and I started hitting a bit of a rhythm in our daily lives. I wanted to get back into writing and blogging, and I knew that a schedule would help add some order and structure to the randomness of the day. Even so, I held back from a "schedule," because babies and schedules aren't compatible, right? Around this time, Bonnie wrote about how her summer schedule allows for flexibility and spontaneity while still keeping the day ordered. And as I thought about it more, I began to see that my reluctance to make a "schedule" stemmed more from my unwillingness to hold myself accountable than from my baby's unpredictability.
Enter the hobbit-monk lifestyle.
I love hobbits. They are delightful, homey, wear bright colors, and go around barefoot in "a well ordered and well-farmed countryside." They are peaceful folk, who are content to just be. They seem to live their lives in a joyful, peaceful rhythm of work and mealtimes.
"Their faces were as a rule good-natured rather than beautiful, broad, bright-eyed, red-cheeked, with mouths apt to laughter, and to eating and drinking. And laugh they did, and eat, and drink, often and heartily, being fond of simple jests at all times, of of six meals a day (when they could get them)." ~The Fellowship of the Ring, J. R. R. TolkienIf hobbits were members of a Catholic religious order, there is no doubt in my mind that they would be Benedictine monks.
Even if that means raiding the stores of food in a flooded Isengard.
|Monks at Clear Creek Monastery, in Oklahoma.|
"Idleness is the enemy of the soul; and therefore the brethren ought to be employed in manual labor at certain times, at others, in devout reading." ~Rule of St. Benedict, Chapter 48Like hobbits, Benedictines practice tremendous hospitality. They perform manual labor each day. They live in community. They also take a vow of stability, where they commit to live the rest of their lives in their particular monasteries-this makes me think of how committed so many hobbits are to their homes and families.
|Adorable picture of 2-month-old|
Peter, just because :)
One day, as I was strolling through the grocery store, I realized that, as a stay-at-home mom, I can live as a hobbit-monk. Hobbits center much of their days on food and work, and Benedictines center their days on prayer and work. Pulling all of this together, I could center my daily schedule around prayer, food, and work. And since my baby already eats like a hobbit (except he eats way more than six meals a day!), the hobbit-monk lifestyle would be a natural fit for us.
Looking at our current "daily rhythm," I noticed consistent times that I could use to create a schedule. We've been following our Hobbit-Monk Schedule for the past few weeks, and I am really enjoying it. We have order, we have peace, and it's awesome. While our schedule follows specific times, I always keep in mind a "30 Minutes Rule:" I aim to get these things accomplished at the time listed or 30 minutes before or after that time. This allows a certain flexibility with an unpredictable baby. On days when we have appointments, meetings, or if Peter sleeps in an hour (which he does, on occasion!) I tweak the schedule accordingly.
The Daily Schedule of AnneMarie & Peter,
Hobbit-Monk style7:30 a.m.-Wake up!
I'd love to get to the point where I'm able to wake up before Peter and gets things done, but I am just not there yet (but I'm okay with that, sleep is good!). After we wake up, I give Peter some breakfast, and then he typically enjoys some playtime on the floor while I eat and get dressed. At some point, Peter usually wants Second Breakfast. During this, we pray Morning Prayer from the Liturgy of the Hours.
By 9, I really like to get our day rolling. We read stories, go on a walk if it's cool enough outside, and play with toys. We usually begin the Rosary. Twice a week, I do an in-home workout.
10:30-Give Peter Elevenses!
Sometimes this does happen at 11, other times it's at 10:30ish. Regardless, I qualify his late-morning meal as elevenses. During this time, I finish the Rosary.
11:00-Peter has naptime.
Once he goes down for a nap, I take a deep breath of freedom, and then I get to work (unless I'm crazy exhausted, and then I'll take a short nap). This is when I do those chores that are harder to accomplish while wearing Peter (loading the dishwasher, cleaning the bathroom-not that I clean the bathroom often, but this is when I could clean it), check e-mails, blogs, and social media, and think about how I could be more productive, but that it's way more fun to look at memes of Michael Phelps.
12:00-Pray the Angelus!
|The Angelus, by Jean-Francois Millet. Source.|
2:00-Peter eats Luncheon.
Occasionally he wakes up at 1, but on most days, Peter blissfully sleeps until 2, when he eats and resumes playtime or chores with me.
3:00-I eat my afternoon snack and drink a cup of tea or coffee.
I'm a big fan of the French ritual gouter, which is a late-afternoon snack of crepes, bread, or some other delicious food. I've read that adults do not partake of le gouter. But...I breastfeed my baby, so I need a little afternoon snack to hold me over until dinner, since I don't really snack otherwise. Ergo, I adapt the idea of le gouter to my life and needs. Yogurt and fruit, a granola bar, chocolate-stuffed baguette (THE BEST!), or a muffin paired with a steaming glass of coffee or tea is sheer bliss. Even if I'm holding a screaming baby as I peacefully sip my Earl Grey, it's a great way to recharge! Seriously, there's something about inhaling the fragrance of tea or coffee that has such a calming, rejuvenating effect on me.
Following gouter and tea/coffee: Playtime!
If Peter's in the mood to happily play on the floor, I like to knit while he plays with the ball of yarn. We also will do more stories, I'll talk with him, or we'll stretch out on the bed to watch the ceiling fan together (he gets so entertained by this, which I think is adorable). If he's super cranky, we will walk around or he may eat a couple of afternoon snacks and snuggle.
5:00-Karaoke dance party!
Peter and I dance around the apartment while I sing at the top of my lungs and he holds onto my shoulders for dear life ;) We have quite a lengthy playlist comprised of selections from musicals and Disney films. Some of our favorites are: "If I Were a Rich Man" (Fiddler on the Roof), "I See the Light" (Tangled), and "Shall We Dance?" (The King & I). I believe that singing and dancing is a very hobbit-y thing to do, and we both enjoy it greatly. It also helps keep us both in high spirits, since the later afternoon/early evening is when Peter often starts getting tired and cranky.
|Like this, except we don't do whatever "Chicken Dance" |
variation Frodo is doing here.
My husband arrives home from work and we enjoy dinner together. After Peter eats his "first course," he will sit with us, play on the floor, or fall asleep for a nap that can range anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour or two. After dinner, we do various activities: grocery shopping, playing with Peter, feeding Peter some more "courses" of his dinner (he really likes to cluster feed in the evenings, so I just think of it as a long, multi-course dinner. Our child is very refined), playing games together, or meeting with friends.
10:00-Begin Bedtime routine
We start moving towards bedtime rituals and usually try to find a stopping point in whatever game we're playing, and begin encouraging Peter to get sleepy. He usually doesn't get sleepy very early, but I love being up late, so it works!
A full, exciting, wonderful day has gone by, and Peter goes to bed. At this point in time, Peter only wakes up once or twice in the middle of the night, but it's usually very brief and I barely even register that we're waking up. I am very much enjoying the fact that I get quite a bit of sleep each night, because I know it won't always be this way!
I know that this schedule will change and adapt as Peter continues to grow and develop, but that's the beauty of being flexible while still retaining a schedule. I think that structure and routine are both very important, and I love how it brings a sense of peace, productivity, fun and prayer into each day. I hope that you enjoyed hearing about our hobbit-monk life!