Over fifteen years ago, when Michael was preschool-aged, we participated with two other moms in an at-home preschool co-op. We used the Joy School curriculum written by RIchard and Linda Eyre. (Yes, I know they're Mormon--we just used the curriculum, we didn't convert.) Part of the curriculum was the inclusion of darling little songs to help teach the lessons and all the lessons were virtue based.
In one lesson, we introduced family rules. And the song went "Peace, pegs, asking, order, obedience! These are our family rules." I can still sing that song today and I often do.
I want to zero in on "pegs" today. Pegs are set times of the day around which other activities were organized. For the Eyres, there was a real pegboard and when the duties ascribed to a certain peg were finished, the child put the peg in the board. For us, those pegs are "food times." And in my house, children expect to be fed at the same time every day. So, even though I really don't keep a strict schedule of the time between the pegs, the pegs happen at the same time every day. With each peg, there is prayer. This provides order in our days. And all the rest takes on a certain cadence.
My alarm is set to play a rosary CD. I try to stay in bed and nurse for a decade or two. IThen, do a quick read through of message boards and Bloglines, while still nursing. I get the baby dressed and then, I wake Mary Beth to hold the baby while I spend twenty minutes exercising and then take a shower.
First peg: A morning offering is prayed before breakfast. Breakfast is at 8 o'clock. I bring my husband breakfast in bed and we have some time to talk. The children have certain chores and duties which are "after breakfast" jobs. Those are completed and then we move to the schoolroom. A decade of the rosary can set the tone. I keep an eye on the clock and make sure to get everyone outside for a stretch and fresh air before the next peg: Lunch.
Lunch is always at noon, with the Angelus. After lunch, we have another chore each and we settle into an after-lunch routine. It looks different depending on the child. Little ones get downtime with a Signing Time video. Primary age boys go back outside for a bit. Bigger kids go back upstairs. I go to my room with the baby to nurse her to sleep and pray the rosary. After the video, the little boys come back in and we are all in the room again for whatever unit we're studying together. When it's warmer, this will be outdoor time for everyone. Then, it's on to the next peg: tea time.
Tea time is more food, a drink, praying the collect and whatever novena is our current plea, and a book (chosen usually from the Five in a Row crate). Sometimes, the tea and the book are keyed to the liturgical year. I read; they eat; and then we do a major clean up. Hopefully, the house is in order before my children are launched in a dozen directions to various activities.
The evening is all about baths and stories and settling in. After stories, everyone (but the biggest boys) settles into bed and I hear bedtime prayers. The girls listen to a rosary CD as they fall asleep and the sweetness of those roses waft throughout the upstairs. I fold mountains of laundry. I nurse the baby one last time and I fall asleep praying.
In the jingle, "pegs" is bound by peace, asking, and order. "Asking " is simply never doing anything outside the routine or going anywhere without asking first. Peace and order are built on pegs and asking. I find that when the pegs are in place, there is peace and order, at least relatively so. There are nine children in this house most days. They need to know what to expect next. Surely, every day, something will come up. Something will be different. But the default is orderly; the expectation is for peace. And prayer is the peg we upon which we hang it.