Joy For January!

I ADORE January!  There is something about the new year, fresh starts, blank calendar pages, the whole lure of cleaning and organizing,  that I just love!  And the gardening catalogs and seed catalogs start to show up!  Did I mention that?!  Another reason to linger extra long over a cup of hot tea!

I invite you to take a look at some focus areas for the month that may help your life run a bit smoother in the New Year.

How about this wonderful home cleaning plan from the Organized Home website?  I plan on following this and thought some of you may be interested as well:  http://organizedhome.com/clean-house/2010-new-year-grand-plan-cleaning-challenge

From the Waldorf end of life, I know January can be a very cold month for many of you and harder to get the children outside for long periods of time.  So, in that spirit, I propose to spruce up the play spaces.  Can you rotate some toys in or out?  Can you set up some play scenes with silks and other natural objects?  Here are some back posts to get you  started if this is new to you:  http://theparentingpassageway.com/2008/10/05/fostering-creative-play/

and here:  http://theparentingpassageway.com/2008/10/29/more-about-fostering-creative-play/

If it is really cold where you are, how can your children get their energy out and their sensory needs met?  Do you have a little trampoline, a small plastic box for tabletop sand play, a swing to hang in a corner, pillows to jump on, creative and active singing games? Will they be kneading bread, rolling out cookie  dough with a rolling pin, crawling under tables like a puppy, jumping like a toad, playing with salt dough?

For my Down Under readers who are in the height of summer, how about this back post?      http://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/07/01/celebrating-summer-with-small-children-a-waldorf-perspective/   

As far as your own work, what new practical skill are you going to learn or work on this January through May time frame?  Knitting, hand sewing, cooking, baking, weaving?  I have some plans for sewing some dolls’ clothes for Valentine’s Day.   Our Waldorf homeschooling group will be making Rose Windows in honor of Valentine’s Day, which I am excited about as I have never done that.  I also am in the mood to knit so I will continue making hats for everyone in the family.  What are doing with your hands this season to show your children work?  Even showing a child ten or fifteen minutes of work is of value!  Start with small time frames when you have wee ones about!

What artistic work are you doing?  Have you tried your hand at wet-on-wet watercolor painting, modeling or drawing?

Where are you with parenting?  This month I will be writing about children and chores, the realities of life with the one and two-year old, more about quiet time, and more, more, more!  What do you need to hear this month?  Leave me a comment and I will be happy to see if I can work it in!

Meditate over your children at night and any challenges you may be facing. Talk about these challenges with your spouse.  Grow in your intimacy as you share your parenting journey together. 

As far as inner work, “Joy for January” is a great title and a great start to the New Year!  What brings you and your family joy?  What can all of you do together, as a family, that will bring you all good memories and lots of joy?  Take that blank calendar and pencil in some dates for fun!  Ice skating, sledding, skiing, hiking, going to the seashore for my Down Under readers – all wonderful!

I think it is a myth that  in Waldorf that “we never play with our children” (um, at least it is a myth in my home!).  I sure do!  I love to play:  board games, card games, make believe with the children’s fairies and fairy house and dollhouse.  If you have a child that is under the age of 7 and they are your oldest, they will need some help with playing as they are at the height of their imitative phase.  They may not spontaneously generate ideas to  play without you to imitate, at least to start!  So brush off your creativity and see what comes up!

This month, in the light of the candlelight and firelight of your warm and snug home, tell your children some stories.  Make up some, tell them stories of when you were little and when your parents and grandparents were little.  Sing and make music.  Play some games.  Snuggle up together and read some books.  Delight in being together, and find the joy in this journey as we go through the cold winter.

Joy for January’s Journey,

Carrie

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26 thoughts on “Joy For January!

  1. Hi Carrie.
    You’ve done it again, just what I needed today.
    Wishing you and your family a happy and prosperous 2010.

    This Queen of Her Household is very grateful for your blog, this Christmas season has been so full of joy and
    peace in our household. Things certainly has changed since I discovered your blog and Steiners ideas.

    I am so glad you are going to write about the realities of life with 1 and 2 year olds. Can you include 3-year olds as well?
    I am trying to find more info on the under kindergarten age group. Especially about the way they play and I the way can encourage play. My almost 3-year old is facinated by fire trucks, how much do i explain about the workings of the truck, why the fireman dress the wy they do etc. He has 1 fire truck toy but he rather use his imagination. He sits on the couch and rides his truck imitating the sounds incredable accurately ;-)
    He is just starting to ask heaps of questions and I am so glad you have done the posts about questions and chatter. I feel more confident handling this phase.Thank you.

    And since you asked, can you write about building family relationships, the realities of living with siblings (I have a 1-year old girl and a 3-year old) boy, sharing, meeting the need of every child in the family, would you treat boys and girls differently.

    Thank you

  2. Thanks for the links. I am looking forward to following along in the year ahead. I have learned so much from this blog already and really look forward to checking it each day.

    A couple of questions I have are based on my reluctant middle child.
    My younger one LOVES outside time and is happy just to be outside and putter, my middle child who is 8 doesn’t really know what to do out there especially at this time of year. We live on the west coast so it’s usually not too cold temperature to be outside, but there isn’t snow to play in. What can I do to help inspire her play outside? We have a wonderful yard for playing in, we back on to a small forest so there are lots of wild areas to explore as well as our tramp and a climber but she just looks lost out there.

    We have made it a priority to be outside after reading Last Child in The Woods, but I have to admit that I too feel a little lost in our backyard. I am not a gardener ( although that’s one of the skills I am working on this year ) so when I am outside I am sort of at a loss for what to do as well. We’ve done lots of investigating and drawing of things in and around our yard, but nothing has really inspired the kind of play that keeps her interested in being out there for any length of time.
    I end up following my little one around and playing ball a lot. I feel like I am doing well in feeling like a Queen in my home, now I need to figure out how to extend that to the yard.

    The other question I have is about circle time. We’ve had a wonderful circle time for the last few years, but I can see that my daughter is not enjoying it as much as she was before. I think it may be because my youngest one (2.5) is old enough to remember the songs and joins in and so my 8 year old is feeling like it’s now a bit young for her, even though all the songs and verses I choose are for her and are not planned with the 2 year old in mind. I know circle time is a big component of a Waldorf Kindergarten but I am wondering how long it continues up into the grades for, especially in a homeschool setting? I am wondering if circle time evolves into something else as children get older, or does it just fizzle out as they grow up.

    Thanks so much for all of your insights and inspiration. I am so grateful to have found this space.

    Jane in BC

  3. I enjoy reading your blog. I find it is a calming influence on my parenting. I too am really looking forward to January and since you ask Where are you with parenting? a question comes to mind — my difficulty is catering to my 4 y.o. sons play needs when his 1 y.o. brother can climb anything and is very interested in doing what his brother does. I can distract the little one by playing with him, but it is hard for my older son to set up larger play scenarios (eg. a train track) — any suggestions you have would be welcome.

  4. Carrie, what a wonderful post! You have inspired me and have helped me to find center again. Your blog is so refreshing! I love the cleaning and organizing idea and will be doing it, too! Can you pass along a how-to on Rose Windows, or where we might find instructions? I’m not sure I’ve ever seen them. For January, we’ll be getting back into our routine (Daddy has been on leave for 2 weeks, and our schedule is different when he’s home all day, but he goes back to work on Monday), celebrating Twelfth Night with a little ceremony and special cake, and we’ll be having an old-fashioned taffy pull later in the month(just us this year, I think). This was inspired by the January chapter in Sarah Ban Breathnach’s Mrs. Sharp’s Traditions, a lovely little book that has something for every month, with recipes, etc. It’s not Waldorf, but I love it anyway.

    It is good to hear that playing with your child, especially a first child, is important (and ok!)…currently my 2.5 year old daughter is obsessed with taking all the cushions off the couches, and they become…a sled behind horses…an airplane…a car (we’re driving to Reno to see Grandma!)…a house…a castle…a cave…a nest…and she loves for me and my husband to join in…she’s always the driver, of course, in the locomotion scenarios! Also, the dress-up bag is frequently brought out and she loves to dance to certain Christmas music–a Celtic instrumental “Here We Go A-Wassailing” is actually “The Jumping Song” in our house, lol!

    Thank you for the gentle, loving reminders to be the light in my home, and for sparking so many ideas! I always receive inspiration and nourishment reading your blog!

    Blessings,

    Valerie

  5. What do I need to hear or learn?? I need to work on not getting frustrated with my boys. They are great boys, but they don’t listen very well. They take advantage of me and disrespect me. I struggle with trying to instill in them a work ethic, a pattern of how things run and a rhythem in the home. When they don’t listen repeatedly… Repeatedly. I start to become frustrated and then angry. I just get tired of repeating myself, re explaining why things have to be put away and I really get run down with redoing work, because it wasn’t done earlier or correctly. How do I talk to my sons so they will listen and then do? HOw can I stop screaming or taking toys away? I was raised with spanking and it worked for me, but I don’t want to resort to that style, even though it has happened in fits of despair. Not every day is like this but most days end with me frustrated and needing quiet time. They go constantly and all they want to do is play wiht everything and not put away anything, not do their chores, which pale in comparison to what I did at their age. They are 7 and 5 and I homeschool. Their dad works very long hours and we are not near family or friends really. It is just us, me and the 2 boys. They are sweet and deserve better from me I know that but how to release the frustration that builds to anger is what I need to work on.

    Advice that really works in a peaceful way. Just now, I had another moment to where my son just didn’t listen, the simplest of requests with a please and he just tuned me out. HELP! It is very hard to not resort to something that gets their attention, anger, screaming taking things away, throwing things in the trash etc.

    I know you asked for suggestions and maybe this is a bit much, but how does the parent do her job peacefully?

    • Mystikmomma, I am there exactly where you are. I have a 5yr old who I feel doesn’t listen to and doesn’t care for me. Even the simplest of instructions need to be repeated several times sometimes. Just this morning I was saying I am tired of listening to my own voice all the time. I used to spank once in a while too but it has become a rarity now. But I do yell sometimes. I feel so tired sometimes.

  6. We have just started over in a new state with a new job home and we only brought our clothes with us. We feel so lucky to get this opportunity. I found your blog about 2 months before our big move and we are working to be better parents to our 3 little ones. 2 girls ages 4 and 2.5 and a 2 month old boy. My question is about my middle daughter. She has some not yet diagnosed issues and we are trying to decide if we should continue her OT for sensory issues and her speech therapy or if we should let her develop at her own rate. What is the Waldorf view on children with delays?

  7. Carrie,

    I came to story-telling by the grace of God. My children would literally freak-out if they saw blood. No matter how small the paper cut or scratch, they’d yell and scream wherever we happened to be. One day at the store, my daughter fell down and scraped her knee, she saw a drop of blood and as she opened her mouth to scream, I picked her up and whispered, “You know once when I was little, I was at a store just like this and a lady hit me in the back of the head with her shopping cart!” She caught her breath and asked, “and then?”

    Slowly I’ve honed my story-telling skills to included totally made up stories of unlikely heros and fairies. It gives me such pleasure now, when they get scraped or bruised and they calmly come and ask to be cleaned up and for me to please tell them a story of when I was a little girl.

  8. Here are a few things I would love to read about in the coming months:

    - your thoughts about Steiner’s seven life processes (maybe as an inner work series?)

    - flower remedies and young children (if you know something about this)

    And since you mentioned writing about the 1 to 2 year old…

    - some notes on parenting the (sometimes exhausting energy of the) very active and hyper curious toddler

    - some notes on telling stories (rather than reading books) to the toddler, perhaps even the basics of how best to use puppets with them

    - the arts and the toddler. when do we bring what into their lives, such as block crayons (when and how to introduce block crayons – do we just offer paper and crayons and see what happens, or should we show them some way of using them or expressing color?)

    - inner work and parenting the toddler

    Also,

    - book reviews are always helpful

    - some notes on celebrating Epiphany both with children and for inner work would be very nice

    Many blessings.

  9. Thank you for such calm inspiration. I ask for insight about the tween and teen years. I ask for ideas on how to let go of resentment and anger and especially of guilt.
    With children of special needs and a very inexperienced young mother, our household is unstable. Our rhythm is my main priority, when I am not side tracked with violent explosions that are due to the children triggering each others issues. Daily we deal with this in our household and I have done quite a bit to incorporate Waldorf inspired lifestyle ideals. But it has taken many years of slow changes. Holding onto grudges towards the children or my significant other is a constant battle. As well as, being unable to forgive myself the many mistakes I made as a parent in raising my children, either due to ignorance or laziness.
    These would be topics I would love to learn more about through your perspective.
    May your New Year be Blessed and filled with Joy.

  10. Carrie,
    I love your ideas! I would be very interested to delve more into the subject of living pictorially and actively with under 7′s.
    When I want to tell my four year old to do something (pick up those things you just dumped on the floor), I want to make up a game but often I feel bereft of creative energy at that moment! Ideas for developing our own creative ideas and sense of play would be very helpful! I feel like my creative ideas and imagination pale in comparison to my four year old’s!

  11. I am also interested in Jane’s question about a child who needs a lot of direction when outdoors because she doesn’t seem to know what to do, and also in Molly’s question about not having creative energy in the moment. I often think a little game or telling a story would work well but lack the ability to come up with something in the moment (particularly if I am “multitasking” – like cooking and redirecting a “helpful” child who is pouring flour all over the counter). My four year old asks for stories constantly, and it is hard to come up with them – or even to remember one I told the day before. If I tell it differently, she will correct me! She has such attention to detail and precision while I think I’m a bit ADD!

    Also… ideas for peaceful mealtimes? My four year old wants to chatter about nothing, trying to make her toddler sister answer silly questions or sing songs, and it ends up being a bunch of noise and not much eating. It is important to me that the dinner table is a place of peace.

  12. I am also wondering what a parent can do (other than leading by example) when the other parent insists that yelling and rough handling are acceptable forms of discipline if the child is not responding to gentler requests? Most parents seem to yell at their children at times, but most also seem to agree that it is not effective discipline… so what happens when one parent does think it is appropriate and does not want to try to make a change?

  13. Carrie,

    A very lovely post! I feel so renewed in January.. It is a fresh start and I always have so many goals and dreams for the upcoming year.. We are spending our cold days (even here at the beach it is really cold) knitting, playing with beeswax, drawing and other fun handwork. Board games and cards are a real favorite of my girls!
    When they get real edgy, They run a few laps int the backyard, then come in for some hot cocoa!

  14. Hi Carrie, Thanks as always for your wonderful posts. I’m expecting my second child this spring and find myself interested in and wondering a lot about elimination communication. What’s your take on that, as a therapist and as a Waldorf mom? Can you offer any insight?

    I second a previous comment about hearing more on talking pictorally with under 7s. I get stumped in those moments when my little games or imaginitive ideas are just refused and I feel like things still need to be done (like visiting the restroom, going up for nap, etc.)

    Thanks!

  15. Hi! I really love reading your blog…this is the first time I have left a comment! Thank you for the January inspiration!

    I have a soon-to-be 6 year old and a 3 year old. For some reason my 6 year old wants nothing to do with wet-on-wet watercoloring. She is very crafty and creative and loves to spend her days creating, drawing, coloring, making paper dolls ,etc, but does not like painting and I don’t want to force her to paint. When I set everything up my 3 year old jumps right in…she loves it. My 6 year old also doesn’t seem to enjoy circle time. She likes the stories we tell that are age-appropriate for her, but only my 3 year old seems to enjoy the songs/poems. I went ahead and gave my 6 year old a main lesson book so she can draw pictures of the story of the week and she really takes a lot of pride in her main lesson book. I’m wondering if she needs more 1st grade things… I would love some thoughts on knowing when to begin 1st grade might be helpful. She is already reading several sentences at a time and adding and subtracting with dominos with little to no guidance.
    thanks!
    sarah

  16. Pingback: Television, Screens and What Else To Do | The Parenting Passageway

  17. Thanks Carrie. You are always like an older sister offering interesting ideas and thoughts.
    A question about where you are with parenting. Things are generally smooth and calm. Not much of screaming and yelling. But my only area of concern in that my almost 5-yr old has no sense of time. She goes to a regular day school and is late almost every day. In consequence, I am late to my workplace almost every day. I agree I am to blame to a certain extent. I need to tuck her in earlier, so that she get enough sleep. But more than lack of sleep I think she is beginning to enter the laziness phase (I don’t even want to vocalize this fear!). We live in India, where the system of homework is quite prevalent. There are days when she finishes her homework in 15 mins flat and there are days when she isn’t keen at all. I am really tempted to let her without doing it as I fear it might become a ‘habit’. I pick her up from day care, sit with her for the homework, dinner, let her indulge in some free play and then bed time. Our day’s over.
    My concern in discipline. How can I get her to be disciplined? This includes developing 1) a time sense (the other day I was telling her we need to leave home at least by 8:20 to get to school on time – and she innocently asks me “Mama what is meant by ‘aitwnety’. Poor child!:))
    2) Knowing that wasting food is bad
    3) Learning to eat on her own – I still feed her (to compensate for my guilt of leaving her alone almost all day)

    Any tips would be useful.

    • Priya,
      Although children in school often learn to “tell time” very early, they really don’t develop a sense of time until the age of eleven or so, so I think for a tiny five year old you are really going to have to get up early, get yourself ready and then be with her as she gets ready and keep her on task physically by helping her into her clothes, etc. The average age of a child to dress themselves is five, if all the clothes are laid out, but some children do this later rather than earlier and they are very likely to get caught up doing something else rather than getting dressed…I would think it would be very difficult to send her off to get ready and have that actually happen. And what you said about sleep is really important; I don’t know what time she has to be up and going, but here in the US many children who are five and no longer napping go to bed very early – around 7 PM. I don’t think that is popular in India, at least from what I hear from my Indian friends, but I would keep trying to move her bedtime back by half an hour and see if that helps!
      The food wasting probably has more to do with you feeding her, to be honest. I would try to wean off that as much as possible. Start with very small portions and let her control what she is eating… If she has not fed herself she may have to go back to the beginning in terms of holding utensils, table manners…you can see this post for help as to what comes in at what stage: http://theparentingpassageway.com/2010/10/17/back-to-basics-realistic-expectations-for-mealtimes/
      A three year old will dump his drink on his food, etc, so she may experiment with that sort of thing when she starts but it should soon abide…

      I hpoe that helps at all..

    • Thank you Carrie.
      She doesn’t dress on her own. I give her a bath and also put on her clothes for her. She only brushes her teeth herself. I feed her breakfast and pack her snack. There is nothing she really needs to do. The biggest help would be not to defy and just ‘co-operate’. As always you have made me think today! While I read your reply to me, I think aloud, ‘Should I let her be more independent? Am I doing just about everything for her? ‘ Your thoughts please?

    • Priya,
      Maybe so…Have you tried singing a little song and making it fun? this is the way we (put our arm in) and hold the sleeve out so she can put her arm in herself..this is the way (we put our leg in) and hold up her pants? I think maybe getting her up earlier so you have time to not rush, snuggle her, love her, read or tell her a story so you can connect with her, be right there, but don’t do it all for her. Five is very tiny, but yet, it is an age to do bodily care and really take domain of that.

      Many blessings,
      Carrie

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