Nourishing Your Toddler

I wrote this post quite a while ago regarding the years of birth through age two and a half or so here:  http://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/01/10/getting-children-into-their-bodies-part-one-birth-to-age-2-and-a-half/.  I am still quite happy with this post, but I wanted to add some things here as just gentle food for thought…

Every day, do as much as you can to protect the senses of the small infant and toddler.  We are such an overstimulated society; I think the phrase “eye candy” really sums up how our culture has a visual emphasis.  We practically overdose our senses, especially our sense of sight, on things that are not true to the reality found in nature, the most beautiful and wondrous of our Creator’s work.  If we look about our homes and simplify them into simple scenes where our toddlers can participate in truly meaningful work, where there are simple open ended toys of natural materials, then we have gone a long ways toward promoting the health of our child.

Often we mistake what our small toddler needs and in place of time, space and stability we try to provide new, exciting, stimulating.  Yet, the capacities of our small toddler will flourish with a slow, rhythmic, protected introduction to life.  Develop your own peaceful soul, your own simple ways of being, and your child will be enveloped in this goodness.  Smile at your toddler, love your toddler, tell your toddler every day how strong and helpful they are, wonder and marvel at insects and the sunrise and the wind together.  Your children imitate not only your actions, but your thoughts.  Be brave, be wise, be beautiful!

And work on those lower body senses.  The sense of touch, the sense of life (how do you feel?  Can you even tell if you are not feeling well or do you just ignore that  and move on?), the sense of movement and the sense of balance.

Every day, no matter the weather, spend hours outside in the morning and the afternoon.  There should be opportunities for your toddler to stomp in puddles, in creeks, play in the mud and the sand, walk on forest trails and on the beach, and fully inhabit his home, his yard, his street.  Every day!  Outside time should be the priority for this age, along with meaningful work.

The shift in toddlerhood occurs because toddler energy needs form.  Many mothers will jot down a rhythm to each day the night before.  There must be a plan, and you must be the creator….see this for the wondrous opportunity that it is, and not a burden.  You can do this and it will be just right for you are the expert on your own family.

Many blessings and peace,

Carrie

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18 thoughts on “Nourishing Your Toddler

  1. Lovely and affirming to hear. Shows me how much we have grown and what a wonderful place our home is to be–for all of us! One question I have been having is this: sometimes, my daughter (now 3) needs more of me. We have a strong rhythm, with time built for togetherness and also for housekeeping. I bring her along with me in my chores as much as possible, and also pause from my work after the baby begins her morning nap to do something one on one with the elder sister. We paint, do stories, work in her room (I don’t sit on the floor and play with her, but she is happy if I am nearby, dusting shelves or straightening her dresser). Often, though, she seems so discontent. She whines, makes big messes in a destructive way, is aggressive towards the baby. Sometimes it seems she is just very bored, but only occasionally will she have breakthroughs where she settles into play for a spell. From what I’ve learned about gentle discipline, it seems that much of what she is asking for is connection. I am learning to stop my own tasks to spend more time with her, but am also a bit uncomfortable with this–at what point does child-inclusive need to become more child-centered to meet the need for connection, and how does this look in the Waldorf home?

  2. I am in a situation similar to Kyce’s. I often have to stop what I’m doing to spend time with my daughter (she’s 3.5 yrs old). Though she sometimes works along with me, most of the time she’s not interested in sharing the housework. And sometimes, like Kyce mentioned, she’s happy to be around me doing her own thing while I do the dusting, cleaning etc. Can I or should I fix this? :)

    • Priya,
      You are creating a home life where a child is comfortable to join in, a dependable rhythm…and sometimes they will join in and sometimes not. And that is okay. I would, however, make sure you are thinking ahead of time about what piece of what you are doing could be the child friendly piece and offer it to her with a gesture…folding laundry, here, offer a washcloth to fold or diapers to fold…offering the opportunity. SInging, humming, doing the task joyfully as well makes children want to join in…

      Blessings to you,
      Carrie

  3. Is that all there is to rhythm? Write down the plan the night before? I’ve been stuck on what day to do what. how to make a rhythm that will be the same for months and months? Such a little part of this post but it’s what I’ve been stuck trying to understand, wrap my head around, and use.

    Thanks for any ideas!

  4. This is a great post Carrie! We have been covering rhythm and just how important it is in our new program “Thinking Feeling Willing: Bringing the Rhythm Home” – it is such an important cornerstone and moms often sell it short. Rhythm is so intimately tied to US. We did a blog post on it recently too…
    http://waldorfjourney.typepad.com/a_journey_through_waldorf/2011/10/peek-at-thinking-feeling-willing.html

    It is often hard for us to really understand just how important this step is until we become doers – observers – present. It is such a different mode of parenting than what is going on in the world around us. I applaud all moms that take this leap! It is so worth it!

    Love and blessings,
    Melisa

  5. I am loving the comments about the three year old transition as we are in it right now, doubly so. I also have have had to shift gears in working with my children so that I am guiding them in ways I did not have to do before, or most recently, rather. They are wanting and needing attention from me rather than off in their own individual play or happily inclined to work with me. Or if they are play they then ask me to come and see what they made- this is new. In turn, it has meant that our rhythm has shifted and interestingly I am more confused by that than my littles, lol. Thank you for this post and for all conversation after!

  6. I am having trouble balancing what my toddler needs (hours outside, meaningful work) with what I need to be doing with my school age children. Our rhythm most often revolves around the school age childrens needs and I can tell that my almost 3 year old boy isn`t getting what he needs. He gets into everything and is often very rough with his sisters. Since you are in a similar situation I was wondering how your day looks for your toddler?

    • Hi Emily!
      Yes I think I should write a whole post about this…we shoot for work in the morning along with school, outside in mid morning and then outside again after lunch/nap with more work around dinner. However, I also like to look at a whole week too – is there any morning or afternoon that is really devoted to my toddler’s needs? That helps me think about balance,
      Anyway, I hope I can write a bit more on this soon!

      Blessings,
      Carrie

  7. Dear Carrie,

    thank you for reminding me of the importance of being (earnest, :)) and creative, and beautiful and peaceful myself, if I want my toddler,
    Roza, to be that way.
    Love,
    eszter

  8. Hi Carrie,
    Re: Rhythm for the irregular,
    Getting out of bed before boys is rough tough and just hard to work on right now – I have sleep issues (which is why I’m posting at 1 AM!), I fall asleep with boys, wake when husband comes in from (work/TV time) to sleep, and then am up for 1-5 hours (or like last night, just UP!)

    …and there goes my night nurser…there’s more but I’m off…

    • …and does everything hinge on getting out of bed before them? Can I work around that? Is there other work I can do to make rhythm work? It’s like being in a rut and knowing there is another part of the road but not being able to pull ourselves out of it!

      M

  9. beautiful….thanks for the DETAILED reminders. and for the wisdom, ” Your children imitate not only your actions, but your thoughts. Be brave, be wise, be beautiful!”

  10. I found this post under the age one section. I’m struggling with how to get my 16 month old outside time when it’s in the 20s outside. It doesn’t help that we are new to this colder climate and I haven’t had a lifetime to adjust to outside activities in freezing weather. I can bundle him up but he can’t do much with gloves over his hands and won’t sit still for a long walk in the stroller. Any suggestions?

    • Katelyn,
      Try the comments under the blog post about connecting your child to nature..I am almost certain Melisa Nielsen of A Little Garden Flower wrote about this in those comments about her winters in Idaho. You may also want to try her list at homeschoolingwaldorf@yahoogroups.com and ask to get a variety of feedback from mothers. It is hard when it is so very cold, but to go out in small chunks of time, even though it is a lot of work dressing and undressing, is helpful. Feeding the birds, picking up twigs to stack for firewood and other small jobs can also be helpful, although I agree the mittens are really tough for a toddler to use their hands!

      Many blessings,
      Carrie

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