Day Seven, Part Two: Twenty Days Toward Becoming A More Mindful Mother

 

I wanted to have a picture of this beautiful rhythm written out on a gorgeous wet on wet watercolor painting to share with you today.

 

Hmm.  Well, that didn’t happen (at least not yet).    Let me share with you my secret: I have planned, written, scratched out and re-planned my own rhythm for fall schooling at least six times now.   It didn’t seem as if it had enough time and space in it, and I felt it was so difficult to attain a balance the main lesson needs (and extra lessons! Extra lessons? ) that my grades children need along with the outside time I think they need, along with the needs of a toddler. Does this sound familiar to anyone?

 

One of my other challenges for my fun-loving and active children is that we will be moving to a new house in the fall that sits on a greenway – one of those paved paths that goes on for miles through nature preserve. Our subdivision, in fact, will be over fifty percent green space and have another nature preserve right in it. This is so exciting and wonderful but leads again to that question of balance:  how do we balance the joy of being outside, taking in nature, and movement along with that idea of “getting something done?”

 

It can feel frustrating to try to craft a rhythm to encompass all of these things.  Every family has constraints and priorities and you absolutely cannot do it all.  You have to pick and choose!   Yet, despite all the challenges,  I feel so fortunate that I can take the lead in this.  I can really take the time to make something that is not perfect but is serviceable, and something that will help us enjoy our time together (which a rhythm really affords you as a family!)

 

Space and time are the great concepts in making a rhythm that works for your family.  The smaller your children are, the more space and time there should be. 

 

So, let’s get out a piece of paper and let’s start planning:

  • Are  you up before your children?  If you can’t be up before your children because you co-sleep, what is the earliest time you could have everyone up and be sane?
  • What can you do for yourself in the morning before the day gets going?  Pray?  Read the Bible or text from your religion?  Do yoga or stretch? 
  • What do you do now?  Breakfast?  Who helps?  Who cleans up?
  • What now?  Do you make beds, and get dressed?  Do you get everyone to the bathroom and get them dressed?  Remember, the smaller the children, the more time this takes.  Time and space.
  • When everyone is dressed, what happens now?  Do you go outside every day? Or do you start some kind of work in your home that the children can help you with?

 

I think you get the idea….start small, go through your day, through your “ideal” day and plan plenty of time and space into it…If you have small children, your day will be diapering and the potty, preparing food, cleaning up, outside time in nature…these things are the fabric of daily life, of the sacred ordinary.  Why try to short change or rush through this?

 

And practice your rhythm for at least 40 days.  When you get ready, write your rhythm on a beautiful piece of watercolor paper and hang it up (now there is a good use for those old paintings!).    If you get off track during the day, look at your piece of paper and jump back in.   Don’t get discouraged.   If you have a whole day off, jump in again the next day.  If you get off for a whole week, jump back in the next week.  Just do it, and keep moving! 

 

So, I will just end this post by sharing my “rhythm in progress” with you all for a fifth grader, second grader and two and a half year old for Mondays through Thursdays, with Friday being a co-op and errand day. 

 

8:15 – Outside play/walk greenway, especially for the DOG.  LOL

9:00 or so  “All”  -Opening verse,  prayer, seasonal songs and singing, circle for toddler with older children helping, poetry recitation, mental math (have snack tray out)

9:30   Main Lesson Fifth Grader (Second grader has things to do, like help to get snack ready and help with her brother or she can sit at the table)

10: 40  Saints and Tea –  Biography of a Saint or Missionary or Read Aloud

11:00 Main Lesson Second Grader (oldest child has things to do, like help get lunch ready!)

12:00  Finish preparing lunch,  eat lunch and clean up 

12:30  Nap/Quiet Time

1:30– 2:00  – Extra Lesson – will vary depending upon block.  Envision my fifth grader having some extra lesson time M, T, W and my second grader having an extra lesson period on Thursdays

2:00-2:45   Mondays – Handwork, Tuesdays – Handwork or Crafts/Festival preparation, Wednesdays and Thursdays – Religion   — 2:45 – Ending Verse, End of School

 

I urge you to get out some paper and play with the idea of what your day would look like. 

 

Many blessings,  happy planning

Carrie

Day Seven, Part One: Twenty Days Toward Being A More Mindful Mother

We have talked a lot about rhythm in the past; if you put “rhythm” into the search engine on this blog many posts will come up!

Again, I feel the easiest place to start a consistent rhythm to the day is to begin with bedtimes and meal times. After these things are down and consistent, then work towards regular times to be outside daily and what practical work one does on what day of the week. Then one can work toward festival preparation for whatever festivals speak to you and your family.

A rhythm is not a scheduled noose around your neck but rather an idea of what occurs when and a way to keep a balance in your day of in-breath and out-breath.

Many wee people under the age of 7, because they are or should be living in their bodies, do not get nearly enough outside time. I would say four hours a day is not in the least too much for the under 7 child! This time is out-breath, but there should also be time to have quiet time, listen to a story or other in-breath activities within the day. There needs to be a balance for the small child who often is prone to excess in either wanting all out-breath or all in-breath activities. You may need to look at yourself and see what you tend to model as well! Do you display a good balance of in- and out -breath?

There are two other issues that frequently come up with the subject of rhythm. One is that the mothers themselves who have irregular rhythms and perhaps have childhoods that were devoid of rhythms have difficulty with the whole concept. They truly feel it is like the noose around their neck! Remember, a rhythm is not a schedule with times – it is a flow of the day, of the week and of the month.

So, I would say to those mothers is that a rhythm is adjustable, but also a great opportunity to work on YOURSELF. Can you get to bed at the same time every night? Try it for ten days and work on your own self-discipline! Then work on your morning routine, your meal times and the whole notion of quiet time. Baby steps!

The second issue that comes up is “How Do I Fit Everything In?” Well, here is the rub. You cannot do it all! I still find mothers of children under the age of 7 are planning too many things within their homeschool, and also too many outside activities.  Plan enough time and space in your day.  If you have three or four children under the age of five, your day will literally be meals, diapering/potty training/self care in the bathroom, preparing food and eating, outside time, sleep and rest.  The other things can wait.

Here are some brief notes about  running around outside the home, and things that take time, in no particular order:

  • How can you simplify things?  Who can help you?  Can you run your errands for groceries once a week either on a weekend when your husband can keep the children? Or could you go at night after the children are asleep? Or could your husband do the grocery shopping? Can you have dry goods delivered to your door? Would a friend be willing to do part of your list at one store if you do part of their list at a different store if you feel you must go to two stores?
  • What about health-related errands? Many folks have chiropractic or homeopathic appointments or allergy shots or something that has to occur weekly. How will you fit those in?  On this note, I have had several friends go through really discouraging health care crises this year without a  lot of support from their immediate family.  If you are in this position, who can you ask for help? How many hours a day does it honestly take to take care of yourself and where do the children fit into that?  It will change the rhythm of the day immeasurably.
  • For those of you who are never home:  how many things are you personally involved in? And how many things are your children involved in? Because let’s face it, whatever your children are involved in are also your activities (on top of the activities you feel are really your own!)
  • Do you have anything for yourself at all? I think this is important as well; something to call your own!
  • What age do your children get to start activities in your family? Many mothers seem to sign their smaller children up for something because the older children are doing something. This is not a good reason to sign a four-year-old up for something! It may be better to say, “Yes Jimmy, and you will do something like that too when you are seven like your big brother!”  I have also written on this blog before about how a four-year-old, a five-year-old, etc can be very content with simple things as opposed to lots of outside “field trips”. They will get so much more out of excursions to places when they are over 7. When they are four, a whale shark at the aquarium may hold their interest for a few minutes and then the child down the aisle who has a piece of gum, the woman’s red sweater and the whale shark all register about the same on the Awe Scale. Think about it carefully and watch and observe your child.
  • The caveat to all this is that children who are 7 and 8 years of age and older, while still needing protection from fatigue, DO need to start getting out and seeing some things. Every family will handle this need differently as they balance the needs of the younger children to be home, but it is worth thinking about too.  I see some homeschooling families where the older children are not involved in anything at all, whether this is due to finances or family preferences.  Our nine and ten year olds are interested in friends and activities.
  • Where is the space for physical activity for the older children? Older children, especially those nine and up NEED to get their energy out.  If your children are having a hard time controlling their tongues, (!!), which I hear a  lot of complaining about from the parents of those children in the nine year change and beyond,  it may be an issue not just of needing real work and responsibility, but also needing to MOVE their bodies. They still need a lot of time outside, and whilst I know many homeschooling families shun sports, I have personally found it helpful for my ten and a half year old.  I think this depends upon the child, the coach/the sport – choose carefully, but do know that children tend to get more sedentary around the age of nine and ten (many of them want to sit and read, or draw, or sit some more)  and I feel sports with other children along with lots of playtime with other children is a perfect way to combat this.  That is just my opinion, and you may feel completely differently!

Again, there are many, many posts on this blog about rhythm and creating rhythm. Have a look under the rhythm tag in the tags box.

Many blessings,

Carrie

Get Your Planning On: Homeschooling Kindergarten

 

Every year I try to write a series of posts on planning and tackle each grade that I have been through so far.  I do this because each year as my children grow older and I do this longer, I have fresh insights. It also means I have gone down some paths more than once since I have multiple children.   It is interesting to go back and look under the “Homeschooling” tab on the header menu and see how my perspective has changed over time. 

 

At any rate, I wanted to write about Kindergarten today.  The heart of Kindergarten in a Waldorf School is daily rhythm, and the circle time. There recently was a whole series regarding rhythm on this blog, so I will leave you to put “rhythm” in the search engine box on this blog and review the posts that come up.  Rhythm is the most major component of not only homeschooling, but life.  Please do go back and look at that if it is an area you are trying to establish. 

 

Now on to the other component of many Waldorf kindergartens:  circle time.  The circle time in a school is a way of building a social community, a way of bringing the foundation blocks of  literacy and mathematical skills to the children, a way of bringing in movement and an awareness of the body.

 

At home, the circle time between you, your kindergarten aged child and the cat and dog may not be as effective as a circle time in a Waldorf School.  Some families have a circle time and it works well for them; some scatter verses and fingerplays throughout the day as they transition from one activity to the other.

 

My big point to you all is, though, that MOVEMENT needs to have a high place on your list for the kindergartener.  You will not have a classroom of 18 other children for your kindergartener to run around with at home, and what I am observing in many of the small children today (public, private or homeschooled!)  is that they are sedentary even at such a young age. 

 

Can your five or six year old ride a bike with no training wheels?  Climb a tree?  Swim? Gallop and skip? 

 

Make it a priority to get out into nature and cross logs, roll down hills in meadows, wade in rivers and streams, get dirty and play in the mud and the sand, walk barefoot on sand and pebbles, inhale the scent of the pines.   This is not only good for our sedentary children, but for those children who have a lot of nervous energy and chatter.

 

Give them movement through real work – helping with cooking, gardening, and baking.  Sing with them, love them, give them sound emotional and physical warmth.

 

I have written so many back posts about kindergarten and the early years, but I just wanted to give you a small taste of what was on my mind today.

 

Many blessings,

Carrie

Planning Tips For Homeschooling Kindergarten Through Grade Four

Some mothers have been writing to me saying that their school is coming to a close, and they are feeling badly that they didn’t get to this block or that block.  In my household, we will not be finishing geography of the United States this year and will carry it over into our study of Mexico, Canada and the Caribbean next year in order to complete our North American Geography.  It is okay, it happens, and it will be okay next year.

Many times,  and I am finding this to be particularly true as a child moves into grades four and beyond, it can become difficult to outline this “exact plan” and stick to it.  For one thing, life always interrupts (well, that is at any grade), but I think with the children who are bit older things don’t always go down the same path that was outlined – you don’t always know what will go fast, what will provoke a beautiful rabbit trail, and what will go slow.  Development and learning is not a linear line that trends ever upward, but can be this dance of back and forth and sideways too.  The job of the teacher in these middle to upper grades I think becomes one of balance, gatekeeper in a sense as to what needs deepening now and when to know that this is a layer that will be deepened later.

One thing that always helps me is to think of the overlap and the custom touch.

Overlap:  Overlap, to me, means where the grades could overlap.  Continue reading

Day Six, Part Two: Twenty Days Toward Being A More Mindful Mother

Part of the routine of sleep and rest could include a wonderful warm bath.  I would like to talk today about creating essential oil baths, which are mentioned in both “Awakening Beauty:  The Hauschka Way” and in the book “You’re Not The Boss of Me!  Understanding The Six/Seven Year Transformation”.

These are not oil dispersion baths, which are typically prescribed by doctors trained in athroposophic medicine and used to overcome illness.  In the book, “You’re Not The Boss of Me!” there are several descriptions of the use of essential oil baths by a class teacher for children who were needed protection (ie, the bath as a balm to a very rushed and stressful family life), those needing softening (those children who are so logical who have really little inkling of childhood in them), and those needing protection because they are so very sensitive.  Essential oil baths promote the sense of warmth, and engage the physical body in warming.

Even though this is an article about mindful mothering, I am going to veer into preparing baths for children for a moment because I am certain there is interest in that here. Louise deForest writes in an article regarding children and essential oil baths in the book, “You’re Not The Boss Of Me!  Understanding the Six/Seven Transformation” on page 71:  Continue reading

Day Six, Part One: Twenty Days Towards More Mindful Mothering

Sleep and rest are extremely important cornerstones of Waldorf parenting and education, Today we are looking at the areas of sleep and rest.  Waldorf Education is the only educational method I know that takes that old adage, “Sleep on it, “  and moves it into the realm of learning as a true aid and help.  But outside of its educational value, sleep and rest seems to be one area that many parents seem to struggle with, especially attachment parents.  If one goes to any of the attachment parenting groups and forums on the web, inevitably sleep disturbances come up as topics.  I do think that parents who have young children, especially those children under the age of six, are often just tired no matter what way they parent!  So, let’s take a closer look at sleep today and see if we can improve things for all members of the household!

 

First of all, what a very Waldorf perspective gives us (and I think reading biological studies of sleep in infants, children and those in primitive societies back this up as well!) is that a small child may be born without much rhythm to their sleep and wake cycles. Continue reading

The Rant: Get Out Of Your Own Way!

 

Okay, today I am less in encouraging mode and more in rant-y mode, so if you are not in the mood for a kick in the pants kind of post, do feel absolutely free to check back in tomorrow.  That’s the disclaimer.  And here it is, bluntly:

 

Folks, I want you all to stop researching, and start making some decisions and DOING.  If what you decide doesn’t work out the way you want, you can tweak things.  You can change your mind, if it is something to do with parenting or discipline.  If it is something to do with curriculum choices for homeschooling, you can jump off the pages and make it more your own, if it is a curriculum you bought –  bring it alive for your child (or re-sell the darn thing!)  Make a decision, stick to it and give it some time, and then tweak or change.  You can do this!  Get out of your own way!  Do what your heart is calling you to do, without fear!  I am less interested in why something WON’T work then how to MAKE it work.  Try it!

 

I am meeting more and more mothers lately who are so lovely and sweet but they seem so driven by pure and utter fear.  Fear of being judged of others.  Fear of “since I can’t do it 150 percent “right” –whatever that is- I won’t do it at all!”  Fear of failure.  Fear of making a commitment, even though they keep circling back around to the same things over and over.

 

If fear, negativity and anxiety are fueling you, no wonder you feel paralyzed in making decisions!!  The more you get used to doing a REASONABLE amount of looking at the issues and making a decision and moving forward, the more you will get used to ACTION.

 

Action takes practice.  It doesn’t always feel “safe”.  But everything in life has pros and cons, polarities.  There is no 100 percent failsafe.  Have courage, have joy, take action and move forward!  It only takes baby steps and dipping a toe in, not this headlong dive into perfection and dogmatic thinking – and that is whether it is homeschooling, positive discipline or attachment parenting.  Be proud of the small successes and keep moving forward.

 

Create an action plan for whatever challenge you are facing.  And part of your action plan should be to do something small for yourself everyday.  Some of the mothers I meet I think are partially paralyzed because there is nothing for them at all,  they are pouring everything into their children, and they are harried, hurried and worn-out. 

 

Help yourself out by taking on only what you can handle!  Are you rushing around every morning and afternoon and squishing homeschooling in around all that?  Where is your time for your action plan if you are not home?  I had a dear, dear friend say to me several weekends ago, ‘You know, Carrie, I cannot hear that still small voice of God, I cannot find and listen to my own intuition, if I am just rushing around.”

 

YES, dear sweet friend, YES. 

 

Take care of business first; discern what is essential, create an action plan, and each day do something small to help you reach your goal.  Start somewhere.  No one will fault you for being where you are, but now is the time to move forward!  Make decisions, take time to see how things work out, and then tweak or change.  But move forward, and quit swimming in circles over fear, judgment, negativity, semantics, or pressure. 

 

It is spring, there is new growth and change in the air, and  a perfect time to start getting ready for fall school!

 

There, was that so bad?

Love,

Carrie