One of my dear local friends just sent me the most beautiful prayer from the book “Making God Real In The Orthodox Home” by Fr. Anthony Coniaris (here is the Amazon link: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0937032077/ref=ox_sc_act_title_1?ie=UTF8&m=A6MHEJ10672MS) . Here is the beautiful prayer she shared with me:
Our small steps for a happy homelife continues today with menu planning. Menu planning is important for those of us on a budget, and it is also important in terms of saving time, energy and for providing healthy foods in as close to their natural state as possible.
So, after our other small steps of decreasing commitments so you can actually be at home, spending time with your spouse or rejuvenating yourself, and having a well-ordered home, menu planning is right up there.
After all, nothing goes well if everyone is hungry and there is no food in the house or no food prepared, right? Small children and hunger leads to whiny, not peaceful, times!
We have talked about meal planning before on this blog, but I have a few things that have been working well for me lately that I want to share: Continue reading
One thing that provides a foundation for family and homeschooling success after reviewing and possibly curtailing commitments outside the home (Step #1) and building a strong foundation for time with your spouse or to rejuvenate yourself if you are single parenting (Step #2), is to have a well-ordered home.
My favorite small book on this subject is by Kathleen Kendall-Tackett, a health psychologist and researcher in the area of lactation and post-partum depression. Continue reading
“We have to remember that there is nothing more “enriching” for a young child than exploring his own world of home, filled with natural playthings and the work of caring for a family – housework, laundry, cooking – and exploring his own backyard.” – From Sharifa Oppenheimer’s “Heaven On Earth: A Handbook for Parents of Young Children, page 19
Liza wrote such a beautiful post here: http://theparentingpassageway.com/2011/06/28/guest-post-meaningful-work-for-toddlers/ and I hope it was inspiring to those of you who have toddlers as your oldest children and you are trying to create your family life “from scratch”. I have a few things I would like to add as well to this meaningful post.
If you are wondering where to begin, Continue reading
(I asked my dear friend Liza to write this guest post because she has experience in weaving a life full of meaningful tasks that her twin toddlers do to help nurture their home. What a wonderful experience they are having, and I thought her experience could help some of you out there who might be wondering about what kind of work toddlers could do! Enjoy!)
I am a new mom, almost three years into parenting twins, and am humbled each day by what my children teach me. How it is the simple things that bring them the most wonder: the slow and steady journey of a snail’s trek across the patio, grandmother moon shining bright on a sunny day, how every flower on our morning walk is met with reverence and a deep inhale. From them I am learning to slow down and settle into the sweetness of their early years.
I have also come to learn that time spent with my children at home is ultimately the most rewarding, for them and for me as well. It is better than a visit to the playground, an organized class, or family adventure. A bowl of sudsy water and a cup is like a trip to the ocean, dawdling around in our urban backyard feels like foraging through the forest and work- real work done with their hands (and mine) is deeply enriching. So we nest a lot, building and strengthening our home, caring for the objects and animals that surround us and attending to our rhythm. Basically…doing lots of things with our hands.
When Hannah and Eli were born I joined the Christopherus Waldorf at Home Forum and there (enter angels singing and skies parting), was a group of mothers whose wisdom, humor and intelligence cradled my nascent mothering soul. Carrie was one of these inspired mothers/mentors. I brought to this group my deepest anxieties, my ‘silliest’ questions, my fears and self doubts. And trust me, there were a lot. But ultimately I brought to them my children to help me nurture, support and love more fully.
The sub-forum for those with children under seven was a particularly lively and active group. We discussed everything about living with small children- from the practical aspects of coordinating nap-time, to building rhythm into our days, to finding love for your children when they do not seem so lovable. Overwhelm, burn out, and irritability came to the forum most days, right along side sibling conflict, strong emotions (formally known as tantrums), and whining. From beneath the words of encouragement showered on each mama’s struggles you could almost hear the soothing siren song of this unspoken mantra:
slow down sweet mama,
take a deep breath,
you are doing a great job.
look gently within (take responsibility for what you might be contributing
and then forgive yourself),
connect back in with that little spirit who wants only to be loved.
And find some work to do with their hands
And so while the first four tasks are surely all parents’ karmic work (we have chosen the ultimate “path of service” it seems- the one that gives us access to expansive love…and a whole mess of other feelings), I leaned into the challenge of finding jobs for my children. And you know what? It works.
At eighteen months we started small: stirring mama’s tea in the morning, grinding daddy’s coffee beans, making the morning eggs. That bowl of sudsy ocean water soon had spoons and a sponge in it- a towel on the side to dry them with. The spray bottle entered our world and washing windows began- bliss was known. Folding laundry became a game of discovery, an opportunity to run through the house delivering missing washcloths to the bathtub and napkins to the napkin drawer.
As time passed we found more work to do. We stirred pancakes, made endless batches of muffins (and delivered them to the neighbors promptly lest they were all eaten by mama), made soup, pickles and bread. The salad spinner is just as likely to be found on the countertop as it is the floor, the back deck…the living room. Did you know you can spin almost anything? We learned to pour with a pitcher, cut with a knife, peel with a peeler, use the cherry pitter, cheese grater and whisk.
We wash woolies in the bathtub, then wrap them in towels, stomp on them like grapes and hang them from a makeshift line under the kitchen island. That is a full morning’s work. Bringing in the groceries one by one down our long apartment hallway to the kitchen still ranks high in the ‘fun things to do with daddy’ category- running fast like kitty cats with the apples, slow like turtles with the eggs.
There is a pride that emanates from a little one who has just accomplished a task they have watched you do over and over. You can see it in their faces, their bodies and their spirit. When they ask, “Mama, I do it!” I nudge you to let them try. It is indeed messy, there is of course some risk, you may need to come back later and do it over. But really, the rewards are huge.
I am still working to “de-mechanize” our day so that my daughter, whom I keep close to my side lest she finds her very capable hands pulling her brother’s hair or knocking over his carefully constructed ‘hayride’, is included in my housework. Then my son who is only sometimes interested in working can play nearby and join in when he is inclined- apparently they have an agreement that he has claim over the salad spinner when the time comes to use it. And so it goes that sibling conflict is greatly reduced when we are busily working. Self-esteem and positive exchange between all family members swells.
I recently bought some special wool felt to make a banner for the children’s play space- an attempt to add crafty to my day. I put this little project in a basket in the living room so that I could attend to it when there was a free moment- idealistic I know. When my daughter happened upon the basket of carefully folded rainbow felt she exclaimed, “my laundry!” as if it had been missing for years.
Yes, love, that is exactly what it is.
She has since added some kitchen towels, a couple of matchbox cars…a wooden chicken. I often find her in the window folding her laundry and singing a little song. “Just a moment,” nodding over in my direction, “I am almost done folding the laundry”.
And so it is that imagination trips on the heels of imitation.
The forum ended a few months back and I missed the chance to heart-fully thank the women for all they had given me, to my children…to our family. When Carrie asked me to write something up about work and toddlers I thought- what could I, fledgling mama, share with you? And then I heard that siren song and I remembered the mantra, the trick that helps me shepherd two often cranky toddlers through the day… and helps them back into their much more important work of play. Thank you Carrie. And thank you mamas.
Here are some ideas for including toddlers in your work…and play. I would sure love to hear what you are all up to!
- Load/unload the dishwasher with supervision
- Wash silverware ( in a little basin)
- Learn to use a sharp knife; grating
- Practice pouring into a glass
- Stir, pour, play with flour/dough, etc.
- Make coffee for daddy- press button on grinder
- Spread butter on toast
- Pick the leaves of kale, tear lettuce, spin in dryer
- Shell peas
- Scramble eggs
- Unload groceries
- Spray and wipe windows and bathroom walls
- Wash tub with sponge and baking soda
- Polish wooden toys/furniture
- Hand me items from the laundry basket as I fold and then help carry to each room/drawer OR I have a basket ready in each room and I hand the kids an article each from the clean laundry and they deliver it to the appropriate room.
- Help take out garbage cans/bring back in
- Get napkins and silverware for table
- Water plants outside
- Dig hole for new plants
- Practice training dog with treats
- Learning to iron
- Polishing silver
- Help make bed
Some additional resources have supported me:
- Informed Family Life articles on Home Making
- Christopherus Website-Early Years Section
- Shannon Hayes, author of Radical Homemaking and her writing for Yes! Magazine. This article in particular:
- The Wonder Of Childhood
- San Francisco Waldorf School Early Education Program
Allison Carrol, Director
And this verse by Steiner:
Into my will,
let there pour strength.
Into my feeling,
let there flow warmth.
Into my thinking,
Let there shine light.
That I might nurture this child
with enlightened purpose,
caring with heart’s love
and bringing wisdom
into all things.
Liza, mama to Hannah Simone and Elijah Moon
Thank you Liza, for sharing your experience…
Many blessings to you all,
Oh, first a few goodies!
- I LOVE this post, please go see it and look at it: http://chocoeyes.blogspot.com/2011/04/our-daily-rhythm-chart.html#comment-form
- I love the scenes from this post here : http://bendingbirches2010.blogspot.com/2011/06/acsension-day.html
- And Kate’s experience with “Talk Less” : http://picklebums.com/2011/04/21/talk-less/
And, for my top ten referrers this week, I thank you from the bottom of my heart:
Happy Tuesday of Easter Week! Today’s post is based on inspiration from The Collect for today found in The Book of Common Prayer, “that we…may be found worthy to attain everlasting joys”.
Do you have everlasting joys right now in this place and in this time?
Almost every day I get asked through email or in consulting about “how can I enjoy being with my children?” We live in such a fast-paced world, and one in which many parents are entering parenthood at older ages and many are coming to parenthood with an approach akin to starting work at a large company.
The only problem with this is that you don’t really see the results of your “project” for many years. Oh, and your “project” has their own ideas about the project, LOL. It quickly becomes obvious to those parents open to this possibility that parenting is not like working at a company.
Parenting is 24/7. It involves you coming face to face with whatever baggage you have been carrying around from life. How scary and how exhilarating! It involves you personally growing. It involves you making decisions, being an authority in your own home, and it involves you being able to discern your most essential priorities. These things can be challenging for many parents!
It also can be joyous. With all the things mentioned above comes freedom and the shaping of how you want things to be. Small children (and many of us!) do best in a rhythmic, unhurried environment with lots of time outside. That can be so freeing and joyous, to marvel together at the smallest wonders of life, to laugh like only a small child can.
If you are missing the joy in your life, how can you capture it?
Joy is an attitude of the innermost heart. It is something you can ask for in your prayers and meditation, it is something you can do as you go through your day. Can I slow down enough whilst I am washing the dishes to really feel the soap bubbles on my hands and the warm water and hum? That is joyous. Can I stop in the middle of the day and hold my child close and smell his or her hair and look at that child’s chubby little thighs and just love them and feel joyous that they are here, that I am the parent?
Can I discern what I need to feel joyous, but also can I just “do it” even if the things going on around me are not what I think I need to be joyful? Can I grow and stretch in this way as I become a more mature parent? Can I be joyful at three A.M. when I have had a night of waking up all night long with a reflux-ridden infant or a teething toddler? Can I be joyous as I clean or cook or attend to my child’s needs? Can I be joyous?
Joy can not only replace fear, but it can also provide a gateway to a peaceful and calm heart. If raising children who are peaceful and who can grow up to be peacemakers is important to you, then you finding your own joy in your life and showing this in your every task and in your being is the place to begin.