Rhythm For the Irregular

Stuck on trying to get a rhythm going?

I think this happens quite a bit, so here are my quickie top ten tips for developing your own rhythm:

1.  You must get yourself to bed and shoot for the same time to go to sleep every night.  Use an alarm clock and get up even if you are tired.  Sorry, I know folks will really disagree with me here, but I think if you cannot start the foundation of waking up and going to bed, then the rest of the day is off-kilter.  Just my opinion, feel free to disagree.  Smile  My thought is you can always catch up at quiet time/ nap time, but to start to get in the habit of sleeping and waking times.

2.  Plan to do this for forty days.  Yes, forty. We have all heard it takes twenty-one days to establish a new habit, but in many religious traditions forty days is a number referred to again and again.  Try it for forty days.  If you miss a day, just jump back in….

3.  Which brings me to this point:  you are developing your own will.  Your own will is and can be stronger than your irregularity as a person if only you let it.  Try this back post:  http://theparentingpassageway.com/2010/04/30/the-adult-will-and-how-to-develop-it/

4.   Regular meal times is the next step.

5.  Work in baby steps, go slow, get in-person encouragement.  Do not go to the  family and friends who will say, “You have tried this before and it never has worked for you!”  Go to the  family and friends who love you and who will say, “I know you can do this!  This is the first step toward wonderful things!”

6.  Write out your day on paper even if it is just the baby steps.  If you need to, you can cross off the flow like a list whilst you are putting these habits into place and your body is getting used to the changes.  But, keep it very, very simple at first.

It may be as simple as:

Tuesday -

  • Up, dressed, breakfast
  • Clean up dishes
  • Inside play
  • Snack
  • Tell story
  • Lunch at 12
  • Clean up dishes
  • Quiet time/ nap
  • Outside play
  • Everyone helps with dinner preparations
  • Dinner
  • Clean up dishes
  • Bed

7.  Believe in yourself. It can be so challenging when there is an area one has worked consistently to improve and yet it is still a challenge.  Know that you can do this!

Here are a few back posts on rhythm:

http://theparentingpassageway.com/2010/11/04/back-to-basics-rhythm/

http://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/03/13/baby-steps-to-waldorf-rhythm/

http://theparentingpassageway.com/2008/11/17/changing-your-rhythm-with-the-seasons/

Many blessings,

Carrie

Back To Basics: Staying At Home and Loving It!

Many mothers struggle with certain areas of cultivating a peaceful family life.  Typically these areas are housecleaning and home maintenance, gentle discipline, and creating a rhythm for their family.  Many mothers tell me that they start off well, and then they stop, and then they start and then they stop.

I have a solution for you in these areas, although it is not a very popular one these days:  stay home!  You need an unhurried pace in which to parent small children, and you also need time to work on yourself and your own development as a part.

Staying at home gives you the time to focus on the things that matter:  connecting with your spouse and children without rushing around stressed; giving your children the healthy foundation of rhythm; and providing you enough time to be home to actually cook nourishing meals and clean your home and take care of your garden.

I wrote a post in May of 2010 that in part read:

I invite you to breathe and ask yourself this question:  How often am I going out of my home?

  • Is it every day and you have children under the age of seven?
  • Is your home and your homeschooling and your parenting where you would like it to be?
  • Could your time of lessons or classes or activities for your small  children be better spent elsewhere at this point?

I understand if you are suffering from depression and really need that social connection and support of other mothers.  I really do understand if you are extremely outgoing like me and just get filled up by being with other mothers and other people…I really do understand!    I wrote a post about Social Isolation for Stay-At-Home mothers here:  http://theparentingpassageway.com/2010/02/24/social-isolation-for-stay-at-home-mothers/

But there has to be a balance, and if you are going out every day and if your under-seven child is involved in a plethora of activities, I just gently am nudging you to explore this.  Boundaries are important, and showing and modeling for your child how to set boundaries and maintain them is REALLY important as they grow up into a world that will most likely have even more blurred lines between personal and professional lives due to increased technology.

I invite you to try to discern what really are  the most essential things in your life, and how the time you spend reflects what is most meaningful to you.  I am working on this right now, and it really is challenging me!

Particularly for the parents of very small under-aged five children, it is easy to get caught up in lessons, classes, and other things.  The ages under five (and under seven and yes, even under age nine!), to me, is an excellent place to experience an  unhurried concept of  time.   They will never have these days again!   There will be so many other years for classes, for lessons and for other activities and for rushing about on a schedule (which is different than the flowing rhythm of being at home).”

Some mothers tell me it is so difficult to stay at home for them.  One post I wrote on this subject that was insanely popular was this one, take a look and refresh your memory:  http://theparentingpassageway.com/2010/05/09/how-can-i-love-staying-at-home-with-my-children/  and this one:  http://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/04/15/but-when-i-stay-homeeverything-falls-apart/

Are you worried about your child and their level of socialization?  In general, for children under the age of 7, I feel less is more.  I wrote about that here:  http://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/09/07/social-experiences-for-a-four-year-old/

Look into your heart and see what is right for your family at this time, in this day.  Your rhythm will change as your children grow, but being home is so important.  You can develop your own will to do this (see here for help: http://theparentingpassageway.com/2010/04/30/the-adult-will-and-how-to-develop-it/)

Many blessings,

Carrie

An Example Housekeeping Rhythm

Several readers of this blog really wanted to know what Lovey’s household cleaning rhythms were, and Lovey was gracious enough to reply so I thought I would post it here.  (It is also listed in the comment that Lovey sent in!)

Without further ado, Lovey writes:

Since I no longer maintain a blog, I will post our cleaning schedule here.

Mom:
Monday – kitchen/dining
Tuesday – vehicles (don’t forget this is an extension of your home)
Wednesday – living room
Thursday – basement
Friday – bedroom/bathroom
Sunday – yard

Within this framework I keep a schedule throughout the month so everything gets done. For instance in the kitchen, week one I will polish silver, week two is pantry and shelves, week three is floor and walls, and week for is appliances and cupboards. I have a rotation like this for each room so that in any given month every single area will be cleaned. I also clear out rooms every season gathering donations and changing out decor (and tidying the clutter that inevitably collects).

Dad:
Daily – laundry, dog care
Weekly – yard, maintenance

Child 1:
Monday – trash/recycling, kitchen
Tuesday – trash/recycling, bathroom
Wednesday – trash/recycling, kitchen
Thursday – trash/recycling, sweep & mop
Friday – trash/recycling, sweep & mop
Sunday – wash & iron own clothes, bedroom

Child 2:
Monday – vacuum, sweep & mop
Tuesday – vacuum, sweep & mop
Wednesday – vacuum, kitchen
Thursday – vacuum, bathroom,
Friday – vacuum, kitchen
Sunday – clothes, bedroom

The children have had a chore since about age 4. They progressively got harder as they grew older until by age 10, they were expected to contribute at their current level.

Daily I do a clean sweep picking up stray items throughout the house, gardening, cooking and dishes, and paper sorting.

We also have seasonal chores such as cleaning the siding, shampooing the carpets, washing the screens,etc.

Annual chores include clearing out and organizing the garage and attic, painting, etc.

Since moving to a cleaning schedule years ago, our home has been tidy and organized

Lovey

Thank you Lovey for sharing this as I am sure it will be an inspiration to many readers out there to come up with their own rhythm for housekeeping.

Many blessings and thanks,

Carrie

Back To Basics: Bringing Out The Beauty In Your Home

I wanted to write a post about rhythm tonight, but felt I needed to write about the physical environment of the home first.  After all, it can be hard to attain a peaceful rhythm if laundry is piled everywhere, the sink is full of dishes and every surface is dirty.

Mothers ask all the time about establishing a rhythm for their families and I always recommend starting with bedtimes/consistent awake times, and then look at meal times.  However, what many mothers do not realize is that “clean-up” time is built into these bursts of activity.  Whilst your children are in the bathtub, have the children scrub it whilst you tackle the floor and sing!  After a meal time, everyone brings their plates up and washes and dries the dishes.  Together.  This is the beginning of the children using their will forces, their hands, their bodies and developing habits.  The things that you teach them to do with their hands will be the things they can do once they leave your house to live on their own!

So, the first place to start is with in regards to your home is, of course, yourself.   You set the tone for how things are done in your home, and you are worthy of having an nice home!  A home is really about the intangible feelings you get when you walk in the door.  Is it comfortable, is it warm, is it a place of love?  I wrote about that some here:  http://dendtler.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=881&action=edit&message=1

In this post entitled, “Is Your Home A Sanctuary?”  (http://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/09/12/is-your-home-a-sanctuary/)  I wrote a few things down about starting from the bare bones of envisioning a home and building outward:

One of the first things one can do to improve the physical beauty of the home is to seriously look at the amount of stuff and clutter in the home and pare it all down.  Pare down your toys, the amount of clothes your kids have and how many things you have.  Your small home will seem spacious!

The second thing may be to consider unusual uses of space.  I currently have a lovely school room in my dining room area and my dining room in a sunroom area.  The dining room is more contained for homeschooling (ie, can’t see it from the front door when you walk in) and the sunroom area is larger and visible directly from the front door.  Our breakfast nook area off the kitchen is a also now a playroom to keep the children close whilst I cook or clean.

Paint is something to consider as well.  The right shade of paint can really warm a room and make it inviting.  Evaluate your furniture as well – if you painted this piece of furniture or changed the drawer pulls, would it look totally different?  Many times this is just as good as getting new furniture!  Can you reupholster anything?

Rugs, curtains and pillows are last.  If you can sew, that is so helpful but even if you cannot, perhaps you can find wonderful thrift store bargains.  Can you take down the blinds and clean them all before you put up new curtains?

Then look at the outside of your house.  Does it need painting?  Pressure washing? Mulch?  Is the front entry inviting? If you enter through the garage can you walk through the garage?  Does the garage need painting?

This is a lot about the physical environment because I think when we are home all day the physical clutter, cleanliness and appearance of our homes can really affect how we feel!

Here are some cleaning lists for what chores to do when:  http://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/05/11/housecleaning-and-homeschooling/  If you can tailor this to your own needs and work it into your daily and weekly rhythm, then you will have a foundation of a home that is generally well-put together. 

One website that has helped me in the past has been Flylady:  www.flylady.net.  Baby steps really assisted me when I did not have routines for homemaking in place.  Perhaps this will be a place to help you.

There are many blogs with beautiful pictures of gorgeous handmade homey spaces with clean, smiling children.  Do not let these photographs stress you out!  Use them and look at them only if they inspire you!  You are worthy of having your own tranquil physical space and you can get there!

Remember, people before things, baby steps toward routines!

Many blessings in homemaking,

Carrie

What Are The Benefits of Rhythm In The Home?

I am getting ready to give a talk next Saturday regarding a peaceful family life as supported by rhythm, and today I wanted to highlight this portion for all of my readers near and far to meditate upon:

What Are The Benefits of Rhythm In The Home?

· Gives children a sense of security

· Rhythm can calm a high-needs, anxious, nervous or difficult child

· Children can see the tasks of daily life as process from beginning to end

· Once children have external rhythms, they then develop internal rhythms for eating, sleeping

· Helps the child focus their energy on play and growth and balance as opposed to wondering when the next snack time will be or when bedtime is

· Rhythm helps maintain a person or child’s strength for daily tasks

· Connects a child to nature

· Provides a structure for a child that is neither boring nor over-stimulating; provides a balance

· A True Help in Loving Guidance – because children are so centered in their physical bodies and in imitation, rhythm becomes a real help in avoiding arguments

· Helps children become helpers in the home and in life by building in times for setting up and cleaning up activities within the rhythm; this helps calm nervous and difficult children

· Rhythm helps the adults of the family build up their own self-discipline so we can model this to our children

· A rhythm helps a child feel certain that their needs will be met

· A rhythm is a vital piece in establishing for young children that there is a time for all things

· Rhythm helps parents not only with self-discipline but with enabling the energy of the house to flow smoothly and to support the needs of everyone in the entire family, not just one child or the children

· A disorganized life is not truly free!

I encourage you all to think and meditate on this; start small!  The day starts with the night before, so perhaps thinking about bedtime would be a good place to begin.

Many blessings,

Carrie

More Regarding Children and Chores In The Waldorf Home

Some mothers really did not grow up with chores, and are working to develop their own sense of practical work and de-mechanizing their homes so there is actually something else to do besides push the button on the dishwasher, push the button on the vacuum cleaner, etc.  A general reminder for children up to seven years of age is to think about what YOUR rhythm for the nurturing and care of your home is and how you can involve your children in your tasks. Think how you could do some things differently and do them by hand if you do not do that already.  Could you wash dishes by hand?  Hang clothes out to dry?  What part can the children do?

Here is a list of different chores for different ages, perhaps this will provide a starting point for those of you thinking about this topic:

Up to Age Three:  turn off lights whilst being carried, carry in newspaper, an older toddler could get own snack from low pantry shelf if you are comfortable with small child in the pantry, wipe tables and counters with damp sponge, wash vegetables or tear lettuce, help provide water and food for pets, help clean up after play and meals, water plants outside, pick up toys and books, throw things out for you, help clean up spills and messes, help with dusting or sweeping, help setting table…Again, you are doing these things and they can help.  Think about your tasks and how your child can help you, and what would hinder you and not be helpful.

Ages Four to Six:  all of the above, help fold laundry items and put them away, help find items at the grocery store if you bring your children shopping with you, give you a hand or foot massage, help measure ingredients for cooking and help you pour and stir, water plants, help you sort clothes for washing, hang things on a clothesline, help with sweeping and dusting, help plant a garden, put dishes in the dishwasher or help wash or dry dishes by hand, empty dishwasher and stack on counter or do just the silverware tray with no sharp knives if using a dishwasher and not washing by hand, rake leaves, help take care of pets, help wash car, help younger siblings, carry groceries,  set table, clear table after eating

Ages Seven to Ten:  all of the above, get up in the morning on their own, wash dishes, cook light meals or pack snacks, help read recipes, run washer and dryer or hang things out to dry, change sheets, address and stuff envelopes, read to younger siblings if reading, help younger siblings, clean bathroom,

Ages Eleven to Fifteen:  perhaps in the older ages  babysit younger siblings, cook meals, buy groceries from a list, make appointments, mow lawn, help in a parent’s business

Ages Sixteen to Eighteen: run errands for family, balance family check book or their own checkbook, handle their own checking account, help with family budget, maintain car, take care of house and yard, help younger siblings,

All children go at their own pace, most can start to work toward doing a task independently after you work with them around the age of nine. 

Add your own suggestions in the comment box below!

Many blessings,

Carrie

Children and Chores

Yes, I am still here in Little House mode, LOL.  When I was growing up, “Farmer Boy” was my absolute least favorite in the series of books about the Ingalls/Wilder family.  In fact,  I think I mainly skipped it when I was younger.  Well, I just went back and re-read it and boy, was it interesting to me!  What a wonderful coming –of- age story about Almanzo and his increasing responsibility within the family farm as he approaches age nine. 

Have you ever thought about chores in relation to your own children?  This is a pretty classic Waldorf article you may have already read regarding chores: 

http://www.waldorflibrary.org/Journal_Articles/klocekchores.pdf

Here are a few back posts on chores and homemaking and housecleaning:http://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/12/08/children-chores-housecleaning-and-homeschooling/    and here:   http://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/05/11/housecleaning-and-homeschooling/

I find many mothers I meet come from one of two camps:  one where they were responsible for caring for younger siblings and many responsibilities were dumped on them at an early age or that no responsibility was given to them at all.  This makes it very difficult for mothers to figure out how they feel about chores and how to present this to their children!

I believe children do  need consistent chores.  They should be contributing to the welfare of the family, there should be something that they do that is bigger than themselves, and there should be increasing responsibility as they mature.

For those of you with children under the age of  nine:  I remark here that rhythm in the practical work of the home and working TOGETHER in joy is what lays the foundation of wholly independent work beginning around the nine-year-change.   IMITATION is also another way to help children learn about chores when they are young.  What do you do every day that involves more than just pushing a button that they can imitate?  What can you “de-mechanize” in your home so your child can take part in what you are doing?

Children around the age of 9 can certainly take on chores for the family; many mothers start with cooking for both boys and girls. 

Next post up will include a list of possible chores by season and/or age to get your creative juices going regarding this important subject.

More to come,

Carrie