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,


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,


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: 


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,


The Mini-Rant: Raising An Inconvenience?

Okay, I know I am grumpy.  I have been coming off of Congestion and Throw-Up-Food-Poisoning-Land and am Permanently Residing in Perpetual-No-Sleep-Babyland, but boy,  have I got a small rant to get off my chest today.  And this is not directed at the wonderful, thoughtful mothers who read this blog!  Thank you to all of you who are working so hard to do the best by your children; my hat is off to you all.

But here goes:

Why is it we act as if having children is such an inconvenience?  I have a friend, one of the consultants over at Christopherus (www.christopherushomeschool.org) who has a great quote from somewhere that goes along the lines of, “You are not raising an inconvenience; you are raising a human being.”

So far this week I have heard the most horrifying stories about mothers who feel essentially inconvenienced by their babies and small children.  Small baby not sleeping through the night?  Hire a small cadre of nurses to help you sleep-train that baby.  Don’t want to have your newborn baby dependent and attached on you?  Don’t breastfeed, and get a nanny for that small baby even though you stay-at-home full-time.     I have more cases, but I will stop there.  In all the cases I have heard the mothers made comments such that breastfeeding was inconvenient and that the baby’s sleep patterns needed to be adjusted because they did not want to be up during the night.

(By the way, the above situations are all composites of things I have heard from varying sources the past few months and do not represent any one situation or mother or family.) 

The point is this, though.  Mature love and parenting involves you putting your child’s welfare ahead of your ownI have said it before, and I will say it again: children are messy, noisy, learning, immature.  They don’t sleep like an adult, they don’t reason like an adult, they take a long time to mature and develop (and 7, 8, 9, 10 year-olds are still little!  So I am talking 21 years of growth and development!).  They get sick, they laugh and cry at the wrong times, they fall down, they fight with each other and with you. 

They are also wonderful.  They will show you a spiritual world that you may have forgotten existed.  They will say the funniest things.  No one will love you like a sweet child

Adjusting to having an infant can be challenging; it can be difficult.  I am very sympathetic to mothers needing support and help.  The choices we make in these early years set the foundation for discipline, for the school years, and later for the teenaged years.  It should make one stop and at least consider different choices rather than just decide on something because it is easiest.  You cannot take your “before children life” and just add children and stir.   Having children should change your life, don’t you think?

As mothers and fathers, it is our privilege and our responsibility to provide our children with a childhood they hopefully won’t have to recover fromNo matter what we do, our children will go their own way as they mature and grow in early adulthood.  But, it is our job to give them the footing to start.  It is our job to guide.  And I don’t know about you, but the development of my children’s  physical, emotional, academic and character is worth me being inconvenienced any day or night of the week!

This is why I encourage you all to have a vision, to have a plan, to find joy in the small tasks of being a homemaker, to have a sense of humor to take parenting seriously but not to take your child so seriously, and to think about how you make the most mindful decisions for the WHOLE family.  Being a great parent and a mature parent does not mean there are no boundaries between you and your child or that all of your needs should be put on hold.  It is also your job to show your children what a loving marriage looks like, how women need friends and how we all have different interests and needs outside of being a mother. 

But it does mean that raising your child should be a wonderful journey with the best intentions for your child in mind.  Even if it requires a bit of sacrifice.  The best things often do.

On that note – Live BIG and love your children!


A Parenting Plan – Part Two

I wrote a little while back about creating a parenting plan for each of your children (you can see that post here: http://theparentingpassageway.com/2010/06/30/a-parenting-plan/)

I have recently been meditating on those ideas.  I have also been envisioning in my mind what qualities are going to be important to my children when they become adults.  How can I work that into my parenting plan in tangible ways? 

What qualities are important to you?  How does the way you spend your time as a family reflect these qualities?  How do the boundaries in your home reflect these qualities?  For those of you with very small children under the age of 7, modeling is much louder than words and instruction at this point.  What are you modeling and how?

Here is a list of a few qualities that serve adults well; perhaps some of these will resonate with you:

  • Faith
  • Perseverance
  • Self-discipline and self-control
  • Integrity
  • Kindness
  • Love of others
  • Good manners
  • Courage
  • Compassion
  • Dependability
  • Honesty
  • Humility
  • Self-respect and respect for others
  • Contentment
  • Forgiveness of self and others
  • Gratitude
  • Patience

What does your list look like?  How are you working this into your parenting and into your homeschool?  What is most significant to you and to your family?

Much love,


How Can I Love Staying At Home With My Children?

Happy Mother’s Day to all of you!  I hope you had a wonderful day with your children and family! 

Mothering, and this process of becoming the designer and architect of your own family’s culture,  can be wonderful and joyous but also challenging and daunting.  Mothering can be like a yoga pose that one cannot get out of, and must stay in and stretch.  Mothering can become a catalyst for one to learn more about oneself, about one’s biography and history.  Mothering can be a catalyst for developing oneself further as a human being, and for nurturing the qualities of goodness in ourselves. 

One question that I have heard over the years and that recently came up in a comment,  is this idea or question of “How can I be happy in my mothering? How can I be happy with my children?”

I think this is a very valid question!  In our society, there are very few models for mothering.  Many of us have had mothers who were/are  either physically or emotionally unavailable, or who  modeled  mothering for us in ways we do not wish to repeat.  

Many mothers I meet are trying to juggle many different roles in their lives, and feeling frustrated.  They are working outside the home and thinking about their children and trying to juggle work and sick days and teething days, or they are with their children and thinking about their outside work and feeling as if they are not doing the best job in either world.  This  is a true challenge, especially in the US, where we do not have a paid maternity leave, and many mothers are back at work before their infants are twelve weeks of age.

To me, this question is actually  not a question of happiness or love, but a question of satisfactionAre you satisfied being home with your children and would you change that?  Most stay at home mothers I speak with talk about how they would not change that for anything, even on the “bad” days.  These mothers may not be joyously happy every minute of the  day, but will find moments within the day to be happy, moments to smile and laugh with their children, and they feel satisfied being home with their children.  Even on the sick days, the teething days, the days when there are sibling fights, there is this sense of satisfaction that they are the one dealing with it.  Every day at an outside job is typically not fabulous, and neither is every day at home, but is it satisfying to be there.

1.  One thing  that goes with satisfaction includes having unhurried time.  If you have unhurried time with small children instead of rushing about, you have the time to catch those cute moments, the funny moments, the silence of being together that I mentioned above and they often redeem the time when things are not going so well.  If you can be present you will be available to catch these moments.   So my first piece of advice in terms of how to be happy at home is to try not to wear so many hats so you can have this time.

Here is an example from my personal life: many of you know  I am a highly specialized physical therapist in neonatal feeding and development.  There are very few of us in the country, and it was hard for me to think of not treating patients and using those skills to help families who were so desperate.  Yet, there will always be patients and families.  My children are only here once.  That is the only shot I get with them.  Can you slow your own life down enough to really be present?    Here is a  post that speaks to this subject: http://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/08/22/how-do-i-take-off-one-of-these-hats/

Many mothers I know who seem most satisfied with being with their children are ones who have a profound connection to a sense of Higher Purpose in their mothering, that this is a calling.  This also requires unhurried time, to be able to sit and think and listen.  You can get this even with small children running about, usually by being present and in those moments outside when your wee one is digging in the sand box.    This attitude can take time to develop, and I hope some of the mothers who feel this way will leave a comment below to help other mothers. 

2.  The second thing that goes with satisfaction is having confidence.  If you know developmental stages and have a proper view of the infant, the toddler, the child at different points in the developmental cycle, it helps you weather the stormy periods in a satisfied and calm manner.  You feel calm, you handle things, you feel satisfied that you are handling the more challenging things.   You don’t feel so defeated and take it so personally when things do not go well.  There are still two parties involved in mothering – you and your child.  It is not all you and some children really are more sensitive than others, or more challenging than others.  Confidence grows with time, but I think one way to gain confidence is to read about developmental stages, about gentle discipline, about where you are and to come up with a “box of tools.”  What tools do you have?  What do you use?  Are you using what is effective?  Do you beat yourself up if you use a tool that is not effective, and what does that gain for you?  What is the payoff of beating yourself up and being negative?  Is it helpful, does it make your family life wonderful?  Sobering questions, but ones to ponder. 

The other arm of building confidence is to have a MOTHERING MENTOR.  Pick someone who has children that you like, whose children are older than yours, and ask her to be your mothering mentor.  The Internet is wonderful, but there is nothing like having real flesh and blood people who know you and your children and who can support you.  Every mother needs a friend that is encouraging and supportive.   It is always amazing to  me to see mothers being snide to each other instead of loving and supportive.  Those “back-handed” compliments have nothing to do with support!  Every mother is doing the best job that they can in the place that they are with the information that they have.   

For those of you without a mothering mentor or a special encouraging friend, make a list of the qualities of a friend you would love to have, and pray and meditate over that list.  You may be surprised whom you find in your life!

3.  The third thing that goes with satisfaction is feeling as if you are actually not just reacting to everything, but that you have some sort of overall vision and plan. That is why I encourage mothers all the time to think about a Family Mission Statement, to think about what the rhythm of the day might look like (because the rhythm is for YOU even if your small children don’t fall right into it!)  Think about having a menu plan, and when you will clean your house and when you will shop.  Think about how you will handle things that come up as far as guiding your child; if you know developmental stages anticipating these situations and thinking through them is easier;  talk to your mothering mentor about these situations. 

Also, what would be FUN for you with your children?  Do you make time to snuggle, play games, sing together, be outside in nature together, laugh, tell stories, read?  These are the things that build those happy moments rather then the end of the day with exhausted children who are crying through dinner because they really just need to get off to bed! 

4.  The fourth thing to add to your satisfaction is developing yourself and your own inner qualities.  Many mothers do this through a spiritual or religious life; some mothers find this through artistic work, through meditation or  through certain activities that they do.   Taking a bit of time every week to really ask yourself, “Where I am this week and what am I striving for?”  can be really helpful… That person that I was before I was a mother, am I still really that person or am I finding a footing in a new world and changing into being a new person with new and different interests?  Motherhood can be the catalyst to developing yourself further in ways you were not open to before; with different interests that were not there before motherhood.  However, this too, takes time.

Also, please remember to ask for help.  On Mother’s Day and every day, you deserve some time to just think.  Your spouse really does want to help you, tell him what you need.  Time to think will help you process your own growth and lead to increased satisfaction and joy in being home.   If your lack of joy in being with your children stems from a developmental stage that they are in or something going on with your spouse, there are so many posts about sibling fighting, challenges  in marriage and each developmental stage on this blog.  I encourage you to check them out and I hope you will find them helpful.

I hope you have found this encouraging. 

Many blessings and much love,


Renewal: Staying Home

In this time of renewal between Easter and Ascension, in this time of planning for  Fall for many homeschooling mothers,  and in this time of evaluation for many parents as we all gear up for Summer (or Winter, if you are one of my dear Down Under readers!), 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).

Many mothers I speak with somehow feel their children will be “behind” if they don’t enroll in a number of things, and they point to things like elite Olympic athletes who start training at the age of four or something.  Actually, I like to point out that for a number of athletes, they started later or switched later from one sport to the sport that later became their Olympic sport.  I  also like to point out that if a four-year-old starts piano lessons, a seven or eight year old can typically catch up to where the four-year-old is in a matter of months because they are more mature and more coordinated.   There is something to be said for developmental maturity and neural pathways being mature and ready…. I am sure many with disagree on this point, but I guess what I am trying to say is that all is not lost if you take a summer and have nowhere to be or take your children’s under-seven years and be HOME.  That will probably provide a more lasting foundation  than any one-hour class that you are rushing your child and younger children and babies out the door for!

For homeschooling mothers, especially for mothers new to homeschooling, it is easy to think that one’s child should be involved in this and in that for “socialization” and for those things that just seem  harder to do at home.  Many times we tend to forget that home has its own advantages.

So, today, I am just giving you that gentle nudge to look into your heart as you plan for Fall. Think about how many days out of the home are necessary. If your children are small, it may not be what you think.  If your children are older, please do plan enough time to actually home school at home instead of trying to home school from your car.  Unhurried “digestion” of academic material is so important.

Many blessings,