A Plea For Summer Vacation

In Waldorf Education, we have vacation in the month of December, we have two whole weeks around Easter, and we take a true Summer Vacation.

Summer Vacation in the United States seems to almost be becoming a thing of the past.  The shelves of Barnes and Noble are crammed with workbooks so your child will not be “ left behind”; every parenting magazine I pick up talks about reading and summer contests for reading so children don’t lose the ability to read; so many homeschoolers I know homeschool  through the summer months….

Ah, but I think in so many ways it is productive to focus on things other than the eyes as connected to the brain during Summer!   Summer is this time when we gloriously live in our senses and take in Nature and all of Creation in this beautiful running stream!  Why would we not work with this time of year instead of trying to work against it?  Growth occurs in the Summer in the body, in the way we process things through those twelve senses!  There are so many things to be learned in the Summer that  one cannot learn from any book and there are  so many skills to develop!

Here are a few examples:  picking fruit from thorny vines and having the sticky juice run down your arms, traveling to the lake, the mountains or the beach and walking barefoot over the sand or tree roots, weeding in the garden in the hot, canning, building, bonfires on St. John’s Tide, camping, fireworks, eating watermelon, swimming in a really cold lake.

If you must focus on something, my plea is to focus on the physical, the practical.  If your child is over five, can they swim really well?  Ride a bike?  Roller skate? Climb a tree?  Traverse the monkey bars by themselves?  Do they help with canning?  Can they clean?  How can they  help with camping?

Most of all, whilst the children play, this is your time to get your house in order for fall, your time to plan your fall homeschool year, and also your time to be outside making joyous memories with your family.

So, my plea is to make this a true vacation, but also to have a balance.  Please speak with your spouse and have at least once a week (or more!) in which you can plan for fall.  Sit down with a calendar and don’t plan to be out every single afternoon – also plan some time to get your house ready for fall.  Slow and steady wins the race for we adults…

But please let the children be on break!  They will come back tan and tall and ready to learn!

Many blessings,

Carrie

Summer and Preparation

Someone recently asked about how to get everything done and specifically  how I get everything done……You all know I don’t think we should be too hard on ourselves, because small children are only small once and you really cannot get things done with the same efficiency as you did prior to having small children around.  I certainly don’t get everything I want done, and I work in very small chunks of time, ten minutes here and fifteen minutes there.

However, even though we know we cannot get it ‘”all” done, we also know that if we have older children, there are some things that just HAVE to get done.  I do think it is important to plan in homeschooling, especially when you have multiple children that are older.  It is just too difficult to “fly by the seat of your pants” when you have babies and toddlers and older children, and with older children, there are skills to be acquired in their education.  Waldorf is rigorous!  More about homeschool planning in a minute…

From a parenting perspective and from  a Waldorf perspective, we also want to do things that build up our own inner life so we will be better parents and better teachers.  From a Waldorf perspective, we know that working with small children uses up our etheric forces, our life forces.  I think even non-Waldorf parents would agree that taking care of small children sometimes can be challenging and draining.  So one important thing to do in your summer planning is to consider activities that will replenish your etheric life.  In Waldorf, we often think of this as artistic activities:  art, music, handwork, drawing and painting.  Eurythmy  actually takes tremendous etheric forces and should not be done by pregnant women or women with children under the age of three as your etheric forces are so vitally tied to your small child.  Other ways to help your etheric body include warmth in the chest area, warming foods (some would say “rich” foods) and I would add sleep; really getting into a rhythmic pattern for your own sleeping and waking.

I have written many times that I do all my homeschool planning over the summer so it is all done by the time we start school in the fall.  I  mainly do this at night after my children are asleep because I do plan on the computer, or sometimes I get a half hour where the baby is asleep and my husband takes the older children to the pool or the park and I plan then.  I try to plan homeschool things for a half an hour to two hours a week over the Summer, and just work in those small but consistent chunks.

Reading Steiner is an important part of preparation for homeschooling, and if you are parenting, reading books regarding gentle discipline is very important to keep your mindset focused. Reading can be done in very small chunks indeed.  Lisa’s YahooGroups are studying “Practical Advice to Teachers” and also “Bees”…Please see here to join the fun!  steinerstudygroup@yahoogroups.com is the link for the “Practical Advice to Teachers” study group!  Even reading for five to ten minutes a day is better than nothing!  Slow but steady!

The other piece, for me at least, is I go through every single space in my home over the summer and declutter and move things and get everything tidy.  I have a small house, and with three children, “stuff” can really take over and pile-up if I am not consistent with it all.

So, in the summer, pretty much I work on the house in the morning in small spurts between fun with the children, in the afternoon we go to the pool and swim until we are ready to drop, and at night, at least for four nights a week I do homeschool lesson planning or my own work for a little bit before my husband and I spend time together.  We also plan “fun days” of going to the lake, or taking in a puppet show, or berry-picking and canning, but we also spend a good amount of time at home.  I tend to have my husband run the errands, or I do them around dinner time for an hour here or there.  I try to limit errand-running as much as possible!

I don’t know if that structure would be helpful to you, but in this summer I encourage you to think how you could get organized and prepared for  fall.  You will be so pleased how everything will be ready come fall!

Many blessings,

Carrie

Coming Up In May!

Now that our time of renewal is over and Ascension is here, I thought I would just post the “sneak preview” of what is coming up the rest of the month of May and into June.   We will be looking at ways to understand our loved ones, mainly through understanding the four temperaments (and for that you really do need to understand the four-fold human being), but also through the attachment lens of “love languages” and nonviolent communication.  I also would like to write a bit about raising boys.    We also need to finish up “Discipline Without Distress” and move into “Hold On To Your Kids” during June. 

This promises to be a busy  month of things to really think about!

And please, do leave your challenges in homemaking and mothering in the comment box below.  I really do try to answer your questions in blog posts; if you have left a challenge before that has not yet been addressed please do leave it again. I get a lot of comments and email and may have inadvertently missed it! I apologize!

Please also leave a comment regarding how often you like to see new posts.  I am trying to figure out if posting daily is way too much, and would love feedback as to what you would like to see!

Also, you may have noticed that now there is an “archive” feature on the sidebar, so if you have time you may want to pick a month and just scroll the headers for posts and see what interests you.  Mothers tell me there is reading in those back months that really does resonate with them.

Many blessings, and looking forward to the rest of May!

Carrie

More About The Spring Cleaning of The Mind

This can be a tough time of year for homeschooling mothers; serious burn-out and lack of motivation seems to prevail.  Our minds sometimes are more on our seed catalogs and what to get for next year’s curriculum than the here and now.

I think this a great time of year to stop and take stock of where you are in your homeschooling, where your children are, and what are the essential things to get done before the end of the school year.  I also think it can be a nice time of year to plan some things for outside once your weather cooperates and to think of the DOING and the experiences one could create with your grades children, and how to bring awe and reverence to the younger children.

I think every year it is also wise to look at each child, to look at their homeschooling adventure this year and to decide with fresh eyes to homeschool again.  To really commit to that with a new heart, a new love.  Do you have a mission statement for your homeschool?  Are you happy overall with the way things have progressed in your homeschool this year?  What needs to be different?

If you are not homeschooling, perhaps this is a wonderful time to re-commit yourself to your family.  Write that family mission statement or update it.  Commit to that date at home with your spouse after your children go to bed.  Commit to that Family Game Night with the kids!  Connect with each other and love each other!

And dig deep within yourself; replenish that well.  Spend time in creativity, and with good friends and build yourself up.  Think about what your dreams are, and whilst this season of child-rearing is busy, perhaps there are ways to work toward your dreams in small increments. I just signed up for an Internet course that I am very excited about, for example.  It is a small, do-able step toward my eventual goals.

What are your dreams?  Journal, draw, write it all down.

Happy Spring Cleaning!

Blessings,

Carrie

Favorite Spring Tales For The Waldorf Kindergarten

Like the Fall Tales List for Waldorf Kindergarten, this is NOT an all-inclusive list, these are just some tales I have enjoyed or I know other mothers have used at these ages…..Happy finding the tales that speak to you and to your family!

 

January (Okay, still Winter!)

Four Year Olds:  Shingebiss (Winter Wynstones)

Five Year Olds:  The Snow Maiden (Plays for Puppets)

Six Year Olds:  The Twelve Months (www.mainlesson.com); 

February

Four Year Olds:  “Pussy Willow Spring” from Suzanne Down’s “Spring Tales” or a story about how the snowdrop got its color

Five Year Olds:  “The Rabbit and the Carrot”  a Chinese Tale found in the Spring Wynstones and also in “An Overview of the Waldorf Kindergarten”

Six Year Olds:  “The Three Brothers” by the Brothers Grimm

There are also a few Saint Valentine’s Day stories on mainlesson.com

 

March

For  ages three and a  half or so  and up for Saint Patrick’s Day:  “Lucky Patrick” from “Spring Tales” by Suzanne Down

There is also a great “leprechuan” circle adventure/movement journey in the book, “Movement Journeys and Circle Adventures” based upon “Tippery Tim” the leprechaun in “Spring Tales” by Suzanne Down

Four Year Olds:  The Billy Goats Gruff

Five Year Olds:  “Little Brown Bulb” from “Spring Tales” from Suzanne Down or “Little Red Cap” from Brothers Grimm

Six Year Olds: “ Bremen Town Musicians” from the Brothers Grimm;  or “An Easter Story” from “All Year Round” or “The Donkey” by The Brothers Grimm

 

April: 

Four Year Olds:  Goldilocks and The Three Bears

Five Year Olds:   “Mama Bird’s Song” from “Spring Tales” by Suzanne Down  or”Rumpelstiltskin” by the Brothers Grimm

Six Year Olds:  “Frog Prince” from the Brothers Grimm

 

May

Four Year Olds:  “Chicken Licken” or “The Pancake”  with Spring details

Five Year Olds:  For Ascensiontide, the story “Forgetful Sammy” from “All Year Round” or “Twiggy” from “Plays for Puppets”

Six Year Olds: “The Magic Lake at the End of the World” (from Ecuador, found in “Your’re Not The Boss of Me!  Understanding the Six/Seven Year Transformation)  or “Queen Bee” from the Brothers Grimm  or “Forgetful Sammy” or “Twiggy”  as listed for the five-year-old.

 

June

Four Year Olds:  “The Pancake” with spring/summer details

Five Year Olds:  “Goldener”  (Plays for Puppets)

Six Year Olds:  “Snow White and Rose Red”  or “A Midsummer Tale” from the book “An Overview of the Waldorf Kindergarten”, also in “Plays for Puppets”

What are your favorite stories?  Please add them below!

Many blessings,

Carrie

Peaceful March!

Have I got a treat for you this month, and I am so excited to write these series and bring it to you all!  I was thinking about this month, the month of March, the month of Lent and the month of St. Patrick and it really led me to meditate on peace and  what peace means within the context of homemaking, parenting and creating a family culture.

What does it mean to have a peaceful home?  Is it the absence of conflict?  Actually, for me, it is not the absence of conflict.  I do not count it as a good day when there is no temper tantrum, no yelling, no fighting per se (of course that is nice when those days happen!)  But I guess what I am saying is that for me, peace is the ability to maintain my center whilst these things are happening.  Does that resonate with anyone out there? 

I got this cute email from a mother who said something to the effect that I seemed calm and centered and asked how she could attain that.  I chuckled, because I remember when my oldest was two and a half (and also heading into those three’s!) and I didn’t feel calm or centered.  I remember being unsure of how to handle two children.  I remember all those feelings, and  I remember feeling as if I had very little support.  That is why I started to write this blog because now I am at the point where I feel I do have something to give back. I have figured out some things and for the most part, I feel  do feel centered and calm, at least with the parenting part.    This doesn’t mean yelling never happens, anger never happens, or I never feel as if there isn’t enough of me to go around.  It doesn’t mean I don’t worry about my children, or sometimes wonder if the job I am doing is “enough”.  But what it means is that for the most part, I can take that and work with those feelings in a more positive way than I ever could before.  And you will be able to as well!  Come follow along with me this month and let’s talk about these issues!

One thing you may want to have for this month is just a blank Main Lesson book or a sketch pad or just blank paper and some art materials that you like, whether that is colored pencils or other things, just so you can jot down questions and your ideas.

For today, I want you to really think about how you feel about peace.

  • What would a peaceful home look like to you?  What would it sound like?  What would it smell like?  What does a peaceful home mean to your spouse?  Can you talk about this together?
  • Is peace for you the absence of conflict? Is it never having a raised voice? How can you look at peace from different angles or viewpoints?
  • What makes you feel centered and peaceful?  Is it reading, art, painting, knitting, exercising?  I see attached mothers who feel guilty about taking any time “alone”, and sometimes we can feel “alone” with a sleeping baby on our back :), but it is not wrong for you to need an hour to do something that nourishes you!
  • Where is your prayer and meditation time?  Whether your path is Christian, Jewish, Islamic or other spiritual traditions, I urge you to carefully think about creating a path this month that will nourish your soul.  If you are atheist, how do you work with this within your beliefs?  Can you draw or journal about this?  Pull out a calendar and put time in every day to do these spiritual things. Make that date to go check out a place of worship if that speaks to you.  Find the tradition and path that moves you!
  • Living with small children is physically demanding, it is repetitive.  Children are immature, they cry,they are noisy, they do things!  On the other hand, children bring a lot of joy, much laughter, they say and do funny things.  How can you reconcile these things to have peace in the midst of the noise and mess?

In parting for today, in  honor of St. Patrick’s day, let us remember the prayer attributed to him:

May the Strength of God guide us.
May the Power of God preserve us.
May the Wisdom of God instruct us.
May the Hand of God protect us.
May the Way of God direct us.
May the Shield of God defend us.
May the Angels of God guard us.
- Against the snares of the evil one.
May Christ be with us!
May Christ be before us!
May Christ be in us,
Christ be over all!
May Thy Grace, Lord,
Always be ours,
This day, O Lord, and forevermore. Amen.

Peaceful days and many blessings,

Carrie

Joy For January!

I ADORE January!  There is something about the new year, fresh starts, blank calendar pages, the whole lure of cleaning and organizing,  that I just love!  And the gardening catalogs and seed catalogs start to show up!  Did I mention that?!  Another reason to linger extra long over a cup of hot tea!

I invite you to take a look at some focus areas for the month that may help your life run a bit smoother in the New Year.

How about this wonderful home cleaning plan from the Organized Home website?  I plan on following this and thought some of you may be interested as well:  http://organizedhome.com/clean-house/2010-new-year-grand-plan-cleaning-challenge

From the Waldorf end of life, I know January can be a very cold month for many of you and harder to get the children outside for long periods of time.  So, in that spirit, I propose to spruce up the play spaces.  Can you rotate some toys in or out?  Can you set up some play scenes with silks and other natural objects?  Here are some back posts to get you  started if this is new to you:  http://theparentingpassageway.com/2008/10/05/fostering-creative-play/

and here:  http://theparentingpassageway.com/2008/10/29/more-about-fostering-creative-play/

If it is really cold where you are, how can your children get their energy out and their sensory needs met?  Do you have a little trampoline, a small plastic box for tabletop sand play, a swing to hang in a corner, pillows to jump on, creative and active singing games? Will they be kneading bread, rolling out cookie  dough with a rolling pin, crawling under tables like a puppy, jumping like a toad, playing with salt dough?

For my Down Under readers who are in the height of summer, how about this back post?      http://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/07/01/celebrating-summer-with-small-children-a-waldorf-perspective/   

As far as your own work, what new practical skill are you going to learn or work on this January through May time frame?  Knitting, hand sewing, cooking, baking, weaving?  I have some plans for sewing some dolls’ clothes for Valentine’s Day.   Our Waldorf homeschooling group will be making Rose Windows in honor of Valentine’s Day, which I am excited about as I have never done that.  I also am in the mood to knit so I will continue making hats for everyone in the family.  What are doing with your hands this season to show your children work?  Even showing a child ten or fifteen minutes of work is of value!  Start with small time frames when you have wee ones about!

What artistic work are you doing?  Have you tried your hand at wet-on-wet watercolor painting, modeling or drawing?

Where are you with parenting?  This month I will be writing about children and chores, the realities of life with the one and two-year old, more about quiet time, and more, more, more!  What do you need to hear this month?  Leave me a comment and I will be happy to see if I can work it in!

Meditate over your children at night and any challenges you may be facing. Talk about these challenges with your spouse.  Grow in your intimacy as you share your parenting journey together. 

As far as inner work, “Joy for January” is a great title and a great start to the New Year!  What brings you and your family joy?  What can all of you do together, as a family, that will bring you all good memories and lots of joy?  Take that blank calendar and pencil in some dates for fun!  Ice skating, sledding, skiing, hiking, going to the seashore for my Down Under readers – all wonderful!

I think it is a myth that  in Waldorf that “we never play with our children” (um, at least it is a myth in my home!).  I sure do!  I love to play:  board games, card games, make believe with the children’s fairies and fairy house and dollhouse.  If you have a child that is under the age of 7 and they are your oldest, they will need some help with playing as they are at the height of their imitative phase.  They may not spontaneously generate ideas to  play without you to imitate, at least to start!  So brush off your creativity and see what comes up!

This month, in the light of the candlelight and firelight of your warm and snug home, tell your children some stories.  Make up some, tell them stories of when you were little and when your parents and grandparents were little.  Sing and make music.  Play some games.  Snuggle up together and read some books.  Delight in being together, and find the joy in this journey as we go through the cold winter.

Joy for January’s Journey,

Carrie

Cultivating How To Hold The Space : The Inner Work Of Advent

I talk a lot on this blog about the need for parents to hold the space for their children, and many families wonder what that would look like or how that would happen.

When I talk about this notion of  holding the space I mean it in a kind way, in a loving way, in an authentic way, but in a way where you are the wall a child can bounce off of.  If you were the Queen, you would not be running around like a chicken with your head cut off (my great-grandmother’s saying!), trying to accommodate three or four children’s wishes and desires of any given moment.   Instead, you would be calm and collected.  You would have a kind way but a Queenly Way.  You would probably think before you decreed something, and you probably would not explain the heck out of yourself.

How can you be the Queen of your home?

If you have children under the age of 9, you are going to know that children under the age of 9 are prone to “emotional excess”, one of my favorite expressions that Donna Simmons of Christopherus Homeschool points out. Children of this stage are beings of will and movement, and you would expect things such as hunger, sleep,  and over-stimulation to play a role in behavior.  And being Queen, you would come up with ways to make life flow smoothly.

Perhaps you would lay out clothes the night before and expect that many children want to be dressed by their mommies even when they are 5.  And you would decide, ahead of time, if this was okay by you or something that would Shove Her Highness Off Into The Moat.  This way you could be proactive about such issues within your home, and not reactive.  You might consider having a rotating menu for breakfast, lunch and dinner so there is no treating The Queen as a short- order cook.  There are many other areas where the thought of thinking and planning ahead could come together for the benefit of your family. 

You would not be swept away by the torrents of wee ones’ tantrums and emotion because you would know your number one job would be to hold the balance when your child cannot hold it for themselves.  This does not mean to be an unemotional  rock, but it does mean you can understand how words can be just words, feelings can change on a dime and if you can just hold on, your child will eventually calm down.  You will understand that you are being a rock for your child to hold onto so the torrent of emotion doesn’t escalate for the child.

Again, this does not mean being unfeeling!  You can hold your child, pat your child, move your child, but you may  not fall apart with your child as they fall apart.  You may not unleash your own torrent of emotion on a small child and expect them to not crumple in front of you.  Behavior that is not fabulous in an under-9 child generally needs to be treated in the same ho-hum tone you would use to ask a child to pick up a book off the floor.  Then you can move into having the child FIX his poor action, because the child is a WILLING and DOING being at this point.  He needs to DO to fix it!  But he cannot fix it if he is falling apart and you are falling apart with him!  He is learning; help him!

For children over the age of 9, as Queen you would realize feelings are predominant.  Feelings were also important before, but feelings were more in an undifferentiated kind of state. Now feelings are so specific!  Being Queen, you would be able to hear feelings expressed immaturely ( meaning not always in a way pleasing to the Queen’s ears!) and still be able to be a calm rock with a ho-hum attitude to help the child learn to fix this challenge!   Feelings can be acknowledged without judgment because most of all,  The Queen is a problem-solver, and if she can model being calm, solving the problem, being respectful, then the child will as well! 

For children over the age of 14, they are interested in your thoughts, in the nature of constructing an argument, in your thoughts and why you think that and how you got there in your thinking.  It is hard!  Don’t you remember being a teenager?

Barbara Coloroso, in her book, “Kids Are Worth It!  Giving Your Child the Gift of Inner Discipline” :  “If you are raising adolescents, you are in a high-risk category for a coronary.  You’re up against someone dealing with a major hormone attack:  feet are too big, hands are too big, bodies are too big or too small, voices are up, voices are down, zits are coming out all over their faces.  They come to the front door, all smiles; two minutes later they are in the bathroom crying.  You ask what happened.  “She used my comb.”  “He wore my shirt.”  “She didn’t call like she said she would.”  Are we going to make it through this?  Yes, but we can’t keep hooking in to our kids’ adrenaline.”

A Queen is the Ultimate Helper, problem-solver, balancer, peacemaker.

Can you be that Queen for a day?

Carrie

Cultivating A Rhythm for Your Personal Care: The Inner Work Of Advent

Hi to all of you wonderful mothers out there!  Today I have some very special thoughts for you!

I am sure you have all heard the saying, “When mama ain’t happy, no one is happy.”  YOU set the tone for YOUR home.  Your home, your words, your gesture, your mood are all the reality that your children know.  They have no idea until they are older all the myriad of choices and reflection of values that go into your style of parenting!

So this flows from you! You are special and wonderful and chosen to be this child’s mother!

And the only way to set the tone in your home is to be able to take care of yourself.  If you are physically not well, emotionally not well, spiritually not well, then how can you run your home well?

So, as part of your inner work for Advent and into the Holy Nights (the 12 Days of Christmas extending from Boxing Day until Epiphany) is to think about these areas and plan:

PHYSICAL HEALTH/OUTER APPEARANCE:  Okay, mamas, when was the last time you had a comprehensive physical check-up?  Dental work?  Do you use any alternative care such as chiropractic, homeopathic, body work?

Are you suffering from depression or chronic pain?  Have you spoken with a health care provider about this at all?

Finally, and I know this can be a sensitive subject, but how are you eating these days?  Do you exercise?  Do you drink water?

One thing my husband said to me the other day was how happy he was that I take care of myself because he had known so many women who let themselves go after marriage and children.  I will be honest with you all, I want to look attractive for myself because I feel better when I feel healthy and beautiful, but I also want to be attractive for him. I think part of being married is that we want to be attractive for each other.

Do you get up and get dressed and feel beautiful every day?  Have you bought any clothes for yourself this entire year? Shoes?  Do you wear skirts at all?  Sometimes just little things make a big difference in how you feel!

It seems as if being a mother often means we take care of everyone else often to our own neglect.  I am asking you to think about these areas and devise a way to put yourself first here and there.  Talk to your spouse or partner about how they can help you make this happen.  This is especially important in homeschooling families where we are always with our children; you need to carve out a little slice for those appointments and exercise.  Get out your 2010 day planner and see if you can make it happen this coming year!

EMOTIONAL  HEALTH:  How are feeling these days?  Do you need a mental health tune-up these days?  Can you do this yourself by getting more sleep, carving out some time for yourself, exercising – or do you need an annual mental health check-up just the same way we need an annual physical check-up?

I am a big believer in support for the journey – support through family, through friends, and yes, through mental health professionals if need be.

One interesting project for you to consider for the New Year is the notion of biography.  The book “Tapestries” by Betty Staley is a really interesting perspective on Steiner’s seven-year cycles for adulthood and I wrote notes to all the chapters of that book on this blog.  This book is well-worth your time; find out where you are, think about where you have been.  Then think about where you will go!

Another thing to consider for your own development is the artistic piece.  Just setting aside one hour twice a week to wet-on-wet watercolor paint yourself can be such a meditative and healing experience!  Think about what artistic work you would like to try and schedule a time!

SPIRITUAL HEALTH:  How do you bring joy into your parenting and your homemaking?  This journey should be one of joy!

For inner work, I recommend exploring any spiritual or religious path you feel drawn to.  I think it is actually important to have something higher to believe in and draw upon, to connect to, as you do this most important work.

We do devotions in the morning and at night, and I also do a Bible study during my Quiet Time  each day.  I also pencil in nights to read Steiner and to study these works.  Every family’s plan will look different, but what is most important is that you have a plan! 

When will your daily time to pray or meditate be?  Children perceive our thoughts and our soul in the very gesture of what we do.  Inner work and striving is such an important piece of all of this!

Make some time for you,

Carrie

Cultivating The Energy: The Inner Work of Advent

A mom wrote in and asked what to do with a household that i s very calm and soothing, a household that is very conducive to rest but really needs a kick of energy!  What to do?

I think one thing to think about is this issue of balance. There  is an anthroposophic meditative exercise called The Preview where you essentially run through your day in your head before you really get up.  So, I would encourage you to make this part of your meditative practice.  When you run through your day in your head, where are the points of energy?  Where is the music, the singing, the movement. the running around outside, the scrubbing of the floor, the work? 

Many children need help in being quiet, but I also have run across quite a few who are only quiet and are very content to sit and look at book after book or draw for hours and hours on end and would prefer to be inside rather than outside expending energy.  Sometimes this is necessary, for example, if you live in an area where the weather is truly frigid and you cannot get outside, but I would also encourage you to look at balance.  Can you promote movement inside with very active circle times or singing games?  Can you set up an obstacle course inside?  Most of all, if your children are under 9, can you structure the environment so they have active things to do and put up the books and crayons and such that they come down only at certain times?  Balance, balance, balance.

Getting everyone together several times a day to sing and play singing games is an excellent way to promote some energy!  If you have forgotten all the singing games from your childhood, “Lavender’s Blue Dilly Dilly” by Mary Thienes Schunemann has 28 singing games in it: http://www.naturallyyoucansing.com/books/lavender.htm

Other mothers I know in this situation have had success in looking at themselves.  Think about your own energy and where you are.  Are you stuck?  We want things to be calm at home, but I also think when we model to a child that during “down time” we are always sitting down knitting or reading as opposed to singing a song while we scrub something or grabbing a shovel and heading out to the garden, we send a message as to what kinds of activities are important.  Our children are the great imitators!  What kind of energy are you showing your children?

If your own personal energy is lower than you think it should be, please try this post to assist you:  http://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/05/06/making-yourself-a-priority-in-the-parenting-equation/

I think energy is also seasonal though as well. In the Northern Hemisphere, this just seems to be the time to hunker down and enjoy the warmth of inside right now, with increased energy and vitality to come as the days warm.  Bringing in the light with the Winter Festivals is an important shift of energy for our yearly rhythm.  

Look toward the balance of your day and your activities,

Carrie