The Mood of Celebration–Part Two

I have had numerous requests to share my little monthly lists.  I am happy to share one with you, but I am not sure it will be of service to you other than to provide an example.  This is because these lists are very specific to my Anglican faith, and also to the seasonal changes within the climate and area of the country in which I live, and also to what I have available locally regarding celebration in food, events and  place.

For me, the weaving of the natural and the liturgical year is common to our family. So, to plan, the first thing I literally do is get out My Book of Common Prayer and find out when things such as Lent, Easter and Ascension are, Feast Days of Saints, and things that I just know from tradition within my Parish that happen each year.  I also try to think in terms of attending the Divine Liturgy itself, but  also what speaks to that particular season through nature because that is where  I can more show my children in our home what ties this whole season back to the Holy Trinity.

For example, the days between Easter and Pentecost, (when we celebrate when the church was born), is a time I like to think about family.  We are part of the family of humanity, we are part of the family of the Church, if we make a birthday cake for the church on Pentecost, what could we be doing to talk about the Church and family and us as the broader picture of Anglicans around the globe to lead up to this?  (Please remember that I have older children as well, so things are more direct for them than just the indirectness that goes on for a tiny child under the age of nine!)   The idea of family, of living in communion,  is a huge concept, but there are indirect ways to do this.  Or, for another example,  how about the days after Pentecost as a time of growth?  There are many sweet picture books about nature and growth to have in a book basket, many ways to experience a beautiful garden and how we grow as Christians.  These are just a few examples.

The second thing I do is just start making free form lists with what I associate with each month – bonfire?  certain foods?  certain events in our community? certain craft  or handwork projects?  certain songs?  I get out my memories, my notes from previous years, my Early Years books and make lists.

Then I can take these ideas and plug them into a monthly rhythm and a weekly rhythm.

So, here is an example for you, but you really need to sit down and do this for yourself.  I don’t mean this harshly, but if creating a family culture is important to you, if Waldorf homeschooling is important to you, then you will try to do your own lists after you see this example.  You must be a person of initiative in order to have this be true to your own family.

So, here is my list, for example, for September: Continue reading

The Mood of Celebration

I think one of the main things that we can give our small children is a sense of life as a celebration.  I don’t mean an all-out wild party, the way we often think of celebrating today, but a mood of joy,  a mood of anticipation and wonder and a happy feeling that we are at one with nature and the world.  A mood of celebration in the small child fosters a sense of unity and commonality with nature and others.

Ideally, once you have gone through cycles of celebration with the small child, with its wonder, anticipation and joy, these cycles will continue throughout the life of the people in the family and become an embedded part of that family;s particular culture. Continue reading

A Plough Monday Reflection: Gathering A Rhythm That Works For You

 

It is that time of year – almost time or completely time for back to school after a long winter break  for most parents and school-aged children. Whether you have children under the age of seven, children that you are homeschooling, or children attending school outside of the home, a good rhythm provides a beautiful anchor for your year of wonder, learning and love as a family.

 

Rhythm is what anchors us as human beings into the cosmos.  Our bodies are attuned to this rhythm if only we don’t dull our feelings and forget the seasonal ebb and tide that we too participate in, even if only at an unconscious level. 

 

I propose that you start this year with some quiet meditation and prayer as to what is really working in your family, and what is not working.  How can you garner a rhythm that works for you?  Do you need to cut back on outside activities?  If you are a working single parent, how would simplifying your schedule look for you?

 

I would love to see you start with YOU.  If you, as the mother and in conjunction with your partner or spouse, can set a rhythm for you  and the adults in your family, then you can slowly help your children come into rhythm.

 

Here are some areas to look at:

  • What time are you going to bed?  Are you getting enough sleep?
  • Are you up before your children, even if it is just by a few minutes?  If not, what is your plan in order to keep everyone happy whilst you fix breakfast, get dressed, get organized for the day?  Can you do any of it at night?
  • What do you do for yourself and how often?  When do you find time to pray and meditate?  Exercise?  Are there things you do for yourself on a daily basis that are just for you?
  • When do you have fun with your children and your family?  Daily, weekly?   When do you get to spend time with your children and just BE with them and enjoy them?
  • What nourishing images and beauty do you have in your home? 

 

I have always advised starting with the basics of sleeping and meal times. Then you can add in nurturing care of your home.  Some mothers who really need an intensive start up beginning to a new rhythm will enlist family or friend help in order to really get their home in as much order as possible and then work with a chore and menu system to maintain their space and time.

 

Then, please do look at what your family members are doing to help nurture your home.  A basic tenant of Waldorf parenting and homeschooling is that all family members can contribute to work in the home.  What are your children doing to help take care of your home?  Smaller children under the age of six weave in and out of work, but those six and up can and should certainly have responsibilities.

 

Lastly, I think it is important to evaluate your rhythm based upon the season.  Right now, in the United States, we are experiencing winter.  Winter requires a different pace than other seasons.  Winter requires a look at sleep; the sun is setting earlier and also rising later.  How do your sleep patterns take this into account?  What about food: warming foods and even spicier foods have been traditional for winter, along with herbs that support the immune system.  Warmth for the body is very important; we look at having up to three layers on top and two on the bottom.  I think winter can also be an important time to replenish oneself, to slow down, to reevaluate.  What does this look like for you?

 

I can’t wait to hear how all of you are doing after these holiday weeks.

Many blessings,
Carrie

Keeping Healthy Through The Winter

The winters of 2012-2013 and the 2013-2014 could be particularly frigid, according to some reports. (Here is one I was looking at:  http://www.accuweather.com/en/weather-news/combination-of-factors-could-m/36990).

This is also the time of year when many mothers, especially homeschooling mothers, find themselves in the throws of trying to homeschool, bake, cook, craft, make gifts, visit family and travel…and essentially overextend themselves and get sick on top of all the holiday bustle!  Many homeschooling mothers I know seem to have long-term health issues that affect their immune systems, which really doesn’t help as well!

One of the first things that I find helpful is to make sure warmth becomes a priority.  I love Green Mountain Organics, and I notice they are having a 10 percent off sale on all their warm woolens.  http://www.facebook.com/notes/green-mountain-organics/winter-woolen-sale/166623896683512.  If you are unfamiliar with the importance of warmth, this back post may be helpful to you:   http://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/12/06/warmth-strength-and-freedom-by-mary-kelly-sutton/

Rest is another huge priority; and I think rest extends even past going to bed every night at a decent hour.  I think it also requires Continue reading

Inadequate 24 Hours A Day

 

I told my husband the other day that on my bad days, I feel like mothering is a stint in being inadequate 24 hours a day.  I can’t meet everyone’s needs; there is no way that  I, as one single faulty human being, can fully meet the needs of the other four people in my immediate family (not to mention extended family and other obligations!)

 

Have you ever felt like that?  I have gone through periods of that in my mothering where I have felt more strongly like that than others, and I am sure you have too. 

 

I am constantly encouraging mothers in this really short season of mothering and especially for my homeschooling mothers to do the best they can to slow down, to not wear so many hats and to simplify things.

 

But even in doing all these things, you probably still are not going to be able to “do it all”.  Doing it all is a fallacy.

 

I can set priorities.

I can recognize that everyone in the family has needs, and I can see who desperately has to have their needs met first or right away and then work down the list.  I can’t meet everyone’s needs at the exact same moment.

I can enlist help – my spouse, my extended family, my neighbors, my intimate friends.

I can help my children learn and take on more responsibility as they grow.

I can set aside time to nurture myself so I can be centered and calm. 

I can allow other people to also nurture me.

 

When we homeschool, I do think we so set that as a priority and give up other things in terms of time and energy…more about that in another post.   It is more important than ever when we parent, and especially when we homeschool, to find the best ways to  simplify, prioritize, delegate, and to allow the family to work as a team.

 

If I can work from this space:

Time and space in the rhythm of the day to allow for connections, and yes, to allow for when challenges occur.

Time and space in the rhythm of the school year to make up any work that didn’t go as smoothly as I originally thought.

Time and space for when life intervenes.

Less hats, less obligations because right now parenting smaller children and homeschooling is the priority.

Doing our best to plan ahead so we have the financial resources available to homeschool and parent. 

A laid-back attitude to know that this is how mothering rolls.

A good sense of humor to address the needs of children in multiple ages.

Our family works as a team, and the children have ways to contribute as well.

To remember to have fun!  This season of mothering is really small.  Fun actually is a priority!!

 

…than life flows more abundantly and more freely, and I can feel free to know life is life, no one can be perfect, and that family life has its ups and downs, its connection and fun.

 

Many blessings,
Carrie

I HATE The Mother That I Am

Every so often, I get emails that break my heart.  This has been one of those weeks.  There are many mothers out there just hating what their mothering is, what they themselves are right now.  And that breaks my heart.

Sometimes I don’t know all the details, all the circumstances.  Is this a chronic feeling and struggle or is it something right here in the moment?  Is it part of or tied to the July doldrums (if any of you have read this blog for awhile, you know how I feel about July here: http://theparentingpassageway.com/2010/07/05/the-july-doldrums-again/   )

We ALL have moments we feel like this.  We may even be having more than just moments, we may be having rough patches with our children where we honestly feel like this for an extended period of time.  Some seasons of parenting are so difficult, so challenging.  Some children have behavior that is challenging and it just challenges us.

And we don’t always handle it well.  We don’t always handle it with grace.  We don’t  always handle it with love.  Sometimes it is hard to see how to best react when it is your own child and we don’t have that outside view looking at someone else’s child doing the same behavior.

Sometimes we feel our children would be better off with anyone else but ourselves.  I have been there too.  I get to those points too, and all I can say is that for me, it is a sign that there is too much going on.  Too much outside pressure, too harried to respond to things in an even-keeled way,  too many things to tend to, and a clear sign my spiritual footing has been neglected, and most likely a sign that my physical body is not being taken care of.

I often think of the village raising a child – how different than all the shaping of a child being done by mainly one or two parents!  Or I think of my own childhood – at school most of the day, coming home and going outside to play until dark, going to bed.  I wasn’t always around a whole lot.  No one had to “arrange” play dates and things to do back then, and the parents were not involved in every dramatic friendship disagreement or thing at school.

For better or for worse, things have changed on a societal level and we put an awful lot of pressure on ourselves.  We talk about not wanting to push our children, but yet we push the hell out of ourselves.  We talk about our children being wonderful, never taking credit for that at all, but when they don’t “act well”, then somehow it is all our fault.

Just musings….So, anyway, once you have a good cry, see if any of this resonates: Continue reading

New Beginnings

Lenten tidings to you all, dear readers!

Lent is this sobering, quieting time of new beginnings.  It becomes the time and space for confession and for asking forgiveness, both in public and in private.  It becomes the time of setting forth priorities and laying forth new inroads of habits.  A time of using less resources, both of food and of our planet’s energy.  A time of new prayer and much reading.  And a time of doing.

I think many people do not associate Lent with doing.  But I do.  The website Full Homely Divinity says, “The Celtic saints who laid the foundations for our Anglican traditions were an extreme lot.  One might say that their practice of the faith was homely in the extreme.  They lived in harsh times and seemed to exult in taking on harsh challenges, physically and spiritually.  Thus, they challenge us in the softer times in which we live and in the softer ways in which we choose to live as Christians.” You can see the full article here, including a summary of the wonderful Lenten book about St. Kevin and the blackbird here:  http://fullhomelydivinity.org/articles/full%20homely%20lent.htm

Now is the time – what are your priorities for your family? Are you willing to step out and live that?  What is your place and your mark to make to help your community?  Are you doing it?

And your parenting:  it is not enough to just read blogs or books and toddle on the way you always have.  Now is the time to do.  Be present with your children by taking an electronic fast.  Play with your children.  Do real work in front of them.  Show them how to live!

In the spirit of Lent, I offer you several links that are my favorite for this season:

Carbonfast for Lent:  http://carbonfast.blogspot.com/

Church Fathers Lenten Reading Plan: http://www.churchyear.net/lentfathers.html

A Lenten Calendar for children:   http://thesefortydays.blogspot.com/2008/02/project-lenten-calendar.html

We will also be coming back to the oldie but goodie series  “Twenty Days Toward Being A More Mindful Mother” with updated versions of these classic posts that will also include a strong component of real, practical work – the doing piece that is the balance to inner work.

Many blessings,

Carrie