Realistic Expectations: Day Ten of Twenty Days Toward More Mindful Mothering

In Day Nine of “Twenty Days Toward More Mindful Mothering”, we looked at our abilities to set boundaries.  And, one thing I really wanted to hammer in was that boundaries work both ways – it is not something that we only set for our children, but something we also set for ourselves.  We need to set boundaries on how we handle the emotional things in life, especially the negative emotions in life that people hand us or that we think cause us to feel the way we do, because as we do this we model this for our children.  We must help our children rise up out of their own negativity as well, if they have those tendencies, and do that through the boundaries we set on how we allow ourselves to be treated.

A large part of setting boundaries for children is knowing what are the realistic expectations for each age. If you are setting a boundary based upon some idea that the child “should” be able to do this, but the child really is not developmentally capable of this, then this is going to be a problem!  It is one thing to help a child rise up to something that are capable of doing, but one must also be realistic and not expect ten year old things out of a three-year old!

This by itself could be a small book, but let’s point out a few highlights for realistic expectation for age three up through age eight in this three-part post!

 

AGE THREE: Three is very, very little.  Very TINY.  Say that with me!  TINY!   According to Waldorf parenting and pedagogy, the first three years are for the establishment for walking (which takes about two and a half years to be a very mature walker without needing the arms for balance, being able to run, stop and start suddenly, etc); then the development of speech and the development of thinking as first seen by use of the term “I”.  These are the main goals for the first three years. 

Then we start moving into other areas…

Some parents get very upset around the three and a half year mark as children start to exert some will and push against the forms of the day and the rhythms you have crafted. This is very normal.  Typical developmental things about the three and a half -year-olds include (this is according to the Gesell Institute, not necessarily my personal opinion!):

 

Age Three and A Half

  • Turbulent, troubled period of disequilibrium, the simplest event or occasion can elicit total rebellion; strong and secure gross motor abilities may turn more into stumbling, falling, at this age; new- found verbal ability such as “I’ll cut you in pieces!” and lots of whining   — Keep your ho-hum on! Continue reading

Part Two of Day Nine: Twenty Days Toward Being A More Mindful Mother

 

We last were talking about boundaries in this post:  http://theparentingpassageway.com/2012/08/16/day-nine-of-twenty-days-toward-more-mindful-mothering/

 

Boundaries are an interesting thing; once attached parents realize that they and their children are not the same person and that boundaries are really necessary, it can be hard for some parents to know what to put boundaries around (hint:  if it wouldn’t fly out in public with other adults or children, if it hurts the child or others, if it destroys property, it shouldn’t fly in your home!) and then often even still harder to know how to put the boundary in place without yelling or communicating in other ineffective ways.  Knowing developmental phases are really important here, and there are many back posts on The Parenting Passageway about gentle discipline and the “how-to’s” of each age.

 

But there is another interesting consideration about boundaries, and that is how boundaries are a two-way street:  boundaries are not only for the benefit of the child, to help the child grow and mature into the kind of adult we and others would like to be around, but they also model for our children how to place boundaries on the negative energy of other people.  How do we deal with anger, guilt, blame from other people, whether it be our children, family members or others? Do we accept and carry it around like a purse or do we know how to set boundaries to keep ourselves sane? It is an important consideration to model this for our children.

 

If I model for my child that I do not accept a child yelling and screaming AT me with blame, accusation… but that I am so happy to listen when we can talk calmly and without that blame and accusation,  then I am showing my child  how I deserve to be treated and how we should all treat each other.   I am showing that I choose not to accept and carry around  the negative emotions of others toward me, but that I will work toward the opportunity of calm problem -solving. 

 

I have a dear friend who talks about how people, and even children,  can “machine gun” you down with their emotions – whether that be angry accusations and blame or screeching and wailing and crying and complaining.  We want to raise a generation of children who will not be machine gunners.  We want to raise a generation of children who can let their emotions out, in an appropriate way, without all the verbal spillage, blame,  and anger onto others.

 

In this regard, I think Non-Violent Communication can be a tool, an inner framework for you, the adult,  to use as a model in handling emotion.  The verbosity of NVC does not, to me at least, fit well into the developmental framework of the child under the teen-aged years according to Waldorf methodology (and this is a place where you will find Waldorf people with differing opinions, so take what resonates with you).    Here is a link to some free resources regarding NonViolent Communication:  http://www.nonviolentcommunication.com/freeresources/resources.htm

 

Take some time to meditate on the boundaries you set around yourself, especially emotional boundaries.  Being a parent does not mean you become the dumping ground for your family’s emotional negativity.  It is okay to have a boundary around that and to implement constructive ways to deal with negative emotions within your family. 

 

Many blessings,

Carrie

Day Nine of Twenty Days Toward More Mindful Mothering

 

I think for many parents the ability to set limits and boundaries in a calm manner can be such a hard thing.

First of all, as a first-time attached parent, we have to learn how to surrender to this wee being and share our bodies, our time, our lives. We have to make the transition from being perhaps an outside-the-home career woman who has a schedule and deadlines to meet  and control over time to an extent to slowing down to the home environment where we are lucky to get a shower! We have visions based upon parenting books we read that the baby will sleep a lot and we will have all this time to clean our house and walk on our treadmills or something and quickly realize that is not reality with an infant. It can take time to transition into relaxing into our baby’s cues for breastfeeding, for sleep. Once we do that, and are nursing and sharing proximity in sleep and realizing that the child does not view himself as separate from us, we learn to surrender and have an ebb and flow of connection with our child.

However, then there comes the assertion of will from the child. We start to realize that the child is pushing against the forms of the day, the rhythm we have so carefully crafted. It seems so unfair after we worked so hard to learn to surrender and to connect!   Some people see this transition point as defiance, but in the land of Waldorf Education and even in the land of traditional childhood development pushing against the forms of the day is not seen as caused by  the child being malicious or trying to be devious! The child is learning, the child is realizing they are a person onto themselves.  However, this can be a frustrating time in parenting a small child because the child does have an idea of what they want, and  they do live in the moment without much thought of what happens before or after an action.    If you need further help, here is a post to help you: http://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/09/16/a-few-fast-words-regarding-defiance-in-children-under-the-age-of-6/

 

With our first child, we may slowly start to realize the child is not the same as us; not a psychological extension of us. We start to realize that the needs of the whole family absolutely do count and not just the needs of the child. Some parents realize these things earlier than others. Some parents come to this rather late, and because they are totally fed up and feel as if they must have done everything wrong as a parent because why else would their child act this way?

 

Some parents get truly frustrated and they say to me things such as: “I tell them what to do and they run the other way!” or other parents say, “I get frustrated because I am so mad and ready to lose it and they SMILE at me or LAUGH!” Continue reading

Part Two, Day Eight: Twenty Days Toward More Mindful Mothering

 

(You can see the first part of Day Eight here: http://theparentingpassageway.com/2012/06/25/day-eight-twenty-days-toward-being-a-more-mindful-mother/)

 

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Watching a flower bloom is like watching a child grow in nature….their bodies growing bigger and stronger, developing all of their senses.

 

A wonderful exercise that I did in my Foundation Studies course was to draw a flower every day, bud stage through the final phases of the petals dropping.  I was drawing tonight and thinking about how our children blossom outside…

 

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Please give your children the gift of being outside – crossing streams on logs, hiking up hills and mountains, over rock and gravel, rolling down grassy hillsides and sitting in meadows and mud.  It is so important.

 

Have a blessed week,

Carrie

Day Eight: Twenty Days Toward Being A More Mindful Mother

With the publication of such important works as “Last Child In The Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature Deficit Disorder” by Richard Louv, hopefully parents everywhere are considering the importance of  nature, being in nature, and the foundational learning that occurs from spending time in nature.

I have mentioned many times that I bank on a extraordinary amount of outside time for small children under the age of seven – three to four hours a day  is not too much, and some children may need many more hours.   Young children need the sensory experiences of being in their bodies:   pushing, pulling, tugging, lugging, digging, moving, rolling in order to establish the fundamental bodily senses as a  proper foundation for later academic experiences.

If being outside is new to you or you need some ideas about what to do outside, here is a very, very popular post regarding connecting your child to nature: Continue reading

The Follow-Up To Day Seven Of Twenty More Days Toward More Mindful Mothering

The question of the week is:   “How many activities is right for the older ( aged 9 and up) child?”

That is a hard one, isn’t it?  I bet if you asked 100  homeschooling families, you might get close to 100 different answers!  I think different families, even families who love homeschooling in a similar way,  still have different values and different ways of approaching things.

Many homeschooling families seem to be reluctant to do activities for their child over the age of nine because of the impact this has on the younger children in the family – the driving, the time involved, the financial end of things.  I do understand.  That is a consideration.

However, looking at a nine or ten year old developmentally, it is not that the family is less important to a 9 year old, but most 9 and 10 year olds are appreciative of some space and time to be with their peers, to be separate from their younger siblings, and happy to try out something new with a trusted adult outside of the family. The world is opening up, and these older children need opportunities to be a part of it in a protected and healthy way.   Other trusted adults can be an important and welcome part of a nine and ten year old’s life.

If you are planning to homeschool high school, there may another angle to think about activities from as well. Continue reading

Day Seven, Part Two: Twenty Days Toward Becoming A More Mindful Mother

 

I wanted to have a picture of this beautiful rhythm written out on a gorgeous wet on wet watercolor painting to share with you today.

 

Hmm.  Well, that didn’t happen (at least not yet).    Let me share with you my secret: I have planned, written, scratched out and re-planned my own rhythm for fall schooling at least six times now.   It didn’t seem as if it had enough time and space in it, and I felt it was so difficult to attain a balance the main lesson needs (and extra lessons! Extra lessons? ) that my grades children need along with the outside time I think they need, along with the needs of a toddler. Does this sound familiar to anyone?

 

One of my other challenges for my fun-loving and active children is that we will be moving to a new house in the fall that sits on a greenway – one of those paved paths that goes on for miles through nature preserve. Our subdivision, in fact, will be over fifty percent green space and have another nature preserve right in it. This is so exciting and wonderful but leads again to that question of balance:  how do we balance the joy of being outside, taking in nature, and movement along with that idea of “getting something done?”

 

It can feel frustrating to try to craft a rhythm to encompass all of these things.  Every family has constraints and priorities and you absolutely cannot do it all.  You have to pick and choose!   Yet, despite all the challenges,  I feel so fortunate that I can take the lead in this.  I can really take the time to make something that is not perfect but is serviceable, and something that will help us enjoy our time together (which a rhythm really affords you as a family!)

 

Space and time are the great concepts in making a rhythm that works for your family.  The smaller your children are, the more space and time there should be. 

 

So, let’s get out a piece of paper and let’s start planning:

  • Are  you up before your children?  If you can’t be up before your children because you co-sleep, what is the earliest time you could have everyone up and be sane?
  • What can you do for yourself in the morning before the day gets going?  Pray?  Read the Bible or text from your religion?  Do yoga or stretch? 
  • What do you do now?  Breakfast?  Who helps?  Who cleans up?
  • What now?  Do you make beds, and get dressed?  Do you get everyone to the bathroom and get them dressed?  Remember, the smaller the children, the more time this takes.  Time and space.
  • When everyone is dressed, what happens now?  Do you go outside every day? Or do you start some kind of work in your home that the children can help you with?

 

I think you get the idea….start small, go through your day, through your “ideal” day and plan plenty of time and space into it…If you have small children, your day will be diapering and the potty, preparing food, cleaning up, outside time in nature…these things are the fabric of daily life, of the sacred ordinary.  Why try to short change or rush through this?

 

And practice your rhythm for at least 40 days.  When you get ready, write your rhythm on a beautiful piece of watercolor paper and hang it up (now there is a good use for those old paintings!).    If you get off track during the day, look at your piece of paper and jump back in.   Don’t get discouraged.   If you have a whole day off, jump in again the next day.  If you get off for a whole week, jump back in the next week.  Just do it, and keep moving! 

 

So, I will just end this post by sharing my “rhythm in progress” with you all for a fifth grader, second grader and two and a half year old for Mondays through Thursdays, with Friday being a co-op and errand day. 

 

8:15 – Outside play/walk greenway, especially for the DOG.  LOL

9:00 or so  “All”  -Opening verse,  prayer, seasonal songs and singing, circle for toddler with older children helping, poetry recitation, mental math (have snack tray out)

9:30   Main Lesson Fifth Grader (Second grader has things to do, like help to get snack ready and help with her brother or she can sit at the table)

10: 40  Saints and Tea –  Biography of a Saint or Missionary or Read Aloud

11:00 Main Lesson Second Grader (oldest child has things to do, like help get lunch ready!)

12:00  Finish preparing lunch,  eat lunch and clean up 

12:30  Nap/Quiet Time

1:30– 2:00  – Extra Lesson – will vary depending upon block.  Envision my fifth grader having some extra lesson time M, T, W and my second grader having an extra lesson period on Thursdays

2:00-2:45   Mondays – Handwork, Tuesdays – Handwork or Crafts/Festival preparation, Wednesdays and Thursdays – Religion   — 2:45 – Ending Verse, End of School

 

I urge you to get out some paper and play with the idea of what your day would look like. 

 

Many blessings,  happy planning

Carrie