Day Seven, Part One: Twenty Days Toward Being A More Mindful Mother

We have talked a lot about rhythm in the past; if you put “rhythm” into the search engine on this blog many posts will come up!

Again, I feel the easiest place to start a consistent rhythm to the day is to begin with bedtimes and meal times. After these things are down and consistent, then work towards regular times to be outside daily and what practical work one does on what day of the week. Then one can work toward festival preparation for whatever festivals speak to you and your family.

A rhythm is not a scheduled noose around your neck but rather an idea of what occurs when and a way to keep a balance in your day of in-breath and out-breath.

Many wee people under the age of 7, because they are or should be living in their bodies, do not get nearly enough outside time. I would say four hours a day is not in the least too much for the under 7 child! This time is out-breath, but there should also be time to have quiet time, listen to a story or other in-breath activities within the day. There needs to be a balance for the small child who often is prone to excess in either wanting all out-breath or all in-breath activities. You may need to look at yourself and see what you tend to model as well! Do you display a good balance of in- and out -breath?

There are two other issues that frequently come up with the subject of rhythm. One is that the mothers themselves who have irregular rhythms and perhaps have childhoods that were devoid of rhythms have difficulty with the whole concept. They truly feel it is like the noose around their neck! Remember, a rhythm is not a schedule with times – it is a flow of the day, of the week and of the month.

So, I would say to those mothers is that a rhythm is adjustable, but also a great opportunity to work on YOURSELF. Can you get to bed at the same time every night? Try it for ten days and work on your own self-discipline! Then work on your morning routine, your meal times and the whole notion of quiet time. Baby steps!

The second issue that comes up is “How Do I Fit Everything In?” Well, here is the rub. You cannot do it all! I still find mothers of children under the age of 7 are planning too many things within their homeschool, and also too many outside activities.  Plan enough time and space in your day.  If you have three or four children under the age of five, your day will literally be meals, diapering/potty training/self care in the bathroom, preparing food and eating, outside time, sleep and rest.  The other things can wait.

Here are some brief notes about  running around outside the home, and things that take time, in no particular order:

  • How can you simplify things?  Who can help you?  Can you run your errands for groceries once a week either on a weekend when your husband can keep the children? Or could you go at night after the children are asleep? Or could your husband do the grocery shopping? Can you have dry goods delivered to your door? Would a friend be willing to do part of your list at one store if you do part of their list at a different store if you feel you must go to two stores?
  • What about health-related errands? Many folks have chiropractic or homeopathic appointments or allergy shots or something that has to occur weekly. How will you fit those in?  On this note, I have had several friends go through really discouraging health care crises this year without a  lot of support from their immediate family.  If you are in this position, who can you ask for help? How many hours a day does it honestly take to take care of yourself and where do the children fit into that?  It will change the rhythm of the day immeasurably.
  • For those of you who are never home:  how many things are you personally involved in? And how many things are your children involved in? Because let’s face it, whatever your children are involved in are also your activities (on top of the activities you feel are really your own!)
  • Do you have anything for yourself at all? I think this is important as well; something to call your own!
  • What age do your children get to start activities in your family? Many mothers seem to sign their smaller children up for something because the older children are doing something. This is not a good reason to sign a four-year-old up for something! It may be better to say, “Yes Jimmy, and you will do something like that too when you are seven like your big brother!”  I have also written on this blog before about how a four-year-old, a five-year-old, etc can be very content with simple things as opposed to lots of outside “field trips”. They will get so much more out of excursions to places when they are over 7. When they are four, a whale shark at the aquarium may hold their interest for a few minutes and then the child down the aisle who has a piece of gum, the woman’s red sweater and the whale shark all register about the same on the Awe Scale. Think about it carefully and watch and observe your child.
  • The caveat to all this is that children who are 7 and 8 years of age and older, while still needing protection from fatigue, DO need to start getting out and seeing some things. Every family will handle this need differently as they balance the needs of the younger children to be home, but it is worth thinking about too.  I see some homeschooling families where the older children are not involved in anything at all, whether this is due to finances or family preferences.  Our nine and ten year olds are interested in friends and activities.
  • Where is the space for physical activity for the older children? Older children, especially those nine and up NEED to get their energy out.  If your children are having a hard time controlling their tongues, (!!), which I hear a  lot of complaining about from the parents of those children in the nine year change and beyond,  it may be an issue not just of needing real work and responsibility, but also needing to MOVE their bodies. They still need a lot of time outside, and whilst I know many homeschooling families shun sports, I have personally found it helpful for my ten and a half year old.  I think this depends upon the child, the coach/the sport – choose carefully, but do know that children tend to get more sedentary around the age of nine and ten (many of them want to sit and read, or draw, or sit some more)  and I feel sports with other children along with lots of playtime with other children is a perfect way to combat this.  That is just my opinion, and you may feel completely differently!

Again, there are many, many posts on this blog about rhythm and creating rhythm. Have a look under the rhythm tag in the tags box.

Many blessings,

Carrie

Day Six, Part Two: Twenty Days Toward Being A More Mindful Mother

Part of the routine of sleep and rest could include a wonderful warm bath.  I would like to talk today about creating essential oil baths, which are mentioned in both “Awakening Beauty:  The Hauschka Way” and in the book “You’re Not The Boss of Me!  Understanding The Six/Seven Year Transformation”.

These are not oil dispersion baths, which are typically prescribed by doctors trained in athroposophic medicine and used to overcome illness.  In the book, “You’re Not The Boss of Me!” there are several descriptions of the use of essential oil baths by a class teacher for children who were needed protection (ie, the bath as a balm to a very rushed and stressful family life), those needing softening (those children who are so logical who have really little inkling of childhood in them), and those needing protection because they are so very sensitive.  Essential oil baths promote the sense of warmth, and engage the physical body in warming.

Even though this is an article about mindful mothering, I am going to veer into preparing baths for children for a moment because I am certain there is interest in that here. Louise deForest writes in an article regarding children and essential oil baths in the book, “You’re Not The Boss Of Me!  Understanding the Six/Seven Transformation” on page 71:  Continue reading

Day Six, Part One: Twenty Days Towards More Mindful Mothering

Sleep and rest are extremely important cornerstones of Waldorf parenting and education, Today we are looking at the areas of sleep and rest.  Waldorf Education is the only educational method I know that takes that old adage, “Sleep on it, “  and moves it into the realm of learning as a true aid and help.  But outside of its educational value, sleep and rest seems to be one area that many parents seem to struggle with, especially attachment parents.  If one goes to any of the attachment parenting groups and forums on the web, inevitably sleep disturbances come up as topics.  I do think that parents who have young children, especially those children under the age of six, are often just tired no matter what way they parent!  So, let’s take a closer look at sleep today and see if we can improve things for all members of the household!

 

First of all, what a very Waldorf perspective gives us (and I think reading biological studies of sleep in infants, children and those in primitive societies back this up as well!) is that a small child may be born without much rhythm to their sleep and wake cycles. Continue reading

Day Five, Part Two: Twenty Days Toward Being A More Mindful Mother

“Hatching” or “cross-hatching”  is a term often used to denote a kind of drawing technique where there is “ a rhythmic back and forth with a stick crayon or colored pencil.  Standing up to draw sometimes makes the production of tones more beautifully balanced.  If you are right-handed, the stroke that should feel most comfortable is diagonal from upper right to the lower left and back up again.  When finished, the tone should appear as if it were floating up out of the paper itself, and should be barely perceptible, with a slight darkening in the center…”  (page 8, “Drawing From The Book of Nature” by Dennis Klocek, available through various  Waldorf booksellers).  This drawing technique is typically taught to fourth graders and up in Waldorf schools.

I was practicing this technique the other night; a woman in my Foundation Studies class had drawn a gorgeous oak tree inside an acorn and I wanted to try to with this hatching technique. Mine didn’t turn out nearly as well as hers, Continue reading

Day Five, Part One: Twenty Day Toward Being A More Mindful Mother

The theme for today is to take time for yourself to become the mother and wife you deserve to be! I see so many mothers who are feeling burned out at best and miserable at worst. They are wearing so many hats (see this post here: http://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/08/22/how-do-i-take-off-one-of-these-hats/ ) and feel isolated, alone, and many times unsupported by their spouse or significant other. I wrote a post with some suggestions about this some time ago: http://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/05/06/making-yourself-a-priority-in-the-parenting-equation/.  It has many suggestions for overcoming burnout and dealing with depression. Please do read it if you have not read it before.

I think the one valuable thing to consider in taking time for yourself is your physical health. If you are constantly feeling anxious, irritable and on edge, it may be worth it to see a healthcare practitioner regarding the evaluation of your endocrine system.  In the book “Mother Nurture:  A Mother’s Guide to Health in Body, Mind, and Intimate Relationships”, authors Rick Hanson, Jan Hanson and Ricki Pollycove write about testing the adrenals through saliva samples of DHEA and cortisol done over a 24 hour period.  They recommend as general measures for the health of the adrenal gland to reduce stress as much as possible (in Carrie’s words:  stop wearing so many hats!), eliminate sugar and caffeine,  try acupuncture and yoga, and look at supplements.  There are also certain herbs and homeopathic remedies recommended in this book for adrenal imbalance and adrenal exhaustion.

 

There are also psychological components that go into how we feel as mothers as well.  Continue reading

Day Four, Part Two: Twenty Days Towards More Mindful Mothering

 

 

If you remember,  Part One of Day Four  was about marriage:  http://theparentingpassageway.com/2012/04/06/day-four-part-one-twenty-days-toward-being-a-more-mindful-mother/   Tonight I grabbed some of my well-worn (and needing to be cleaned) block crayons and set to work depicting something one often hears about marriages: how marriages have seasons. 

 

 

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Spring marriages are hopeful, excited, optimistic about the future, full of thankfulness!  So thankful and grateful I found you!  So excited about the possibilities for the future!  There may be disagreements swirling around like the spring winds, but they seem small and breezy with the sun always shining through.    Many couples would say “spring” describes a season of early marriage, the beginning with all its shiny newness and glory.

 

 

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In my almost twenty years of marriage, I can honestly say there have been many spring seasons, not just one.  The hope of being together in love, in the creation of new opportunities and possibilities, the joy of the ever-changing landscape that is marriage has been there many times,  always prompting me to learn something new about my spouse and about us.  Spring starts to define who we want to be, who we are and what our marriage is about.

 

A summer marriage reaps the relaxed and contented fruits of spring. I envision summer as a time of comfortable positivity where the ebb and flow of conflict gets easily resolved in a laugh out in the sun.  It is a time when you know who you are, who your spouse is, what your marriage is about, and the mellow joy that comes from that knowledge. 

 

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Sometimes after periods of spring and summer, we fall into periods of other emotions.  Fall is often that time of tension:  I can feel the winter coming, will we survive it?  Maybe it is a time of emotional distance, a time of not knowing how to shore up the marriage for the future and knowing something needs to be done. 

 

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Winter often signifies a time of hardship for many couples.  This may be the season  when a marriage hits a silent wall of discouragement, anger, resentment, disconnection.  I think all marriages go through periods of fall and winter; sometimes counseling can be helpful. Sometimes, if you are able to open up the lines of communication together, the winter can be blown away and left behind as spring comes again in all its glory.

 

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Thinking about marriage today and its inevitable seasonal changes as time passes,

Carrie

Day Four, Part One: Twenty Days Toward Being A More Mindful Mother

 

(Interestingly, I have not changed this original post as much as did the other posts in this series so far except to add some information.  Some topics are just tried and true, I think.)

 

(The original disclaimer to this post also still stands:  this post is directed toward day-to-day marital issues, not marital issues where physical or emotional abuse is taking place.)

 

Yes, we are back to one of my favorite soapbox issues: your relationship with your spouse, partner or significant other (and to my single mommies, I am sorry that this post today probably won’t have a lot of challenging information for you! :))

 

As mindful parents and as homeschooling parents, what happens between the adults in the household is vitally important.  The Gesell Institute book “Your Eight-Year-Old” talks about how the eight-year-old is acutely interested and aware of the quality of the relationships of the adults in the house and is watching intensely. I would say this starts well before the age of eight! You are modeling for your children what a healthy relationship looks like, the roles of not only a mother and a father but of a husband and a wife. What are you modeling for your children?

 

Please, please think about what your home will look like in twenty years when your children are gone and you and your husband are left alone together. What will your relationship look like? I have a friend who asked that question of me, but also added:  “And how can you prepare for that day now?”

 

What a great question!  What are we doing as wives, partners, helpmeets to make our relationship with the adult of the family strong?  How is this relationship the rock upon which parenting and homeschooling is built?  And if it is not the rock, why not?  Has it fallen into a state of familiar inattention and is it last on the list?

 

How can we grow together in love?

 

Many of you know I am a proponent of an early bedtime for children past infancy and nap stages so Mom and Dad can have time for their relationship at night. I know that does not resonate with everyone out there, but I am throwing it out there again because I have seen it work personally with quite a few parents in my area. Just being able to have some time to finish sentences together and be, well, adults, often seems to put a spark back into the relationship.

 

Some parents do arrange dates for lunch, coffee, or dinner and take along a sling-able baby or a toddler who would be distressed by the separation but leave the older children at home with a trusted relative or friend. For some families this works well.

 

Other families choose to have dates “in” and have books, games, movies, take -out food or a romantic dinner ready to go after the kids fall asleep. This is another very viable alternative.

 

Intimacy can be a difficult subject to discuss, but I personally believe that physical intimacy is very important to the spousal relationship. Many men will open up to emotional intimacy after the physical intimacy has been fulfilled. Physical intimacy can be emotionally fulfilling for them. Women tend to want the emotional intimacy first. Work together in these areas to make things fulfilling for both of you!

 

Other important areas toward improving marital intimacy includes having respect for your husband. Does he never,ever  do anything right?  Do  you talk about him negatively in front of your children?  Many of the men I speak with about marriage and family less tell me that respect is such a hot button subject for them.  Karol Ladd in her book, “The Power of a Positive Mother” writes on page 193 (and I LOVE this!): “Our kids pick up on the kindness and respect we show to other people, beginning in our own homes. When we speak with respect to our husbands, our kids learn how to speak with respect to one another.” Don’t you all love that, or is it just me?!

 

Often as an attached parent, it is easy to put your children ahead of your marriage (and indeed many times this HAS to be the case for infants, older infants and even toddlers who need help at bedtime and such – these early years won’t last forever!). However, once you have multiple children, one can only put the marriage on the back burner for so long before I think one has to come back to a balance that includes the adults’ relationship in the house. 

 

Here are some oldie but goodie posts I have written regarding challenges in marriage and working toward better relationships in the home:

http://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/07/27/more-on-marriage-how-do-you-work-with-the-differences/

 

The Stages of Marriage here: http://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/03/19/inspirations-from-tapestries-the-stages-of-marriage/

 

Here: http://theparentingpassageway.com/2008/11/17/using-your-first-year-of-parenting-to-fall-deeper-in-love-with-your-spouse/

 

And here: http://theparentingpassageway.com/2008/10/08/parenting-as-partners/

 

 

This topic of focusing on your spouse is important, so very important!  Perhaps today you can meditate on ways to communicate better, consider the needs of the whole family (not only the children!) and your role not only as a mother and as a homeschooling mother/teacher, but your role as wife as well.

 

Many blessings and much love,

Carrie