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.