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.
Couldn’t have arrived in my inbox at a better time! I am just now contemplating how to truly set the rhythm in our home. My 3 and half year old is showing me daily that he and we all, need it! Thanks for your inspiration!
My 4 year old daughter had gotten moody and ill tempered over the last 2 months. It seemed that she was suddenly a child I didn’t know. Her Waldorf teacher said she was fine at school so I emailed her previous teacher with whom she held a close bond and her immediate reaction was to have me evaluate our rhythm and lighten her schedule. The change in my child was dramatic overnight! I moved her bedtime up to 7, gave her an afternoon quiet time and no playdates after school. I also am more attuned to “inhaling” and “exhaling” with my child to make her feel safe and secure. We have rediscovered our zest for life in just a few days of following our rhythm. (We made an awesome felt chart with the days of the week and our activities. It covers the tv and she magically doesn’t ask to watch the tv anymore either!) Rhythm is everything!
You have mentioned “warming foods” in the last couple of posts. Can you give specific examples please? Thanks.
Thank you for your inspiration on reflection and evaluation Carrie. It’s exactly what I’m going through right now as we start the year and having a lovely time in doing so. It’s very refreshing to go into the year with this mindfulness. I have noticed that being up before DD makes a HUGE difference to our day. To have that time to centre myself, get a few things done and to prepare the house ready for the day to start once DD wakes. She LOVES to have breakfast ready and the table set when she wakes for her day. She thinks it is the biggest surprise ever. It’s difficult sometimes to get up and started that few hours earlier, but the benefits it brings to the day are abundantly obvious.
This was lovely. It IS tricky getting back into the swing of things.. and you’re right, a basic tenet in Waldorf philosophy is getting everyone to contribute; easier said than done but well worth the effort!
Do you have any supplementary reading you can suggest on this topic? Something like “Establishing a Rhytm 101”? I have 2 children under four and am not sure how to evolve from our segments of routine activities that are interspersed with chores, play and outings (both errands and park/zoo visits) to a nurturing rhythm.
There are many, many back posts on rhythm on this site…try using the search engine for rhythm and see the myriad of posts that comes up. I wrote a post some time ago about “Rhythm for the Irregular” that could be helpful to you.