I find many of us are still trying to get our rhythm back at this time of year. I know I am! Actually, in my world of the Anglican Communion, we are still in the season of Epiphany and now coming up to Lent, so there is this sense of still being in the middle of things in a way….and many of us find our children grow and change over the holidays, so whilst the work of the day may remain, perhaps meal times or outside times or bedtimes needs to shift around. Never be afraid to make a rhythm that works for you! I always start by looking at what pattern we are in, and then seeing if it needs to change…or maybe it is a real pattern that remains..
Rhythm is this idea of a flow to the day; it is not a schedule because it is flow -oriented and not as time-oriented perhaps as a schedule (although there may be times assigned to meals and bedtime). It provides an order to the day and a sense of strength for the parent because it takes away some of the thinking involved with every single decision we have to make in a day. If you know your errand day is on Friday, then you don’t need to go out on Tuesday, for example. If you know you always put your boots after your walk in one spot as part of cleaning up from your nature walk each day, then you don’t have to round up boots that land in various places. Rhythm just IS, like the tide coming in and going out or sun coming up and setting.
The three reasons I particularly need rhythm are:
To continually remind me of the importance of the home. In a society that often does not seem to value being home except for short pit stops between activities (even for small children), rhythm in my home reminds me of the time and care it takes to create a nourishing environment and that there is value in that for the health of all of us in the family. Ideally, in a home full of rhythm, a small child would be able to tell what day of the week it is by the meaningful work being done in the home on those days. For example, perhaps Tuesdays are always ironing days or Thursdays are always bread making days or Mondays are always the cleaning of the home from the weekend. Traditionally, Waldorf Education has assigned different work to different days based upon more planetary influences (does that sound esoteric enough?!), so there are suggestions from Waldorf kindergartens for different activities for different days of the week.
It reminds me of the importance of what I call “soul hygiene” – that there should be a time and place in the day for inner work, for physical activity outside, for sleep and rest. This helps remind me to pace myself and to honor these activities. This helps me remember my main goal of parenting is to help my children be healthy adults – healthy physically, emotionally, in how they see light in others and how they communicate with others, spiritually.
We set up the environment with care, which teaches me attentiveness to activities and models this for my children. We might have a song or verses to go with the activity. We put things away and clean up with care. Again, it forces me to slow down and see the value of the activities we are doing for the physical, emotional and spiritual realms.
Lastly, (yes, I couldn’t resist sneaking in reason number four!) is that rhythm is your aid to discipline. When we know when things will happen and how it will happen, it cuts down arguing. This time of year, that can be valuable. It is even valuable for teenagers and older children.
How is your rhythm valuable to you?
Your post are always so timely. As it seems like I am working so hard to get the home back to order after the holidays, while being in the middle of ski team season, and yet the bickering is a distraction that is so draining, and I know it is because we are short on time at home, and it is scheduled. My soul is longing for the days before we became so invested in outside activities, but age brought that on, so I too need to change with it. Thank you for the “deep breath”. The work is never done, but perspective and rhythm are key.
I do think that it can be a harder change for those of us really invested in Waldorf to go from being at home and invested in home and suddenly we need to be out more than we like. I have found Xing off days on the calendar and saying we will be home these days has helped us, and working in seasons also helps. If you have a busy winter into early spring skiing, perhaps later spring or summer is your time off. For example, in summer, I really run away from scheduled things as much as possible and use those weeks to recharge.
Don’t know if any of that helps or resonates with you,
Thank you for this! I am leaving the season of early childhood, we have a 1st and a 3rd grader this year, for the first time both children are spending most of their days at school. I am struggling to find a rhythm that suits me for all those hours that is just me, but I know I need it :-). I always enjoy your rhythm posts, the re-inspire my rhythm work.
Question: you mentioned that Steiner/Waldorf assigned certain work to certain days, and I haven’t been able to find anything about it. Do you have any more information about what work is on what day?
I don’t know as it was Steiner himself..I think it was secondary pedagogy from the Waldorf kindergartens that built this up..they all seem to vary a bit from school to school…Any of the kindergarten programs would have a sample on their website of the weekly rhythm, also the books Heaven on Earth by Sharifa Oppenheimer, I like most of the Waldorf homeschooling kindergarten curriculums on the market as well. I tend to follow Lisa’s over at Celebrate the Rhythm of Life. http://www.celebratetherhythmoflife.com/
Carrie your blog is really my guiding light, so appreciative for your thoughts and examples! It’s not common thinking in these parts at all. I’m not sure I would have the wisdom to slow down and center our lives on home and hearth if it weren’t for your example. Our older son is turning 3 and I find what you say is true – societal pressure tends towards schooling, activities, etc… When In fact you are so right that 3 is still tiny and they don’t need a lot of running around…it’s really hard to resist this especially since we are in Manhattan and there are so many neat things to do!
Hello fellow New Yorker! (I am from Upstate NY). I am so glad you are resisting…turning 3 is beyond tiny!
Thanks! Btw I was searching your site for advice on birthday parties (invitations to others’)…have u ever addressed this? (Nothing came up.) We made a no parties policy until the boys are older – simple, home celebrations seem more sensible for now (but nobody here has those!)…anyway I think I can guess what you’d say, but if you’re ever looking for a topic (haha sure you have no shortage, only a shortage of time!), it’d be supportive to hear how you’ve handled these matters…
I doubt there is anything on that…your little person is so little, I of course would say a home party. If you HAVE to do something once your child 7, how about just meet in the park and play and have a cupcake? Usually in our family we have a special day trip we take as a family for the seventh birthday. I have done some “place” parties for our older children (now 11 and 14, especially for the 11 year old whose birthday is in the winter), but usually it is just a few children with something simple. It is hard not to get sucked in, but I do know families who don’t do anything big at all! And really, that is how so many of us were raised! Great to think about how you want to approach it and for what ages in the future…
I’ve been following your blog for a long time, but this is my first reply. Do have any advice for establishing rhythm when bedtimes are out of control? We all get to bed too late and then sleep in too late and the cycle just perpetuates itself. I’ve read your past advice about setting an alarm and getting up early, but would that also work for the children (ages 11, 7 ,& 3) without causing major sleep deprivation? Is there a good way to gently get everyone to bed earlier and up in the morning earlier? And I suppose that mealtimes would have to shift, too. Any advice that you could give would be much appreciated!
Glad to hear from you! I unfortunately don’t think there is a completely painless way to do this. You can move slowly, like keep moving bedtime up by fifteen to twenty minutes and the morning wake up time back by fifteen to twenty minutes but I imagine there will still be grumbling and yes, it takes time to get adjusted. Yes, the mealtimes would have to be moved up as well. You may not want your children going to bed at 7 o’clock, but one book I would recommend and just take from it what resonates with you is “The Seven O’ Clock Bedtime” by Schaenen Here is a link to the kindle edition: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00K53D4DW/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?ie=UTF8&btkr=1. For me personally, I would want a three year old in bed early as possible depending upon if they still nap or not , a 7 year old in a Waldorf School would most likely be in first or second grade so the bedtime would be noted from the school as 7 or 7:15 and your 11 year old would have a bedtime of about 8 or so. These may seem like impossible times, so choose what resonates with you and works for your family. Generally, every year older gets another 15 minutes from first grade up, if that makes sense. Rest after lunch is also a priority. It can take a lot of work in this day and age to do this with our times of nighttime sports, homework, etc, but I think it is really worth it to teach children how to rest, how to have healthy sleep, how to take care of their bodies so they can be at their best for the next day. So glad you are here!
Thanks for the wonderful advice, Carrie! I know that fixing this problem won’t be easy, but it has to be done. I have a hard time imagining that those really early bedtimes would ever happen here, but we can definitely try moving as close as possible. I can’t wait to read the book that you recommended.