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?