I think this is the time of year where many mothers of tiny children are re-thinking rhythm. Rhythm is that elusive thing, that when done in a healthful way, feels nourishing and peaceful and helpful. It should never feel like a tight noose around your neck that you cannot live up to nor get free of. But sometimes, finding rhythm, especially with littles, is so challenging.
So, for those of you with small children out there (and by small I essentially mean the Early Years of up to age 7, with points for consideration for those ages 7-12)….
- It is a great day if all the children have been fed, been diapered or gone to the bathroom and dealth with basic hygiene, played outside, rested or napped, and were loved with kind words, kind hands and a kind heart through the fatigue and exhaustion that often accompanies mothers dealing with small children 24/7. All the rest, I really believe, is icing on the cake!
- I always ask mothers who are baffled by the concept of rhythm and who are certain they don’t have any in their home to start with keeping a log of two to four days of what they are doing during each day. Usually a pattern begins to emerge around sleep and eating. That is a great basic place to build upon!
- There is no perfection. I find mothers who want everything to be perfect often drive themselves to complete burn-out. Please don’t! People before things, as always. With small children afoot, you may not get a lot done, and that is okay.
- Find your order. The best thing to show children outside of laughter and having fun and playing is that work can be fun! This means thinking about what piece of the things you do can be done by hand instead of by pushing a button, and then to think which of those “hand pieces” could little hands do? That is part of rhythm, and part of purpose. Littles weave in and out, littles make a mess behind you or in another place you are not – that is part of it. However, there are parts they can assist with and become proficient as well. Even toddlers!
- Where is your rest? I find mothers of littles are typically so exhausted. Physical rest before other things.
- I think at this stage of life, your spiritual work is in your hands. Make the work of your hands your prayer; say a prayer that instead of perfection you are showing love and kindness.
- Set up help and support. Every mother needs help and support – from her spouse, from her extended family, from her friends. Plan B, C, D, and E are really important since Plan A rarely works out in parenting!
- Less is more. In my area, suburbs of a major metropolitan area, the amount of outside activities many 3-7 year olds are engaged in absolutely stymies me! Three to seven year old are always far better served being at home and with small things – walks in the neighborhood, feeding the birds, care of the home and the family pet. It doesn’t need to be much more!
- What makes you smile and laugh? Find that and do more of that!
Lots of love in the striving,