A few weeks ago, I was really struggling with parenting three children, two dogs, looking after the house, homeschooling, attending playgroups and managing my own work. A lot of it was because RoRo was going through a developmental stage and there were a lot of changes in his father’s work schedule. Reuben starting school took a toll on all of us. RoRo missed his big brother, who played a very important role in his morning play time. There were too many abrupt changes in our lives and toddlers often struggle with abrupt transitions.
I was exhausted, I could never keep up with appointments or schedule and was struggling to get on top of things. So I started reading and implementing rhythms into our lives. Introducing rhythm is inspired by the anthropologist Rudolf Steiner or well known as Waldorf. My husband is Waldorf educated and we have a a lot of influences and resources of Waldorf in our household. So Rhythm was not a new concept but now felt like a good time to introduce rhythm into our lives.
As soon as I introduced rhythm into our lives, I started to get more sleep or rest, RoRo was enjoying independent play for longer periods of time giving me enough time to have a cup of tea, sometimes while it is still hot. We feel a better connection which leads to better cooperation.
So what is a rhythm?
Rhythm is everywhere. Our nature works rhythmically like the sun rises and sets, the seasons change but gradually, our heart beats rhythmically, we breathe in and breathe out in a rhythm too. We, as human beings function better if transitions happen rhythmically and not abruptly. This is truer in cases of children. Children thrive on predictability and slow transition from one thing to another.
We can add rhythm in our daily lives or on a weekly basis, we can add rhythm monthly or seasonally. Introducing rhythm throughout the year is incredibly beneficial for the kids.
What is a difference between rhythm and routine?
Rhythm inspired slow transition from one activity to another whereas routine or scheduling adds stressful and abrupt jumps from one activity to another. Rhythm is influenced by our mood and sensibilities whereas scheduling is dependent on the clock.
Rhythm is calming whereas scheduling is full of anxiety and rush.
How to apply Rhythm in our lives?
One of the key things to remember – rhythm is about enjoying and living in the moment. How long the moment lasts is up to you and not the clock. So for instance, in your daily rhythm breakfast is followed by reading and reading is followed by a nature walk. When it comes to rhythm no two days will look the same.
Today breakfast might have taken a bit longer than yesterday and you may have read four books instead of two. If it is raining outside, perhaps your nature walk was very short whereas on a sunny day it might be a bit longer. Because you are not scheduling your day, it gives you the sense of freedom to do things at a natural pace.
Our Autumn Weekly Rhythm
We have a lot of mini rituals that help us transition from one thing to another. We have a morning ritual and a night ritual. And everything else fits in the middle very gently. I don’t have it written down but it is far too predictable for us now.
But I do have a weekly rhythm. I introduced a weekly rhythm to ensure that I find enough time in the day for some deep connection with my children.
Weekly rhythm is easy to introduce. Weekly rhythm basically means introducing one special activity to each day of the week. This activity can take place at any time in your day depending on how your day is flowing.
If you think about it, the days of the week make no sense to a toddler. It is a totally abstract concept. But by adding a special activity to the day it becomes more relatable and it grounds the child, thereby making the household a bit more peaceful.
Here is how our weekly rhythm currently looks like:
Monday: Baking day
We bake a cake or a bread. We sometimes bake cookies. Sometimes this happens after roughhousing with the siblings to calm down or before a long walk, so that we can enjoy the baked goodies as a snack on our return.
Tuesday: Arts & Craft
I work on tuesdays. So my mind seems preoccupied. My work is pretty physical too. So I feel very tired at the end of the shift.
A rhythm is most helpful on this day. I run my own dog walking business so I spend the afternoon walking dogs. I bring my children along with me. So when we come back home we sit down and do some art work. This activity is brilliant because Irene and RoRo can happily do this together whilst I can choose to sit with them or carry on with chores.
Wednesday Irene has violin lesson in the middle of the day. There is a park outside the violin teachers house. RoRo absolutely loves going to that park. It is a bit of a novelty. So wednesdays we call it park day. In the morning we go swimming. I added two things on a wedneday because currently we have taken a break from swimming. RoRo’s friend has broken his leg and it is something they do together. We will resume swimming as soon as his friend is healed.
Thursday: Allotment Group/ Stone Soup
Thursdays we go to a local cabbage patch group. It is a playgroup in an allotment as the name suggests. Two hours of outdoors play. We also make stone soup on this day. The idea of stone soup is that everybody brings in a veggie and we have a special stone we put in a pot and we make soup. RoRo and Irene pick a veggies either from the allotment or from the green grocer and we make a soup with it. More on stone soup in a separate post though.
I forgot to write down stone soup in my chart but I incorporated this into our rhythm because the allotment group is very exhausting. It is fun but it is also high intensity and there is nothing more calming and soothing than a pot of soup. It slows us right down and makes us all feel connected all over again.
Friday we go to another playgroup. And rest of the day is kept free because playgroups are intense. I do not like to do indoor playgroups more than once or twice in a week. I think it is important for younger children to spend a lot of time outdoors and also do activities that are earthly, spirited but not very high in intensity.
Saturday and Sundays: Family Time
We keep our weekends free. Those are the two days daddy is home and we do as he pleases.
Do you have a rhythm in your household? Let me know in the comments what do you think about rhythms.