Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Creating Rhythm

When we were first introduced to Waldorf philosophy I was drawn to its focus on nature.  The celebration of of the seasons and really getting in touch with the cycles of the earth.  

Since my daughter's birth, we have been ruled by the moon.  She has always been affected by the full moon, something I didn't notice until she was about a year old.  There were always three days of the month where she was just inconsolable and when I finally put it together, it changed the way I viewed those days.  I prepared for them. I embraced them. And to this day, I plan accordingly. 

I have an app.  Seriously.  We need this level of preparation. 

One of the lovely side effects of adopting a Waldorf inspired homeschool is that it reminds me how connected we ALL are to the earth, and how realizing this can bring a sense of calm to the home.

We found our sense of calm through creating rhythm.  Rhythm is one of those key phrases you hear thrown around when people talk about Waldorf lifestyle, one that many struggle with creating.  There are three main types of rhythm, daily, weekly and seasonal and some people, like those of us that are ruled by moon cycles, also follow a monthly rhythm.

I have found that the key to creating a daily rhythm is to create a strong core.

To find what the core of your rhythm is, just watch your family for a few days.  What are the main points of your day?  What are things that happen every day around the same time?  Make note of how every one behaves, how they feel emotionally and physically. Is After observing your family for a few days you should have a good feel of how everyone functions throughout the day, what the pivotal moments are that create the core of every day. If you don't feel you have a strong understanding of the ebb and flow of your day after a few days, just stick with it for a few more.

Remember though, you are looking for patterns only.  You are not looking for the same thing to happen at the same time each day.  You are only looking for similarities across a few days.

Once you have found the similarities, these will be your anchors. These will be the events that feed your rhythm throughout the day, provide the transition from one event to the next.

I will use my rhythm as an example.   When I followed our days, three distinct patterns appeared.  Food, dog walks and afternoons.  Our days are anchored by our meals.  they need to happen at around the same time each day or the kids start to fall apart.  Our dog also needs to be walked twice a day, morning and evening.  And afternoons in the summer equal heat, which translated in to kids that were over heated and cranky by the end of outdoor play time. 

I used these anchors to create our rhythm, using the dog walks as transition times (in the morning it transitioned us to circle time, in the evening to our evening gardening), meal times as anchor points, and the afternoon heat as something to avoid that wasn't working in our days.  We switched around some things in the morning so that we would have lots of outdoor time in the morning, and moved our main lessons to the afternoon after everyone has had their lunch.

I did this observation in the summer.  For winter, our rhythm changes slightly and I will talk about that in a different post.  Right now lets focus on daily. 

Here is what our rhythm looks like right now.
  • Wake, eat, get dressed
  • Walk dog
  • Circle
  • Outdoor time
  • Lunch
  • Main Lessons
  • Free play time
  • Handwork/art/baking (weekly activities typically go here)
  • Outdoor time
  • Tidy
  • Dinner
  • Reading
  • Dog Walk
  • Gardening / outdoor time
  • Read aloud and snack
  • Bedtime Routine

The one thing I really want to stress is there are no times associated with rhythm.  Rhythm is all about transitioning from one activity to another calmly, not because it is time to do so, but because the activity or event in complete and it is time to move on to the next.  It isn't about ushering in one activity after the other for the sake of doing things and checking them off a list, it is about mindfully choosing events in your life and letting their predictability guide your days. 

Things change, new and exciting things happen.  But the wonderful thing about a rhythm is you can pick up where you need to.  You are not a slave to the clock.  Last minute afternoon play date?  That's great!  Pick up after dinner.  Quick run to the store needed in the morning?  No worries, just pick up the next thing you want to do and go with it.  Away for a weeks vacation?  Wonderful!  Bring your rhythm, or parts of it, with you, or drop the rhythm and get back to it when the holiday is over.

Just make sure that your anchor points are strong and you can always get back to your core rhythm.  It takes commitment, yes.  It isn't something that builds itself and it does take work to find one that works and then stick to it. But the most important thing is to find what makes your family run smoothly and calmly and focus on those events that keep you smiling instead of hassled.

And most importantly, don't stress over it.  It takes some people longer than others to find their rhythm.  You will find yours.

I promise.



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