by Lorie Hill
March roars in like a lion
The wind so cold,
It seems to pierce.
The month rolls on
And Spring draws near,
And March goes out
Like a lamb so dear
It isn't quite March yet but I can already see the signs that winter is holding on. After several months of a 'non' winter (hardly a flake of snow and mild temperatures) here in New York we received a significant cold snap with ice, snow, and bitter winds! Needless to say, the children were thrilled! With just 3 inches of snow the children were out exploring, decked in snow pants and layers upon layers to see what this new world looked like dressed in white! My husband was just as eager and spent the afternoon hiking the hills with the children in search of skinny fallen trees to use in our garden as 'ribbon trees'! With these preMarch winds the ribbons blow beautifully and add such an etheric feeling to our barren garden. The faeries will be delighted upon their return!
In response to this 'lion's roar' I spent the weekend crafting. I've discovered that needle felting is like breathing to me. I love it and it brings me no greater joy than to make little treasures for my children to use whilst they create their world around them. In their experience, watching Mama turn pieces of wool into something else was pure magic! They couldn't wait to see what would come out of the wool next! Their imaginations went wild and they cherished each and every piece that came to us.......I love childhood! We also created the first of our gnome family, Mama and Papa Gnome. They each are lovingly dressed and Papa even has a goatee just like our Daddy! Our little wooden figures that are awaiting their clothes are still held and played with and included in whatever adventure Mama and Papa go on.
On another note, we will be welcoming another little into our family in June. We are over the moon that another little soul has chosen us to love and guide them through this earthly life. We have so much love in our home......our cup runneth over! To that end, I have become a little apprehensive at the prospect of having a preschooler, a toddler and an infant at home! Three children under five years old......at one time...... plus our 12 and 10 year old (however the big kids are at school during the daytime and are extremely helpful and supportive when they are home)! I have only ever experienced being home with two, about 23 months apart. I'm sure it will all be fine, however it's been a real eye opener and all of a sudden I'm realizing that we've had quite the 'footloose and fancy free' existence. Not to say that this not a good thing, I've just become worried that my two littles who I am home with now will really flounder in a home with a newborn and Mama being distracted, sometimes largely distracted, with the care and attention an infant deserves.
Several weeks ago I spent a few days dreaming up how our home might run smoother, being influenced by Waldorf inspired rhythms, I created a chart on our large cork board that has hung in our dining room as a means to display an array of art projects. This is what I came up with::
(I saw a similar chart posted on Chocolate Eyes, a beautiful Waldorf inspired blog I follow).
Our chart consists of the major parts of our day. There aren't any times attached to our rhythm chart although I do try to have meals at set times to regulate hunger etc., it simply flows naturally with the transition of time throughout our day. Here is a little explanation to how our day might go::
- Breakfast! We wake up and complete our morning routine (get dressed, brush teeth, etc.) and sit down together and enjoy our morning meal.
- Our Morning Blessings! This time begins after breakfast has been cleaned up. We go outside and visit out sheep friends, check the bird feeder, go for a walk, play in the sandbox.
- Inside Playtime! This is a time for the children to breathe in a bit and focus on some free play.
- Lunchtime! Together we prepare our food, wash up, set the table and enjoy our afternoon meal.
- Breathing In! This is our creative expression time. With every day we have a special project to focus on:: Monday is a seasonal craft, Tuesday is modelling with beeswax or play dough, Wednesday is painting/drawing, Thursday is baking, Friday is handwork, Saturday is house chores, and Sunday is our day to rest and do.......or not do!
- Time to Rest! After our activity we slowly make our way to a resting spot and take an hour or so to snuggle in and read a story or two and maybe (hopefully!) nap! If the littles are resting comfortably without needing me close by I use this time to get some other quiet chores done; sweeping, dusting, laundry, etc.
- Afternoon Blessings! This is a breathing out moment. We come together and have tea and a snack and then make our way out of doors, tidy up the play space, etc.
- Dinner! Together we prepare and/or get the dining room ready to receive all six of us for our evening meal. Since our dining room has multiple uses, it's important that everything has it's place and that everyone knows where that is so dinner time can come with ease and as less stress as possible.
- Bedtime! After dinner we usually have an hour or so of breathing out, so the littles (and even the big kids) can get their 'ya ya's' out, as my husband says! Then we move to bath and stories and then sleep.
Now, don't think for a second that this goes effortlessly and perfectly all the time, because sometimes it doesn't. Some days we want to stay in our jammies longer or someone might be ill so we rest lots. Other times we might have errands to run, grandparents to visit or play dates so our day would look a bit different. That's the beauty of refraining from rigid schedules.......a natural rhythm exists between the child and caregiver, it just needs to be identified and acknowledged. A gentle rhythm, one that holds the caregiver accountable for how the child expresses them self, eats, rests, and spends time out of doors is all that is needed to create a vision for how the day will go. Think about your days with your children, even if you work and your child spends time with someone else during the day, think about the time you do spend.......how does it feel? Does it feel hurried and rushed? Does your child spend a lot of time crying for your attention? Does your child spend a lot of time watching programs on the television instead of quality time in child's play? What I discovered is that following and really using the natural rhythm that already existed between us my children spent less time saying they were bored, less time arguing, less time wanting a movie on, and have easily come to realize what comes next in their day! That is exactly what I was hoping for. This way, when new baby arrives we are already set in a healthy, gentle rhythm, that the girls can feel and move through throughout their day and feel safe and supported. *sigh* I encourage you to try it.......even if a new baby isn't on the way, having an expectation to the day is so crucial for our littles so they can have a sense of understanding and a bit of structure on their day!
Here are our morning and evening rhythm charts, the ones the littles use to wake up and start their day and begin the bedtime process. They are the same chart, just flip it over to the correct time of day!
What I love about this rhythm chart is even our two year old KiKi can understand what comes next thanks to the picture descriptions! It's really very sweet, she'll run to the bathroom door, look at the chart and go down the list! For me, it's a real sense of comfort to know that they have a bit of control and say in their day.......I believe it will help a lot once baby arrives!
There are so many wonderful ways to establish a healthy rhythm in your home. One great resource comes from Eileen at Little Acorn Learning. Not only do they offer monthly guides with weekly activities but they offer monthly Afterschool Enrichment Guides, a Caregivers Calendar, Menus, and all sorts of E-courses to help you along your creative journey. Another wonderful resource (and one of my personal favorites) comes from The Wonder of Childhood. This is a rich resource with a bounty of connections for living, parenting, celebrating, education, stories.....you name it! Rhythm of the Home is a delightful blog full of inspiration for creating a beautiful home life and genunine experiences for you and your littles. The ideas flow with the seasons and provide you with a rhythm that flows through the year, from one season to the next!
These are just a few of the many wonderful resources available on the web. I encourage you to think about what a rhythm in your home looks like.......maybe you'll find some of these suggestions useful in your creating!
Blessings for peaceful and loving transitions between your moments today!