Saturday, May 24, 2008


Since effectively 'quitting' my part time work, I have felt like my old self again. I have missed this - feeling calm, feeling healthy, feeling inspired.

I have been able to sense the rhythm in our day more. I no longer need to worry about what time it is. Or, whether Munchkin has slept early enough soso that she'll be in a good mood for her Dadda while I work. I'm not always stressed about whether I'll be able to meet the 'deadlines' that seems to perforate my day into little sections.

Our playgroup leader, a wonderful woman who was herself a Steiner child, says that you have to 'feel rhythm'. She won't have the group do things at set times - instead she senses when the children as a group are ready. So we breath out - run around, and then we breath in - come together for a set activity. Sometimes that means we eat morning tea at 10.45, sometimes as late as 11.30.

This used to frustrate me. I didn't have 'time' for all this rhythm stuff, I wanted a schedule. I was itching to check the time, hurry things along. I don't even know what I was hurrying for most of the time.

Off schedule, life seems so much more peaceful.

Our rhythm involves an order that we do things in - meals, morning outings, free play, a bath in the late afternoon, dinner, bedtime. Our days have always followed this order - since she was tiny. What has changed is the clock watching. I'm trying to watch 'us' - our family, and what seems to be the right thing. If she's playing happily, bathtime can wait. If she seems out of sorts, an early bath might be just the right thing.

The concept of rhythm is a critical one in Steiner Waldorf circles, but its so hard to understand. It definately isn't about a schedule - it isn't about set times, 15 minutes for morning tea, 45 minutes for free play. And it isn't 'make it up as you go along'. It is about routine, but there is more to it.

There is, as with all things Steiner, a spiritual element to it. When I first heard this - that there is a spiritual dimension to rhythm - I rolled my eyes. Spiritual shmirtual ... its just routine without the benefit of a watch. But sensing what children need, and responding to those needs, within the framework of a consistent order that ensures the right things get done ... is about being tuned in to these little souls. There is a kind of magic in the air when it works - and without it there is inevitably stress.


Dawn said...

You are so right about this. This year has been too much about watching the clock for my family and it gets stressful. I need to read "Seven Times the Sun"'s such a great book that addresses rhythm within the Waldorf approach.

Patience said...

Beautiful post. We find this is so true for our family too.

Anonymous said...

I so get you on this one. I am so grateful that I am able to be a SAHM. I find if the older kids have too many activities that they need taking to, it can upset things too. I loved your post about sleeping routines too. I might write one on my blog to give hope to others with no so easy sleepers :-)

RunninL8 said...

Wow! This post really hit home-i totally hear you. it's so hard to keep those rhythms consistent. Thanks for prodding me to be super mindful of this!

Nikki said...

Although I'm not a Steiner mum, your post is so much about how we live our "unschooling" life as well. I love it and even my ds who is quite the "need to know what we're doing next and tomorrow" kind of boy is learning to slow up and live life in the moment to the natural rhythm of our day which does follow the same pattern from day to day, only it's not scheduled. And incidentally (and probably not lol), when there is a timed thing we need to be out of the house for, that is when conflict is likely to arise and I feel my own sense of unbalance in getting kids out the door, interrupting activites etc.

Poppy & Mei said...

I totally agree with you!
I was the same in the beginning, wanting everyday to be "perfect" in it's timing & activities. I look back now & get a huge knot in my stomach!
Flow is so much more important, enjoying the moment, taking your time with transition.
It takes a lot of practice.
I'm sure in a year we will have improved even more & I will get a knot thinking about this time.
It's so much like dancing; practice, practice, flow, FLOW! Xxx

Anonymous said...

I've actually had the opposite experience, where I didn't have enough of a schedule! I find that if I don't shoot for somewhat of the same time for things every day, things tend to slip that shouldn't. Like meals coming too late when we're all starving.

I often find it supportive to know that I need to start cooking dinner by 5 or get the kids ready for bed by 7. Not that we're prisoners to the clock, but I've never worked so well being completely free. Balance and moderation -- not too strict, not too loose!