Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Rhythm 101

Rhythm is a term you will hear a lot in Waldorf, and for me it was a hard one to get my head around ... perhaps because I saw it as related to routine, structure, and timetables. As I have worked with the concept, I have come to see it more in terms of harmony, nature and flow.

"the wonder of these rhythms is that they are 'precise' without being 'exact' like a mechanical clock. our breathing and heart rates change, our digestion and sleep rhythms can adapt. Like music, there can be speeding up and slowing down, different parts can move more quickly or more slowly, but the whole is harmoniously integrated'.
John Davy, "Living in Real Time" Lifeways - Working with Family Question

Oh for life with children to be a 'harmoniously integrated' whole. With two childen I have found that life often feels tacycardic rather than rhythmical ... ... the baby won't stop screaming, five nappies need changing in an hour, the toddler has covered herslef in water and has now emptied the rice container over the floor .... and its still only 7.15am!

I find it helpful to think of rhythms in nature. Night follows day, summer follows spring, sometimes it rains and sometimes it shines. Establishing this strong rhythmical feeling at home is so important, and yet so challenging.

If I have achieved any success in establishing rhythm, it is from slowing down, doing less. I think the mantra for parents with young children should be 'less is more'. Steiner kindergartens are often described as having a 'timeless' quality ... somehow there is never chaos there perhaps because there is never a rush. There is always plenty of time to do what needs to be done.

For us, the cornerstone of a strong rhythm is a strong routine. Not rushing through the day ... just doing the same things in the same way, day in and day out. Wake up time with a cuddle in the dim light ... our daughter is a hyped-up chatterbox first thing, but a long cuddle seems to ground her so that she is ready for the day. Mealtimes are timely, calm, and eaten at the table not 'on the run'. Tidying up happens automatically, I try to sing or hum as I go. Outings yes ... but home in time for lunch. In the evenings its bath, dinner, story, teeth and bed ... same way every night.

This routine is filled with rituals ... songs that are sung, candles that are lit, stories that are told, cups that are used ... little things that matter so much to young children. We strive for a balance of 'in breaths' and 'out breaths' ... quieter, calmer times to balance the massive energy, action and noise of a toddler.

When we are out of tune with our rhythm, we all suffer. Mum gets stressed, Dad gets grumpy, Munchkin throws tantrums and Gidget gets colicky ... and downwards we go.

There are some wonderful resources around about rhythm ... two of the best I have found online are this article and particularly the comments by Rahima Baldwin Dancy, and this article at The Parenting Passageway, which is one of my all time favourites.

1 comment:

sarah haliwell said...

This actually brings tears to my eyes, it is so beautiful. How blessed your children are.