As parents of young children, we often find ourselves very tired. Somehow, we are still operating on minimal sleep and rest. In this time, we might feel doubly so as we navigate our own concerns and those of others around us. With low energy we often find ourselves giving in to our children's wants with regret, or getting angry or irritated. When we are not present we loosen connection with our children and find ourselves feeling guilty and overwhelmed. Right?!
Posted by Lia Grippo
There are 3 important considerations to keep in mind that can bring greater ease to our days immediately and to our lives and those of our children long term.
1. Be flexible
2. Set and hold limits
3. Observe the same routine every day (as much as possible, i.e. see #1)
When we talk about "rhythm" for the young child we can look to our own bodies for guidance. We live with a constant rhythm of breathing in and breathing out. We take in and we exhale. Every inhale must be followed by and exhale, which in turn is followed by another inhale and on it goes, seamlessly flowing back and forth. Our breathing does not follow a schedule so much as it follows a pattern and that is what we need to cultivate.
This rhythm is something that you can bring into your home.
Breathing in refers to meals, story time, and times when we are together and acting together in a familiar and predictable pattern. When the children are in the breathing-in period, you have to make sure you are present, so the child feels a sense of "ah, here I feel my parents, they are there for me."
After you've been present for a little while, your child can have a breath out and you can do what you have to do. At this point it's ok to tell your child "please wait because I need to do this." And this will be alright because you know you have been present with the child.
Now, think through your day. Where does the rhythm already exist?
Do your children wake at the same time each morning and do you all eat a meal together? The waking is an out breath, the morning ritual of dressing, grooming, and sharing the first meal is an in breath. Is there a midmorning time where you are able to come together for a short time for some drawing, crafting, games and then a snack? This is an in breath. Then your children are free to play- out breath.
Is it possible to have a story time before your midday meal? Can this be followed by rest? And so on throughout the day, breaking the day into patterns of coming close together and gathering our focus, and then allowing bigger exhaling periods to flow.
This is simple, yes, but requires that we be present to these touchstones in our day in a way that becomes familiar and reliable.
To strengthen the rhythm, think of how you will begin a meal and end it. Will you say what each is grateful for to begin? Or sing a song, or a blessing? Will you end the meal with a rhyme, another song, the same song? Keep this very simple and as much as possible at the same time each day(likely your children will contribute to this).
To Begin: it might be helpful to mark a piece of paper into thirds and label the sections Morning, Afternoon, and Evening. Think of things that you need/want to include in your daily rhythm and write them in the appropriate area. Order them in a way that makes sense to you and post it where you will see it every day.
Include some daily traditions that will be meaningful to your family, like special songs or verses that can be repeated each day. Or maybe the lighting and extinguishing of a candle.
At school, we hold our rhythm dear and it goes like this:
Arrival: Free play - out breath
Gather through song: Circle time/Tea time- in breath - End in song/verse
Free Play, free choice: - out breath
Gather through song: Storytime/Lunch time - in breath - End in song/verse
Departure: Pack up and go home - out breath
Wild Roots starts each day with the acknowledgement that most children have been restrained in a vehicle and will need an out breath upon arrival.
When we transition between our out and in breath, we begin with the same songs and end with the same songs, this way the children know where the beginnings and endings are. After the pattern is learned, the children know what to do and no one needs to be reminded to do things like tidy up after tea. In this way, repetition allows everyone greater ease and conservation of energy, which we all need!
Wild Roots staff authors include Erin Boehme, Lia Grippo, CJ Cintas, Anne McCarthy, Tyler Starbard, Jenn Sepulveda, Heather Young, Amalia Smith Hale, Natalia Pareja...