I’ve been reading up on Waldorf philosophy this winter. I started with Simplicity Parenting back in December, and I thought it was excellent. I’m not someone who reads a lot of parenting books, and I actually didn’t realize this was a Waldorf book when I picked it up, but it resonated with me and got me thinking a lot about our home life, the culture we’re creating, and the childhood we want to provide for our children. This is another book I’d like a paper copy of — I read it on my kindle originally and wanted to underline the entire thing.
Anyway, after Simplicity Parenting I eventually moved on to You Are Your Child’s First Teacher, which I finished recently. Now, one of the reasons I loved this book was because it is, in a word, kind of wacky. There’s lots of straightforward talk about things like life force and vital energy. I appreciate a lot of spirituality in my yoga practice (the more out-there, the better, honestly) but this was a bit much even for me. I found it endearing. But at any rate, it too prompted some reflections on our home life.
Rhythm is big in Waldorf, and I’m drawn to the concept. It’s looser than a routine, but it provides structure to the days and weeks. There are natural rhythms to everyone’s days (morning, noon, and night), rhythms to our weeks, rhythm in the natural world and in our seasons. You might say that in our family, our weekly rhythm is three mornings out of the home (preschool and Bible study) punctuated by two quiet days at home. But you might also say that our daily rhythm is a bit more chaotic, and that is where I’m focusing my attentions right now.
It’s actually kind of a challenge for me to create — and stick to — a daily rhythm, but our days flow so much better when we’re in a groove. When we sit down for breakfast and lunch instead of grazing all morning. When we set limits on how much time we can spend watching Curious George. For me, when I do the breakfast dishes as soon as I can, when I fold the laundry the same day I wash it, when I set aside an hour or two each evening to work. Creating habits around these things helps to automate doing them, meaning I don’t have to think about them as much and try to find the time to cram them in while I’m trying to do something else. And most importantly, rhythm is so helpful for Will.
According to Rudolf Steiner (the creator of the Waldorf movement) rhythm takes some of the pressure off for kids. When they know what to expect each day, it frees them up to engage in creative play and focus on their own learning and development. That makes sense to me because it makes sense for me. Truthfully, living in and sticking to a routine doesn’t really come naturally to me, but one thing I’ve learned since becoming a mom is that just because it doesn’t come naturally to me, that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t do it. So I am trying.
Rhythm isn’t going to magically happen without my involvement, it turns out, and right now while it’s not ingrained I need to be constantly aware of it. It feels a bit like deep cleaning, where the process is hard but oddly satisfying, and the end result is absolutely worth it.