Monday, June 26, 2017

Summertime :: Let Go

Summer has arrived in all its glory. The lake is warming. The birds are back and making themselves known by their song in the wee hours of the morning. Blossoms abound. Meals are simpler.  The fresh vegetables of early summer are ready for eating: baby greens, scallions, radishes, chard, kale, fresh herbs too, and plenty of eggs from the hens. The nighttime temperature is no longer dropping into the freezing zone. The warmth is here to stay.

The energy feels expansive, an upward movement, with plants reaching upwards towards the cosmos, a grand upward and outward gesture, with berries and peas coming to fruition. The energy of summer is like the finger play Five Little Peas, whose energy is pushing outward from within.

Five little peas,
In a pod pressed.
One grew, two grew
So did all the rest.
They grew and they grew
And they did not stop.
Until one day,
The pod went POP!

Unlike the rising energy of spring, the energy of summer demands a fertile outlet.

The topic of summer rhythm came up in nearly all of my coaching calls this week, so I thought I'd share with you how I approach summer, in the hopes that it might help you craft your summer rhythm.

A little bit about my bias and where I'm coming from. I spent my childhood on the coast of Maine, in the days of, "Go out and play!" Boy did we ever play. We went out in the morning and spent the day roaming the meadows and woods and playing at the pond. We rode our bikes. At lunchtime we went home to eat. Sometimes we went to the beach. In the evenings we'd drive to the orchard and watch the deer come out.

Summer was a languid time for children. That was the norm. City children played with the hose and found plenty of company. As I got older summer became a time of reading novels, afternoon naps out of doors, and time on the beach. When I turned 16, summer meant a summer job.

I didn't imagine that there would be any other way to experience summer for my children. With my first child we went to live on remote islands in the Pacific Ocean. Life was slow year round, referred to as "island time." Always plenty of children and plenty of time.

With child number two we were back in the United States. We were fortunate to live around other families who shared the "Go out and play!" view of childhood. We were part of a Waldorf community and it seemed that everyone went out to play. It was only later that I learned how scripted and organized childhood had become.

I've been committed to protecting the wonder of childhood for my children, for the children in my care in the kindergarten and nursery and in supporting parents who want to protect the wonder of childhood. 

I came up with a simple formula. If you know me, you've heard it before. It's this:

Eat Sleep Play Love ~ in the fresh air

My formula for summer is to let go. Let go of the stress. Let go of trying to "get it right." Let go of feeling like it's supposed to be a certain way. 

Just be.

Be you. Feel the warmth of sun on your face. Read good books. Make popsicles. 

Let the focus be on the basics: a somewhat regular bedtime, wholesome meals, time to play, being together and spending lots of time in the fresh air.

Have lazy hammock time. Drag the table out of doors for meals. Build an evening campfire pit by placing stones in a circle. Sing songs together. Watch the stars come out. Drink lemonade. Eat ice cream. (there's some really good coconut milk ice creams for the dairy free!) Bring out an old bedspread and have a picnic. Find water and dip your toes in. Pick berries if you have a local source.

Just be.

What's your favorite thing about summer?

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Why Routines?

Rhythm and Routine
~ a series of articles to support rhythm in the home
Routines can be good for everyone. Good routines are beneficial to physical, psychological, and emotional health. Let's look at some of the benefits of routine:

For the Children
Routines provide great comfort and security to children of all ages and help ease anxiety because they provide the comfort of the familiar and of knowing what is coming next. Children know what to anticipate with routines as the sequence of events remains the same. Daily life becomes predictable with meal routines and bedtime routines. This ability to know what comes next alleviates the anxiety of the unknown for many children. Routines help children form good habits and become competent and capable of caring for themselves, their clothing and their environment - your home! You get a helper! All this through small steps in forming good habits with routines.

For the Adults
Life with little children (and big children too) can throw our plans off kilter, very easily. Very small children live in a sort of time out of time, and our task is to slowly and gently bring them into the rhythm of day and night, of mealtime and playtime, of sleeping time and of experiencing warm, joyful loving relationships. These are the anchors in our days - eating and sleeping, playing and experiencing warm, loving, joyful and secure relationships. Routines help us do this, they give form to time. Routines help our days run more smoothly.

Routines give us more freedom and actually free up time. With the form of a routine comes freedom within the form. 

Routines make procrastination less likely. When activities have a specific time in the day to be done, they tend to get done. I know that when I have no boundaries around my time, it's easy to drift this way and that and easily become distracted from what I set out to do. Having a routine for the important activities in my day helps me stay on task. When I make it a habit to mentally organize dinner first thing in the morning, it is likely to get on the table on time and without rushing. When I faithfully start my day with a load of laundry, the wash pile doesn't build.

Routines help us be more clear in our intentions and control how the day will unfold. Now that may sound a little outrageous for people with small children because who knows how the day will go with little ones?! Yet routines help bring us back to center and bring form to day

One example might be a strong after lunch routine of a nap that helps everyone come back to center and re-energize for the rest of the day. A healthy bite to eat after the nap helps tide everyone over through dinner preparation until dinnertime. These little habits to have lunch followed by a story and the routine that comes with that, then a nap, then a bite to eat, these ways that were so natural to my mother and grandmother, have become conscious deeds that are carried with intention for my generation. We no longer have the group to carry us, we must figure it out for ourselves. It comes out of our free choice.

Routines help form good habits. Maybe you've always wanted to leave shoes by the door when you enter the house, and wish that everyone would hang up their coat. A coming into the house routine might be created with designating a place to put the shoes, and a place to hang coats and jackets. For the littles you might like to set a wooden peg hanger that is at just the right height for your child to reach. This way new habits are formed that can make your life easier, save the time you'd spend picking up shoes and jackets, make you happy, empower the children and make leaving the house flow more smoothly as well since everything will be in its place and easy to find.

These are some of the benefits of routines, other benefits may include better sleep, healthier meals, a more relaxed mood in the home, more time to get out in the fresh air, more time to snuggle in with a story, time for tea, and a more effective use of time. Good routines help home life flow more smoothly. 

Here's a list of the benefits of routine, they:

Provide comfort and security
Ease anxiety
Give form to the day
Bring children into the rhythm of life
Build competence
Bring clarity to intentions
Help us to be present in the moment
Give us control over the flow of the day
Help the day flow more smoothly
Help us come back to center (feel grounded)
Re-energize us
Make time to get things done
Help us form good habits

Are you convinced that routines are a good thing?

Read Article #1 Routine in the Waldorf Home::What is it?  here

Monday, June 12, 2017

A Story for Summer :: The Wild Rose

With temperature's in the 90's it looks like summer is really "a -coming and winter has gone away-o!" At least for this week. We're in the season of the Flower Queen, and she has remained undaunted by the cold as her flower children blossom.

The wild roses are just beginning to bloom, the white in full bloom and the rose not quite yet to open.

Here's a sweet story to tell for summer. It's appropriate for children of all ages, including the wee littles. It's about Mother Nature and a wild rose. It's easy to imagine the larks and humming-birds coming to visit. For the young child, the world is alive and the notion that Mother Nature might talk to her flower children is quite natural, that's what mothers do!

The Moss Rose
~ by Leonore E. Mulets
(with a few adaptations by me)

Once upon a time a little pink wild rose bloomed by the wayside. To all who passed her way she threw out a delicate perfume and nodded in kindly welcome.

The larks and the humming-birds all loved the pink wild rose. The baby grasses and the violets snuggled up at her feet in safety. To all she was kind and sweet and helpful.

One day Mother Nature passed that way. She saw the gentle wild rose sending out her helpful cheer to all. Mother Nature was pleased.

She stopped a moment on her way to speak to the simple flower. She praised the wild rose for her sweetness and her beauty and her kindness. At last she promised her her choice of all the beautiful things that were in the store of Nature.

The pink wild rose blushed quite scarlet at the praise. For a moment she stopped to think.

"I should like," said the wild rose, blushing more and more, "I should like to have a cloak from the most beautiful thing you can think of."

Mother Nature looked down at her feet. She stooped. She arose and threw about the blushing pink rose a mantle of the softest, greenest, most beautiful moss.

Mother Nature passed on her way.

The sweet rose by the roadside drew her mantle of moss closely about her and allowed it to trail down the stem. She was very happy. She was never again to be called the simple wild rose, but in her heart she knew that her beautiful mossy mantle would only help her in spreading sweetness and kindness and beauty and the perfume of happiness through Mother Nature's world.

With a snip, snap, snout, my tale's told out!


June's eCourse is Love ~ the Heart of Discipline. Learn more about it and sign up here.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Routine in the Waldorf Home ~ What is it?

A comment on the Celebrate the Rhythm of Life Facebook page inspired me to write about routines today. I wrote a long piece on routines that felt like too much. I decided to break it into smaller more digestible pieces to post over several days, hence a series called Rhythm and Routine is born. 


Here's today's entry...

What is a Routine?
A routine is "a sequence of actions regularly followed; a fixed program." as in:
"I settled down into a routine of work and sleep." 

The word routine comes from the French "route" meaning road. With a routine, we take the same road, over and over again, day after day. We pass the same trees, go around the same curves and see the same landmarks in the same sequence on this road called routine.

Routines in our daily life are those series of events that can be counted upon to happen everyday, in the same order, in the same sequence, just as the sun rises and the sun sets, so shall there be the familiar and comforting routines to the day.

Routines Are Like Old Familiar Friends
Routines are like old familiar friends. Routines form the basis of a healthy home rhythm. They help bring form to the day. They help us, the adults, know what to do now, and what to do next.

Parents come to me and ask:

I don't know what to do with my child

What do I do with my baby all day long?

What do I do with my toddler all day long?

What do I do with my kindergarten aged child all day long?

What I always encourage is to begin with rhythm (that is a conscious awareness of the energetic quality of the flow of activities as the child relates to them) and routine. Establish predictable routines first.

When a routine no longer serves us, or no longer feels vibrant and meaningful, then it is time to make a change, to tweak it or let it go. But I am getting ahead of myself, for that has more to do with ritual and reverence, and for now I am focusing on routine.


Do you remember familiar and comforting routines from your childhood? Please share them with us in the comment section below.

Read Article #2 Why Routines? here

Peace on Earth begins at Home. 
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