“Because rhythmical activity speaks so strongly to children, it is helpful to bring conscious gestures into our household tasks such as folding clothes, sweeping floors, and washing the windows, car or floor. The children will watch, join in or help or simply take it all in as they go about their work of playing. By becoming conscious of our own activities, by regulating our daily lives in a harmonious, rhythmical way – by valuing what we do around our children – we are shaping their will forces, and helping their physical bodies to develop in as healthy a way as possible. In return, our children give us the gift of slowing down, of becoming aware of our movements and our emotions and of appreciating the uniqueness of each moment.” You Are Your Child’s First Teacher by Rahima Baldwin
I believe I have always enjoyed routine. Indeed, when I look back through my life I can see that certain problems developed when a steady rhythmical flow was disturbed. I, of course, could not see that at the time – only through a few hours of counseling and deep thought would that realization come to pass.
I have fought by love for routine since every now and again as I do love me a little spontaneity. I like when people just stop by without making a prearranged date, I like hopping in the car for a impromptu trip across town or succumbing to a sudden urge to buy tickets to South Africa (ok, a bottle of wine may have something to do with that last one). But over the past few years, after two children have made every day a bit unpredictable, I have come to realize that I only like this spontaneity in small doses. To wake up every day without a plan or a project or any inkling about how those darn kids will act or not act is enough to drive a person a little nutty. Enter the frazzled and bored stay-at-home parent that we all read about (or are).
I first starting bringing back some routine with the week’s menu – I have a chalkboard in the kitchen that acts as the week’s menu. There is Monday Pasta, Tuesday Tacos, Wednesday Meat, Thursday Rice and Friday Soup day – every Monday we have pasta, what kind of pasta differs from week to week (soba noodles with kale, smoked salmon fettuccine or a simple veggie pesto) but every Monday we all know we will be eating some sort of noodle. And so on. This makes our meals so much easier to plan on Sunday night when I write out what each day that upcoming week will provide. I find that when I have all the options in the world, I get a little bogged down by all the yummy possibilities that we end up eating breakfast for dinner because I couldn’t make up my mind. I blame Pinterest or the bevy of addicting cookbooks out there. So I just leave the weekends for the lavish meals…which means nine times out of ten I don’t have to cook them since we are often on the go all weekend.
We have also come up with a weekly routine for the kids – inspired by the Waldorf books I have been reading. Mondays are my favorite. We are home from the weekend…no school, no commitments. We usually spend the morning outside exploring around – today we were on a hunt for the items needed this week for our advent garden.
The First Light of Advent,
It is the Light of Stones,
The Light that shines in Crystals, in Seashells
And in Bones
The Second Light of Advent,
It is the Light of Plants,
Plants tat reach up to the Sun
And in the Breezes Dance
The happy children spend their days
Preparing for the holidays
They’re wrapping up presents to share
It’s Advent Time, so We Prepare
The trees and bushes of the forest
Who bend and dance with the wind
Saw (child’s name) (working hard, being kind
To another child, etc) today.
The Trees and bushes are giving these
Children gifts to put on the nature table.
You may choose a gift of a flower, seed, leaf
Or berries to put in our Advent Garden.
Then once Sebastien heads to nap, Maya and I get a few hours to play together, just the two of us. This is time I have recently come to really cherish. Today we made play doh – Maya made a lake and a salmon family out of hers. We played house, danced a few ballet performances – her and me, and made many a mud pie and soup in the outside play kitchen. Three hours later and we were eager to greet the sleepy boy and invite him into our play.
Children are so damn creative and their imagination is wild. It is a blessing to be able to spend this time with them. But it is truly through this new idea of a weekly routine that I have been able to see this.