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Karen Brennan
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creating rhythm, consistency and connection

Monday, February 24, 2014

In my last newsletter, I mentioned that in Waldorf Early Childhood programs one of the ways we work with discipline is through creating strong, predictable rhythms.  Kim says it this way: “Rhythm carves the necessary channels for discipline, making it more intrinsic than imposed.  Where well-established rhythms exist, there is much less parental verbiage, less effort, and fewer problems around transitions.”

One way to help our families establish rhythms is to create rituals, usually little rituals, that bring not only repetition, but also show our love and caring.  This can be as simple as singing a little song each morning to awaken our child.  As I have shared with many of you, getting up and out in the mornings was an ongoing challenge for my family.  With my younger daughter, I woke her up for quite a long time with a little rhyme—one we used in our circle earlier this year: “Here comes a mouse, mousie, mousie, mouse; with tiny white ears and a soft pink nose, tickeldy tickle where ever he goes.  He runs up your arm and under your chin; don’t open your mouth or the mouse will come in, mousie, mousie, mouse.”  It was still hard for her to wake up in the morning, but she would at least awaken with a smile, as the mouse turned into a cat and then an elephant.  Even when she was in grade school, I would do this occasionally when she was having a hard time waking up.  Rachel, on the other hand, would wake up swinging if I touched her, so I would just touch her and then back away and let her go through her bad mood until she was done.  I also know people who play the lyre in the morning to gently wake their child up.  I have also heard that some children wake up all by themselves—amazing!  My mom used to leave out some food and a coloring book or something similar for my little brother, who was the only one in our family to wake up at the break of dawn, in hopes of getting a little more sleep.  For me, when the girls were little, and since they slept late, I would wake up early to have a little bit of time to myself, which made a huge difference in my day. 

Starting the morning the night before is often helpful—laying out clothes, preparing lunches if they are taken to school or work, preparing for breakfast.  And breakfast can also have some simple ritual—lighting a candle, especially on dark winter mornings, previewing the day.

How do your days begin?  Is your child up early or does she need help waking up if you have somewhere to go?  What is breakfast like? 

Quite Simply: The rhythms of family life provide consistency; the best ones also offer connection.

Kim offers the following question s to consider when you are considering increasing the rhythms in your family:
        • Would this make life easier, more balanced?
        • Will this help with what we need to do?
        • Most importantly, will they contribute to the way we want to live?

Kim reminds us that doing bringing more rhythm won’t make the unexpected or busyness or the need to improvise go away, it’s just that they won’t rule the day.  It will also bring more joy of anticipation and security in things to be counted out to your child’s life.