We breathe in and we breathe out. Our heart beats. The tide rolls in and rolls out. Following the sun across the sky each day, we have morning, noon, afternoon, evening, night, repeat. Depending on where you live there is Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter. In Nature, we find infinite examples of Rhythm. It is free and it is happening all around us.
If there is one thing that you can do for your children (and yourself) to make life feel better over a lifetime, it is to create more rhythm in your daily schedule. Rhythm and routine create security. In our overstimulating and overloaded world, it is more important than ever that we make it a top priority for our family-life.
What does this mean for “Back to School”?
Children live in your rhythm, parents. They just do. And we are teaching them how to live by how we live. It is no small thing, but it doesn’t have to be complicated. All you need is a rhythm that you can stick to and your intention to do the best you can. For some folks that might seem more difficult (me) and for others it is a cakewalk (my husband). But even so, if I can do it, you can do it too. Once you start and stick with it, it makes life so much easier for everyone around you because it is as natural as the sun and the moon.
Here are some ideas for simple things you can do:
- Waking your children up gently each day.
- Having the same simple breakfast ritual, sitting down and giving them your quiet attention as you eat together.
- Getting dressed and brushing teeth in the same order every morning. If kids know what they are going to wear the night before, then this can be a very straightforward process.
- Leaving your house at the same time each day – ideally on time so that your child is not late to school and you don’t have the stress of “late” hanging over your head as you take them to school or bus stop.
- The same drop-off routine every day. Give your child your full attention at drop off. If you say the same things and give him the same kiss or hug each day, your child will know what to expect and he can separate from you more easily. It builds security within him to know what he can expect. It seems so small, but it is truly a big deal. If another parent wants to chat with you, just hold your child’s hand so he knows you are still with him. And maybe talk to that parent after you’ve separated from your child and he is off in his classroom. It is that simple if you let it be.
- Same thing at pick-up. As this wonderful article by Waldorf Kindergarten teacher Helle Heckman says, “If you take the time (and it is five seconds perhaps), you bend down, give him a hug and then smell him (so lovely!) and really you are there, his eyes will tell you more than words, how his day was. He cannot tell you with words because he cannot remember, but his eyes will tell you everything.”
Simplicity Parenting has a daily rhythm chart how-to here.
You might think that tweens and teens don’t need your rhythm, but I would say that, after living with and studying and teaching teens, they need it even more. Trying to figure out who they are in the world is an exhilarating and exhausting task. Knowing when dinner is, when homework time is, having sleep time parameters, all of these things help older kids make it through these important years without scattering themselves to the winds.
And, ideally, as a parent, you won’t have to reinforce these rhythms too much. As kids get into high school, particularly after their Freshman year when they start to know the lay of the land, it is better if they can manage themselves. My teenage daughter sets her own alarms on her phone to remind her, so I don’t have to. They say things like, “If Harry can defeat Voldemort, you can get your homework done. Do it now.”
Some teens are harder to corral than others, of course. But that’s why those rhythms parents create in early childhood really pay off when your kids are older. Do it now indeed. It is like taking out teenager insurance. They won’t even know it is something to rebel against, it will be so much a part of who they are.
Parenting is not an easy task. It takes a village for sure. Do you have a daily rhythm tip that works for your family?