I've finally managed to integrate a rhythym into our home and I couldn't be happier about it! Other than the myriad of benefits for Aria, I've found that this really supports me as well. The natural rhythm carries me through the day when my brain is mush and my body is all chronic fatigued/fibromyalgia'd out! It has taken a number of months of trial and error in order for me to be able to follow through with my carefuly thought out plans and to subsequently find and settle on what actually works for us. I've needed to focus on my own healing journey quite strongly in order to move on from hovering around in a very sick and dark place. Now, while I still experience some of the syptoms, things are really looking up and I've finally been able do some of the things that mean I'm being the kind of mother I dearly want to be. As I've mentioned many times before, I'm greatly inspired by the work of Rudolf Steiner (his educational methods are also refered to as 'Waldorf'). In his indications regarding the first 7yrs of life, Steiner talks about how important a rhythm is on all levels of the child's being.
I've been really amazed at how quickly Aria has learnt the order of things - (we've been doing it 'properly' for about a week). It brings me so much joy to know that we now have an environment that provides the space, safety and organic in/out breath that is needed as a foundation for her to grow forth from. Instead of anything happening kind of whenever or wherever (not that I ever meant it to be like that!), Aria knows that after we wash hands (while singing a washing hands song) we light the candle, and after that we say a verse of thanks, then we eat, wash hands and blow out the candle. She will then toddle off to grab her broom and we will both sweep while singing "this is the way we sweep the floor...". Next comes the dishes - Aria loves sitting on the bench with her own brush and cloth while we wash all the wooden dishes. She's actually a real help at loading the dishwasher afterwards too! To my amazement, after the dishes, Aria has gone to collect her special bed time book and brings it to me saying "sorey" (story). We then go off to our darkened bedroom for a story, lullabies, feed, lots of cuddles and her afternoon nap (sometimes I nod off too...) This cosy routine is so soothing for her (as she is proving to be quite a sensitive wee thing, this gives her a lot of security and connection.) I think it must be reassuring for her when we do things in the same order and in the same way each day.
This is just a snippet of our daily rhythm, but it illustrates how smoothly things go. Before it was almost like everything was a surprise that she had to figure out. She wasn't as free to be herself or grow because she was constantly catching up with an adult world and sort of metaphorically chasing my tail. Now she has a context within which to learn new things at a pace which is suited to where she is at developmentally.
For us it's not really about having a timetable or a routine as such (some days things just take longer than others) - it's more about 'rhythm' (as Steiner indicates). An in breath is always followed by an out breath in nature (think of the seasons, the ocean tides, day/night etc). During our day we strive to always follow an 'in breath' (such as a nap or quiet time) with an 'out breath' (such as time outdoors, physical activity so as to feel in our bodies or baking, artsy stuff etc...), and vise versa. This seems to work really well for Aria. It sounds simple - but actually takes a fair bit of forward planning and clarity of mind to carry it out!
Another way in which the in/out breath scenario is supported in our day is having indoor and outdoor time. Aria is a nature girl and really thrives with at least 4hrs outside a day -(the majority of the morning is spent outside, then lunch and stories/sleep inside, then back outside for the afternoon until it is time to prepare dinner) - she also welcomes the contrast of coming inside, quitening down and cosying up. I've provided some links below that I have found inspiring on the matter however their are many, many more out there as well!
Nurturing young Children in the Waldorf Home - Christopherus website
rudolf steiner archive
waldorf at home forum
waldorf journey - a little garden flower blog
Seasons of Joy - Meal time rhythms
The Parenting Passageway - bringing rhtyhm to your baby