We started our summer break with a trip to France, followed this weekend by a fun and surprisingly relaxing camping trip with friends. Now we can settle back home for most of August. We have plans to see friends and are looking forward to a few adventures, but one thing my daughters really appreciate about the holidays is our morning rhythm and our Mondays at home. I have always cherished the summer holidays with my children: it is so nice to have a long break from the school routine. Things feel freer, more spontaneous and anything seems possible, including today’s impromptu trip to the beach for ice cream and splashing after the girls’ horse riding late this afternoon .:-)
Saying that, I do rely on a daily and weekly rhythm to help the time go smoothly during the summer holidays.
I have been thinking a lot about rhythm lately since reading the second chapter of this book (several times!) whilst on holiday. Rhythm is so important to us; a daily, weekly, yearly rhythm is like a reliable steady beat that carries us through our days and through the year.
Ever since we joined our local Waldorf Parent and Child group seven years ago, I have tried to make the days of the week a little different so the children knew which day of the week it was. When they were really small, I dressed us all in a different rainbow colour every day! ( I smile as I remember this early attempt at rhythm!), but it was fun and the children knew what was coming next. I have continued to use various rhythms to mark the days of the week over the years, especially during the summer holidays, but in term time, the children are carried by the Kindergarten and school rhythms.
Rhythm in a Waldorf Kindergarten is strong: there is a set rhythm for each day of the week and the children know it in their very being. Each day they eat a different grain for their substantial snack at around 11am; for example in my daughter’s Kindergarten, Monday is ‘rice day’, Tuesday is ‘porridge day’, Wednesday is ‘millet day’. Thursday is ‘bread and honey day’ ( everyone’s favourite!) and Friday is ‘soup day’ ( with barley). The children refer to the days by their grain as they are not yet ready to think of the days of the week by their name. Waldorf education believes in letting the child stay in a dreamy state for as long as possible, certainly until the seventh year, when they naturally awaken more and are ready for schooling.
When my eldest daughter started school at nearly 7 years and was only doing one longer day until 3pm, we continued the Kindergarten rhythm of baking, nature walks, crafting, painting and making soup in the afternoons and we even did a ring time for a while as my daughter was missing her Kindergarten days. So a weekly rhythm at home has been part of our lives on and off for a long time.
In the summer holidays we have always had a set daily rhythm and a few years ago I painted a chart of our week with pictures of all the things we did each day so the girls knew what came next. It has since become very dog eared (!) as it was so often referred to, so I can’t share it here.
At the beginning of the holiday, my daughters and I decided what our daily and weekly rhythm should look like and my eldest daughter decided to draw the weekly activities out for us ( with some embellishments 🙂 ). It is awaiting lamination to keep it safe for longer.
I have always protected our mornings for home time to keep them un-rushed. The afternoons are free so we can meet friends, take trips or to simply just see what happens. A typical morning here would be:
- On rising the girls will play a little while I write my morning pages.
- We feed the animals and have our own breakfast
- We clear the dishes ( one of us clears the table, the other sweeps and the other washes up – we do a lucky dip for that to make it fair)
- We get dressed and make beds and the girls are then free to go off and play
- Snack and activity – there is a different activity for every day of the week
- Girls go off to play while I make lunch.
To be honest it doesn’t always go to plan (!) and the children don’t always fancy making their bed or things take longer than expected but we try to keep more or less to this rhythm.
After lunch, if we are at home, we wash the dishes and then we have a quiet hour, where the girls either play, draw, craft or listen to audiobooks and I sit down with a book or some knitting. Yesterday afternoon I treated myself to a nice cup of tea and my favourite book for summer reading and went to sit on our swing seat at the top of the garden. Bliss!
I also try to take some out breaths during the morning; my first happens on rising with my writing and then there is a chance for a mindful cup of tea just before our activity to ground myself. Some days I forget and I end up doing too much housework and activity ( breathing in) and not enough stopping to be present ( breathing out). I really notice my mood is affected if I don’t take time to just be present. The book I am reading right now is setting me straight about what really matters; being present with the children, slowing down, noticing the beauty all around. It is such a gift to me this book, which is why I read it every summer, when I need it most. I would highly recommend it.
So to our weekly rhythm:
Mondays are sacred to us. We never arrange anything. It is nice to settle back home after the weekend and to have a slow home day. My daughters really appreciate this cosy time at home with time stretching out in front of them and so do I. Our morning activity is BAKING ; we bake bread rolls for lunch and cakes or biscuits for snack time.
Tuesday is our PAINTING day. Today we sat out in the garden as the weather was lovely and we have a big table out there.
Amongst other things we made these symmetrical pictures. I always join my daughters in all their activities as it is good for them to see me having a go too. It seems to spur them on to try new things.
On Tuesday afternoons, my daughters go to a small local stable to do some horse care for a couple of hours and my youngest goes horse riding with her sister leading her. In the meantime, I go to a cafe and write to you lovely people 🙂 We all enjoy this time.
On Wednesday we play BOARD GAMES. Our current favourite is Wildcraft
We love playing games as a family and have quite a selection that we enjoy! They are mainly co-operative games.
Thursdays is for CRAFTING. Last week the girls made a start on the projects they are planning to do over the summer. My eldest daughter wants to make a baby Waldorf doll and the younger one wants to make a simple standing puppet. We made a start on the heads last week, which is the trickiest part I think. They also have been finger knitting for weeks and I promised them I would finally sew it together to make a small rug for their rooms ( for a toy cat to sit on or as a Sylvanian rug). I was surprised how beautifully they turned out and really enjoyed making them, (just using zig zag stitch on the sewing machine to hold them together) so I am asking the girls if they could finger knit me some more when they get a chance so I can make some coasters and who knows what else…! 🙂
And Friday is for GARDENING or NATURE WALKS depending on the weather and our plans. As we were going camping last Friday, we just did a little gardening including harvesting a large amount of calendula from the veg patch where it is growing quite prolifically. I love Calendula; such a happy little flower with great healing properties.
We have just started reading about the healing powers of Calendula in our herb fairies series so the girls were keen to get started making calendula oil for all their cuts and grazes. We packed calendula flowers loosely in a glass jar and filled the jar with olive oil and it is now sitting on our window ledge in the sunshine for a week or so. We are also drying some calendula flowers in our larder. Not sure yet if we will use them to make calendula oil or tea or other potions….
On Friday afternoon, my eldest daughter goes horse riding and I spend a cosy hour reading and chatting with my youngest daughter in a nearby garden centre cafe.
It feels so grounding to have a reliable rhythm through the week and a steady rhythm to the day; the children know what to expect and look forward to it. I think also for the adult, a rhythm carries us along. The day flows better and there is definitely comfort in it.
It is now late on Tuesday evening. We really enjoyed our spontaneous trip to the beach followed by a late dinner and late bedtime… that is the joy of summer; long days with endless possibilities 🙂
Joining KKCO at Frontier Dreams – hoping that the round placemat/rug qualifies for crafting. I certainly enjoyed it! I am five rows away from finally finishing my shawl. Things take longer than you think sometimes! 🙂