Jul 16

The Rhythms

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I’m reading ‘Simplicity Parenting‘ at the moment and i’ve just read and re-read the chapter on the importance of rhythm in our lives. Put simply, the book says that increasing the rhythm of your home life is one of the most powerful ways of simplifying your children’s lives.

Having been ‘in transit’ for the last 2 years makes establishing a rhythm seem like a completely unachievable task. However, as the book explains, establishing a rhythm is important and can be achieved through small and simple steps.

When I think about my own childhood, the rhythms are what I remember. Of course I remember the family trips and the big events too, but what I get really nostalgic about are the things that it seemed like we always did. Banana pancakes made by Dad on a Sunday. Story time or reading before bed. Being picked up by mum after school and having an after school snack. Making a fire in the winter times. Watching the same television show on a Saturday evening whilst eating homemade pizza. (Heh). Walks along the beach when it rained.

And I’m sure that during the early years of my life there were rhythms that I’m not even aware of now:

Children depend on the rhythmic structure of the day – on its predictability, its regularity, its pulse. They benefit from dependability and regularity throughout childhood, but especially in the first three years, when the greater learning takes place unconsciously. Not only can children find security in the patterns of daily life, they can begin to find themselves. In the day’s most regular rhythms, its high notes – the meals and bathtimes, the playtimes and bedtimes – young children begin to see their place in the comings and going, in the great song of family.

Doesn’t that sound amazing and so delightfully simple? But in today’s ‘busy’ world it can feel so….boring, to have such predictability. I often worry that Mika doesn’t have enough books, especially when reading is something that I hold in such high regard. But children like repetition. They like predictability. They like to have the same book read to them every single night. As an adult who has so much stimulation on a daily basis, it can be easy to forget that children are OK with and even better off with simple, regular activities.

Sometimes I feel as though we always need to be doing something different. We need to be jumping from here to there, to different activities, playgroups, settings – anything to keep her stimulated. But DUH of course we don’t. Even as an adult, when I have multiple appointments to keep, things can get overwhelming. If it’s overwhelming for me then I can’t imagine how it must feel to a small child.

This weekend we did something that we have never done since arriving in Seattle: We hung out around the house. We ate brunch at home, we walked to the market briefly, came home for lunch, played outside, read books, played inside, slowly did the cleaning, the laundry, I napped, we cooked and we finished the night eating cereal and drinking tea. It was so relaxing and wonderful and it felt like how I remember Sundays – a winding down and slow preparation for the week ahead. Going to bed with a clean house and folded laundry, meals and shopping lists ready for the week ahead, replenished and excited for the new week.

I know Mika is still young but I can’t wait for her to recognize the little routines that will one day feel like home to her.

  • Sue

    I agree. Predictibility and consistency build a firm foundation that children can then ‘spring from’ with confidence. Good for you for figuring this out early on in family life. Protect those ‘rhythms’, like family dinnertime for example, as much as you can. You will be blessed in the present and in the  years to come.   Cheers!

  • Melissa Young

    Hi Pamela – we bought your lovely home in Barrett Road.  I just had to comment here 1. because I love how you write and 2. because I have three little boys and wholeheartedly agree with your post!  It is sooooo important that kids have an everyday routine, not only for them but for yourself as parents.  Take care, your little girl is gorgeous. x

  • Ingrid

    Love this post. Simplicity is the key. Children love routines – they love knowing what to expect. Love looking forward to the same story, knowing what will happen next in the story, looking forward to the sunday morning breakfast…. Thesethree years of Mika’s life are the most important years. You and Ivan are the most important people in her life. She is a lucky girl. She won the lottery when it came to having the best parents.

  • http://foxglovephoto.wordpress.com/ Natalia

    Oh, so true :) Those rhythms are what I remember about childhood too. (family dinner, bed time stories, the annual trip to see my ‘babcia’ and ‘dziadek’ (Polish for Grandma and grandpa)). Your photographs beautifully capture this simplicity.

    Curious – is Waldorf education something you’d consider for Mika?