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Daily Rhythms

“Meaning hides in repetition:  We do this every day or every week because it matters.  We are connected by this thing we do together.  We matter to one another.  In the tapestry of childhood, what stands out is not the splashy, blow-out trip to Disneyland but the common threads that run throughout and repeat:  the family dinners, nature walks, reading together at bedtime, Saturday morning pancakes.”

– Kim John Payne

Photo credit: Sophie Smith

Every Thornewood Treasure in our shop was born from our own family’s needs for open-ended toys, hands-on learning materials, meaningful celebrations of our faith and family events, and my desire as a mother to create a warm and nurturing atmosphere in our home. In this last endeavour I have been greatly influenced by the beautiful rhythms presented in Waldorf education and maybe even more so by the ideas of Charlotte Mason, a great British educator who lived at the turn of the twentieth century. Ms. Mason famously wrote:

“Education is a discipline – that is, the discipline of the good habits in which the child is trained. Education is a life, nourished upon ideas; and education is an atmosphere – that is, the child breathes the atmosphere emanating from his parents; that of the ideas which rule their own lives.”

You, mama, are the conductor of those three elements. It is through YOU that the good habits, the life-giving rhythms of your family and the atmosphere of warmth and nurture and curiosity and wonder will flow to your children. You have the power to bring calm and joy and a sense of safety to your children through the small, everyday cycles and little traditions you employ to carve out a beautiful life for your children in their childhood years.

Here is the Thornewood Treasures guide to creating nurturing rhythms in your own home:

  1. Take time to clearly envision the kind of atmosphere you would like to create in your home. What is it that you want your children to remember about your home when they are all grown up one day? How can you reflect this vision in your choice of décor, toys, food, activities, books, screen time, leisure time, weekends?
  2. With that vision in mind, now look for the everyday opportunities in your family that can become the hooks on which you hang that atmosphere. A few ideas for moms with younger children can include:
  • Waking up. What soothing, gentle rhythm can you start to practice to help them wake up calm and joyful? I sing my children awake each morning with a cup of tea (or cocoa in winter). I light the candle on their Days of the Week set so we don’t have to turn on electric lights, and we change the plaque to that day’s name while they drink their cuppa and gently wake up.
  • Bedtime We always read a bedtime story together, pray and then I light their Days of the Week set candle, they change it to the Goodnight plaque and I sing them a song. My girls have created their own mini rhythm of then lying head to feet on my eldest’s bed and talking for a few minutes more before finally going to sleep.
  • Snack times and family meals offer such wonderful opportunities for nurturing a wholesome family atmosphere. Here are some ideas:
    • Give a child the special job of setting out the snack plates and helping to prepare simple snacks.
    • Have a special snack time once a week. We do Poetry Teatime on Tuesdays.
    • Encourage you children to decorate your family meal table with simple nature treasures: a dandelion flower in a bud vase, a few pretty autumn leaves in an empty tin with a ribbon tied around it. Our little Spring Buds are the perfect way to carry small nature treasures to your meal table!
    • Pray together before and after meals. We often sing our prayers!
    • Have a few meal-traditions like Meatless Mondays, Friday Night pizzas or Sunday afternoon Sundaes!
  • Help children understand the rhythm of a week with our Weekday Star. It is a beautiful way to teach little ones how a week fills up and to help them get excited about the day ahead! My children know that Mondays are the red segment and that is when we go to town for piano lessons, our weekly visit to the fruit and veg shop and a visit with the grandparents. On yellow Wednesdays we do art in the afternoon, and Green Thursdays are for science experiments.
  • Use our Family Post box  to encourage family members to post little notes and gifts to each other. You can even make a regular Family Post Day for them to look forward to. Commit to making sure that on the particular day each week there will be a little note of encouragement for each family member in the post box!
  • Storytime, chores time, your daily walk, going to church, seasonal changes, public and religious holidays…all these things we do anyway can become wonderful opportunities on which to peg that atmosphere you desire to linger in your home and in years to come, in the memories of your children!

Photo credit: Ali Bodill

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