“To affect the quality of the day is the highest of arts.” – Thoreau
Another name I had considered for this blog was “Waldorf-Come-Lately”. I came to Waldorf homeschooling in July 2010, when my oldest was eight and my youngest was five. It would be an understatement to say I was overwhelmed with all the information out there. Mostly I remember wanting stories of how people actually began to incorporate Waldorf-inspired methods into their lives. And more specifically, how did they do it with older children? One of my goals for this blog is to share how I began to change my parenting and my homeschooling with Waldorf.
I know this is not true, but it seemed as though everyone discovered Waldorf before they even had children. I remember wryly thinking, “If they just sold infants in the Nova Naturals catalog, I could start all over!” I’m kidding of course, but in the beginning I did think I could just “buy Waldorf”. I purchased some art supplies, a child’s sized broom and a few silks – presto! instant bliss. Looking back on this, I am cringing and laughing at the same time. During that fragile beginning time, when I could quiet my mind enough to think about what I really wanted from Waldorf, a few nebulous qualities came to the fore: calm, purpose, reverence. Defining it further, I wanted that seamless quality a rhythmic day seemed to promise. I wanted to wake up and know what to expect. I was tried of feeling as if I had to reinvent the whole day, every day. I slowly, glacially, realized that what I wanted had nothing to do with beeswax crayons, playsilks or wooden toys. On some level, maybe the deepest level, it didn’t even have anything to do with my children. I wanted rhythm in my life. I needed rhythm in my life.
The concept of rhythm is so intrinsic to Waldorf, yet so elusive. Often confused with “routine”, rhythm is more of a flow – a current that guides the unfolding of the day. To me, rhythm is to be anchored with a clear overarching sense of purpose. In this regard, I think viewing rhythm as an art form is accurate. There is technique and structure involved in crafting a rhythm to one’s day, but there is also intuition, finesse and individuality. Two people were instrumental in helping me to begin to craft a rhythm to my days. Melisa Nielsen, over at A Little Garden Flower, helped me to see how getting up before my family set the tone for my entire day. Carrie Dendtler over at The Parenting Passageway was also immensely helpful, especially her advice in this post. Based on the guidance of these two women, I started getting up, starting the day by myself in quiet and literally writing a list of how I wanted my day to flow.
I did this for 40 days. Writing the list got to be almost comical. It was the exact same thing everyday: play, breakfast, chores, walk, snack tray, main lesson, play, lunch, quiet time, play, clean up, dinner prep, dinner, night routine, lights out. Every day, the list was the same and our nascent rhythm was beginning to take hold. Some 400 days later, I no longer need to write a list and I can say our rhythm is pretty solid. Adding a sense of rhythm to our days has filled me with a calm I have always craved, along with a definite purpose and a newfound reverence for what I do everyday. I’m not an expert by any means. My rhythm isn’t perfect. I wanted to write this as a testament that it is possible to create a rhythm where there previously wasn’t any. And more than that, I wanted to say that it is worth the work. (This post shows what our day currently looks like.)