When I first came to Waldorf, I built our daily rhythm around three things: cooking meals (perfect for grade 3), walking (perfect for when you have nothing else planned – which I didn’t) and afternoon story time (which, in my opinion is just perfect period – anywhere, anytime). Last year, Jude began first grade and that meant I was teaching two grades. Cooking became less intentional and more simplified, but we still walked every morning and had story time every afternoon. This year, Vincent is in middle school and Jude is in grade 2. What has worked in the past is not working anymore, and our rhythm has gotten a significant overhaul.
Perhaps the biggest change is with cooking. This summer I did a series of posts asking for suggestions on breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. After reading those posts that week, Tom came home and said bluntly, “You cook too much.” (This from a man who grew up in a house with an Italian mother AND grandmother who cooked every meal, every day and then some.) However, I did see his point and a couple of slight adjustments have made a big difference. I already had the idea to streamline school day mornings with a serve-yourself breakfast/morning snack bar. (No cooking and no major clean up!) I adopted this idea from Maya and list the daily choices on a small chalkboard. (No questions!) I have also been lowering overall expectations (mostly my own) for lunches and dinners during the week and serving more leftovers. No one has noticed or complained and the time I am saving is considerable.
The second big change to our rhythm was initially postponing and then ultimately forgoing our morning walk. I knew we needed to make more time in the morning for Vincent’s main lesson which has been taking about 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Vincent and I are both up early and ready to go – we don’t need a walk to get our energy going. Why wasn’t I taking advantage of this? Live and learn, I guess. So after Tom leaves, we both begin to transition to the school day. We have been beginning around 9:15-9:30, which lets us finish both main lessons before lunch. I thought about doing our walk between main lessons, but really we (well, I) need a break. So instead of walking together, the boys go outside and play for about 20 minutes, and I take the dog for a walk or sneak in a quick dvd workout.
Giving up afternoon story time is proving to be my biggest struggle, as it was my absolute favorite, favorite part of the day, everyday. However, as much as it pains me to say this, this is not all about me (lol). I started afternoon story time with the intention to encourage Vincent to read fiction. Well two years in, it has finally started to work! Now we have something every afternoon called DEAR (Drop Everything And Read). The form is the same as when we had afternoon story time: I set out a snack tray and light a candle. Instead of reading together, we are each tucked into our own book or current handwork project. This quiet time provides a nice in-breath after all the energetic playtime after lunch. I still read aloud to both boys during their individual main lessons, and we will still have our annual tradition of reading the next Little House book in January and the next Anne of Green Gables book in February.
This new pattern fits the needs of our family as a whole right now. And while we are still working out some kinks and falling into the rhythm of it all, it seems to be working out nicely for now.
*Read other examples of our yearly rhythm.