As I watched her sleep, I breathed out a bit. “Finally,” I thought, “finally I can take a break.”
I continually found myself asking, “Why is this so darn hard?” My parenting path at the time included three very busy and often fighting children, a tiny baby growing in my belly, a new husband and an ex-husband. I was exhausted. I kept feeling like I was missing something — something pretty big. Why was I always feeling behind? Behind with cleaning, behind with meal planning, laundry, dishes, and of course SLEEP. Why did it feel like there was so much conflict in my home? I was working so hard to be a conscious parent. I was doing all-the-things. If one more person told me, “It is a season,” I might have lost it. I didn’t want to wait to enjoy life. I wanted a peaceful home NOW. I had glimpses of it. I would have these amazing days that flowed beautifully only to have them followed by a week of nonsense where I was not kind and certainly not the conscious parent I was aiming to be.
What was I missing?
I begun studying Waldorf education and I was working with the concept of holding a “rhythm” each day, the only issue was that “rhythm” in Waldorf meant a baking day, a shopping day, a soup day, and maybe a laundry day. A laundry day — joke’s on the person that came up with that! I had so much laundry from cloth-diapering three children that I had to do laundry daily. While I was frustrated by it, I kept feeling like somewhere in this “rhythm” concept was an answer.
Rudolf Steiner said, “Only human beings lead a chaotic life with no rhythm; nature has deserted it.”
I pondered these words over and over. It struck me that all I had read about rhythm was only the very tip of the iceberg. Rhythm was the secret.
Rhythm isn’t housed in a baking day or a soup day. It is housed in the soul of the parent. We hold the rhythm. Rhythm tames the chaos. Children who have a solid rhythm have less conflict. Rhythm helps them feel safe.
Rhythm is the balm that soothes the tired parent. It is the nourishment for the child’s belly and soul. It is the healing of a heavy heart.
How does rhythm do this? How is it more than soup day and how is it not just a schedule?
Let’s think back to the last time things fell apart in your home. Close your eyes and immerse yourself in how it felt. If you are anything like me, then it probably either gives you a pit in your stomach, an ache in your heart, or a throbbing headache. Those tend to be our worst parenting moments, often our worst partnering moments, and maybe even your worst human moments.
Let's sort it out. Taken inventory of your rhythm:
- Take stock of your actual rhythm. What are you really doing with your time? It probably isn’t what you think. Track it for a week. Remember that the mind lies so write it down!
- Take a good look at your meals. The content is overall important but truly not as important as the planning and consistency of them. Do you know what you are eating for each meal? If you are responsible for meals and this isn’t sorted then it can cause stress for the children and other adults in your home.
- How are you sleeping? How are your kids sleeping? Of course there will be times when sleep is off, times like sickness or after giving birth, but overall sleep doesn’t have to be as elusive as you might be making it. Children need much more sleep than our current fast-paced culture allows. Track your sleep while you are tracking your rhythm.
- How is your relationship with Source? Now, this isn’t about religion! This is about the still, small voice, your Higher Self — it matters not what you call it. A relationship with the spiritual realm affects your sleep as well as your daily outlook on life and how you are showing up.
Once you have evaluated the above, ask yourself, “How do I want my life to FEEL?” What did you learn from looking at your actual rhythm? What things do you need to change? Where are you spending the most time and how can you hack it, outsource it, or accept it? For instance, if you find that you are spending too much time preparing meals each day, ask yourself if there are ways to batch cook or at least batch prep. Do you need to ask your partner for help? Maybe looking at your actual rhythm showed you that there are some bad habits that need to be curbed, like social media or getting lost on your smartphone? Maybe you found that you are spending too much time at the grocery store and could really use a good meal plan? Maybe you found that you are spending too much time outside of your home and your kids aren’t getting the down time or sleep they need?
There are so many ways to look at this data — just remember that it is data. It isn’t good or bad, it just IS. What will you do with the data?
Now that you have the secrets to peace, how will you begin to be conscious of your rhythm?
How did this change me?
Well, it doesn’t mean I don’t ever get behind on the laundry or have kids with a squabble, but it does mean that my home is rarely more than 30 minutes away from being clean and I have kids that understand the value of helping without complaining. I’m not chasing peace — I create peace. Every family meeting we hold creates peace. Every meal that is planned creates peace. Every time I decide to stop and own my feelings, I create peace. That peace rolls to my children, bounces off my husband, and surrounds me with love.
You don’t have to wait until another season for peace. You can begin to have it today.
About the Author
Melisa Nielsen is a wife and mother of five children ages 24 down to 10 years old. She has been homeschooling with Waldorf methods for the past twenty years and shares her knowledge in her homeschool training and curriculum at Waldorf Essentials. Last year, Melisa and her team created a true Waldorf inspired virtual school called Seasons of Seven. Melisa and her husband Erik are also family coaches working with families to bring peace into their home and heal generations of dysfunction. Melisa is a wife and an ex-wife. She's a stroke survivor and a parent of special needs kids. She loves her life. Her favorite things to do are to watercolor paint, knit and embroider.