Sunday, March 3, 2013

the school series : routine's rhythm

For the first time in a very long time we have a strict five-day-a-week routine and it's taking us a while to adjust. Slowly, slowly we're getting there.

Routine is not a word that I've used in my mothering experience. I never adhered to the belief that babies need a routine and so I never established one. Instead I found comfort in rhythm; I found it in my breath, my body and my days - a constant, ever flowing, ever changing rhythm.

But there is no denying that the school week is routine based. The time frame is strict and there is little leniency. But you know what, I actually like it, and I'm learning that however demanding school is, it does provide some beautiful lessons, mostly for me and my rhythm. 

                              I think as you move into a new stage of parenting it's only natural to reminisce on the previous years, to reflect on how they were navigated and explored. I distinctly remember reading The Rhythms of Parenting in the Sunday paper, tearing out the article and sticking it on the fridge. It stayed there for a good while, the white paper slowly yellowing, and I read it often. My favourite quote and the one I kept returning to was this:

" the time the child (and parents) emerge from the cocoon of infancy into toddlerhood and beyond, it is incredibly helpful to the parents, and soothing and stabilising for the child, to have predictable rhythms to most days' events." 

Indeed, children thrive on predictability, days that are guided by an eating, playing, exploring, sleeping rhythm. Since Che was two I have implemented a very simplistic rhythm which changed, of course, with the seasons, the arrival of Poet and my increasing work-load. Now as the school timetable influences my week I have introduced a few things to ensure a smoother, calmer mama rhythm (as opposed to shrieking and attempting to get everyone out the door by 8:35am)
  • I set my alarm and get up early. I often struggle with this but once I'm up I'm so grateful for the still and the quiet - it's a beautiful way to begin. I usually start with a cup of tea and then I'll pack Che's lunch. Sometimes I write, sometimes I put washing on, sometimes I just sit.
  • I set Che's uniform out the night before to ensure it's ready and clean (which has been handy considering 2 days out of 5 there isn't a clean uniform to be found, hence a late-night laundry session).
  • I've officially declared Thursday night "pizza night" and I always put aside a few pieces for Che's lunch on Friday (not having to make a sandwich or a wrap come Friday is rather nice)
  • I work between 9-3 and then do a few hours in the evening when the children have gone to bed. Having such a definite schedule has ensured I work quite efficiently, even when writer's block strikes.
  • In the afternoons I'm noticing that we're establishing a new rhythm around Che - afternoon tea and a chat, homework and an early dinner. I've found that dinner by 5:30pm is the best for children; it calms the witching hour (to a degree).
Of course, sometimes none of the above happens and I fumble my way through, trying my hardest not to lose the plot. On those days I remind myself that there's always tomorrow.

As for homework....well, Daniel and Che work together on the balcony while I prepare dinner. I hear snippets of their discussions, always peppered with silly stories. And sometimes I come across the "extra" creations and smile big. Like this:

"I sat on my cat. My cat is flat. I am a flat cat. The cat sat on my head. The cat did a poo on my head so I washed my hair with shampoo. It didn't work. I still had poo on my head. The end."

...just today the lovely Meagan launched "Whole Family Rhythms" - a guide to creating seasonal, weekly and daily rhythms for your family. Pop over there for a little inspiration...

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