Thank you all for the flexibility while I took two weeks to gear up for chapter four. It was bigger than I thought, and with spring bursting around here there were few spare moments for reading.
Like the previous chapters I feel like our family is on track and moving in the right direction in many ways. But there is still vast room for improvement. I hope I always feel that way. Valuing where we are and aspiring for an even better experience.
Let's dig in, shall we?
Simplicity Parenting, Kim John Payne
Chapter Four: Rhythm
Rhythm is one area where my intentions are always, always better than my follow through. I have shared with you windows into our daily rhythm (like in this post an this one and this one), but I feel that often times our rhythm is abandoned from the moment we get out of bed. Each of us can so readily get into a groove and I have a hard time breaking that flow to go with what's written down in my binder. Do you feel like that?
I think it is magnified around here because, well, we unschool. (Or perhaps we unschool because we roll like that.) The lifestyle choices we've made are often about going with the flow and seeing where we end up. Maybe my expectations of rhythm too closely resemble a schedule and I simply need more space to flow within the bounds. If that is the case then I'd say we rock it now and then.
Indeed, the days when our rhythm is on feel seamless. We have more time for what matters. The dishes are done, the books are read and neatly put away, we've played and rested and connected. We have come together and moved apart again and again. My intention after reading chapter four is to revive my love of rhythm and re-create it for our family for the coming season.
Why Rhythm? Rhythm lets us relax into knowing just what comes next. No big surprises, just a gentle familiar flow. Rhythm brings security, peace, clarity, and ease in many ways. I appreciate Payne's comment that "The rhythms of family life provide consistency; the best ones also offer connection." Indeed, rhythm benefits children and adults alike. Payne says, "For parents, the advantages of rhythm are equally pronounced. Rhythm carves the necessary channels for discipline, making it more intrinsic than imposed. Where well-established rhythm exists there is much less parental verbiage, less effort, and fewer problems around transitions."
This has proven true time and again in my world. Think of the places that contain the most struggle within your family. Most likely it will be things where there is wiggle room/lack of rhythm. What about, oh, say seat-belts? Any drama there? Probably not because the rhythm is well established: "We don't start the car until you are buckled up." So there is no drama. But around dozens of other issues that are a bit more gray and a bit less rhythm and so the drama unfolds.
Payne urges us to build in pauses to connect. That act of being is so much more important than all of our busy doing. We must be available and quietly present to become trustworthy to our kids. I think of the Waldorf teacher, sitting quietly and doing handwork while the children play and work. Available, but without urgency.
Meals are a cornerstone of a regular, soothing rhythm. I recently shared our family's dinner routine with you in this post. I encourage you to read it if you have not already done so, or re-read it from your new Simplicity Parenting perspective. I suspect it will give you some great jumping off points for your own rituals. These rituals are a shining spot in our day.
Our experience since going on the GAPS diet has been transformational. While our diet was not standard American fare, we ate grains, some purchased chips and crackers, and the occasional sweet. Since cutting out these more complex (for lack of a better term) products our kids are bonkers for whole, simple, plain foods. Dinner tonight was some turkey, sunflower seed bread, cheese, salad, and a huge pan of asparagus, ramps, and peas. No leftovers. Simple delightful food.
Payne also encourages a regular meal rhythm (chicken on Monday, grill out on Tuesday…). I think this will be my first big shift to make from reading chapter four, aside from reviving my withering daily rhythm. A daily meal rhythm! I love it. We've done this before and cooking and eating was a snap. On GAPS it will be double easy as food prepares so very fast for us now.
Bedtime and stories was the final focus of Chapter four. I suspect bedtimes are sticky for many and I'm curious as to what you gleaned from Payne's discussion of this. His reflection that sleep deficets in youth made me reflect on just how hard we push and how fast we go in our society. Sage was an hour short on sleep yesterday and it showed – in his eyes, his mood, and his patience. We have the time and space to pause and center ourselves on days like this. I can't imagine what our family would feel like if everyone was short changed on sleep.
This post has gotten longer than I expected, so I'm pulling the plug! Your turn. What inspired you? What rubbed you the wrong way? What are you wondering or pondering? Bring it on.