Thursday, September 22, 2011

Candlelit Dinners

My daughter has been in school nearly a month now and we have slowly fallen into our new routine. I thought that mornings would be an issue for us but I have been pleasantly suprised at just how smoothly things run. Wake up, make breakfast, pack lunches and snacks, dress, gym and finally school. I have a little more than an hour with my son before he goes down for his nap during which we play or read together. When he goes down, I have two glorious, uninterrupted hours to do whatever choose. Usually, I tidy up and make myself do one major chore that needs doing. The rest of the time is for me. I sew, blog, browse Facebook or's lovely actually.

A little something I'm working on....more on that later!
The trouble starts when K gets home from school. She is dropped off a little after four by a friend with whom I've worked out a carpool (she brings our girls home, I drop them off). I help her change out of her uniform, go through her school folder for notes or homework, and pry out bits of information about her day. The three of read a few books together and's nuts.

The kids start fighting. And if they aren't fighting, they are running around like chickens with their heads cut off. I start cooking dinner around 5:15 at which point I banish them to their rooms or the backyard, depending on the weather. Getting them to wash up and sit down to eat is a chore in itself.  After dinner it should be straight to the tub but there's a great deal of commotion and craziness before that happens too. By the time they are fed and bathed, it's nearly too late for bedtime stories and instead of enjoying time with my husband, I am more in the mood for a glass of wine and a nap!

Rhythm, it seems, is my answer. I read a great many blogs who employ the methods of Waldorf education. Rhythm, whether it’s the natural rhythm of the seasons, or the daily rhythm of school and home life, is central to the Waldorf philosophy. Regular rituals nourish the child and give them a sense of security. My children's morning rhythm is solid; the evening rhythm could use some work. Though we do follow a pattern of sorts-dinner, bath, story, bed- I feel that my kids need transistional rituals to calm the craziness and make sure we are getting things done without too much stress.

I don't have any "cure all" ideas but there is one simple thing that has been making a huge difference in our evenings that I read about on a Waldorf education website. A candle. A simple, beautiful taper candle. When it's time to sit down and eat together, I light two candles, one for each child. When those candles are lit, my kids know it's time to eat; not time to play, not time to wash, not time to chase the cat; it's time to sit with your family and eat. I'm amazed at how the simple act of lighting candles has helped the children transistion from the craziness of free play to the semi-sanity of the dinner table.

What is your daily rhythm like? What simple tactics do you employ to make things run more smoothly?

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