Within the early childhood practices of Outside Kids, inspired by LifeWays, you”ll read and hear me talk about rhythm. But what is it?
Put simply, a rhythm is your daily routine. It can look smooth and orderly, or loose and chaotic, but it is still a rhythm, the one you have chosen to direct your day. If you feel like your rhythm is running away from you, or running you away from what you wish your day would look like, then maybe it’s a good time to take a closer look at it. Lisa is well recognized in LifeWays and I really like her explanations of rhythm.
Rhythm as a Wheel Lisa Boisvert Mackenzie
“Picture rhythm as a wheel.This is a living wheel, one that is always in motion. That's part of what makes it challenging, it is always in motion, on the move, like the Wheel of the Year, always turning and we cannot make it stop. We have to go along with the flow of time. Our breathing has a rhythm too, our lungs expand and contract, take in air (inspire) and exhale. We breathe through our lives without stopping, it is our breath that shows we are alive. How many times I put my hand on my sleeping child's chest to feel it rise and fall with his breath. Like breathing, the rhythm of life will carry on, with or without our attention, yet in attending to it, we can bring calm and balance by noticing when we are going through our days in an out of breath state and consciously bringing some meditative moments to our days.
Our daily rhythm takes place in 24 hours with the rising and setting of the sun, it goes down and it rises and then, we begin again. A fresh start. Day and Night. Sleep and Awake. Yet this daily rhythm, the rhythm of the day can escape us before noon and we find ourselves scrambling to put food on the table rather than merrily singing and chopping together with our children. Then bedtime is harried and we are all exhausted when we finally tumble into bed.
First be kind to yourself. If we did not grow up with a strong rhythm, we have to imagine it and create it for ourselves. And remember that life with children requires lots of flexibility, imagination and a great sense of humor! If we cannot laugh at ourselves and our endeavors, then how can we truly laugh at anything. We begin to bring form to our days by looking at the breathing quality of them through the lens of the "in breath" and the "out breath." How is your breathing? Are you out of breath often? Does it take a lot to get you going? Is there a balance between the huffy puffy moments and the stretches of quiet and solace? We are seeking "the flow" the balance between the hurry hurry moments and the mellow moments. We can work from the edges to bring form to our days and work from within to find the inner mellow to meet the frantic moments of others .In working from the edges, we'll look at three aspects of daily rhythm over the next weeks:
Eating, sleeping, playing and bringing it all together with love and warmth. The first three are called the anchors of the day. The Anchors of the Day are those activities that take place no matter what, no matter where we are and no matter how old our children are.
They are eating, sleeping, play and love or Nourishment, Renewal, Imagination and Connection. No matter what we do, food and rest and sleep and play will happen. We all must eat and sleep. Healthy children will play. And we fiercely love our children no matter what.
These are the anchors that tether us to life. All the rest can wait. There will be time.
Take few moments to imagine rhythm in your home. What does it look like?”
Now, take one little thing you would like to add , or change to your daily rhythm. One little thing to add some quiet joy to your day.
Here are some ideas to get you started:
Light a candle at dinner time and sing or say a gratitude blessing . Then snuff or blow it out and enjoy your meal together. Do this every night that you are home for dinner, for 1 week ( Your children can take turns being the candle lighter and snuffer)
Enlist the help of 1 child to put a small vase of fresh flowers on the breakfast table. Do this every morning that you are home for breakfast, for 1 week
After bath time, but just before bedtime, go outside and look at the night sky. Make it a tip - toe whisper- walk. Do this every night you are home with your children, for 1 week.
These are sweet and simple routines that can enrich your life with little ones, and add a predictable rhythm to one aspect of your very busy day. Try it for a week, and see what happens.
In my next blog, I will describe a little more about the benefits of a healthy rhythm .