I'm so glad you found the last post helpful! I think it would have been easier for me to write a book! Condensing so many thoughts into one post is tough. I wanted to let you know that I am replying to your comments in the comment section themselves, so please check back for a response.
Also, I wanted to add that keeping toys in the room most used by the family is very helpful. We use low shelves (never taller than the little one) and put everything in baskets. It's helpful to have a large basket to collect all the toys that are out after a day of play, and bringing them to each shelf to put in their appropriate smaller baskets. Every month I go through the little one's toys and move things upstairs and bring others down. Even little things seem to add up (she is often given many gifts) and we run out of space. Her bedroom is not being used at the moment, so we are storing most of the toys she doesn't use on a daily basis up there.
Many people asked to see a little glimpse at our daily/weekly rhythms. I swear, this is the one thing that keeps us going. I found a rhythm that worked well for both of us when she was a little under a year old. After the divorce, the rhythm changed because she was not with me everyday, and now we are finally (after a year!) settling into a rhythm that works. It takes a lot of work and preparation on my part, but the days flow so much smoother that I don't mind one bit. I literally jump out of bed in the morning excited for another day of parenting! We are just having so much fun! So hopefully if any of you out there are stuck in a rut, creating a consistent daily and weekly rhythm could help tremendously! So this is a lot of information, but hopefully it won't be too much...
So here's a glimpse of our weekly rhythm ::
Monday :: school
Tuesday :: school
Wednesday :: long nature walk/hike, craft day
Thursday :: baking day
Friday :: soup day
Saturday :: painting day
These daily activities stay the same week after week. Young children thrive on repetition (everything from reading books multiple times to eating the same foods day after day) and having this rhythm week after week is very calming. Elisabeth does not understand days of the week, but she understands when "baking day" is. She knows that "painting day" is on the day Sasa is home from work, so we all can paint together. She knows "soup day" is after our Waldorf school time. And that must be so comforting to a little one!
Here's a glimpse of our daily rhythm. Transitions and activities are usually helped with the addition of a song (either spontaneously made up, or one we always use. I'll include a couple). I'll just choose baking day as an example ::
Wake up :: I sing a good morning song to her when she climbs into bed with us. It helps start the day on a cheerful note.
Breakfast :: She typically helps, but sometimes is content playing. I always give her the option of helping and set out her cutting board or mixing bowls.
Clean-up :: She helps or has free play while I clean.
Baking :: After the kitchen is tidy, she sits at her baking table and we look at all our ingredients. I pre-measure ingredients because she loses interest pretty quickly when doing it herself. When she's older I will start having her measure things out. We mix, stir, pour, and then bake. She does everything herself, usually with little help from me. She uses mini bowls, mini spoons, etc. which help little hands. After everything is in the oven, we clean up. I usually put a big enamel tub on her table with soapy warm water and a dishcloth. I'll put the smaller things in her tub and she can help wash. There is another basin for rinse water, and finally the towel to dry the dishes. She usually helps do this while I clean the larger items in the big sink. After we are set, we grab our brooms and sweep the floor. She loves to use her dustpan, so I always let her do this part.
Snack :: We eat our yummy baked goods!
Outside nature walk :: We take a short nature walk (about a mile) where I encourage her to walk. We pay close attention to the natural world around us and always bring her little basket (we got ours locally, but you can find them here) for collecting treasures. I've always made it a point to be super observant of everything around us, ever since she was a little baby. I'd point out ladybugs or pretty leaves, and now she does the same! She gets so excited by a chestnut or pinecone. We collect our treasures, then head home to put them on our treasure table by the door.
Lunch :: Sasa comes home for lunch everyday, so the little one and I typically prepare lunch prior to his arrival. She helps chop veggies and cheese, then goes to play while I finish up. We eat and then go outside for some more play.
Quite time :: After lunch is quiet time. She usually lasts for 30-45 minutes of quiet play. She does not like to be still, so we compromised and just have some low energy activities. I can sometimes read on the couch while she plays, but mostly we read together snuggled under a blanket.
In town trip :: We take the time in the mid-afternoon to get out and go for another walk and a trip to the co-op. We get our food for dinner and return home.
Dinner prep :: Dinner usually takes longer to prep and I am trying to start around 3:30 so it is all done by the time Sasa gets home from work. The little one likes to play during this time, or help cook.
Dinner :: The little one helps set the table and we all sit down to eat. We light our special meal candle while singing:
Here is a spark of father sun's light
see how it shines so warm and so bright
so bright, so bright
so warm and so bright.
We sing our blessing on our meal:
Earth who gives to us this food
sun who makes it ripe and good
dear sun, dear Earth by you we live
our loving thanks to you we give.
Then we eat. Usually we go around the table and say what the favorite part of our day was, or what we're thankful for. Sometimes the little one doesn't want to sit at the table and would rather start sweeping the room while we finish up. And that's okay too.
The candle is carried upstairs and placed by her bed. We brush our teeth, wash our face, and get jammies on. After a few books, it's lights out. We say our evening verse ::
The evening is coming.
The sun sinks to rest.
The birds are all flying
straight home to their nests.
"Caw, caw," says the crow
it's time little children
were going to bed.
Here comes the pony.
His work is all done.
Down through the meadow
he takes a good run.
Up go his heels,
and down goes his head.
It's time little children
were going to bed.
The candle is snuffed. Songs are sung, and if it's a special night she gets a "made up" story by either Sasa or I. (Sasa tells the best stories ever!) I stay in her (our!) room until she's asleep, then come downstairs. This is the time I typically blog and plan the next day.
The key to making this work is including the children in everything. The little one has always been the type of child who required attention at all times. I can't tell you how many times a day she would ask Sasa or I to play with her. She even just wanted us watching her. It was exhausting and Sasa and I were frazzled. With this rhythm, there is no time for "down time" where she and I are sitting around with undirected energy. And I think energy is really the key. To always have a purpose, whether it's cooking, cleaning, knitting, playing, reading...even energy in doing nothing! The little one picks up on it so much.
If you're concerned that your daily tasks will take much longer with the help of young children, think of it like this...I go about my day as a mother and a teacher. I am constantly teaching the little one about life and how we live, while giving her lots of love and attention at the same time. Sure, she might make chores take longer or require some extra clean up from me, but it's so worth it! We spend our day together, constantly learning from each other by doing everyday things.
Last week after our morning of baking, she put the cookies in the oven, looked up at me and said, "Mama, can I go play now?" I honestly never, ever thought those words would ever come out of her mouth. I said, "Yes sweetie, you can play while mama cleans up." And she replied with, "Oh good! You clean up and I'll play, then we'll go for our walk." My heart just melted and I felt so good about what we were doing!
Sasa and I are in the middle of creating a circle time for the morning, right after breakfast and before he goes to work. There will be verses, songs, finger plays, etc. It will bring us all together to connect before a day of activities. Also, I am working on a puppet show a week for the little one, and am currently trying to make some Waldorf puppets. Everyday is certainly different and doesn't always go as planned, but having a base is so essential!
I hope this provides a starting point for some people! If you have any questions, don't hesitate to e-mail me!!