I like routine. And I don't know where my head would be if I didn't follow a rhythm every day. It has really been a savior for me as a mum. I remember back when Ché was a few months old - my head was quite seriously in the clouds, the house was always a mess and I felt completely disorganised. That may have something to do with the newborn in my life but I think it was more a result of trying to do too many things at once - and not succeeding at any of them. Daniel would often just watch me and within an hour I would have spent a few moments in every room of the house - reorganising, reshuffling, moving mess about - never actually getting anywhere. It's in my personality to float about, I get that, but when I finally began to organise in a practical way everything became so much easier to deal with. I became addicted to reading the Ikea catalogue and was convinced (still am) that storage solutions are a new mum's saving grace.
Steiner philosophy really encourages following a rhythm in the day. Doing a similar thing every morning of the week, every noon, every evening. Ritual is highly regarded too - creating ritual in your life to honour and celebrate momentous occasions. When I really thought about it it seemed like a really simple answer to my problems. To slow down, be in the moment, and have a little plan to my day. Soon after creating the said plan, I felt so much more confident in my mothering and Ché responded beautifully. Family life became blissful and my home was the cleanest it's ever been. Now Ché 'helps' with the cleaning and whenever a new mum asks me for advice I tell them to do a load of washing every day.
I was comforted to read Stephanie Dowrick's wise words in the SMH a few weekends ago. In her article titled: "The bliss of a routine life" she eloquently writes:
"...the first is to establish simple, predictable routines. By this I don't mean that tiny babies should be pushed into a rigid schedule of feeding and sleep. In fact, I think that's wrong and often damaging. But by the time the child emerges from the cocoon of infancy into toddlerhood and beyond, it is incredibly helpful to parents , and soothing and stabilising for the child, to have predictable rhythms to most day's events."
The cut-out article has been on my fridge for weeks and not a day has gone by where I haven't stopped for a few moments to remind myself of what is important in our day. As adults, Stephanie says, we tend to spend our time racing from one activity to the next, multi-tasking in order to respond to what's most urgent instead of what's most important. The children often follow in our wake.
She also talks about placing clear boundaries - something I needed to read as a mother to a toddler. Perhaps in my desire to be a fair and loving mum I have been giving Ché too many options. Wonderful Ms Dowrick continues:
"Usually offered with the best intentions, choice almost always creates tension rather than independence. Cheerfully and confident stating that it's time to get dressed, eat breakfast, have a walk, bath dinner or a story, or go to bed is realistic. It is also reassuring."
Creating a reassuring and safe life for our babes is so important. I really believe that. It became clear to Daniel and I the other day at the park. Ché was cornered in a little cubby house by 3 five-year-olds. They were yelling at him: "Chase us, chase us." We could tell that he was a little daunting by them and we knew he didn't understand what they were saying. And then he leaned his head against the wall, closed his eyes and smiled. When he opened his eyes the boys had run away.
Later that night, at dinner, Daniel asked him about what happened. What were you thinking about when you closed your eyes Ché? He responded: "Ché sleep at home, Safe in this home."
For Daniel and I, hearing that, we felt like the most proud parents in the world. That he feels safe in our family home and that he can close his eyes and be here when he feels so small in the big world.
I really want to share Stephanie's article with you but I can't find it anywhere online. If you want a copy to stick on your fridge, I would be happy to photocopy mine and send it to you. A little favour from my family to yours. Just email me your address with the promise that you will pass it on to other Mums.