Sunday, April 11, 2010

the bliss of routine

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.


  1. I love Stephanie Dowrick! I'm not a Mum, but the concept of a routine or small rituals has become really important to me as an individual.

    I'm doing yoga teacher training at the moment, and (as you're no doubt aware from your own initial training) it's both grounding and really destabilising in how it's changed my life. I've found I really need the ritual of, say, washing my feet before bed to not get lost in the waves of new information, thought and reflection that are filling up my head.

  2. "Ché sleep at home, Safe in this home."

    I almost cried at that!

    I looked through all her titles, she seems to have quite a few really inspiring and motivating books.

  3. I really love this post.

    I love having a rhythm, actually i need it and so do the children. Sometimes life gets so busy and I find I've been dragging the peeps around to this and that and everyone gets ratty, but as soon as we slow down and step back into our rhythm we all breath out. I always feel a great sense of comfort from it.

    I can see where Che is coming from and that is such a sweet story.

  4. Have loved reading this post Jodi.. thank you :)

    Please count me in for a copy of that article. Even though Arti is my 3rd bub i still find myself like you described in the begining of the post. My house is a mess and sometimes it feels like a circus here. through all of it though i stop and smile (maybe like little Che) and take a deep breath cause i do love every minute of this chaos and calm whichever order it comes to me!

  5. My house is a complete mess most of the time and I do flit from activity to activity never really having a 'game plan'.

    I love that Che could just close his eyes and be home. That is beautiful. x

  6. I love all the advice you offer as a momma. It will come of such wonderful use to me in my future motherhood.

    What Ché said made my heart smile & almost made me tear up. What a smart little boy he is!

  7. What a sweet story, and a beautiful little boy you have. I like the idea of a daily rhythm rather than a strict routine. I'd love a copy of the article for our fridge, I think you already have our address. xx

    PS. The green sling is by a Belgian company called Babylonia. I couldn't find an Australian stockist so I ordered it from a UK store,

    I actually saw it in a photo on the Flora Douville blog, and I asked her where she got it from. Then I copied ;)

  8. All those things you say (and Stephanie say?), Hear, Hear! Rhythm in a day, a season, a year is something I have come to so appreciate, and one big reasons Steiner education is what works for this here family...

  9. Amen! you know funnily enough I sometimes feel quite alone in my love and the grace of my routines with my little ones...until now...good complany here.

  10. That is so sweet!
    Sounds like a great article. I would love to read it-- can you tell me what the SMH is, so I can look it up? I'm in the US.


  11. That was a gorgeous entry, thanks Jodi. i wholeheartedly agree that a smooth and steady rhythm is key to a calm day. Che seems to have a very secure sense of home and his living family. Thanks for your encouragement re. North remembering BFing. He seems to still know what happened and like to cuddle into my chest when he's sleepy. Now, where do you get your Steiner resources? And what would you recommend? They don't have any Steiner books at our local library! xo m.

  12. Thankyou for reading my blog. I am enjoying reading yours!

  13. Lovely post.
    Before finding Steiner Education I really had no idea on rountine and rhythm. This beautiful way of life has certainly changed that. I am so grateful for it.

    Your Che is blessed to have a mama like you.

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  15. I would be LOST without my routine, so I completely hear what you are saying!

  16. I totally agree with what was said:)
    I'm in the process of slowing our life down & I think my kids are much happier for it. We have had lovely school holidays, this time not rushing about trying to fit in a million activities or feel the need for constant socialising. We have rediscovered the joy of downtime & pottering about at home around the backyard.

  17. Sage words Jodi (and Stephanie). I loved this post! Found myself nodding the whole way through.

    It's also what I love so much about the Steiner philosophy. Just a perfect fit for us.

    My next challenge will be to maintain our gentle rhythm when the new addition joins us.


  18. Thanks so much for sharing! Ba'il is nearly 1 month old and i'm longing for a little ritual and routine already. Would absolutely love a copy of the article to remind me why I feel the need to do the washing and keep my nest in ship shape condition xox

  19. I'm a firm firm believer in rhythm. I KNOW that my hard days come when our rhythm is disturbed.

    Your blog is so sweet!

  20. I just read this entry - so lovely! Is it too late to get a copy of that article?