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Excerpt from “Nurturing the New Family”  http://nurturingfamily.homestead.com/index.html

With the constant change and the many surprises of motherhood, establishing a rhythm around self care is essential since we can’t live by the clock. In order to do this, we have to select some self care activities to weave into our day and do them at the same interval. For example, we have our bath before bed. The time that we get to bed might be different, but the ritual of for example, bath before bed, stays the same. Or we might make breakfast and then make tea and sit down to read something inspiring while nursing our baby. We might go for walks after supper.

Sounds good doesn’t it, but do we trust ourselves to follow through on it? Upon reading this, a dear friend expressed to me as somebody who has often struggled with this concept “Great plan. But who really does that? And how do I actually achieve this?” Her response brings to mind some distinctions that are begging to be made on the topic of establishing a rhythm. And just so it be known, I am often very successful at failing miserably at rhythms myself! Remember how I compared motherhood earlier on as a spiritual path of practice?

The concept for establishing rhythms as a way of being with children and homemaking comes from Waldorf early childhood education. Upon discovering it, for many it seems like a beautiful and conscious way of being with the tasks of homemaking. But in reality, it is not so easy to keep a rhythm on our own. While our ancestors naturally fell into rhythms, they had a group consciousness around this and accountability to each other about how an individuals’ time was spent. Mother’s don’t have these things of which I speak. This is both a curse and a blessing. The work of homemaking is much harder than living in a community or tribe because there is little joy in work that has no social element, yet it is nice not to have to answer to other people if you don’t feel like doing your dishes!

Rhythms are difficult to keep because in modern motherhood, you don’t have a boss breathing down your shoulder insisting that you look busy! As a product of our culture, you are programmed to be externally, not internally motivated. Think back to your days at work. How did you pass the time, make the day go by at a tolerable pace? You had rhythms!

This brings me to another spiritual comparison of motherhood. Establishing rhythms is also a path of self actualization. You are learning after many years of being programmed to submit to the will of authority (in both the educational system and the workforce) how to now assume authority as the boss of your own life. In a sense the chaos we can feel amidst the harried life of busyness coupled with the social alienation of being at home all day by ourselves with young children is kind of like the breakdown before the break though into our own freedom. You eventually discover the discipline within that allows you to follow your own will, instead of giving into your whims.

So while cultivating order and rhythms could be part of transforming the “frenzy of homemaking with children in tow”, it could also be taken on as yet another expectation of ourselves or high ideal to live up to.  Yet the point about having a rhythm is that, it is a practice, we keep coming back to it. We don’t ever arrive…. but giving up “getting there”, gets us closer to our goal!

We give up by acknowledging that we are never going to get it right, get it perfect. We just need keep coming back to rhythm as we would in meditation, come back to our thoughts.

We may follow our whims for weeks or months at a time and then suddenly wake up to our unsettled feelings, depression or lack of satisfaction with our life and remember oh ya, I need a rhythm.

Upon first glance, many people assume that to have a rhythm is to make restrictions in one’s life. But it isn’t so. Rhythms help us do the stuff that we need to do for our health and well-being and thus enabling us to be truly spontaneous without guilt or should be’s creeping up on us when adventure calls us elsewhere. Rhythms allow us to do things on autopilot so that we don’t waste precious energy thinking about when to do things that should require little thought. Do we plan and think about, or dread brushing our teeth? Or do we just do it every night before we go to bed (giving it little thought). Our self care rhythms, from journaling to housework, can become as easy as brushing our teeth when we lose our resistance to them!

The following excerpt illustrates beautifully how rhythm can conserve our energy, an essential self care practice for motherhood!

“In the rhythmic system also we find organically expressed that quality of movement which has already been alluded to in connection with the power of feeling. The rhythmic system never tires. The limbs will go no further at the end of a mere days walk; the brain becomes exhausted with a few hours concentrated thinking; but the heart and lungs must pulse and stir without rest by day or night from the first intake of mortal air to the last out breathing of the breath of life.  It is due to this tirelessness of the rhythmic system that all work is less fatiguing in proportion as it is done rhythmically and, being so done, rests on the rhythmic system of the body. The old customs of singing and chanting at work were based on this knowledge and students of fatigue in modern times have only rediscovered the importance of making movements rhythmical if they are not to tire. But because the connection of the rhythmic system with the power of feeling is not understood, people have not begun to study the effect of feeling on the nature of fatigue.” p.18 “The Way of a Child” A.C. Hardwood

Rhythms should not be set in stone either, but rather fluid and changing with the particular needs that we have in our life. I find that it helps to sit down with a piece of paper and write them down so that we can keep coming back to it and revising it as we see what works and what doesn’t for us.

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