Establishing a Healthy Home Rhythm

Waldorf stresses three R-  Rhythm, Repetition, and Reverence for healthy child development. All three are interrelated in some way and yet these words could be looked at individually in much detail.

Today, I want to share about rhythm. A good rhythm has a lot of repetition and reverence as an inbuilt quality during each activity of the day.

Especially in current times, when we are pressed in a situation which is so new to us and children, finding a rhythm in our household is going to help our children (even the adults a lot) in finding their centre. Rhythm can bring in a lot of calm to our children when they know how they are going to spend their day and weeks.

 What is Rythm?

Rhythm is “a strong, regular, repeated pattern of movement or sound.”We can think of not only our heartbeat but also our breath, in and out. These are natural rhythms that live inside our bodies.

We can find rhythms outside of our bodies, too. There is the rhythm of day and night, the rhythm of the days of the week, the rhythm of the months, and the rhythm of the seasons. All of these rhythms are a part of our lives and their repetition brings us comfort because they are regular and expected. Rhythm provides an anchor and helps us, and especially helps children who have little control over their environments, to feel secure. 

Why is rhythm important?

If children have regular external rhythms then internal rhythms begin to develop for them as well.

If dinner is at a regular time each day, then the child’s digestive juices will begin to flow as dinnertime approaches. If sleep time is regular then children begin to feel drowsy as they get ready to sleep , telling them a story, or a prayer or a verse. Their life forces get adjusted to this routine.

If you have experienced jet lag then you would know how children feel when there are no consistent rhythms at home. A non-rhythmic home demands a lot of their energy and effort to maintain balance in their lives which puts undue stress on their body and mind. Also, it could make them clingy and aggressive.

Take rhythm as a parent’s best friend.It is a great aid to discipline , bring  good health and boost  immunity for our children.It makes children secure in knowing what is coming next, they are more willing to go with the flow.

How do I create a rhythm for my child?

We need to look at the rhythms of nature and the unconscious cosmic rhythms that can help us. The seven days of the week, the rising and setting of the sun, the phases of the moon, the changing of the seasons and use them to create daily, weekly, monthly and yearly rhythm for our children.

Rhythm in the time we are in would differ from the “normal” times we were having earlier. For example when a child is regularly going to school. Home rhythm would look very different and weekends would be about coming together for special activities, social gatherings etc. However for now we need to look at the rhythm from the perspective of a child being at home fully.

Keeping this aspect in mind I want to talk about daily and weekly rhythm for the time we are in.

Daily rhythm would look different for each household depending on your house’s routine. What we need to keep in mind is to have the same time for waking up and the morning routine ideally keeping it in sync with nature and following the rising and setting sun same time for meals and same time for sleep every night. 

Waking up and sleeping are very important times for building connections with the children even when parents are working (working from home) and have no time with children all day. This is the time when you can look at children’s eyes, a warm hug, a wake up song or  a lullaby, a prayer or other small gestures that your family cherishes can be a part of the wake up /sleep rhythm. Listening to a story shared from a parent’s heart, rather than being read  is a good bedtime ritual too.

An earlier supper time (1.5-2 hours before bedtime) could make a big difference and give children an extra playtime while you clean up and they will have a healthier digestion before bed.

For sleep, children need 11-13 hours sleep  between ages 2-7, and 10- 12 hours for 7-10 year olds. There is a lot that can be said about the importance of sleep but for now I would leave it at that and take sleep as a separate topic later.

We need to keep in mind our breath while planning the rhythm. The way our body follows the rhythm of breathing in and breathing out , our children feel very relaxed when we bring this kind of expansion and contraction to a child’s day.

In the  breathing-in phase the child directs his attention to an activity that basically relates him to himself. In the exhaling or breathing-out period, the child relates mainly to the surrounding world. For each breathing-in period the child needs a breathing-out period and so a pattern is established.

So while eating, sleeping, doing a structured activity, helping in a chore, studying, reading ,listening to story are all breathing in activities,  free play, running, roughhousing , free movements, free style dancing etc are breathing out activities.

For little children the “breathing in” is smaller because their concentration span is less, and we need to keep our child’s age and his concentration span in mind while planning the day’s rhythm. 

An example of a daily rhythm could be 

  • Wake up– Wash up,Get dressed, have breakfast, daily chores- Consider a  slow rhythmical menu. (Weekly rhythm can be set keeping the weekly chores in mind)
  • Morning Walk/Singing:- Step out in nature for some time, view from the balcony/terrace/garden, observing birds , noticing your plants, change of seasons, colour of the sky.
  • Mid morning snack– This could be fruits, nuts, other homemade prepared snacks. or something simple, eating the same healthy nutritious thing everyday. Can be accompanied by a song  or verse.
  • Academic time– whatever you child is interested in learning about, craft, reading, handwork, learn/practice  a new skill, story, singing the songs together. (Weekly rhythm can be set like monday is drawing, tuesday- craft, wednesday- handwork etc. For older children this could be done as subjects to study on each week day.) Remember to bring in a lot of repetition.
  • Free Play: indoors or outdoors, child’s time, for very little children you need to be in the same space but doing your own thing else they would follow you where-ever you are.
  • Lunch– best to eat together as a family ,you can help the child learn table manners through imitation,  children can help set up the table and clean up after.
  • Story time and rest time– lunch could be followed by a quiet rest time and story time for the children.
  • Free play– ideally outdoors,garden/ on the terrace or any other open space in the house/ Sandplay/ or indoor play if the place doesn’t allow outdoor play.
  • Snack– Any healthy snack, milk or fruits.
  • Academic time– whatever your child is interested in learning about, craft, reading, handwork, learn/practice  a new skill, singing the songs together.
  • Dinner-
  • Short Free play–  while you clear up 
  • Bedtime rituals
  • Sleep.

I hope this helps you create your own and your child’s rhythm of the day. I would love to hear how this article helped you and what changes you got in the rhythm of your child. 

Love and light,


Book References-  

  1. Beyond the Rainbow Bridge by Barbara J Patterson and Pamela Bradley
  2. Slow Parenting by  Helle Heckmann

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