Here in the northern hemisphere, the light is overcoming the darkness and we are quickly moving toward springtime. My family has enjoyed several good snows in our new home; exploring the snow covered woods and sledding down big, open hills. We don't always get good snows in southern Appalachia so they feel like a sweet gift when we do.
Most of us are spending a lot more time at home than usual as we navigate this ongoing pandemic. In the last newsletter, I shared some ideas about rhythm. This month I am hearing from many people who are feeling overwhelmed by their physical spaces and the clutter that surrounds them. When we are spending all day at home together, we are much more aware of how our space affects us.
I have watched hundreds of families lessen anxiety and overwhelm merely through simplifying their physical environment (think: TOYS).
Reducing your child's toy collect is known to:
Every year I watch the goldenrod to know when school is about to begin. The first day of school comes at the same as the goldenrod displays its bright yellow flowers.
About three weeks into each school year, we gather the flowers, make the dye, and dye silk "capes" to go along with our story about a child knight befriending a dragon. In this story, the child knight is given a cape to get them strength:
Here's your cape of golden light
To give you courage, strength, and might.
This year is different with no children sharing space with me around the dye pot. Instead, children around the world (from a dozen countries) join me each morning on Storytime in the Schoolhouse and I decided to share this tradition with them. The response was overwhelmingly positive, with the community of subscribers thrilled to have a craft opportunity to share with their children (and connect to the story they were hearing).
I want to share this simple and beautiful craft with you as well.
Our world is full of fear and uncertainty right now. These are interesting times we live in. Many of us will soon undergo social isolation if we aren't already. Schools across the country and around the world are closing and many families are scrambling to figure out how to support these major, sudden changes.
I wanted to share the post I made on our Facebook page as well as several resources you might find supportive during this time.
How to handle the current viral outbreak with young children:
1) Turn off the news around your children. Consider limiting your own media intake (while still staying informed). Your children are aware of your own fears and anxieties; do what you can to reduce those.
2) Be aware of how much information you give your children. Younger children are not developmentally able to handle most of the details of the news. When children are old enough to critically think and problem solve, they are old enough to hear about the news (around 9-10).
As a member of many Waldorf spaces both online and in-person, I observe the same scenario over and over again. Members of these communities, especially new members, are very concerned about their child’s toys and if they are in alignment with the principles of Waldorf; if they are “Waldorf enough” or not. Parents are donating and discarding loads of toys to replace them with more expensive "Waldorf upgrades." There is a fair about of confusion and shame over what toys we provide for our children.
I know this concern because I was once in the same place. When I first became a parent, I was enthusiastically against all things plastic and set in place strict filters around the types of toys I had for my children and would allow in my home. When I opened my program over a decade ago, I also had high standards and desires for a classroom full of “Waldorf toys.”
But why? What was making these toys “Waldorf?”
I have avoided using Kool-Aid as dye for years because, well, it's Kool-Aid! I typically dye with plants but it can be hard to get all the colors we want from the plants that grow locally. We wanted to make a rainbow silk with vibrant colors and decided to give Kool-Aid a try. I wish we had tried it years ago!
This is an easy project with beautiful results.
- white vinegar
- silks (we used the 15" x 60" Habotai scarves from Dharma Trading)
- Kool-Aid packets: One packet for each color of the rainbow (see colors below).
*If you are planning to dye your silk one solid color, you will need 2-3 packets in that color per silk.
- large pot for soaking silks
- glass or stainless bowls for each color
- a place to dry
When I saw this book sitting at the store, it called my name and I knew it would be my next read. It also came at the perfect time during our Foundations online coaching course. We are spending time during this module exploring how screen time affects our ability to be present as parents and also how it affects our parenting itself (increase in fears, doubts, and insecurities). There was no better time to consider "breaking up with my phone" than now.
I plan to read a couple chapters a week and post about the read here on the blog. Please grab a copy and join me as we read the book and create some positive changes in our relationship with our phone and mobile devices.
This first week we will read the "Open Letter to my Phone" and the Introduction chapter.
The author, Catherine Price, is passionate about "using [her] background as a science journalist to help people question their assumptions and make positive changes in their lives—particularly...
We have had a winter of illness in my house. First, dear daughter had a planned surgery that resulted in a month in a wheelchair and many, many weeks of limited activity. Then I had the flu. Then my children had strep. Then my children had the flu.
As a single mom who works from home mom, this meant that my usual low-media children were watching loads of movies. Loads. Like several a day. Now that we are coming out of all this sickness, I see there is a problem. My children have forgotten how to have downtime! They have forgotten what a gift boredom can be! The instant they have "nothing to do," they are asking to watch something.
Ugh. I worked so hard to limit media and avoided it completely when they were young. They are now 9 and 13 and our once-weekly family movie time has turned into daily pleas of "Let us watch something! We are bored."
It's time for a reset.
Media Free March, here we come.
Yes, I made that up but it does sound catchy.
I have alerted my...
I'm sure you've experienced this: You have all your normal plans and commitments in place and you wake up at 6am to discover your child has a fever and you to have to scramble to reorganize your day and figure out what to do so you can remain home with your sick child.
It's happened to all of us. Sickness is a part of life.
I want you to take a minute a reflect on how life changes when your child is sick. How do your daily rhythms and expectations change? Do you still go to those business meetings or that play date? How do you treat your child? Do you push them to rush through their day or give them space to rest and relax? What kinds of food do you prepare and feed your child? Is the mood of the home energetic or calm?
We got to practice this in real time this week as the flu made its way through our house. First, before I go any further, I want to say I am grateful to be privileged enough that when my children are sick I can stay home from work and be with them....
I posted on social media last week about "anchors" in our rhythms as a family and how they can hold us together.
What is an anchor? An anchor grounds us to a place we have intentionally chosen; it keeps us there despite how calm or rough the sea may be. Sure, we may bounce around but we stay in our general location.
"Anchors" in our rhythm are things we do consistently, at an expected time, that we come to rely on. The beauty in these is their simplicity. Anchors may be a morning walk before homeschooling or always greeting your children with muffins and tea at the bus stop. Or having read aloud after rest time. Perhaps you say a blessing before your meal and light a candle. It could be Saturday morning pancakes. It could be a bath and foot massage just before bed. Or special celebrations and meals for the change of the seasons.
These consistent happenings in our daily, weekly, and seasonal rhythms are powerful. They foster a deep connection between us as...
As we enter this new year, I am spending time thinking about where I have been and where I want to go.
I shared via a newsletter (you're not in on that? take care of that here) last week that my word for the year is intentional.
I like to pick a word to focus on for the year and let it inform the many areas of my life--both the large and the small: my relationships, daily habits, choices we make as a family about our time and money, etc, etc.
So what is my intention with putting so much energy into this space at Supporting Simplicity Parenting? Why am I doing this?
I thought it was worth answering. Both for myself and for you.
A decade ago, I followed a spark in my heart and opened a school in my backyard. The school quickly became my third child and another guru in in my life. The children, the families, and the experience of holding a community has taught me more than I am sure I have taught them.
As I was getting my feet wet in this...