I am excited to partner with Oak Meadow today to bring you this series on emotional health. This is part one of three and is all about cultivating a strong rhythm.
All things considered, things have been fine over here. I hope, from the bottom of my heart, that things have been fine for you and yours as well. In fact, I hope things have been much better than just fine.
Over the past month I have been focusing on my own emotional health and moving through ‘fine’ trying to find awesome. It has not been an easy task! I feel so limited as to what I can do and where I can go and who I can see. It is a pretty rotten feeling. I am quite sure you can relate.
So, I thought back to the last time that I went through a rotten time. A much worse than this rotten time. I shared with you then what helped me, and I want to share that with you once more. Leaning into my rhythm.
I have been allowing our natural flow to our day to guide me through this difficult time. Of course, I have needed to make a few minor changes, but all in all it has helped immensely.
As I was doing this, I realized that it was helping more than just MY emotional health. My children started to thrive. I am a firm believer in the philosophy that all behaviour is communication. Prior to really leaning into our rhythm my children were certainly communicating that they were not doing very well.
In our home, having a very strong and reliable rhythm has shown itself to be a wonderful way to nurture the emotional health of my children (and myself!) during this unprecedented time.
For this reason, I decided that the first part to my series, Nurturing Emotional Health in our Children, would be creating a rhythm
For those who are new to this idea of ‘rhythm’ I would love to explain. Rhythm is the way you allow your day to flow. It is predictable, yet flexible and includes social time as well as independent time, active time (expansions) as well as quiet time (contractions). I have found that it helps children to flourish. My busy, busy little boys became much more grounded when I first established a rhythm in our home.
A rhythm allows children to know what to expect, while also allowing some freedom. I once heard it explained as an elastic band … things will happen in the same order, however if something is going really well, it can take longer and the rhythm will simply stretch to accommodate it.
A rhythm might look something like this:
Wake up, have quiet morning play, then breakfast and morning chores. All of these things are considered a contraction.
Outdoor play, nature walk, or playing at a park with friends. These things are all considered expansions.
Head inside for a structured activity, stories, playdough, etc. These are again contractions.
Rest time. This is a very important part to our rhythm! Children quietly play completely independently, resting and recharging (allowing parents to do the same!) Here is a post all about the powerful role this quiet time can play for children:
Snack, playtime, child-led learning, playdate, etc. This is the afternoon expansion.
Stories, quiet bins, quiet toys and play before dinner. This is a contraction to quiet before dinner.
Evening Walk. Some families enjoy having a final expansion after dinner before doing the bedtime routine.
This, of course, is only an example. Each family needs to find it’s own unique rhythm based on it’s own unique needs.
Now is a wonderful time to dive in and start exploring a rhythm. Plan it out tonight! Think what might work for you and for your little ones and jot it down on paper. Remember this is different then a routine. It doesn’t need to be time oriented or activity oriented, it is simply how your day will flow.
When will you be outside? When will you be inside? When will you be expanding and letting your little ones run free? When do you need them to be quieter?
Try out that rhythm and make some notes during the day as you go. That night, plan it out again taking into account your notes. It will take a little while to get it right, and it will also take a little while for your children to adjust.
Once the rhythm starts to feel natural to you, stick with it. Your children will begin to know what to expect. The rhythm will feel comforting and familiar.
And comforting and familiar is what we all need right now.
I hope this suggestion is a helpful one to you and your family. Over the next few days I will be sharing some activities and two more blog posts all about nurturing the emotional health in our little ones at this time. So please visit often!
Thank you so much for reading, sweet friend.