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night time rhythm

April 22, 2013

rhythm is so important to the young child.  it comes in many forms.  daily, weekly and yearly rhythms are all incredibly vital in the young child’s life.  with yearly rhythms, we can recognize the changing of the seasons and the holidays/festivals which mark these moments.  yearly, we can look at the greater rhythm of nature and how we fit into that.  weekly rhythm can set predictability and boundary for children, which offers a sense of security and warmth.  it gives them context in which their world is structured.  and daily rhythm becomes the bread and butter of our lives.  it allows children to relax into the day and experience it fully, knowing that the structure of the day provides a perfect opportunity for life to fill in between the lines.  they no longer need to worry about what might be coming next.  instead, they can invest fully in the moment and the imaginative play, or task that might be at hand.

i admit that i am a rather unstructured person, and so i struggle with rhythm.  our family is young and we are just beginning to pencil in the outlines of rhythm.  our holiday and seasonal recognition is blossoming this year.  and in some ways, our daily rhythm has always been strong.  i recognize that we lack weekly rhythm, and i have started this by simply creating a breakfast plan for each day of the week.  our weekly breakfasts include pancakes, french toast, quinoa/rice cereal, creamy wheat farina, creamy oats and oatmeal.  all are accompanied with fruit and warm herbal tea.  i save the more complicated meals for when d is home, usually during the middle of the week.  he enjoys preparing breakfast for the girls.  and as cooking has never been one of my greatest joys, i glad to share the task with him.

on the other hand, our daily rhythm has been quite strong ever since the girls were newly born.  we let them be themselves.  we never set a schedule for them.  but, when they, in their own tiny ways, told us they were ready, we began simply with the night time routine.  where some might see rigidity, i see opportunity to flourish.  and, so they have.

today, i’d like to share our night time rhythm with you.  it gives me an excuse to show you my new shower curtain!  please remember that this is what works for us, and what works right now.  the routine has changed greatly over the years.  as the children change and grow, so our routine does too.IMG_7513

we believe in naps and early bed times.  our girls are usually in bed before 7:30.  they spend all day playing vigorously.  no sitting in front of the tube for us!  and so, they need all the rest they can get.  IMG_7514

after dinner follows, almost immediately, bath time.  some days we just play in the tub.  sometimes we get a full scrub down.  and sometimes we focus just on the essential parts.  we only use castile soap from dr. bronner’s and calendula products from weleda.  some days adelaide washes herself with her own special bar of soap.  other days, i help when i can.


after we’re all dry, it’s time to brush our teeth.  night time ‘underwear’ goes on, and i signal tooth brushing time with a little song:

brush, brush, brush your teeth

brush them twice a day

brush, brush, brush your teeth

to avoid tooth decay

(to the tune of ‘row row row your boat’ – can you tell d helped with the lyrics?)IMG_7520IMG_7525

we like to brush our teeth with our children.  it helps model the correct way to brush.  we also like to help with the brushing since our girls are a little young to do it all on their own and oral health is so important.  we use the calendula tooth gel from weleda, always sure to steer clear of fluoride. IMG_7540IMG_7543

then, when it’s time to put the toothbrushes away, and go to bed, we sing another song:

toothbrush, goodnight

toothbrush, goodnight

you may no longer stay

bedtime is on its way

toothbrush goodnight, goodnight

toothbrush goodnight

(to the tune of  ‘autumn goodbye’, a german folksong featured on ‘come follow me’ volume 2)IMG_7545

with everything in its proper place, it’s time to put on pajamas and read a story.  we gather in the bedroom and pick one book to read.  we only pick one story to keep things clear in our girls’ heads as they drift off to sleep.  sometimes we read the same story several times, and look at the pictures in depth if they want to hear more.  lately, adelaide has been asking for ‘the three little pigs‘ every night.  the pictures are so full of detail.  it’s hard not to look more.

when the story is done, and it’s time for bed, we say a little verse from ‘seven times the sun‘ and it includes hand motions.  i will have to get a video of us doing this to share with you.  our version of the verse goes as follows:

the dark comes like a blanket

protecting us at night

and the moon shines like the heart of the universe

providing gentle light

the stars call forth our sparkling dreams

like waves upon the shore

to greet the night time pilgrims

as we journey through sleep’s door

then, it’s kisses all around and lights out.  we keep the fan on all year and change its direction with the seasons.  it provides a soothing rhythmic background noise.  sometimes i sit in the rocking chair and rock and hum until they drift off.  other times, they’re already asleep as i tiptoe out of the door.  often, someone escapes out their bedroom door and must be returned to their proper bed.  and every now and then, they like to sleep together.  but, it’s all okay.

that shower curtain, by the way, i couldn’t be more excited about!  i sewed it together from a collection of fabric by lida enche.  in the depths of january, i was searching for color everywhere.  and then, i found this lovely collection and just knew i had to have it.  what to do with it?  well, i decided to actually make use of some of those pinterest pins.  and a new shower curtain it was!  although, i have so much leftover fabric, i could make two twin quilts.  so… there will be plenty more where that came from.  i sewed up 9 x9 blocks of fabric in a color gradient and used grommets at the top for the shower curtain rings.  all in all, i really like it.  it’s just the right bit of color for a rather dull spot.  (sorry, for the toilet in so many photos. the bathroom is what it is…)

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