"Did you hear that?” my daughter-in-law and I queried one another. It sounds like she is saying “Thank you.” Such are the fantasies of a mommy and gramma of a newly-one-year-old. But hey! It might actually be true. Maybe my one-year-old granddaughter’s first words were “thank you,” translated something like “da do.” That would be pretty cool, considering that gratitude is the moral quality we hope to awaken in the young child.
The Living Arts: Domestic
Jeremy writes: At LifeWays we encourage the development of strong bonds and relationships between the children who attend the center and their peers, caregivers, and parents. In addition to these relationships we strive to reinforce a relationship between the children and their food. Just as important as the relationships that strengthen the community the child resides in, the relationship with their food provides both physical nourishment and nourishment of the soul, as well as an appreciation for the bountiful harvests that the planet allows us to produce.
I didn’t even know I had it until someone at my LifeWays training mentioned they had caught it when their children were born. C.H.A.O.S., or “Can’t Have Anyone Over Syndrome” is brought on immediately following the birth of your children. You will find your once semi-orderly home slowly becoming untidy, dusty, and in need of some serious TLC. This all goes unnoticed or, let’s be honest, ignored until someone decides to visit. Then there is no time to spare and you create a fury while you sweep through the house grabbing one baby sock here, dirty dishes there, an old banana peel under the dresser… don’t forget to wipe down the toilet and the bathroom sink because they may just ask to use it…and finally throw everything extra into one bedroom and shut the door. Phew. And that’s if it’s planned. If a neighbor happens to knock and want to share
Jennifer writes: As our side of the Earth falls into a slumber, it may seem our time to do so as well. We pull on our mittens and wrap ourselves in heavy sweaters and jackets to brave the new brisk air. Our children are warmly wrapped from head to toe so they may enjoy this changing of the seasons as well. The days grow shorter and the sun rests much longer than it used to. As this happens, my home can become darker and more confining, and so can my mood.
It is our task during these times of gray, to find the light. I am reminded of my LifeWays training during which Cynthia Aldinger spoke to us about HomeMaking. First, it is exactly as it sounds. A home does not just exist, you must put forth effort every moment to make it one. Similarly, when darkness appears, it is our responsibility to uncover and release the light.
Because young children love stories, and magic, and anticipation, it can be especially enriching for children if we add those three aspects to any project that we do with them. Let's take the idea of making Apple Crisp: it can be done in half a morning. Simply chop up some apples, stir in some cinnamon and raisins, put in a buttered dish with granola on top, and bake for an hour at 350. Voila. But how can you expand that project, and make it into something that your child will remember for weeks or months or even years to come? Do it by weaving in stories, and magic, and anticipation.
Some days in my life with my young children, nothing works as I expect it to. If I have learned anything in my almost four years as a mother, it is that everything changes. Occasionally, I forget this lesson and need to relearn it. What worked yesterday to help a baby fall asleep or to encourage a toddler to clean up doesn’t work today. What made a child so happy this morning can cause anger later in the day. The toy that the child threw aside in the morning now has become his most prized possession after nap. It can be very frustrating, sometimes even maddening! It doesn’t have to be. If you start to think like a child does and internalize that all you have is this present moment and accept that it too can change, the moments that seemed so impossible can start to look doable, dare I say even enjoyable.
Last Saturday, I completed my LifeWays training and was left with bittersweet feelings. It was a wonderful, emotional year full of challenges and growth (I am pictured with some of my classmates to the left in the black dress surrounded by my loving kids). After emotional goodbyes to the lovely, strong, and passionate women I met over the course of last year, I left the LifeWays Milwaukee center feeling a bit unbalanced. Though proud of graduating and feeling honored to be chosen as the blog coordinator, I was not sure what my next step in life was supposed to be.
I didn’t mean to be a gardener. Somehow it just happened -or did it? My earliest memories of gardening were the ones of an annoyed teen being forced to help dig and build beds for a large succulent garden that would one day become the front yard for a LifeWays center in San Diego set in an organic garden environment. The seeds of working with the soil, plants, and seasons were subtly planted in my soul by the very act of helping my parents to tend their (our) garden.
After experimenting with a natural, authentic home rhythm and routine to suit our values, needs, and interests over the yeras, it was a joy to see that healthy habits and a sense of responsibility have taken root. I've been sick for over a week with a flu and fever. Last Monday, on my third day of fever and flu, I dragged myself to the kitchen and saw my daughter Seikai busily washing dishes in the counter after her snack. "I was trying to surprise you!" She exclaimed when she turned around and saw me. She then shooed me away and asked for me to come back when she was done.
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