As a Waldorf-inspired homeschooling mama, I am often thinking about the rhythm of our days. Balancing active, outward activities with more quiet, contained, “in-breaths” to craft a rhythm that doesn’t feel forced, flows organically, and supports our family culture can feel challenging at times.
After reading, reflecting, discussing, and brainstorming on this topic, I began to notice what was already happening naturally, without my intervention: my family has developed a natural rhythm that is marked by the chores and activities of creating and living on our homestead.
For the past five months, our family has camped on our ten acre piece of land as we build a tiny house, grow gardens and orchards, tend a laying flock, and create off-grid systems. The daily efforts of growing our homestead have an inherent rhythm that sculpts our days as we live and work together.
Fall mornings are crisp and cold, and my little ones and I linger in our tent for snuggles under a warm comforter. Putting water on for tea, lighting the wood stove: this is the way we begin our day. Only after the sun has warmed the earth and its creatures do we begin the busy, productive, and active part of our day – a giant out-breath of farm chores and preparations for the day ahead.
Mid-morning we naturally move into more quiet and focused work. Inevitably, one of the children will shout, “Mama, it’s time for our garden walk!” and we will stroll about the garden with harvesting baskets, picking the last remaining tomatoes, gathering greens and herbs, or covering beds with straw as we go. It is unhurried work, full of observation and time to literally smell the roses.
The promise of winter’s arrival motivates a concentrated effort in the afternoon, as my husband builds our house, and we help as needed. We spend our afternoons learning through the experience of creating our home; the kids, ages two and five, translate their observations into imaginative play-building, while I lend my assistance as I can. A priority for our family is to integrate our children into the work of our homestead, and our daily rhythm allows time for this to happen.
Finally, the chill of the evening brings us close together for a meal and bedtime preparations. At the moment, we are living without electricity on our homestead, and the setting of the sun cues us naturally toward sleep.
Just as our homestead tasks mark a natural flow to our day, so, too, the changing seasons and their accompanying activities inform our homestead rhythm. Here in Northeast Missouri, late fall and winter are times of rest and introspection: knitting by the wood stove, sipping cups of tea, dreaming into a garden journal. When spring arrives, it is with a flurry of activity – planting seeds, digging in new fruit trees, caring for baby animals. After the intensity of spring’s planting and birthing energy, it is almost a relief to sink into the heat of summer, when we spend time in a hammock in the shade or floating in an inner tube. As the weather cools and our energy returns, the frenzy of late summer and early fall’s harvest begins, and we gather abundant produce, preserve the harvest, extract the honey, and press the cider. After this giant out-breath, we are ready once more for the quiet of winter.
As I pay attention and work in cooperation with these seasonal and daily rhythms, I find that my family is more centered and connected, moving together easily through the day, and that I am less concerned with creating a “perfect” rhythm. While each day has its own flavor, the anchors of morning and evening chores, a garden walk, preparing and sharing meals, and the work of building our house provide a gentle stability to our day; an organic rhythm that changes as the priorities, needs, and seasons of our homestead also change.
Teri Page and her family are creating a radical homestead in Northeast Missouri. She is passionate about gardening, homesteading, Waldorf-inspired homeschooling, and musical theater, and writes about this, and more, at her blog, Homestead Honey. She can also be found on Facebook and Pinterest.