I have the honor of introducing Nicole, from Frontier Dreams, today. When I asked Nicole to write a post for Discovering Waldorf, the first thing that came to my mind was how her life reflects the gentle rhythm of her home. She really seems to have worked out a clam flow to her family’s day. Knowing the rhythm of their day, and what to expect next, is wonderfully soothing for a child. Thank you, Nicole, for introducing us to this lovely concept…


Crating a Waldorf Rhythm in the Home :: Discovering Waldorf Education :: www.theMagicOnions.com

Rhythm in the Home
There are numerous aspects to a Waldorf way of life that are appealing to me, but the one that I hold closest to my heart, is rhythm.
Rhythm is the daily, weekly and yearly recurring activities in our lives. There is something so magical about such a simple concept. Children thrive on familiarity and consistency. It is a sense of security for them, they feel safe and reassured to always know what comes next, to have a predictable day, a rhythm they can count on. My children remind me of this every single day.
Is rhythm just a fancy word for schedule. NO. While they have similarities, rhythm is more about a gentle flow, a knowing of what comes next, whereas a schedule is more rigid and by the clock. I sometimes have to remind myself that rhythm is not cut and dry. It is not some regimen that needs to be followed strictly, “to a T.” That will just drive me crazy and destroy the peacefulness that rhythm is supposed to bring about. For example, it is not important for us to have lunch at noon exactly every single day but for us to have lunch after we have read our mealtime blessing and before some quiet play time. This way my children always know what is coming next and knowing what to expect makes them feel relaxed, safe and happy.

Rhythm already surrounds us all. The flow of the universe. The beating of our hearts…but nowadays it takes a conscious effort to bring it into our home lives. As Rahima Baldwin Dancy (Midwife and Waldorf early childhood educator) put it, “Doing things rhythmically simplifies life.” I couldn’t agree more. Our family rhythm has saved us on more than one occasion.

I am often asked how I introduced rhythms into our lives. I started with simple verses and songs throughout the day to lead us from one thing to another. When we wake up and my children are still half in the dream state, we say our morning verse. This helps to gently wake them up and prepare them for getting out of bed to make breakfast. It is not an abrupt transition but rather, a gentle flow. Once I felt this new rhythm was comfortably established I was able to start adding more daily activities into our rhythm… an activity for each day of the week, and so on. I took it slowly but surely, just one step at a time, to not overwhelm myself or the rest of my family. When things started to move more fluidly and really came together easily, is when I knew I had a good rhythm that worked for our family.

Of course our rhythms have been sculpted and changed over the years with the arrival of our youngest daughter and our oldest becoming more grounded in this world, but that’s the beauty of rhythm. It’s fluid enough that changes can be gently added. We recently had a major change in rhythm by taking a ten-day drive cross-country to move from Virginia to Oregon. Just the thought of my husband and I, our two daughters, two dogs and three cats all in the same van every day for ten days in a row made my head spin. Thankfully rhythm rescued us. Our days were long, fun and a bit exhausting, but our nights, oh, our nights were perfect. We followed our nightly rhythm, just as if we were back in our home, and everything returned to normal no matter how out of our element we were.

While every family’s rhythm will be different, I thought I’d share an overview of ours. This is just a brief glimpse into our lives and is not a list of our rhythm in it’s entirety.
Daily rhythms include:
waking verse
activities of the day (i.e. if it’s Monday then we bake)
quiet time
tending to our animals
outside time
Weekly rhythms include :
Monday is baking day
Tuesday is painting day
Wednesday is handwork day
Thursday is drawing day
Friday is crafting day
Saturday is gardening day (when it is not gardening season we go for nature walks or hiking on this day)
Sunday is resting day (a day just spent at home as a family)
Monthly rhythms include:
hand-washing our woolens (2 times a month)
beeswaxing our wooden bowls (the last Sunday of the month)
errands & grocery shopping (1 – 2 times a month)
Yearly and seasonal rhythms include:
planting our garden

If you are interested in incorporating more rhythm into your home, a wonderful resource is You Are Your Child’s First Teacher by Rahima Baldwin Dancy. I still thumb through that book quite often. Another great resource is Beyond The Rainbow Bridge by Barbara J. Patterson. For verses and songs that help with the daily transitions of one thing to another, I have found “Seven Times the Sun” by Shea Darian, and “This is the way we wash-a-day” by Mary Thienes-Schunemann to be my ‘go to’ resources. I have also found other Waldorf families to be extremely helpful, supportive and resourceful when I hit snags in our rhythm or just simply need others to relate to.


* * *

Thank you Nicole, for this wonderful wisdom. I have a feeling that our home might be a calmer place for all from now on, if I can keep the naughty clock from always sneaking in.

Please visit Nicole’s blog, Frontier Dreams. It is a gorgeous place to spend some time, the kind of place you want to curl up in, with a warm quilt, hot coco and a cat purring on your lap. I always come away from reading her words with a feeling of peace in my heart.

For other super Waldorf articles, please visit the Discovering Waldorf Education series.

Cooking and cleaning can wait till tomorrow,
For babies grow up, we’ve learned to our sorrow.
So settle down cobwebs, dust go to sleep,
I’m nursing my baby and babies don’t keep.


Blessings and magic,


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30 Responses

  1. Thank you so much for this wonderful posting, Nicole and Donni. I loved it. In fact, just reading it made me feel calm and centered as I envisioned your peaceful, simple days. I love the way your days mostly center around making things…baking, painting, crafting…Two peaceful and creative children are growing up in your home, Nicole! love, Beth

  2. Thank you to Nicole for sharing her day and her perspective. We try to do the same and find when we keep our rhythms, the days are more calm and peaceful:-)

  3. Wonderful post, Nicole. Thank you so much for sharing your peace with us. I love this idea of rhythms and, with the gentle nudging of your post, I hope to make our homelife more about rhythms than schedules. And I agree with Beth–just reading this post brought a sense of peace and calm.


  4. Rhythms make you feel safe and secure, my children are grown up, and all are secure in themselves, due to feeling safe,and knowing when young, what came next,like you say, a story after breakfast etc, Steiner was very keen on rhythm, in movement,in the way we paint,in the way we say verses and light candles for bedtime etc. Rhythm is very important to me, I have my town day, and things I do at home, when this is disrupted I feel “out of rhythm” so not only is it important for children, it is important for us. Cheers Marie

  5. Thank you for this wonderful intriduction to Nicole. I couldn’t agree more about rhthym being a great comfort, especially during times of transistion.

  6. I enjoyed this post very much. I think our family could use some of this type of order. I have always resisted scheduling things because I hate to be scheduled to do one thing, when I want to do something else. But this is the type of order I have been looking for. Thanks for sharing.

  7. A truly peaceful post. Our life feels so hectic and out of sync by comparison (or at all). I really like the way this sounds even if I doubt my own ability to pull it off.

  8. I have that same little poem hanging over my washing machine! This article is so true, this is the way human beings are made to live. Everything on the earth has a rhythm. People have replaced the natural rhythms for rigid self- imposed, self- defeating structure.

  9. Lovely post. We also have quite a established rythym going here and it’s wonderful to be reassured of its value through other families experiences. As a resource I would also recommend “Simplicity Parenting” from Kim John Payne and Lisa M. Ross. This is a very practical book and approaches rythym as one of the tools for helping children and their families that feel the pressure and suffer the effects of ‘too much stuff’, ‘too many choices’ and ‘too little time’ so prevalent in our modern society.

  10. Thank you so much Donni for your confidence in me <3 and thank you everyone for your kind words!

    Luciana – Thank you for mentioning that book. I have a copy of it sitting on my nightstand but have yet to read it.

    *Sorry for the post above, type-os!*

  11. I love Nicole’s blog, and this was fascinating reading. It brought me to a place of calm and reflection just reading it. I try to have a rhythm to our days/weeks etc, but I need to work a little more on the transitions, and allowing more time for them, so that we don’t end up hurried or harried. I shall enjoy re-reading and savouring this post.

  12. wowee…thank you for this. i have spent over a month now trying to get a rhythm in place for my family by working with my mother-in-law, a waldorf kindergarten teacher. there were a few things here that were really helpful to hear.

    and the poem. that one made me all teary. i have a 2.5 year old and how i wished i had slowed down for her more when she was a baby. feeling some mommy guilt there….

  13. I can feel your rhythm like the rocking of a boat…I will let it lull me to sleep tonight, and use this as inspiration to work more steadily on our ‘grim rhythm’. thanks!

  14. A VERY helpful post!

    The poem is “Song for a Fifth Child”
    by Ruth Hulburt Hamilton

    Mother, oh Mother, come shake out your cloth,
    Empty the dustpan, poison the moth,
    Hang out the washing and butter the bread,
    Sew on a button and make up a bed.
    Where is the mother whose house is so shocking?
    She’s up in the nursery, blissfully rocking.
    Oh, I’ve grown shiftless as Little Boy Blue
    (Lullaby, rockaby, lullaby loo).
    Dishes are waiting and bills are past due
    (Pat-a-cake, darling, and peek, peekaboo).
    The shopping’s not done and there’s nothing for stew
    And out in the yard there’s a hullabaloo
    But I’m playing Kanga and this is my Roo.
    Look! Aren’t her eyes the most wonderful hue?
    (Lullaby, rockaby, lullaby loo).

    The cleaning and scrubbing will wait till tomorrow,
    For children grow up, as I’ve learned to my sorrow.
    So quiet down, cobwebs. Dust go to sleep.
    I’m rocking my baby and babies don’t keep.

    I’ve heard a few variations over the years, but i believe this is the original.

  15. Thank you for this!!! I have an 8 month old son, and I feel like I just now am starting to be able to get back into the swing of things. I would love to create a rhythm.

    I wonder what your nightly rhythm is like? I would love to have one. Right now I nurse my son to sleep and we share a family bed. I wonder when I should start incorporating more of a rhythm into our every day lives?

    1. Hi Edna,
      Rhythms can have a wonderfully calming effect on a child… kids feel so much more settled and secure when they know what is coming next. Rhythms can help especially during challenging times too. My friend explained it to me like this… she said ‘clap in time with me’ and then she proceeded to clap in a totally random pattern, sometimes fast, then slowing down, then speeding up again. I felt a pang of confusion… there was no way I could join her as there was no rhythm to her clapping. Then, she started to clap in a rhythm. It felt so much better to me… I quickly fell in with her and we could clap in harmony. ‘That’s what it feels like to a child’ she said.
      I’d start small. Pick a few thing to do each day that are always the same… having tea together in the mornings before the chaotic day begins, setting the table for dinner, reading at bedtime… then you can build on them and add more daily rhythm, weekly rhythm and so on. Have you had a look through my Discovering Waldorf Series https://www.themagiconions.com/category/discovering-waldorf … I love these two post on Rhythm – https://www.themagiconions.com/2010/07/discovering-waldorf-rhythms.html and https://www.themagiconions.com/2012/03/discovering-waldorf-rhythm.html .
      I also recommend the fabulous book Simplicity Parenting. And, The Waldorf Homeschool Handbook has a great chapter on Rhythm.
      Small steps :-)
      Let me know how you are getting on.
      Blessings and magic,

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