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FAMILY / MEET THE AUTHOR

> daily activities (chores, self-care, mealtimes) become habits instead of arguments. In the early years especially, daily rhythm should revolve around food, sleep and unstructured play both indoors and outdoors. A strong daily rhythm is the backbone to creating strong boundaries and bringing in gentle discipline. When something (for example, bringing a lunchbox to the sink, putting the leftovers in the compost and putting the lunch-tins in the dishwasher) becomes habit there is no need for nagging and there is no push back. It is a non-negotiable. It is simply what we do in our family.

Why are seasonal rhythms so important? Seasonal rhythms, festivals and celebrations inform children about the ever-changing landscape in which we live. When we celebrate seasonal rhythms within the home we are creating traditions and rituals that mirror, compliment and illuminate what is happening in our natural environment. Seasonal rhythms are usually marked by doing seasonal work (for example apple picking) or celebrating a festival or tradition for that season. These festivals help children mark the flow of the year in the same way the daily and weekly rhythm carries them through their days. But celebrating festivals also connects us with our larger community as well as a higher faith whether that faith is rooted in virtues or values, archetypal figures or mother nature.

What might a typical week look like? This depends so much on the family but ideally there is something each week on the same day - for example, baking on Monday, going to Grandma’s house on Tuesday and painting on Wednesday. The day also contains daily rhythms that happen each and everyday:

"In the early years especially, daily rhythm should revolve around food, sleep and unstructured play both indoors and outdoors"

such as mealtimes, outdoor and indoor play and sleep times.

Rhythms are not meant to be followed militantly but they do require perseverance, dedication and sometimes sacrifice from the caregiver in order be maintained and observed with consistency and respect. Every family is totally and completely unique and so is every family’s daily rhythm.

What would be a good first step for someone wanting to establish more rhythm in their family life? Start with the basics - making sure eating, sleeping and playtimes are at the same time each and everyday. Then move on to weekly and seasonal rhythms. I have a free challenge that you can sign up for to get daily prompt emails that help you create a strong and nourishing family rhythm. You can sign up here: wholefamilyrhythms. com/features/familyrhythm-challenge/

Do you have a favourite seasonal activity and why? Autumn is my favourite season and Michaelmas is my favourite holiday to celebrate. The story of St. Michael (sometimes helping the earthly St. George) conquering the dragon of darkness with his sword forged from the stars, symbolises triumph over the approaching darkness. On this day we gather outside, press apples for cider, bake dragon bread and sing songs around the bonfire. The idea of slaying my own inner dragons and carrying my inner light with me into the darkness gives me strength and courage for the months to come.

MORE INSPIRATION READ You can read more about Meagan’s work and buy her guides, they include the four seasons, birthdays and Christmas, as well as parenting topics like reducing screen time and creating a nature table. wholefamilyrhythms.com LEARN There are many books which look at the importance of daily and seasonal rhythms, including Simplicity Parenting by Kim John Payne, Seven Times the Sun by Shea Darian and The Rhythm of Family by Amanda Blake Soule. LISTEN Visit the Sparkle Stories website sparklestories.com to listen to gentle seasonal tales (free 10-day trial).

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FEBRUARY/MARCH 2019 www.thegreenparent.co.uk

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