How do we keep the lovely feeling of relaxation and connection we have created over the holidays when we return to school?
The answer is rhythm.
It is one of the tools the teachers use in the classroom of Steiner Schools to maintain the feeling of calm and order.
We can take some of that medicine into our own homes. Of course it will never be perfect but it will at least anchor us and save us being tossed around on the stormy seas of school life.
In my opinion, the best way to set your child up for a successful school life is to get them to school calmly with 15 minutes to play before the bell goes.
So how does “Simplicity Parenting” help you to achieve that?
What we recommend is that you sit down quietly and look at your days........
Start with wake up time
What time do your children need to wake up in order to comfortably get to school 15 minutes early?
Work backwards from there
- Pre-schoolers to 7 year olds need 11-12 hours of sleep
- 8 to 12 year olds need 9-11 hours
- Adolescents need 8-9 hours
So from there you can work out the bed time
A good balance for a 7-year-old for example, would be sleep by 8 and up at 7
So once you have worked out your bedtime, work back 2 hours to dinner time – 6pm for an 8pm bedtime.
After dinner it is best to keep a regular routine – bath, music practice (for older children) and a book or story.
The younger the child the easier it is to establish a rhythm. No matter what the age the secret is “Start small, stay close, insist and follow through”
This means you cannot get distracted as a parent. I recommend you turn your phone of between dinner and bed.
Once this rhythm is established it will take you all the way through to high school because you will just be able to put the new activities in as the sleep time lessens.
One last benefit from this way of parenting is that rhythm builds discipline into family life. We have dinner because it is ‘dinner time’, we go to bed because it is ‘bedtime’ we get in the car because it is ‘time to leave for school’ – this saves so many arguments.
It may sound like a grind to have so much structure but ultimately this is the path to freedom because it actually creates space to put in things you want without feeling pressure, they just need to fit in around the structure you have created.
Mary Heard is a Simplicity Parenting Coach and runs courses in Simplicity Parenting in N.S.W throughout the Year.