mother + maker : meagan from whole family rhythms
In our Pinterest world of pretty pictures and perfected details it’s easy to feel defeated when it comes to children’s crafts and activities. It’s even easier to focus on the end goal and promptly forget about how important the act of creating, playing and exploring really is.
I wouldn’t describe myself as a crafty person, nor do I host daily activities to keep the children engaged. But sometimes I find myself turning from one activity to the next, unsure of what to set up for the kids, how to direct their focus and how best to nurture their creativity. I’ve long admired Meagan from Whole Family Rhythms and over the past few months I have discovered much contentment and solace in her Seasonal Guides.
Inspired by the Steiner philosophy, the Whole Family Rhythms Guides are a step-by-step walk through the seasons – setting intentions, creating rhythms, expressing gratitude and embracing the natural world. Each guide offers gentle encouragement for those wanting to create rhythm in the home, one that serves and nourishes the whole family.
If you’re anything like me, you might adore the idea of a Steiner-based home rhythm but might find it difficult to implement in your schedule. Perhaps it all seems a little too esoteric for you? Or perhaps you are inspired by the concept but just don’t know how to start?
Many think that rhythm lacks the structure of routine and are critical of its productivity. But think of rhythm as having a fluid structure, an ebb and a flow, one that can change pace depending on the weather or your mood. When you look at it this way, you see that rhythm is the perfect structure for families with young children; nothing is set in stone, it can all be put to the side if need be. But on those days when rhythm is craved, there is much comfort in knowing what’s coming next. It helps our children feel secure, comfortable and at ease.
Meagan is a mother and creative who recently made the move back to her native Canada with husband, Brad and their four children, North, 8, Indigo, (almost 6), Juniper, 3 and Sage, 1. I recently interviewed her about motherhood, Steiner philosophy and the importance of rhythm in the family home. I hope you find her words as thought provoking as I did.
PS: Tell me about creativity and motherhood; did you experience immense inspiration when North was born?
Meagan: I was 26 when North was born and in some ways still coming into myself- figuring out what my values were, where I wanted to be in the world and what I wanted to do with my time. I graduated with a degree in International Development and had always been interested in working for greater international causes or organisations. I held big aspirations to help ‘change the world’. Of course, having a baby threw me in many ways. The role I had been gifted as “Mother” felt huge and all-encompassing and overnight ‘the world’ shrunk down to the confines of our own home. When he was almost one, I finally stepped a bit out of the haze and began to come back to myself. Only by then, I was forever changed. This is the time I began reading about Waldorf education, the forest school movement and reading blogs like Soulemama, Small Things and yours (Che and Fidel circa 2008!). Creativity for me at this point was taking inspiration from mothers I was inspired by and trying to create a holistic home life that revolved around my values. I started writing my first blog at that time and so, my love affair with sharing my words and thoughts began.
PS: You have four children under 7. How do you nurture your self?
Meagan: To be very, very honest, I smirked when I read this question. Not because I underestimate the importance of self-care, but because it is just so gosh darn hard to get right! I’ll repeat what you said, I have four kids under 7 and we’ve been homeschooling for about 6 months now! For me self-care is about making sure you’ve ‘filled yourself up’ in preparation for the work you do all day that slowly, but surely, drains you. In an ideal world I’d be going to yoga classes, taking long, hot ayurvedic baths, getting my hair done regularly, taking a weekend away on my own on occasion, cutting down on coffee and chocolate and seeing a naturopath or herbalist once a month, but there is really just no space (money-wise or time-wise) for these practices.
Instead I made room for the one thing I personally need more than anything, my inner work: having at least an hour each day to myself without any interruption, preferably in the early morning. This is what I really, really need to fill myself up. I get this in two ways: waking up early and making sure my husband is on board and fully present and in charge in the mornings until I emerge from my office. Using the moon cycle as my guide, I choose to meditate or journal and other times I write or plan for the week. What is of value to me is that I start the day in my own head space acting as myself without labels (such as Mama, laundress, cook or officer of the peace).
PS: When did you start exploring Steiner philosophy?
Meagan: When North was about two we started going to a Steiner playgroup in Melbourne and from then on, there was no turning back. So much of Steiner’s work, philosophy and education methods just absolutely resonate with my spirit and soul. Steiner education is holistic- placing value on the importance of not just the mind, but also of the body and spirit. Although we are not extremely religious, we are spiritual and striving to connect as best we can to the natural world. Steiner philosophy supports us in our spiritual development without feeling too dogmatic.
PS: You’ve just moved your family to the other side of the world. How important have your daily rhythms been in this period of intense transition?
Meagan: Some of our daily rhythm is still evolving after our big move. Not only did we move home and country, but our children are now home with us instead of at school and my husband is taking a year off of work, which has created a very different flow to our days. Some aspects of the rhythm like mealtimes, bath, book and bedtimes, have remained unchanged though, and these are the anchors that have helped keep us afloat through the storms of change. Although we have moved, we are still very much home-based, prioritising homemade meals and daytime naps over constant sight-seeing and travelling.
PS: You saw a gap in the market for practical, approachable Steiner-inspired guides. How did you go about creating them?
Meagan: I began to document my own journey as a Mama to young children on my blog six years ago, and as its readership grew, the same burning question arose time and again from like-minded Mamas around the world: How do I bring peace, presence and rhythm into my home? Planning has always been a passion of mine (much to my husband’s dismay! He’s a real fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants kind of guy), so creating a family rhythm based on our values came naturally to me. I created an early childhood curriculum that nourishes and guides us through the good days and that we can fall back on on the bad days. When I launched the Guides in 2013, my vision was to help mothers with young children create clarity, balance and rhythm within their days.
PS: I know you’re passionate about simplicity. What does it mean to you and what does it look like in your home?
Meagan: Simplicity, for me, is about using what I already have so that my resources (time, money, energy) are always used in line with my core values. Creating a ‘simple’ life takes a lot more creativity, sacrifice and energy than the word implies. For me simplicity absolutely starts with getting clear about your family values. We personally strive to arrange our lifestyle so that these values can shine through and are not suffocated by the ‘stuff’ that is not of value to us.
PS: How can your guides help parents who adore the idea of a Steiner education but can’t, for whatever reason, send their children to a Steiner school?
Meagan: The Whole Family Rhythms Guides are for Mamas (or carers) who have young children at home and who are yearning to slow down and create a family rhythm that empowers them to raise children who are wholly connected with themselves (head, heart and hands) and to the planet. Steiner philosophy is supportive for all ages and stages (even for adults) but I cannot overemphasise its value in providing the healthiest and most holistic foundations for early childhood. The Guides are used in family daycare settings, by nannies and mother’s helpers, grandparents and stay-at-home mothers and fathers. They are easy to follow, and take into consideration things like school drop offs and pick ups and younger siblings. They are not a cookie-cutter solution, but a creative curriculum that you are encouraged to adapt and change based on your own family’s values and lifestyle.
PS: What are three simple things parents can do to create a daily rhythm in their home?
1. Get clear about your family values and write them down (find a free printable here)
2. Create and uphold consistent mealtimes and sleep times everyday for your children (and you!)
3. Do as much online shopping as you can and assign one day a week to errands and adult outings (staying close to home as much as you can the rest of the time).
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