Monday, September 23, 2013

in breath, out breath

i haven't devoted much time lately to the littlest. end of summer travels, time with my little ones, and an exciting project have kept me daydreaming and away from my computer.

i read an article recently by a danish woman named helle heckman entitled "daily rhythm at home and it's lifelong reverence" that has helped feel more harmony in my parenting life. i read it aloud to my husband and had to choke back tears several times. it spoke to so much that i have intuitively felt for the past few weeks and what we all already know. we need to be present for our little ones, truly present. they know when we are tuned in to them and when we have tuned them out for something far less important, mindless, utterly forgettable.

i feel like we have inherently known the truths held in the article but have blindly staggered along making rules for elodie which aren't hard fast or thought through. we also haven't made rules for ourselves. it is not ok to stare at our phones. do one last chore instead of read a book to the girls or pick up the baby to have a dance party. it's not ok to put them off. i've been guilty of this. i've been called out on this. i want my children to see me do wonderful things so that they will go out in the world and do wonderful things. my children learn through imitation and i am less than proud of all that i have shown them. it will take intention and discipline to unlearn my bad habits but the past few weeks have made me hopeful that i'm on my way.

an excerpt from the article below:

"When you are occupied with other things, you can tell your child now you play by yourself. If you know you have been present you can actually expect them to find something to do themselves. It is very important that you are not afraid of your children not knowing what to do or being bored. It is very important that you feel it is right: I have been there with them now they can be by themselves.

Nowadays, parents often use media or adult-directed activities for their children because they are afraid of their children being bored and assume that they are not able to do anything themselves. This is a tricky situation. If you think you have to entertain your under-seven children all the time, with media (films, TV, videogames, computers and so on), after-school classes, and/or other adult-directed activities, then they do not learn how to play by themselves. They will not have a moment where they can be in a state of not knowing what to do and from there progress into a state of finding images inwardly and thus creating things from inside out. By letting them to be bored you help them, because being bored represents the opportunity the children will have to go into this process of inner creativity. The fact that children are able to be by themselves, to create their own play without adult direction is of great importance because during the first seven years of the child everything is about being able to create. If all the activities come from outside (electronic screen, video-games, adult direction, etc.), then not much happens in the sphere of inward creation.

If you take your children from class to class or entrust them to the media in its different varieties you have less time with them. Children are small for very short time. At present, you may be thinking it is a long time to go but, in no time you will see it went so fast. By letting your child to engage in his own play while you are around doing your own chores, and being really present in those breathing-in situations, you build trust between your child and you. And this trust will be important when they get a little older and get into pre-puberty and puberty because with this, they will come to you when they have problems and listen to you when you tell them what and what not to do. But they will only do it if they trust you, if you have been there for them. And that is why the first seven years of children are so important, because their whole trust, their believing that the world is good, is the basis of their future lives."


  1. word.

    my phone was lost a few weeks ago and i haven't replaced it...soon after i lost my phone, i noticed so many people looking at their phones while driving, while walking, while eating, while in meetings. but in reality, i was no different. my job requires a lot of screen time and it's as if my brain was re-wiring itself to accommodate my need to be plugged in.

    of course, my 16 month old baby sees me on the phone and wants the phone. or the computer. i thought to myself, "what am i teaching him?"

    as a young girl, when we took long drives i would stare out the window and imagine a horse running next to the car, leaping over mountains and galloping across the desert terrain. i would look at my watery reflection in the car window, catch a spectrum of light splintering through glass and wonder, marveling at the smallest details.

    allowing our children to feel "bored" encourages their mind to get active and dream. i'm all for it.

    1. Just had to say that I love this comment in every way possible!

  2. I love this post, Elizabeth. Such an important and challenging reminder. Thank you for sharing! xoxo

  3. i'm guilty of all this. And I too have been feeling like I needed to take a step back and give more time, more patience, and more of myself to my children. My son is 5. He's high energy, high excitement, and high anxiety--and sometimes I don't have the patience I know he needs. Sometimes I tune out to what he's asking me, or showing me and I can feel it's not right.

    So thanks for reminding me that I'm not the only one who is struggling with this. Particularly today, this month, and this week.

  4. Oh I so agree. To much scheduled time takes away a child creativity and the time to just be themselves and figure out what they like.

  5. This is wonderful Elizabeth! We ALWAYS need reminders, as it is extremely easy to slip right back to "sleep"!! Thank you

    the article reminded me of the book : the Forgotten Language of Children / remarkable book in my opinion...

  6. What a wonderful reminder. True time together fills us all up, doesn't it?

  7. Thank you for sharing this. It is a good reminder, and I feel similarly. I've been working hard to get caught up so that I can make some major changes and this was encouraging.


  8. thank you for this post and the article which I just devoured...much needed, thanks

  9. Ah, I really need this right now. Thank you for sharing.

  10. Thank you for this, Elizabeth. I'm a little teary-eyed, too. As a mom of two, I try to factor in one-on-one time with each child. It is not always easy to find the time, but when I can I think it helps to build their self-esteem by enjoying that special time with just mom. I'm sure you'll find that, as well, if you haven't already. That special time allows you to connect with each child on such a deep level and see quirks and traits that sometimes blend into the chaos of family. I also think that though time is fleeting, you are such a great mom to read this article and feel it resonate in you. Not everyone stops to even read such a passage. I'm glad you shared it with us. xo

  11. i love this. as you know, bea is at a waldorf pre-school and we talk a lot about in breath & out breath, but this is such a great reminder.

    love you! xo