Meal times are an anchor in our daily rhythm. They are anchors because they happen at around the same time every day. Everything else that happens flows around these. I mentioned in our Afternoon Rhythm post that the transition from afternoon rhythm to evening rhythm happens around 4pm, but the reality is it is ‘around’ 4pm that we begin our dinner preparations.
During preparation time I have one of the children set the table. I would love some table linen for the table, so I can’t wait for the opportunity to arise when we can all create our own place setting! Another child is helper of the day and is in the kitchen with me. When children are not helping in some way they are choosing to read in the lounge room or draw at the nearby craft table.
We gather together as a family most nights around the table. We light the candle and say our thanks for the meal before us. This is a really enjoyable aspect of our evening meal. It is a moment where all busyness ceases, chatter is stilled and our focus is turned towards gratitude for our food, where it comes from and who made it for us.
Food in a basket for you and for me.
Food in a basket from the land and the sea.
Thank you to (Daddy, mummy…) for making it for me.
Caring and sharing is love
On Sunday we remain at the table for our weekly family meeting, but every other night, the children are able to excuse themselves from the table and take their dishes to the sink.
Through developing this rhythm over several years, the children know it is then time for showers, dressing in pjs, brushing teeth and settling down for our bedtime rhythm.
Our bedtime rhythm has seen many changes over the years, however, there are certain elements that have remained the same. ‘Story candle’ is well and truly a strong part of our rhythm. The children love to see the candle being lit and know that their special time with one of us is about to happen.
The three littles share a room and as Strawberry is the fastest to settle, we begin with her. While Strawberry settles into her bed for ‘story candle’, Ooffa settles onto the couch with Daddy for his story time and Chook sits up at the bench to draw, read or write while Aidan is washing the dishes.
Strawberry and I snuggle on her bed and watch the light of the candle dance along the wall. Her head settles upon my chest feeling the rise and fall of each breath. A quiet calm settles over the two of us and a story begins to form, slowly at first, tentative first steps on my lips but with each sentence becoming stronger and flowing more independently of my thoughts. The stories are often of my childhood. Sometimes they are tales based upon our adventures. Other times they are stories we have found in books.
When our story comes to an end, I sing ‘Golden Slumbers’
Golden slumbers kiss your eyes,
Smiles await you when you rise.
Sleep pretty darling, do not cry
For I shall sing a lullaby
Strawberry blows out the candle and snuggles under the covers. Our bedtime rhythm ends when I reach the bedroom door and turn to say “See you in the morning. Hoot, hoot.”
I then have a quick cuddle with Ooffa before he goes to his bed. Sometimes he needs me to sing ‘Golden Slumbers’ to him when he is in his bed. Other times a “Hoot, hoot, in my heart” will suffice.
Then I sit with Chook while he shares what he has been doing. When I am sure that Ooffa is sleeping, Chook and I go through to his bed. He sleeps on the top bunk and so he cuddles me from above and plants big fat kisses on my head. He tells me how much he loves me and his family, friends, school, teachers (and everyone in the whole world) and we finish with “Hoot, hoot, in my heart”.
By staggering their bedtimes, we can have all the children in their beds, fast asleep around 8pm. Leaving a little window of time for adult company and child-free pursuits. I have a weekly child-free night time rhythm: Monday is card making for Amie M Designs. Tuesday is writing posts for the blog. Wednesday is meal planning. Thursday is card making for Amie M Designs. Friday is planning for our Learn@Home activities. Saturday is writing posts for the blog. Sunday is my Weekly Home Planning Hour.