i struggle with this. i love many, many aspects of the waldorf philosophy and have already been practicing a lot of this on my own. a lot of the beliefs really strike a chord with me.
the problem is trying to establish a routine, rhythm with our two year old with other people living in our house. DP and his brother live with us and while they are absolutely wonderful and believe in many of the similar things--they don't practice it.
i work so hard to keep our small tv covered, but it's nearly always on once the guys are home and it's on all evening and weekends. and the things they watch other than sports, are really ridiculous, seedy things like the jersey shore. i know that they work so much and want to unwind when they come home. but i've made it clear that there are so many other ways to unwind and that i really want no media exposure for a hour before DD's bedtime but it seems so hard for them to do that... "but, after this football game..." and it's already 8 pm.
when DD and i are alone, our rhythms are so much more peaceful and it's easier to get her to drift off to sleep at nighttime (when most of the time, it's a two hour struggle to get her to sleep). and we are expecting our second baby by spring and i'm really concerned about DD's sleep.
DP's brother also keeps insisting on buying DD all those toys.... millions of balloons that keep bursting and there are tiny pieces everywhere...plastic noisemakers, little plastic beads everywhere. i can't even count how much trash we've been making with that. DD and i make sure that our interests are all the simple things.. she has always enjoyed playing with kitchen things and things we find outdoors. and DP's brother keeps thinking that she's bored and that we are depriving her because i believe in open-ended toys and creativity. yes, i have been exhausted, but have always made a point to play with her and wish others would help me out and play with her in the same manner rather than plopping her in front of the TV, computer, or the idea of playing with her is to buy all those breakable, cheap, useless toys. i am so tired of picking up tiny pieces scattered all over the house. i'm so tired of DD whining because she saw gummy worms and sweets on the counter. it's gone to the point where i can't go out for a day or evening and be comfortable that DD is being taen care of well. i've been trying to make boundaries, but all that's happened is that they make me feel like i'm controlling.
i've communicated with both of them. DP is a bit more onboard than his brother.. but they both enable each other with laziness and junk food rather than encourage nourishment.
they both agree that media isn't the best thing and that we should be eating healthier and making less trash, but aren't following through. and i really feel like i'm picking up after two big men and a toddler. anyone else have experience with this? insight?
Wow, first of all, big hugs! I can only imagine how hard this must be for you. Even the most in-sync partners have struggles over rhythm, and you are dealing with something that sounds like a significant difference between what you want and what your DP and his brother want in terms of daily life. That can be hard, and even more so when you are also trying to care for a toddler in the middle of all this.
I probably can't offer any advice, just observations. We are a tv-free household, and I have tried hard to establish rhythms. I think it comes down to picking your battles. My strategy is that my husband gets his "man-cave" where he has a computer, and he can go down there and watch videos, etc. Being able to limit tv-type watching to a particular room helped us. Would your husband go for a man-cave that you could set up somewhere, so the rest of the house could be TV-free? If they are watching TV, chances are, there's not a lot of meaningful interaction going on between your daughter and them, so I'm guessing she wouldn't be missing out on family time if they were in another room and she were playing elsewhere.
One thing I know is that you as the mama have to be 100% clear on where you want the limits to be, otherwise you will not be able to set clear expectations in the house. It's really easy to be swayed when you're not sure yourself where you want the limit to be (I feel like I experience this every day!). Also, remember that it might make more sense to express your expectations in terms of specifics, ie, ask specifically for a change you want. I've had a lot of success negotiating with my husband for things that were important. For example, he agreed to have 6-8:30 pm totally free of any phones, technology, etc. That's a clearer limit than just saying "I want us to limit phone/screen use in front of our daughter."
Another thing that might help is to have a real heart to heart with your DP about whether/to what extent he is truly on board with you. You may need to let go of hopes that he is 100% on the same page with you. In truth, he's probably not. I think in many cases, partners aren't nearly as concerned with this stuff as mothers are. On the whole, no one is ever going to be as concerned with your child's wellfare as you are. Not only is it a mother's #1 concern, but we mothers are the ones who have to deal with the consequences of too much TV, too little rest, too much candy, etc., so no wonder we are the ones working so hard on the details of day to day life. In some ways, I've had to accept that most of this is just going to be up to me, which I think is fine. I often wonder when I spend time around other families who appear to share these values if they have the same disputes as we do at home over the details. I bet they do.
So, on the whole, I think I'd just have a frank talk with DP, find out what he is truly willing to agree to, negotiate where you can, and be prepared to accept it, and, if necessary, carve out your own santuary with your daughter. There's no reason you can't have the most perfect, Waldorfy bed-time routine going on upstairs while your DP and his brother are downstairs watching tv. (if that is what it comes to).
Good luck and Hugs!
Thank you for your response. It was so thoughtful! And I'm really glad to really know that I'm not the only one. I figured there would be a few other mamas out there experiencing similar situations.
I've talked to DP a few times about this in the last few days, and he said that we all need to get together and check in. But it's something we've done from time to time in the past. When I insist on no TV after dinnertime, DP and his brother nod their heads and turn on the TV anyway. And I know I could just move the TV to the other room, but I'm pregnant with our second and taking care of DD all day is exhausting and I would really love for them to help me out a bit.
It's even gone to the point where DP's brother is dealing with a bunch of serious health problems directly affected by nutrition, weight, and habits. So what bothers me most is that he is fully aware, but yet doing all the same things to our dear little daughter. I think she absorbs twice as much stuff to process in her body.
I know I need to set a few strong boundaries. My problem is trying to get it across without seeming police-like. I'm just so exhausted and feel like I'm wasting so much energy picking up and trying to get things back together every Monday and every morning. And that isn't helping me focus on our daily peace and rhythm with DD.
Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and support. They mean so much!
I know, it is so exhausting, isn't it? If it is any solace, my guess is every family strugges with these same issues to some degree. Given everything you have going on, remember to be kind to yourself. I, too, have heartache over my lofty ideals about how things should be, and the reality of day to day life. Maybe you could pick just one thing that is really important to you, and build from there. (Like something simple like 10 minutes of the bedtime routine, or a dinner ritual, or something.
Just know you are not alone, far from it, I bet. Sure, I have some Waldorfy mama friends who are married to touchy/feely sensitive guy types who (it appears) go along totally with their wife's TV free agenda, home rhythm, etc., but it probablly just appears that way to me. What we are talking about is pretty personal -- how to spend time in one's own home, and it is bound to be an issue in every family!
On the TV issue, I'm no expert, but there's a reason we simply don't have one in our house -- I think it is virtually impossible to regulate and limit once it is in play. If making changes with TV is important to you, you might have to make a big change (like get rid of it or move it to another room). Candidly, I'm not sure it's realistic to have it sitting there, plugged in, and expect it not to be watched. Maybe some people could do that, but not the people in my family! Lol! It might help to make it a trade-off -- like setting up a den for the guys where they can have their tv time, guy time, etc., but only after they join you for dinner each night and play with your daughter (TV free) for an hour. Just some ideas. Good luck, and trust your mama instincts, they will be on target every time!
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