Hi Waldorf Mums- this is my first post despite following this thread for some time. I am hoping that you would be able to offer me some advice and inspiration. Raising my two little possums (sorry - pick the Aussie) with inspiration from the Waldorf philosophy has been a really important part of my mothering. I have a lovely 4 year old girl called Indigo and a gorgeous little 18month old boy called Kael in addition to two step-sons Billy aged 14 and Marty 22years. Raising the little ones with Waldorf as a step-family has had its own challenges but it has been a rich and beautiful time for me and the older boys have been supportive.
The last fortnight has been one of the most difficult periods in our family life. Marty was in SE Asia on his firts trip overseas when he had a second episode of Bipolar disorder (AKA Manic Depression) and went into psychosis. Things were pretty bad as we found out he was sleeping on the floor of a fairly seedy bar and was basically being supplied with drugs by a gang of men who were using him to sell drugs. Just when we though things couldn't get any worse, he tried to jump off the roof of a hotel but was thankfully restrained by staff and was admitted to hospital when he hit his head. This all started during the New Years holidays over here and so all of Marty's medical team were on leave and we were desperately trying to get my husband over there with appropriate medications. We finally had him medivaced home to Australia on Wednesday for treatment over here. Basically, it has a nightmare and I have been glued to my computer and phone day in and day out trying to coordinate medical teams, finances, ambulances...you name it in order to get our son and my husband home safe.
Now that Marty is home, we are all still fairly shocked and traumatised. Once Marty actually realises what he has done and the impact emotionally and financially on his family, he is going to flip over into major depression. It is going to be a long 12 months...
I am also racked with guilt at the moment and am upset because it seems that my beautiful bond and rhythm I had with my little ones has completely gone out of the window. Indigo spent a week with my parents who have a house full of plastic toys that make noise. She has watched TVs and videos pretty much for the first time (we don't have a TV), eaten all sorts of junk, has a new pink synthetic wardrobe and toys. Plus, she also has a new favorite plastic doll replacing her previous favourite that I made and gave her for Christmas. My little boy who was with me now has no routine, his sleeping is all over the place and he has also watched his first video.
I am so upset and deflated...at myself, my parents and my little ones! Now all they ask me for is lollies and videos and won't eat the food I cook.
Has anyone had any similar experiences of when things have gone wrong??? It would be good to get some advice about where to pick up the pieces...I'm physically and emotionally exhausted and know i need to do a bit of self-love so I have something to give.
My brain is a little all over the place at the moment. I'm not sure where to begin...
First, go easy on yourself. Your family was in crisis mode, you needed to do what needed to be done. Your kids were in a safe place with people who love them to bits and spoiled them like crazy. That is a good thing! Now to repair that damage ;)
If you don't have a tv, there is no tv for the kids. Done, taken care of. Same with candies; if you don't buy them, your house doesn't have them. This will drive the kids bonkers for a while, but they will move on. They will ask all day every day until they realize no means no & then they will drop it. That is how tv works here. If our kids have a whole day of it, they ask non-stop for a week or so until they fall back into their normal ways. Trust that they WILL come back to your food and your family's ways. They are recovering from a vacation of sorts. My kids HATED it when I changed their food to almost all healthy food, but I was firm (gentle, but unmoved) that this was the food we had in the house, and they eventually came round. Now it is just normal.
The doll: that sucks! I would be crushed. Maybe the two dolls could be friends? Are you engaging in imaginative play using the doll you made? Since your daughter is four, I hesitate to vilify the plastic doll, but emphasizing that her cloth doll is still wonderful and playful might help keep her attached. Clothes, you can get rid of what you don't want. Is she attached to it all or just a few pieces? You could get rid of it all except for those few pieces she really likes. Or tell her that you will only be keeping x number of items (4 or 5) that she picks out.
A LOT of Waldorf is "keep calm and carry on". You are the sun! Easier said than done when the kiddos are being little pitas, but you can do it! It sounds like what your family needs is TIME. Time spent doing your regular things to set yourselves back to where you were (but with a few more pink t-shirts :) ).
DD (4.25.08) DD (4.23.10) DD (10.13.12)
hi, I've noticed there aren't many responses here, but loads of people are looking, so hopefully they're trying to think of solutions for you too! I'm also in Australia by the way. I agree with PP - go easy on yourself, this is a difficult time! I think if you spend some time on yourself it will help. Maybe also focusing on a rhythm where you are really right there with them for the structured activities might help them really feel and appreciate your presence again. Perhaps do special things together where you can unwind as well like swimming at the local pool, picnics (I don't know where you are, but at the moment we have to dodge the showers here). Special family time I think will help bring everyone together. Maybe give them a break from the usual food on the weekends while they're readjusting. Or try to think of some of the recipes you know they used to absolutely love and doll them up a bit with their help? You could make up stories about how healthful some of the individual ingredients are in your cooking and how they got to be there?
What sort of support network do you have around you? Is there a local steiner playgroup you go to?
Are you doing prayers or something similar at bed time? maybe draw these times out a bit (easy with daylight savings) with a candle and darkened room.
I'm trying to think of things that will help reconnect with the doll but am finding it hard, perhaps others have ideas??? You could tell stories that involve the doll you are trying to inspire love for again? Are there things she can more easily do with the waldorf doll that she can't with the other? I think now the new doll is there you can't really throw her away, that might not be sending the right signals - perhaps including both of them. this might not be right, but perhaps referring to the old doll as part of the family and the other as a friend, visitor or something - you've got to be careful with this I guess. Can you invite a little girl who also has a steiner type doll and ask her mum to bring the doll (you might want to have a chat to her about the doll issues if you feel you can).
Is there something you can afford that you can get off the internet or find somewhere that can inspire their free play so they can be happily occupied in free time and reconnect with the values you have? Inside: A dolls house? A treehouse? Outside: have you set up an outside kitchen? You could have fun setting it up or going shopping with them at op shops to find things to add. Something that could occupy them happily. hm, not sure, just an idea.
Anyway, these are just a few thoughts, not sure if I'm on the right track - I hope things get easier.
Hi mama. I just wanted to say that I read this when you posted it and I just have no advice to add. Your energy was focused where it needed to be at the moment and now it may take a while to get back to finding your family's rhythm again, but you'll get there. Your children were not ruined by this experience. In my opinion, they had the opportunity to experience a different lifestyle and although they may not appreciate it now, maybe this will influence their future notion on WHY your family lives the way you do. You know? A compare and contrast and maybe when they are old enough to voice their appreciation, they will look back on this and realize.
I know it wasn't until I was much older that I thanked my mom for never allowing me to have nasty "food" products like Lunchables, and Happy Meals. I never knew I was the fortunate one of my friends bringing in homemade soup and bread for lunch instead of the junk that they had [and I coveted!].
ETA: Please check back in with us. I've been thinking of your family and hope you're all doing alright. <3
Hi, Mama, I hope things are settling down for your family and that you are all getting the care you need.
I don't think there is anything wrong with life happening. Your younger children have had an upset, but they have also had the opportunity to see a cherished Mama caring radically for her stepson. There's nothing wrong with doing what needs to be done! I was just reading from one of my Waldorf homeschool curricula and the author (Donna Simmonds) had some lovely things to say about moderation...living life as it comes, balancing what needs to be balanced and avoiding dogmatic thinking and being. I really believe that! It's absolutely wonderful to offer your children a Waldorf home and all the beauty that brings, but don't feel crushed if yesterday's 'perfect' is today's 'un-do-able'. You'll get that rhythm back.
We had an upheaval (but not one that carried the same kind of energy as yours) when our third baby was born. My oldest was in his first year of Waldorf Kindy (homeschooled). I'd had ideas of grandeur regarding rhythm and circle times and everything else, but I nearly drove myself and everyone around me nuts with that. When I let go and allowed that year to be about having a new baby, a new rhythm emerged and worked for us.
If you are looking for concrete suggestions, I'd maybe start with the basic rhythms of eating and sleeping. Get those back into rhythm first. Light the candle at the table and say a verse and they will remember the good food they get at your table. Tell them a made-up theraputic story about a family of gnomes that got caught in a hurricaine and had to put their house back in order or something. Make bed time special and reassurring. Let them see you caring for yourself...paint a little, read, take a bath with candles. Slowly weed out the things you don't want kept (and maybe have a gentle word with your parents about WHY you do what you do....buy them a copy of "Simplicity Parenting", maybe?). The rest will follow!
I'll bet your older son could benefit from all this, too. Seeing that, yes, you dropped everything to come to him when he needed you, but that now he is safe, life goes on, rhythms are re-established. He may carry guilt about the upheaval, but seeing the waters calm again will help him, don't you think? Is he in a place, emotionally, to be able to help with this? Could he be asked to help the littles stay busy while they get over wanting the telly, for instance?
Hope it's getting better for all of you. Do keep us updated.
You've gotten some great advice already. Just wanted to send you some hugs and like the PP's don't be so hard on yourself! You did the best you could given the circumstances at the time. I believe in the 80/20 rule. It's what happens 80% of the time that we need to be focused on. The other 20% (ie plastic toys and tv with Grandparents) is small in comparison.
I would add one thing at a time to your rhythm until you feel able to add more. Celebrate every success you have! And let the guilt go - it only makes you feel worse and doesn't solve anything. Blessings to you and your family. Hope Marty is doing well and getting the help he needs. xxx