March 21, 2021
Like many, Spring brings me an impulse for days-long deep cleaning. I want to wipe out all the pantries, dust all the corners, sweep under and behind all the furniture and throw open the windows! Oh, I can feel it now. Close your eyes and picture it- I know you can feel it too. The space! The brightness! The freshness! I’m smiling and breathing more deeply already.
And, oh, how I wish the clean would last. For not only is it more beautiful, but, truly, refreshing the physical environment is refreshing to the self. It brings me the same energy I feel at the start of something new.
Thankfully, there is a deeper layer of “spring cleaning” that can maintain those feelings of rejuvenation far longer than a clean house will last (especially with little ones running about). The etheric pulse of the home brings vitality and lives in our habits. A strong and healthy etheric home life holds the rhythms and routines of life that keep us going, all the while allowing space for joy and contentment. It’s normal to have short periods of time with days so full that we end up exhausted as we plop into bed. But when instead we are regularly ending our days depleted and disgruntled, it’s time to look at the etheric life of our homes.
Since the month of April is usually when the activities of my home kick up a notch, I find it a very valuable practice to evaluate our family habits at the start of spring. During the LifeWays Early Childhood training, students learn about the Seven Life Processes, ways in which we engage with the world. Reviewing these processes provides a valuable tool for reflecting upon home life in many aspects. And since it is this etheric pulse that lives in our habits, I use them as a framework to see what patterns and forms are living within our daily processes. I would like to share three of these with you today. Next week, I will share the remaining four.
At the foundation of our days, weeks, seasons and years lies rhythm. It is the breathing of our activities- In for getting dressed and eating breakfast, Out for play, In for snack, Out for play….. And so forth. When we are breathing in, we are focused on ourselves and the task at hand. When we are breathing out, we are open and responsive to the world around us. Of course as adults leading children, we are often asked to do both of these to a degree. Yet there is still a tone or feeling that guides the flow of our life’s activities, and a sustainable flow of activity is one of balanced breathing. Simply put, it’s time for me to look at these rhythms and ask, “Are they balanced?” Often I need to plan a little more ahead for rest and “breathing out” times during the coming busy season.
When I’m considering our etheric life, I look to our habits that bring warmth. So I ask, “What are we eating? And wearing?” Mornings and evenings are still chilly in the spring, so I need to continue making hot dishes for breakfast and dinner. Warmth also includes taking in what surrounds us and adapting to it. This means we continue wearing layers of clothing to shed as the day grows warmer in temperature.
On a deeper level I ask again about our rhythm, “Do I leave enough space for us to adapt when things change?” For my youngest son, who is challenged by the unexpected, this means I need to be especially careful about not packing our days full. Yes, flexibility and resiliency are important, but they cannot exist without security, and security comes first with knowing what you can count on. At their best, our daily and weekly rhythms let him know what he can count on and include the time and space for his emotional processes to be met with respect and support. There are plenty of minor changes that occur through our days that he is expected to take in stride. There is also consideration of priorities and a healthy breathing in our rhythm that allows me to take time to warmly meet him when he is challenged to adapt. Honestly, this goes for everyone in the family. Even as adults we need time to adapt.
Again, on the surface, I will ask, “What eating habits need to shift?” I know those sweet treats are creeping into “nightly” status, and I will also start preparing menu options for eating on-the-go on sports nights. But beyond food, what other habits nourish us? We may consider our surrounding sense impressions. These, too, must be “digested” or assimilated. What, then, is my home environment like? How much time are we spending in overstimulating environments or activities? How much time are we spending outdoors?
Lots of movement and outdoor time are essential. In some ways, it’s easier to get more outdoor time because we are drawn there naturally, but maintaining school and work productivity along with the extracurriculars can also tend to eat up the rest of our time, so I must work this into our weekly rhythm and stay committed to it. Self- care is another aspect that is easy for all parents to push aside, yet it is also an essential life-giving force! My answer is to make sure that some of the movement and outdoor time I am doing is also focused on me.
What activities are we doing that help us digest everything we are taking in? Again, I look at resting or self-care activities. Beyond sleep, art and journaling help to process; so does a relaxed and warm conversation. So, let’s make time for plenty of these in the sunshine!
I hope this helps you all to consider how to bring rejuvenating habits into your homes. I will share the next four life processes next week!
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