#realmothersdiversevoices : Robin Kay

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I am thrilled to be sharing a new interview series with you each and every week: #realmothersdiversevoices. In this series my intention is to reveal the endless ways our family values can inform our Daily Rhythm. The mothers I have interviewed lead diverse lives but they each have a huge sense of clarity about what their Family Values are (even if they change over time) and consciously and creatively strive to create a Daily Rhythm in alignment with those values.

It is my hope that through these stories more Mothers feel inspired to explore what their own family values are, to question them and bring them to life in their everyday experience. I know that seeing the world through another Mother’s lens will develop more empathy, understanding and compassion between us.

Today I warmly welcome Robin Kay to the Whole Family Rhythms circle. Robin is the loving wife to and mother of a two-year-old, Ramona. Her background is in Early Childhood Education which is very clear by the moments she shares on her gorgeous Instagram Feed, @twentyventi. She also shares thought-provoking pieces, vegetarian recipes and her strong faith on her blog, Twenty Venti.

Who are you? Can you introduce yourself, your work and your family?

My name is Robin. I’ve been married for nearly seven years, am a mother of a two-year-old (Ramona), and a roommate of two rascally cats. I went to school for Early Childhood Education. I currently work part-part time at a non-profit early years centre – just enough to barely keep my foot in the door in case I ever wanted to return fully (I’ve never fully returned since my maternity leave ended). Child development is a passion of sorts for me, which is what drew me to teaching – but I find I’m more fulfilled in that passion at home in my own environment, with my own child.

What is one of the greatest joys you experience as a Mother?

It’s hard to narrow it down to one thing, or to put it into words. Watching my daughter grow brings me joy, because I see more and more of who she is, and her personality, unfold. I felt like I could see so clearly who she was when she was born – she was so strong and aware – and it’s incredible to see that same character become more fully realized as she masters new skills, and confidently takes on new challenges.

Perhaps it sounds too suger-coated to say so, but even the challenges bring me some form of joy because they teach me so much about myself.

What is one of the biggest challenges you face daily as a Mother?

There is always that tug-of-war of needing time away to myself, but also wanting to be a constant part of my daughter’s childhood. It was such a struggle for me in the early days, and even now sometimes, to not have the luxury of free time to create, or follow the same slow creative process, or to complete a thought without interruption. But admittedly, I am probably more productive in the small spurts of time that I steal throughout the day than before when I had nearly limitless free time.

What does having “Rhythm in your Home” mean to you?

Our rhythm is what grounds us when things get crazy. It’s the structure that’s already in place when I feel scattered (which can be often). I think there’s safety and comfort in it for our daughter, and for me too – the knowing what happens next, the predictability of key parts of our day. Creating a rhythm in our home that fits our lifestyle best is what keeps us focused day-to-day on what’s important to us as well.

I love this quote from Simplicity Parenting by Kim John Payne: “As parents, we’re the architects of our family’s daily lives. We build a structure for those we love by what we choose to do together, and how we do it……You can see what a family holds dear from the pattern of their everyday lives.”

And this is very much how we approach our rhythm – to reflect what’s important in our lives to ourselves and to each other. Family, art, nature, God, reading, and so much more.

Can you give an example of some of your most cherished ‘Family Values’?

Our Family Values mainly come from a mixture of our religious beliefs, plant-based lifestyle, and simple/minimal living approach.

In our religious teachings there is a strong emphasis placed on family relationships. A former late president of our church, David O. McKay, once said “No other success compensates for failure in the home” which has always resonated with me. The relationship that we have with one another is important, built on respect, kindness, communication, and connection. We tend to do almost everything together as a family – we work, serve, worship, create, play, and eat together. It’s in this togetherness, and being mindfully present for each other, that we foster connections with one another, and grow closer.

Obviously we are not perfect, and frequently fail to always be kind, or communicate, or give our full attention, but these are values we strive for.

Values taken from our plant-based lifestyle (we are vegan) include healthy eating habits, and choosing local whole foods. Also, showing kindness, empathy, and respect to all living things, and being mindful of how our actions affect each other and our environment.

Our minimalist approach has helped us to focus on which values are really important to us. But our minimalism is also an important value itself – learning to live with less, buy less, waste less, and value the things that we have.

How do you hope to pass these values on to your children? Or in other words, how do you manifest these family values into your daily rhythm?

Going right back to the quote I just shared from Simplicity Parenting – “You can see what a family holds dear by the patterns in their everyday lives.” We can pass on our values through living them ourselves. By weaving our values into our everyday life we hope to make them important to our daughter, because we’ve taken the time to observe them daily. We show that kindness is important by being kind to each other; our value for hard work simply by working every day; our love of God through daily prayer; a love of the environment by exploring nature every day.

We also make sure that Ramona is invited and part of our world, not divided into a separate bubble because she’s “in the way.” There’s a common phrase in my line of work: “Meet children at their level.” It means we create learning opportunities at where the child is physically, mentally, emotionally, etc. When we work together she has the appropriate child-sized tools – a broom, dust pan, a small spray bottle and cloth, as well as a learning tower so she can be at counter/table level when we cook or wash dishes. There is also time made for her. It can be challenging with the unhurried pace of a toddler, but by not rushing her as she explores the natural world, or empties the dryer one article of clothing at a time, or slowly works at cutting vegetables before dinner, we invite her to share and be part of our values and every day life. We can’t convey the importance of those values if we rush or remove her from them in our daily life.

Can you outline a typical ‘Weekday Rhythm’ for you and your child(ren). Specifically when/where/how do you and your little ones eat, sleep/rest, play inside/outside, work/learn and make time for selfcare?

This is a rough outline of our days – our time isn’t as rigidly structured as this may seem. Sleep, outdoor, and meal times are a constant, while we leave lots of room and flexibility in between for possibility and connection with each other. Two areas I’d like to improve on are our mornings (waking up earlier, or at least waking up together), and adding morning/evening meditation to our rhythm.

7:00 a.m. – My husband and daughter get up before me to prepare breakfast before he heads to work.

7:30 a.m. – We bless, and eat breakfast.

8:00 a.m. –  This time is free play for Ramona while I do some light chores and put away any laundry that was washed the night before. Ramona goes back and forth between play and joining in with chores – washing dishes, sweeping with her broom, putting socks away.

9:00 a.m. – Focused one-on-one time – we play and read together, or do yoga without any outside distractions. It’s during this time that I often take advantage to do some learning activities  through play, as this is a sensitive time where she is so open to building new skills.

9:30 a.m. – Free outdoor play with morning snack (as the weather improves, this outdoor time tends to start earlier and stretch out longer and longer)

11:30 a.m. – Daily activity

  • Monday: In the Kitchen (we cook all our meals together, but this is the day we try a new recipe or make a large batch of granola to last us the week)
  • Tuesday: Painting
  • Wednesday: Beeswax/Playdough
  • Thursday: Create (craft)
  • Friday: Science/Sensory (a simple science experiment or sensory exploration, i.e. water or sand play)

12:30 p.m. – Prepare lunch, blessing, eat. Tidy up, wash dishes.

1:15 p.m. – Stories and finger play, and a brief nurse.

1:30 p.m. – Naptime for R / I use this time on myself, to read, edit photos, listen to a podcast or watch a show while felting.

4:00 p.m. – Nap lengths vary. When she wakes up we cuddle and have some one-on-one time, then free play for Ramona while I do some dinner prep (as always, she joins in when there’s food involved). Usually a light, casual snack during this time.

5:00 p.m. – My husband comes home, and often he and Ramona take over finishing dinner while I do some work (answer emails, edit).

5:30 p.m. – Bless dinner, eat. Tidy up the apartment while listening to music (with lots of dance breaks). Put in a load of laundry together.

6:30 p.m. – Free outdoor play during warmer months OR Family yoga/Pilates or a dance party in our living room during colder months. At least one evening of the week we run errands or tackle a home project in this time instead

7:30 p.m. – Wind down before bed, read books together, nurse, sing songs, and family prayer.

8:30 p.m. – bed time in autumn/winter months / 9:00 p.m. – bedtime during spring/summer months.

(I’ve noticed our bedtime is later than other family’s typical bedtime, but we’ve based this on the natural rhythm of our daughter after struggling with earlier bedtimes since the time change. We tend to go to sleep a little later ourselves as well.)

9-11:30 p.m. – Shower and catch up with my husband. We sometimes watch a movie together or create (I felt/edit photos while he paints), or do some exercising together.

How important are higher belief systems, stories, literature, art, family history and creative expression to your family? How do you weave these into your family life?

My husband and I were both raised, and met, through church. It’s a big part of our lives, and who we are. We pray before meals and bedtime together, sing hymns at bedtime, and attending church is part of our Sunday rhythm. In our every day lives we live the teachings of our church.

Literature, art, and creative expression are all very important to us. Pausing to read or tell stories is a common theme throughout our days – with storytelling before naptime and several books before bed. My husband is an artist, and involves Ramona in his process, collaborating in art pieces with her on the weekend. We plan creative activities and make materials available for her during free play. In our daily life Ramona sees me taking photographs, felting, reading.

When does your family rhythm get thrown off kilter?

Sickness or a poor night’s sleep can certainly throw us off, as well as days not spend at home (family events, play dates, errands, day trips). It’s often me that feels it most when we’ve been busy, like I’m playing catch up at that point. The cure is almost always a less structured day at home to reset and then return to our rhythm.

Do you consciously re-evaluate and change your family rhythm with the seasons and ages and stages of your kids?

I think that we, as mothers or parents, do this often already, without being conscious of “rhythm.” I remember adjusting my daughter’s naps and bedtime with each season and age, following her cues as she resisted our previous schedule, and settled nicely into a new one. I mentioned earlier that since the most recent daylight savings spring forward, we’ve changed her bedtime to half an hour later (just as it was last year) – partly due to her being so hardwired to her previous bedtime that she couldn’t fall asleep that early, and also that with the longer days we tend to enjoy staying out later on evening walks.

And so, yes, as needed I’ve changed our rhythm based on my daughter’s current needs, development, the time of year – and sometimes because something is no longer “working” anymore in the flow of our days. When there’s suddenly frequent resistance to a regular part of our day, I know it’s time to reevaluate – perhaps change the way we do things, or eliminate an activity.

When you’re feeling stuck, tired, frustrated with your role as Mother, what do you need most to shift your energy and perception?

The thing that I need most when I’m in a motherhood funk is time to myself, spent on myself (things I enjoy doing). As an introvert, I need time alone to recharge, which can be challenging to find as a parent. I use Ramona’s naptime or when my husband is home after work as an opportunity to do things that fulfill and recharge me – such as read, exercise, or create.

Reading parenting books or articles specifically help me shift my outlook. And the days that I’ve been able to produce a photo, pen down some thoughts, spend some time on handiwork (felting, sewing, etc.) are when I feel the most rejuvenated.

If you could recommend one book to ALL Mothers out there what would it be?

There are so many, but the one that I keep coming back to, both in my mind, and also to reread certain passages, is Simplicity Parenting by Kim John Payne. It’s had a profound impact on how I parent. Perhaps it’s the minimalist in me that finds it so appealing – a book that suggests we simplify our physical environment as well as our approach to parenting. I think we could all use a little more simplicity in our lives.

DISCLOSURE: This journal entry contains a link to Amazon.com. Meagan from Whole Family Rhythms is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. amazon.ca and amazon.uk Thank you for your support.

Meagan Wilson is a parent educator and author of the now-retired seasonal series of Whole Family Rhythms. After finishing a BA, she went on to complete her Foundations in Steiner Education and Anthroposophy at Sydney Steiner College, as well as her Waldorf Early Childhood Certification at the Rudolf Steiner Centre in Toronto. She has received her certification as a Simplicity Parenting Family Life Coach and has supported hundreds of parents to create a strong family rhythm unique to their own values and culture. She has four young children. Meagan provides resources, support and information to parents who are looking for a bridge to cross between their unique family life and their children’s (often but not always) Waldorf schools.

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