chapter four - "rhythm"

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Kids in Garden.jpg

Day four, Rhythm. Today I feel so lucky to have Haydee of Happenstance share her thoughts. She has nailed it with her personal stories and excerpts from the book. Sit back, absorb and comment away... I hope you are all enjoying this as much as I am.

At first I wasn’t quite sure how I would quantitate “rhythm” with child rearing. But after reading this chapter, not only was I enlightened by the idea and effects of “rhythm,” but I recognized many of Dr. Payne’s points about “rhythm” from my own childhood. When I was younger we often had the same dishes for dinner which always seemed boring, but now I get why. My friends always wanted to come to my house when we were teenagers. I never understood it, but now I know why. You would never find sugar cereals in our pantry. It was kind of a bummer, but now I embrace why. Most of all, I realize that I have adapted these same “rhythms” as a kid, into my own home, with my own kids. I understand now that with consistency and repetition, the vibrations of the rhythms of life have a powerful ability to carry on. Below are some soundbites I noted from each section of the “Rhythm” chapter that I thought you’d be interested in reviewing. Some I have commented on. I would love to hear your thoughts too!

“Meaning hides in repetition … what stands out is not the splashy, blow-out trip to Disneyland but the common threads that run throughout and repeat: family dinners, walks, reading together at bedtime, Saturday morning pancakes.”

“A form of predictability can also simply be in the form of politeness.” –– Hooray! The monotony of reminding them to say “please” and “thank you” pays off!

“After school time is also a great opportunity for free unscheduled time. What a delight it is for a school-age child to set their own agenda; what a blessing, even, to be bored.” –– This will forever make me see “boredom” so differently. It’s so valuable and easy!

“Simplicity establishes a connection with our children that is ‘bankable.’ By that I mean we have ‘relational credits.’ In difficult times we can count on, and draw from, this connection.”
“Relational credits, the emphasis you’ve put on being there for them, and with them, can make things easier for you both, during their adolescence and other difficult times.” –– I plan to rack up these “relational credits!” Who knows what those dreaded teenage years have in store for us!

“The dinner table is one of a child’s most consistent laboratories for learning social skills (and impulse control); it’s democracy in action.”

“Food is meant to nourish, not entertain or excite.” –– You hear that chocolate-dipped, deep fried Oreo’s!

“How can a carrot compete with Hot Wings and Blue Cheese Doritos? “Big hit flavors” (like Doritos––usually additives, and stimulants) set up an addictive cycle. Such foods are the enemy of rhythm. You can’t flow through speed-crash-and-burn.” –– I have a “big hits flavor” (or lack thereof) story of when Penelope was four. We reluctantly attended a birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese and when it came time for lunch the only drink provided was soda. Surprisingly (because I thought I’d have to deal with a “why can’t I?” scenario) Penelope matter of factly asked for milk. It’s true what Dr. Payne says about “what happens at home” naturally evolves. At that time and to this day Penelope has never tasted soda.

“There are 17,000 “new food products” introduced to shoppers in this country every year.” –– This usually means that there is little to no nutritional value in these new foods. Especially if it didn’t exist 50 years ago.

“Is it [food] unnecessarily complex with ingredients you can’t identify or pronounce?” –– This reminded me of Jamie Oliver’s simple suggestion. If you can’t pronounce the ingredients, don’t buy it. I never realized what a great rule of thumb this was until I started realizing how easy the ingredients were to decipher on my Trader Joe’s items.

“Everything your child does and who they will be are affected by their sleep or lack of it. Too little sleep is the first thing I look for.” –– This blew me away. I can honestly say that we have never had sleep issues with either kid. Now five and three, both were trained to sleep in their own bed without a night light at two months thanks to the suggestion of our amazing pediatrician, Dr. Levy. He made a great point about babies being used to darkness and natural outside noises while in the womb. So creating a similar environment for them at home would only make them more comfortable. Every night they go to sleep between 8-8:30 pm without any resistance. In fact, our three y/o has been known to just say he’s going to bed on his own. Again, all a testament to Dr. Levy and his amazing guidance.

“Stories are wonderful pressure valves. Children recognize themselves in the characters; they sense their own worth as they feel the heroine’s fears, experience her bravery, compassion, and hope.” –– I had never really thought of any benefits past word recognition and playtime reenactments. This was great to know.

“Most of the answers a young child is looking for can be found through story. This is a good example of the difference between our worlds as children and adults.” –– This, too, is so great to realize.

Thank you so much Haydee!

P.S. Levy really is awesome. I feel like I could write a post just about the things he has taught me about parenting.

*Above is a photo of Haydee's little ones "being bored" too sweet. Especially with their crowns on. Love it.


  1. I just saw this today, I HAVE got to get this book. I have been noticing that things aren't working the way I pictured them in my head. We have been simplifying and decluttering our home, there was just so much gathered to do that we weren't really doing anything. It bothers me immensely. Somehow we got lost and more is not always better. I can't wait to read this and help calm the lives of my boys.

    1. Hey Jenny! Yes, you will love this book. It is filled with so many great things to reference and to try and adapt. I think the trick to getting the most out of this book is to try things little by little. Otherwise, trying to follow every single piece of advice can get overwhelming.

    2. I totally agree with Haydee... just take what works for your family but I have to say that it has been an amazing starting point. A friend texted me this morning that he husband has been reading and telling everyone at work about it... ha!!

  2. ahhhh... I just wrote a long comment and it somehow refreshed the page disappeared, and now I have laundry to do! lol Bummer! Anyway, great stuff, can't wait until my copy arrives to get reading. ps - I want to know Dr. Levy! Has he written a book? Is he your kids peed too, Lex? Please let us know what his sleep technique is that you mention, Haydee. I would love to know for baby #2! And any other great things you can share from Dr. Levy would be much appreciated! Future post perhaps? :) Thanks ladies. xx Joanna

    1. Ugh, I hate that! I'm eager to know what you wrote. And now you have laundry–how appropriate!:) Yes, Dr. Levy is amazing. We actually moved out of the SD area just over a year ago, up north about an hour and I will still drive to see him for the kids wellness visits when I can. I can't let go!

      Dr. Levy does have published literature on sleeping but I couldn't find it on their website for some reason. I have a call into his office and they're going to track it down for me to share. I think you're right though, we just might need to do a separate Dr. Levy post:) Alexis?:)

    2. Darn... I wish that I could have read your entire comment... if you get a chance to today we would love to know your thoughts... Maybe Haydee and I can pass an email or two back and forth on our favorite things we have learned from Levy... he has been spot on on so many things... I feel so lucky to have him as a pediatrician.

      Haydee... we have to let him in on this conversation... maybe we could interview him ;)... we could use the photo of him surfing with the dolphin... that photo in his office makes me happy :)

    3. Oh my gosh that would be awesome! We unfortunately haven't had the best luck with the (3!) pediatricians we've been with so far. I know, that probably makes me sound like I"m the one with the problem of being uber-picky. I mean, they have all been fine, you know, just okay, but nothing like what you two are describing, which is more what I had imagined. If you do get the chance, I'm sure I would not be the only who would be greatly appreciative to hear the things you've learned from him, and also the bit about sleep. Thanks!

    4. Oh I feel for you. Finding Dr. Levy was indeed a blessing. Okay, after I called his office yesterday to locate the "sleep" literature, Dr. Levy himself called me back this morning to explain where to locate the published pieces. Here is the link for getting two month olds to sleep ... and the one for four month olds ...

    5. THANKS so much! I really appreciate you taking the time to track that down. So funny, El Camino Pediatrics is where my brother and I went as kids.

  3. This chapter was so interesting and the one that made me reflect the most. (So happy to see Haydee covering it .;) I like to think we've built a good rhythm into our family life. We eat dinner together every evening, we do bath and story time before bed, and we have a set schedule during the week (school and a few activities). But, I think we could benefit from a few more (special) markers/traditions. I'm not quite sure what those might be, but I'm giving it some thought. Gardening looks like a wonderful idea. ;)

    The area in our home that could benefit the most from this chapter is our food. For the most part, we eat "pretty" healthy, but I could definitely take it one step further. The treats and snacks need to be cut way back. I also like Haydee's note (via Jamie Oliver) about reading ingredients and if you can't pronounce them, pass them up. It's a simple enough rule and guide.

    Before we had children, I had some vision about the kind of environment I wanted to create for my future children. I think I was able to adhere to it for the most part with our first child. However, things began to slip with the second. Strong beliefs in certain things got loosened. I think, more than anything, my rhythm started to echo the rhythm of those closest to us (friends and family). This can sometimes be good and sometimes bad. Right now, I'm thinking about the minuses and how I need to push back a little, which is not my strong suit. Have you ever had to push back? How did you (or anyone) handle it and how was it received?

    PS~I have seen Haydee's children in action and they are beautiful inside and out. Great photo!

    1. Hey T! I felt the same as you actually. We're pretty good in many areas but there is always room for improvement and some additional "buoys" in our family life. So this week I started letting the kids participate in prepping dinner (as the book suggested). Right now it's just dumping the ingredients into the bowl. It's little, but so far they love it when I call for them to do their "job." The other thing I did was change our 'just before bedtime' routine. Admittedly, we rarely read bedtime stories because we usually end the evening with a game of Uno or Sorry. So now we (all four of us) gather and read from a book that both kids have chosen.

      I too have decided to cut back on the snacks. Even though the snacks they are having aren't bad at all, I think they were becoming programmed to ask for "snacks" even though they weren't hungry. So I'm slowly eliminating the "food as entertainment" idea from our day.

      Yes, I'll never forget getting the "wow, you're strict" looks when we started specifically asking for either books or art supplies for birthdays, and not toys. I'm pretty certain there was snickering from extended family on this too. At first I did feel kind of bad. Like are we robbing them of their childhoods? But we definitely don't feel that way now. Especially after getting more affirmation from this book. And anyone can look at our kids and see that things are still okay without the flashing, loud repetitive toys!:)

    2. lots of good stuff here.....

      Snacks... so this is something that I regroup on about 2 times a year and then I digress. Levy {our ped} says NO SNACKS. He says no gold fish, bars and/or packaged things around the house. This works for about 3 months... then you buy too many bars for soccer snack and I start giving them to H on the way to school. I think fruit and nuts are good stacks but all the excess carbs, gummies and bars and are not good. I try really hard and again with this book I am eliminating them. It is super hard though... Although I always see {quickly} how much more H eats at dinner and how much better our overall diet is.

      Another thought on food... how interesting was the idea that it takes 8 times to get your kid to like something... or REALLY try it. I loved that and have thought about that a lot. I have tried zuchinni probably 4 times and it feels like a lot and it feels like he will never eat it... 8... is a great bench mark and makes me feel more hopeful....

      One more thought on food. I stopped making two meals for dinner {one for kids one more us}. Of course there is the night where my wheels fall off and H has mac n' cheese but for the most part we make pretty healthy food and that is it. The first week that I started this I am sure that Henry went to sleep hungry a couple nights but now that he knows this is dinner he eats it. He might not love it but he eats it. I of course try to make things that he likes but he is still 3 and everyday is a bit different.

      Okay I lied one more thought... we have started having Henry help with dinner. Like Haydee it is very little things but I do think that Henry feels more a part of what he is eating. The other benefit for us is Payne's idea that you need to get your kids ready for dinner. You can't just pull them away from playing and have them eat. They will start the meal with a negative attitude because they would rather play and since eating is one of the things that you can't really make a kid do, he/she will assert their independence and not eat. This is totally Henry. He needs a long 'runway' before he can 'take off' {aka... eat dinner}.

    3. Thanks everyone! I've been spending some time here, letting everything soak in, and making mental notes. I feel better now about pushing back...I just need to let the snickering roll off my back. (Who knows, I might not even get any snickering...It may just be a fear I've manifested in my own head.)
      Torrie's insight was also eye opening. It's like getting advice from my future self - Rack up those relational credits and re-establish along the way when things get off track.

    4. one last thought and then I really need to take advantage of this nap time I have {basically so that I can continue throwing shit away ;)}...

      Something that my dad and step mom taught me when I was young was....

      NEVER do anything out of FOG. Fear. Obligation. Guilt.

      This is a good nugget and has helped with many decisions that didn't feel right... I just have to start using it for parenting too.

    5. Love that! I will be using the FOG acronym now too:) Thank your dad and step mom for me. I love that no matter how old we are, we can still learn. I love learning!:)

    6. Alexis, that is awesome- wise words that I really needed to hear!!

  4. great job covering what was for me- one of the most powerful chapters in the book.

    the other day, when i wrote about soul fevers, and how my daughter has a major {ongoing} fever, i mentioned that there are many reasons why we got here... well, RHYTHM (or a lack of, i should say) is one of the main reasons.

    we are in (with one child) the "dreaded teenage years" and it has sort of kicked our butts. fortunately, what the author said about relational credits has proven to be completely true. it's saved us on several occasions with our 14 year old son. Back when he was little, life was much, much simpler- and our connection was extremely tight. it still is- but with the huge load of homework he (and my 8 yr. old) receives, we've been drowning a bit (since the holidays!), and haven't been able to catch our breaths. we've also fell into a pattern (like theresa talked about above) where we continued to "just say yes" to all family requests/patterns/obligations- whether it *worked for our family or not. We've made huge changes in this regard, and it has helped tremendously. (baby steps, right?? :))

    i know the power that rhythm holds, because i've seen it firsthand, and i know the effects when it is gone. we still have many patterns and systems that have remained intact, but as for the others- many changes are in order to get us back on track. first step- PURGE. second step- re-establish a sense of rhythm.

    thanks for the inspiring post haydee!

    1. Hey Torrie! Wow, I see my future in your family! I can't imagine how tough it is to get through to sets of homework each night. My oldest is in kindergarten and homework is now about an hour. I keep thinking how I'll have to shift things when my son (3 y/o) reaches homework stage too. I can easily see our rhythm getting out of control. So thanks for sharing:)

      One thing I loved that the author mentioned in this chapter was the story about how his colleague, and his colleague's wife, decided to expand the food budget to accommodate their teenager's friends over for dinner. This was as a result to the teenager's having their own agendas and wanting to skip out on the all important dinnertime. Since you have a teenager did this resonate with you? I feel like I will want to definitely do something like this when my kids become teenagers. But I would love to hear what you thought about this.

      Thank YOU for your additional insight as well!:)

    2. Haydee... I LOVED the part about setting aside enough dinner for friends to participate in family dinner... BRILLIANT! Even now we have friends over for dinner a lot. My favorite thing is when a friend drops something off and within a minute we are opening them a beer and setting a seat for them. I want this to happen with our boys. I can't wait to talk to them about music, bad teachers, girls {they probably wont share that... but I will be dying to know}... this was just such a great sentiment.

      Torrie... I am with Haydee... thank you for sharing. In fact when I wake up this morning I read your comment in bed and I shared it with Ross. I told him how stoked I am to have so many different perspectives on this book. I loved the part about "relational credits" but honestly didn't totally understand it until I read your post. It makes so much sense for when our kids are older and I can see when number 2, 3, 4, 5 that this can be close to impossible.

      Thank you so much for this gift of perspective. wow!

    3. yes- relational credits!! cannot emphasize enough. it definitely gets tough as they get older, in so many ways beyond homework... just more mood swings, they have a higher level of outside influence- which impacts their attitude, behavior, wants, "needs"... i always feel a little like a 'wet blanket' when i talk about this- and of course there are so many things that i love about their current ages- but there is no question about it... the strong connection & foundation of trust, love, communication that we established when they were young has always been the saving grace during times (and there are many as of late) when i feel like i'm totally loosing my patience- or causing them frustration by setting firm limits on something (i.e. video games :)). and i feel like it's made it so that jacob doesn't have many of the typical issues with us that many have.

      this really resonated with me... i love the idea, and i always love having jacob's friends over- and being "that" house that they want to come to... and talk about music, bad teachers, girls (but yeah... still pretty quiet about that :)). he's always been a little quiet (hailey is my "social butterfly), and he's {thankfully!} not at the point *yet where he has his own agenda, or wants to be around his friends 24/7. but the reason that this resonated with me is that i feel like i need to do a better job of initiated the process- even though he's not at that point yet, i want to sort of open the door for when that day comes- to let him know that his friends are welcome (and loved your example alexis of having someone drop in, and then pulling up a chair). i feel like it's been so hectic, that i'm not in a position to do this, and it's been something that i've wanted to change- even before i started this book. the only thing that worries me about an idea like this is that someone like my daughter, i could see it becoming an expectation to have someone over all of the time... that if it's just us- then it's boooooring. she is already getting into the mode (which i know will turn around once we simplify) of wanting a play date all. of. the. time. i feel like with her, i'd have to have a balance of having an open door, but keeping our 'just us' moments intact, special, and sacred :).

    4. {excuse the typos... a little sleepy :)}


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