Waldorf and Humility

I think one of the most important traits that a parent can have is humility.  For me, that means being able to admit to my mistakes and see opportunities to do things better in the future.  To parent organically; always evolving to the needs of my ever-changing children.

Lately, my mothering instincts have been leading me more towards the Waldorf philosophy.  I read a lot about Waldorf when The Boy was a wee babe, and while I was inspired by most of it, a lot of it did not work for us.  Since I was in the early stages of my mothering, I saw it as an all-or-nothing kind of deal.  I thought that I could never possibly live up to the ideals of some Waldorfers, and that I may as well not even try.  Now that I’ve found a little more balance, I am able to see that I can simply use what works for me and my children, and leave the rest.

I am by no means an expert, and if someone asked me if we were Waldorf parents, I would say no, but some of it really appeals to me, and works for my children:

  • the importance of rhythms (daily, weekly, yearly) to create a sense of security and tranquility
  • the importance of play and lack of emphasis on early academics and over-scheduling
  • the belief that fantasy and imagination are absolutely vital for young children
  • an emphasis on natural and handmade playthings
  • the belief that children learn best through imitation and participation
  • encouraging a connection with nature, and spending time outdoors
  • the importance of movement for young children (this one is especially vital for The Boy)
  • the importance of working with the hands (modeling, painting, knitting, sewing)
  • the need for “down-time” and a quiet home that can be thought of as a refuge from the busy world

Since I’ve learned that parenting is not an all-or-nothing deal, I have been able to relax a bit more and welcome this philosophy back into our home.  It feels so good to me and so right for where we are right now. I’m happy and delighted to discover new ideas and  traditions, and and I am excited about the promise of what is yet to come.  And now that I know that I do not have to hold myself to the standards of anyone else, and that I can simply do what works best for us, I feel like I’ve just graduated as a mother. Like I’ve just discovered some secret door that I didn’t even know existed.

12 Responses to “Waldorf and Humility”

  1. amy writes:

    Rose, I am actually just stumbling upon Waldorf myself and so many aspects really resonate with me. Mainly the ones you listed out. I always thought Waldorf was all play, foofy, and not serious enough for me. But lately, I am drawn to the notion of rhythm and the connection between movement and art and a peaceful spirit. I sense though that you are ahead of me here as I’ve read your recent posts regarding how you have found balance. With three little boys six and under, i am daily overwhelmed with a sense of what i want to happen and what never seems to happen so that i get really discouraged. would you be able to point me in the direction of a resource that helped you personally in the area of balance and silencing those voices that say “you have to do it all or nothing”? i am so grateful for this blog world that provides links to other ways of thinking and living that i might not have come across. blessings, amy

  2. mothering two writes:

    I found myself saying _ME TOO MEEEEE TOOO sister_ throughout this post. Love this. I don’t think that new mamas realize the amount of unrealistic expectations placed on them, not always and not right away. And the more self/formally-educated, the harder it is in a lot of ways, because you just want to be able to read, comprehend, then do – and damnitalltohell if parenting ain’t nothin’ like that, huh? ;) And it is just like you said, it’s like a door presents itself and you either walk through it onto your unique path with parenting or you continue in the other direction. Great post, very insightful.

  3. MamaBird writes:

    Thank you so much for sharing these thoughts here. As part of the same “mothering tribe” as you, I feel so fortunate to have like minded mamas, yet all so varied in approach, around me. I am constantly learning from each of you.

    I recently experienced this same feeling of “graduating” – a sort of peace has settled over me, where I no longer feel I have to be anything more than I am. And an ever-evolving perspective on parenting is an important part of that.

    I have largely dismissed Waldorf philosophies to-date, beleiving they are too “out there” for my family. However, I admittedly have never looked into it too deeply. I am intrigued by your post, as most of what you outlined above speaks to me or are things we are already doing. I will be peeking into a few of those books you have pictured above to take a better look at Waldorf ideas.

  4. exhale. return to center. writes:

    gosh. it has been way too long since i’ve visited here.

    (i’ve been spending much more time off-line, which has been wonderful for our family, but not so great for keeping up with my favorite blogs.)

    this post really speaks to my heart. i too was an “all or nothing” parent in the beginning and i tried with all my might to be a perfect waldorf parent.

    when my second child was born, i nearly threw out every waldorf book i owned because i was just so overwhelmed trying to get through my days, i didn’t even want to hear about all the things i could or should be doing.

    but like you i’ve come into a much softer, more peaceful place of balance. we are absolutely a waldorf-inspired family but we are far from purists. instead we’ve found our own little rhythm that is working quite nicely.

    i have almost all of the books in your photo and treasure them all!

  5. Jenna writes:

    I found your site through Sew Liberated (I love the small world of Blogville!!!) and this post made me feel like I knew you. I too have been drawn to Waldorf lately (though my kiddos are now 10 and under) even though I’d heard of it when they were babes and I exclusively collected wooden and handmade toys. Not sure I would have been ready for Waldorf until I made my “recovering perfectionist” journey–it always struck me as “all or nothing” with far too many rules. Now I see it’s a lot about inner work and rhythm–ebb and flow.
    Love your site, I look forward to reading more!!!

  6. Grace writes:

    This is a lovely post! I spent the first seven years of my mothering journey heavily steeped in Waldorf, beating myself up if I didn’t do it the “right” way, using it as my primary lens through which to make decisions for my family. And in the ways that it has helped me to interact with my children in a positive way, it has been a force for good. And in other ways, I would say that it was maybe not so much. I’m finding a need to step back from Waldorf now, and I admire mamas like you who learn this balance sooner than I did!

  7. angie writes:

    All or nothing…so true, and it is materialistic to think one way is the right way, yet as mothers we strive to fit in somewhere!
    I posted a hugely silly, yet somewhat related piece on Waldorf perfectionism on my blog: theartsithemom.blogspot.com Hope you get a good laugh out of it….
    blessings, Angie

  8. corinne writes:

    You are so wise to cling to the give and the take – the pick and choose of it all! My three kids attended Montessori preschools, and now my youngest is at a Waldorf kindergarten, and next year he will join the other two at their Multiple Intelligences elementary school…it’s working for us, and we love aspects of all three approaches! Best of luck! xo

  9. Anne writes:

    I just wanted to thank you for writing this. Your words were what was in my head! :) I have one baby boy and have also read about Waldorf… but so many people I know seem to devour it and it didn’t feel right enough for us to devote everything to it. You helped me realize it isn’t an all or nothing thing. The things you mentioned are also very dear to us and you’ve helped me find a bit of balance in this are as well. Plus – great book finds! :)

  10. Miranda writes:

    Thank you for this! I have the same problem of becoming discouraged if I feel unable to live up to an ideal. I hope to move on from that fear of not being perfect and integrating aspects of different philosophies into our home in a way that works for my family!

    Glad to see someone else has felt the same way!

  11. kelly writes:

    I happened upon your site delightfully. Montessorian that I am, I sent your address to friends so they, too, could experience the happiness of looking at a child who is being lovingly cared for. I am adding my two-cents worth into your list of what appeals to you from the Waldorf philosophy in regards to fantasy and imagination. I agree with you, they are vital to a child’s healthy development, as long as it is child-developed and not adult-inspired.

    Best wishes.

  12. Jennifer writes:

    My daughter has been attending a Waldorf school for 6 years. She’s heading in to Class 6 this fall. I stumbled onto Waldorf while looking for a school where she could continue learning German before high school. It turned out to be a wonderful place and she’s been nurtured and learned to care deeply for others and the world.
    “I am able to see that I can simply use what works for me and my children, and leave the rest.” What you said resonates with me, and I do the same thing. Rudolph Steiner even said to take what you liked and leave the rest. Some people overlook that and can be a bit narrow-minded about following “the rules.”

    I just love the community that comes with the school. I have made wonderful friends and my daughter has made lifelong friends. Anyway, I just wanted to say that I agreed with your point.

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