Waldorf Education puts a high priority on warmth as a quality we want to imbue into the lives of children for their health and ours. And whether or not you follow Waldorf Education, I do think there is something about fall that we all crave, even if we live in more southern climates where it doesn’t get as cold. Even here in the Deep South, there is nothing but layers and short boots and pumpkin spice everywhere! (I am currently wearing a sweater even though it is 68 degrees Fahrenheit outside because, you know, it is October).
Warmth is about more than just physical warmth. When a child is very little, we think about warmth in the physical sense – hats for babies, layers for littles, warming foods and warm drinks for winter. Providing physical warmth for our children via layers of clothing and hats is so important, especially for young children whose physical body doesn’t work like an adult. Children have a metabolic rate that runs faster than an adult’s. Therefore, under the age of nine especially, they are unlikely to know whether they are truly cold or not. I am sure we have all experienced the child that is swimming in cold water and is literally blue, but doesn’t realize they are cold. This is common! I love silk/wool blends for winter, and for littles we do recommend three layers on top and two layers on the bottom for cold climates.
However, I also want to point out that warmth is about creating a sense of love, of acceptance and belonging. I want to give you some very concrete ways to do this in your own home for this special time of year.
My first tip is to create a rhythm that carries your family, especially for those under the age of 12 (although even teens need and crave rhythm!). The staples of rhythm, which is a loose order of the day, includes things such as wake-up times and sleeping times, but also mealtimes, and a flow of activities through the day and the week. This provides an important sense of security for children and helps us know what is coming next without spending a lot of time re-creating the wheel every day. Children can then use this energy for growing and playing and not use it in worrying about what comes next in their day. Schools have a rhythm to their day, day cares have a rhythm to their day, and homes do have a rhythm even if you don’t think that you do – humans are rhythmical.
In creating the warmth of fall, we can add markes of warmth to our rhythm. Maybe breakfast is candlelight with warm porridge and warm hot chocolate or tea. Maybe if you homeschool, you have lanterns or tea lights in your schooling space. Maybe bedtime involves snuggly blankets, and a cup of warm milk of choice before bed.
My second tip is to incorporate your child’s love language into your day for a sense of warmth and belonging. Children need warmth not only in terms of hugs and holding, but in words of affirmation and in spending time together. We can do this easily within a space of rhythm and working together in the house or garden or with taking care of our animals.
Lastly, warmth is done well and rightly when we share with others. If we help our children spread joy and warmth to others, whether through helping the family or helping neighborhoods or through service and volunteering opportunities, we can bring warmth to the world.
I would love to hear your favorite tips for autumn warmth.