#realmothersdiversevoices : Amanda Watters

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 am honoured to welcome Amanda Watters to the Whole Family Rhythms community. Amanda is a former middle school English teacher and current stay at home mother of three. She seeks to infuse creativity, simplicity and calm in even the tiniest bits of their lives, all the while, keeping their home with intention, joy, and grace. You can find her heartfelt thoughts, green cleaning tips and recipes as well as a lively and joyful book club all on her well-loved blog, Homesong. Her simple, clean and candid photography is also adored by many on her Instagram account @mamawatters.

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

Hello! My name is Amanda and I am wife to Andrew and mom to Stella, Theodore, and Alfie. We live in the Midwest in an almost one hundred home surrounded by the tallest walnut trees and an old white fence. I graduated from Northern Iowa and taught English to middle school students for four years, and dabbled a bit in ESL working with young refugees. After getting pregnant with Theodore I decided to make the move to stay home full-time, something I’ve always wanted to do as a mother. I have always been a writer and maker, but have been blogging now for over five years. It’s a wonderful way for me to share my creativity and passion with others, and engage with like-minded folk, who like me, are lovers of home and homemaking.

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

 For me, the joys of motherhood are almost always felt most profoundly in the seemingly insignificant moments that unfold throughout the day, one by one. I live for the small pockets of time that catch me off guard, making me stop in my tracks to practice gratitude. Moments like this are when Alfie comes up and gives me a kiss on the knee, or when Stella tells me her wish after blowing a dandelion is that I am always safe, or when Theodore tells me he loves me after I thought he has drifted off to sleep. Motherhood is so hard – like other mothers, I pour myself out daily for my kids – but they fill me up with each and every act of love and kindness. Moments like these carry me through the challenging ones.

 

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

 Speaking of challenges, I’d say the biggest ones right now involve me trying help our littlest ones learn how to communicate what they want or need in a respectful way. Because young ones act primarily through their body, they can become rather physical when they do not get what they want or cannot find a way to tell me what it is they need. I have to really practice patience with them and myself, but still, it is a challenge.

With three little ones at home there is a lot of….Garbage. That is literally the first word that came to mind and I wish it wasn’t so. Andrew and I are taking measures to try and reduce the amount of waste we produce as a family because we feel like we could be doing so much better. Everything comes in plastic packaging these days and some things are indeed hard to get around, but there are ways to make our lifestyle more zero-waste friendly, and we are eagerly leaning on those practices.

 

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

 Our daily rhythm is our family’s anchor. It’s what we use to add consistency, security, and connection to our days. We sort of fell into a rhythm that helped things flow and we love that it gives our kids a sense of contentment as they are learning how to be more independent. It also helps me tremendously because I stay home and thrive in more structured environments. Having a rhythm in place sets a comfortable pace for our day and invites so much more creativity and exploration as we go about our day.

 

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

 Honesty, respect, and compassion are three values we touch on all the time in our home. They are the foundation for all that we do and I feel that these early years are all about reinforcing the importance they hold in life.

 

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?

 We are pretty big on manners and saying “please” and “thank you” before and after receiving something. But now that I think about it, these values aren’t something we overly teach, but rather nurture in the way we interact with our kids. Because they learn by example, we do our best to guide them through our actions. That being said, we do read a lot during the day and choose stories that connect with these wholesome values.

 

Can you outline a typical ‘Weekday Rhythm’ for you and your children. Specifically when/where/how do you and your little ones eat, sleep/rest, play inside/outside, work/learn and make time for self-care? 

5:30-6 AM | I get up around this time and make coffee, read or do something for myself, and plan the day ahead.

 7 AM | The kids wake up one by one and make their way downstairs for breakfast. We usually have something simple involving eggs and toast. Stella will make her lunch (with supervision) and I will make lunch ahead for the boys. I love doing this because then it’s done and when we are ready to eat I can grab it out of the fridge lickety-split. This time is spent in the kitchen around the table listening to music and starting our day together.

8 AM | We all ready for school and work. 

9 AM | School Rhythm: ~3/5 days a week. One-two days are set aside play dates or adventuring.

1  Free Play Indoors

2   Clean Up, Clean Up

3  Songs & Circle Time

4   Snack – something light and simple

5   Outdoor Play

6   Craft Of the Day

7   Story Time

12 PM | Lunch time!

1 PM | Nap times for the boys, quiet time for Stella, and rest time for mama. I tend to do use this time to do something for myself to restore my energy. Sometimes this means doing chore or two while I listen to a podcast – a tidy home makes me happy and calm – and other times it’s spending time in the garden checking in on things. If I am really tired I’ll sleep too! Ideally, this time is where our house is pretty quiet and I am able to get things back in order, either mentally or within our home.

3 PM | Outdoor play if it’s nice out or indoor crafts if it’s not. It’s important for us to get outside a couple times a day if we can, but for the hours before Andrew gets home it’s most essential. Depending on the day and the weather, Stella and I will sneak in about an hour of fun reading + writing practice while the boys play. I try and do this while they are still asleep but it doesn’t always work out that way. 

4:30 PM | Supper prep in the kitchen with the kids either helping me near the island or at the table coloring. They are all pretty eager to chip in these days so I take advantage of that and it helps their transition to the table. We removed the TV from our living room so if they are not wanting to help me in the kitchen they often times go play there. I am not adamant that they help, but always offer it.

6 PM | Supper time!

7 PM | Bubble baths, brush teeth, jammies, lay out clothes, books, prayers, and bedtime. This routine takes awhile with three young ones since we have to do most of this for them, but it’s one of the most important times of the day because all five of us are together. Andrew and I switch off who reads to who and one of us (I like it to be me) cleans the kitchen after supper. Some evening we will head upstairs before this to watch part of a movie or something, but we don’t like to do that every night. Our loft is where the only TV is and keeping it tucked away from the main traffic areas of our home has been great in reducing time spent in front of screens. 

8 PMAndrew and I love these hours before bedtime because they are (usually) just ours. We either read in bed, watch a series in the loft, play scrabble in the living room, or listen to music on the porch if it’s nice outside. Reconnecting at the end of the day is wonderful for our marriage.

When does your family rhythm get thrown off kilter?  

Anytime we introduce a new variable to the mix, whether voluntarily or not, our rhythm inevitably gets a bit skewed. Learning to adapt when that happens is almost as important as the rhythm itself. Traveling can undo us quite a bit, and it always takes about a solid week to get back on track once we’ve returned home.

 

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

Oh, yes—all the time. Our rhythm is very fluid and always changing. Our little ones are constantly outgrowing things and taking on new needs, so we have to adapt to keep the rhythm meaningful for them. What we so within the framework of our rhythm changes quite a bit because we are so tied to the seasons in the Midwest. Changes in nature are very pronounced here and that effects how we spend our day.

 

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

I usually need to get out of my own head, so out of the house and out of my routine, preferably thrown into work that manifests into acts of service for others or time spent outdoors. Doing things for others shifts my perspective and feels good. This always takes my mind off current frustrations that are usually a result of exhaustion or lack of patience. If the kids and I are having an off day, we’ll pack up and head to the park for the afternoon. There’s something so calming and restorative about sitting in the grass and listening to the wind. We always seem to come out on the other end in better moods with quite the appetite, where sooner or later we make our way back home to make supper together. So service and nature—two very simple but meaningful ways to disconnect from negative energy, and make a shift towards something more positive and bigger than myself.

 

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

Simplicity Parenting by Kim John Payne. That, and the Bible.

Thank you so much Amanda for your presence here today. Your daily rhythm sounds both bountiful and blissful!

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