Courtesy of Ambrosia Brody

I Tried Waldorf Parenting For A Week, & Eh, It's Not Really My Thing

By
Share
Ad failed to load

I am obsessed with learning about various parenting styles, mostly because as a parent, I don't believe in following a specific ideology; instead, I prefer to pick and choose from different methods and figure out what works best. So when I heard about the Waldorf parenting philosophy, I had two questions: 1) was this in reference to the Waldorf salad, and 2) what, exactly, is Waldorf parenting? I started reading about it and learned that Waldorf parenting is based on German pedagogue Rudolf Steiner's theory of interdisciplinary education, which encourages creativity and free play while simultaneously enforcing routine for your kids.

For the most part, Waldorf parenting seemed to line up with my own parenting values: I try to be firm with my kids, but I also try to be mindful and aware of their emotions. So I set out to try Waldorf parenting, thinking it couldn't be all that difficult.

The Experiment

I set out to implement the Waldorf style of parenting for one week, and I asked my husband and mom to remind me to apply these parenting techniques if I started to fall back into my traditional parenting style (a.k.a. "honestly, whatever works").

Ad failed to load

Day 1: Sticking to My Guns

Courtesy of Ambrosia Brody

According to Waldorf parenting expert the Waldorf mom, one of the primary rules of Waldorf parenting is "I am the authority, not them." I started the experiment by repeating this mantra to myself when I prepared to take my daughters on a Target run.

Ad failed to load

Most of the time, my girls are really good at listening to me. If they ask for a toy and I say no, they usually understand. But there are days when I can just feel myself caving into their demands.

One of the rules of Waldorf parenting is that children learn by imitation. If I wasn't going to buy my girls a present, then I sure as hell couldn't buy one for myself.

Today, I knew they didn't need anything from Target, so I reminded them that I would not be purchasing anything except for the items on our shopping list. Of course, they did try to get me to buy a doll, some slip on shoes, and a mini-shopping cart, but I reminded them in a calm but firm voice that we would not be bringing anything home. It worked, and we walked out of that store with only the items on the list. I even bypassed the nail polish aisle even though I really, really wanted one, because one of the rules of Waldorf parenting is that children learn by imitation. If I wasn't going to buy my girls a present, then I sure as hell couldn't buy one for myself.

Ad failed to load

Day 2: Leading By Action

Courtesy of Ambrosia Brody.

One of the main disciplinary actions practiced by those who embrace Waldorf parenting is leading by action, because it is thought that children learn from their parents' behavior. This definitely applies to my household, because my girls constantly mimic my behavior. (It’s not uncommon for the younger one to place a hand on a hip and loudly instruct her sister to put her toys away.)

Ad failed to load

At bedtime, when all hell typically breaks loose, I decided to lead by action. Usually, the girls will do anything to not go to bed on time, which usually ends up with me totally stressing out. But this time, instead of jumping into stressed-out-mom mode, I took a few cleansing breaths and reminded myself that I really had to try to stay calm. Then I walked into the bathroom, pulled up a stool, and silently started brushing my teeth, which is how my kids usually start their bedtime routine.

We limit the amount of TV the girls watch on a daily basis, but we're not all that concerned that putting on Moana will somehow hinder their development.

Without a word, my 4-year-old stood on the stool, picked up her toothbrush, and started to brush her own teeth. My youngest, who didn't want to be left out, retrieved her stool from my closet and started to brush her teeth as well. I was shocked. This method actually worked. It also made for a much calmer evening.

Ad failed to load

Day 2 was also the day when we broke the "no screen time" rule of Waldorf parenting. (Waldorf schools don't allow kids to use screens until they turn 12.) We limit the amount of TV the girls watch on a daily basis, but we're not all that concerned that putting on Moana will somehow hinder their development. No judgement for those parents who prefer no screen time, but it’s just not our thing.

Day 3: When Words Work Best

Courtesy of Ambrosia Brody
Ad failed to load

We are big talkers in our family. We talk about feelings and make up jokes and discuss experiences we had throughout the day. We talk a lot. In fact, I’m really proud of how verbal my daughters are, even if it means they're just chatting about why the moon disappears in the morning, or trying to understand why they can't go to Target in a diaper. Talking through things helps my daughter calm down after a frustrating experience, like when her sister takes her Shopkins.

I know that the Waldorf way is to use actions instead of words. I agree with this in some circumstances, but not when my daughters are fighting over a motorized Minion car. I tried to steer them away from the car by distracting them with bubbles, but they both were hell-bent on using that car. So instead of resorting to the Waldorf way, I went back to my usual method of talking it out with them.

Days 4 & 5: Some Rules Were Meant to Be Broken

Courtesy of Ambrosia Brody
Ad failed to load

On Sunday, we usually set aside some time to stay in the house and relax. But this time, I really needed to get the kids out of the house. (Sorry, not sorry.) It was too hot, they had way too much energy, and I was low on patience. Although the Waldorf philosophy reminds parents to think before bringing change into their children's lives, because disruption of a daily routine can lead to bad behavior, sometimes families need to deviate from the norm. So we packed up the car and headed over to a concert in the park.

By taking the kids out and disrupting their weekend routine, we knew that meant potentially over-stimulating them. But as their mom, I also suspected they'd probably be fine — and they were. They played with other kids and danced to live music, and my husband and I got some fresh air with our girls. It was the perfect lazy Sunday.

Days 6 & 7: Being Consistently Inconsistent

Courtesy of Ambrosia Brody
Ad failed to load

Okay, so here’s the thing. I appreciate how much Waldorf parenting emphasizes routine and consistency, but sometimes I bend the rules. Not on big things, like telling my kids they have to eat what’s on their plate or that they're only allowed one scoop of ice cream after dinner. But if it's bedtime and my girls ask me to read one more book, I'm OK with that, even if I promised I'd just read them two.

Today, my daughter asked if Porkchop  (our Boston Terrier) could spend time with her in her bedroom. Usually, I’m a stickler for not letting Porkchop near anything with a pillow because he literally takes it over and claims it as his own, but she was being well-behaved that day, so I said yes. Maybe that set a bad precedent, but I don’t think having our dog in the kids’ bedrooms every now and then is such a bad thing.

Going with my gut and doing what’s best for my girls is the right thing to do, even if that means not sticking to a routine or a specific ideology.
Ad failed to load

The Results: Am I A Waldorf Parent Now?

After one week of putting a few tenets of the Waldorf parenting philosophy into practice, I’ve learned that there are a few Waldorfian beliefs that I hope to adopt in my own parenting. I strive to practice conscious parenting on a daily basis, because kids know when you're paying attention to them and when you’re just phoning it in. I also plan to stick to being firm while disciplining my kids.

But I do think the Waldorf parenting philosophy is a bit rigid for my taste. I respect parents who stick to various parenting styles, the Waldorf philosophy included, but I still prefer to pick and choose a few elements of each method rather than following just one. It took me some time to realize that going with my gut and doing what’s best for my girls is the right thing to do, even if that means not sticking to a routine or a specific ideology. It’s OK to do things our way, if our way is what works.

Ad failed to load

Ad failed to load
Must Reads

21 Moms Share The Most Surprising Part About Having A C-Section

Honestly, I don't think we, as a culture, talk about C-sections nearly enough, especially considering so many mothers experience them. And because of a number of factors, the little we do talk about it always seems to be a familiar narrative: "It's n…
By Jamie Kenney

13 Yummy Instant Pot Recipes To Make Under 30 Minutes

A Instant Pot seems to be the must-have appliance in every kitchen these days. If you are anything like me and never knew the beauty of a Instant Pot, you are about to have your life changed. Basically, you put some ingredients into a pot, set the te…
By Kristin Manna

9 Things The First Six Months Of Motherhood Will Teach You About Your Baby

Personally, the first six months of motherhood was a mixed bag. I learned some harsh lessons about myself that made taking care of my baby seem overwhelming. For example, I was clueless, and no amount of research could help me feel like anything but …
By Steph Montgomery

These Photos Of North West Then & Now Will Take You On A Sweet Trip Down Memory Lane

When Kim Kardashian welcomed her first daughter, North West, with her husband, Kanye West, in 2013, her whole life was changed. The social media and reality TV star became a mom for the first time and her Instagram presence took a very adorable turn.…
By Casey Suglia

11 Photos You *Must* Take During The Last Days Of Your Pregnancy

During my first pregnancy, I took a photo each week to document my growing belly. I stopped around 36 weeks, though. I hated how I looked in those pictures, and didn't think I'd want to relive those moments. I was wrong. My second pregnancy was a dum…
By Steph Montgomery

This Is What It Means If Your Pregnancy Test Changes Overnight

The time between when a woman suspects she might be pregnant and when it is confirmed for sure is the longest of her life. Regardless of whether you are hoping for a positive or a negative result, the odds are good that you are sweating bullets when …
By Shannon Evans

6 Red Flags To Definitely Look Out For After Your Baby Falls

The first time my infant son tried to take a few steps, he tumbled and bumped his head on the coffee table. My blood turned to ice in my veins and I froze. There truly isn't anything quite like the feeling a parent gets when their little one gets hur…
By Sarah Bunton

These 9 Instant Pot Recipes Will Make Even The Pickiest Eater Happy At The Table

Like any parent, I've had my share of parenting hits and misses, but one of my favorite "wins" is my daughter's diverse palate. I don't even know if I can take credit for it, but I would like to think I had something to do with her love for lentils, …
By Caroline Shannon-Karasik

Turns Out, Kim Kardashian's Favorite Mom Products Look A Lot Like Your Own Faves

Being a mom is really hard work, especially for the first few months, and Kim Kardashian West is no different in that regard. Now the mother of three, Kardashian says that there are a few products she just can't live without when it comes to raising …
By Abi Berwager Schreier

Soda Might Hurt Your Fertility, Study Says, & Here's What You Can Do

Who doesn't love sugary drinks? I stopped drinking soda years ago, but I still love gulping down those fancy Starbucks coffee beverages. I don't have a big sweet tooth, but I am a sucker for sugar-sweetened beverages every now-and-then. Turns out, th…
By Annamarya Scaccia

10 Things No One Tells You About Having A Baby In Your 30s

If you're like me, you evaluate the pros and cons of any major life decision. When my husband and I were considering starting a family, I thought about my career, education, and financial stability. I wanted to know how a pregnancy and childbirth wou…
By Steph Montgomery

This Woman Thought She Had An Eyelash Stuck In Her Eye. Then It Moved.

I'm not a person who is easily icked out. As a kid, I collected bugs and thought I was going to be an entomologist and asked Santa Claus for ant farms and nets to catch bees. I'm still super curious about anything that flies and crawls, which might s…
By Karen Fratti

5 Red Flags Your Toddler Isn't Eating Enough

Toddlers are notoriously picky eaters, at least in my experience. You offer mashed potatoes, they want french fries. You give them crackers, they scream for chips. It's frustrating, to be sure, but it's usually their way of vying for independence. It…
By Candace Ganger

35 Moms Share The Most Disgusting Things Their Husbands Do

I'm a human being who revels in challenges. I like when people present me with one, especially if they don't think I can meet or succeed it, and I like taking a challenge on, especially if it's unexpected. So when I aimed to uncover the most disgusti…
By Jamie Kenney

How Having Kids In Your 20s Affects You Later In Life

For parents, like myself, who had kids in their 20s, there are a number of questions that come to mind. When you're deciding what your future will look like, you'll likely consider what this means for your health, career, and more down the line. Thin…
By Tessa Shull

Study: Drinking Two Glasses Of Wine A Day Is Good For Your Mind — Here's Why

There’s more scientific proof that a daily drink or two isn't necessarily a bad thing and could have a place in an overall healthy lifestyle. A new study out of the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) in New York found that — in mice, at le…
By Tiffany Thomas

8 "Mistakes" I'm Glad I Made During My First Pregnancy

As an adult, I've learned you never really stop hating being told what to do. When I was pregnant I was getting instructions at every turn, from doctors, relatives, and complete strangers on the subway. I would nod and smile but then go about making …
By Liza Wyles

Research Says Eating Carbs Can Lead To A Healthy Pregnancy, So Bring On The Pasta

In the world of me, no food is better than bread. I know it's supposed to be pretty terrible for you, high in calories, low in protein, and full of that modern-day demon, gluten... but guys, it's really yummy. Especially warm out of the oven, when th…
By Jen McGuire

These Photos Of Prince George Then & Now Will Give You Serious Baby Fever

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are expecting their third child in Spring 2018. With all of the excitement surrounding the new baby, it's easy to forget all of the good times that have already passed. The couple's eldest is already well into the sc…
By Azure Hall

This Is, Hands Down, The *Grossest* Thing Babies Do Inside The Womb

Your baby's life in the womb may be safe and warm, but it's also kind of grody. Seriously, the whole process of growing into a human being includes more than a few icky moments along the way. But this is the grossest thing babies do inside the womb b…
By Lindsay E. Mack