Yesterday I saw the announcement that Whole Family Rhythms is closing on June 15, 2019, and they don’t know what they will look like when (if) they re-open in the Fall.
The good news is that all their products are 50% or more off; the bad news is that this might be the last time you can buy their guides.
I only learned about them a few weeks ago, but I loved their samples so much I became an affiliate for them.
This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.
So what makes them so special? They encourage building family connection and a slow childhood. They encourage handwork for the littles and for the caregiver. They encourage caregivers to take some time every day for reflection and/or meditation. They encourage rhythm.
They are visually stunning, and most of them are secular. Winter Family Rhythm and Christmas Festival guides are not secular as they refer to the Christian aspects of Christmas. The creator comes from a Waldorf background so they are also developmentally appropriate for childhood and they contain no academics.
But the best part? It doesn’t matter your religious beliefs or cultural background; Whole Family Rhythms helps you craft traditions and routines that will fit your own family and values.
I included Whole Family Rhythms in my 13 Secular Preschool Programs for Charlotte Mason Homes blog post, but while the Whole Family Rhythm guides are created for parents of children ages 2-6, I thought they might still be appropriate for families with older children.
So I bought them all just so I could tell you about each one.
Every. Single. One.
Not for myself, mind you. It was purely for research purposes. (ahem)
That’s what I’m telling my budget, at least.
The Seasonal Guides
Ages 2-7 as your primary guide, ages 7-9 as a supplement to your routine.
Let’s start first with the seasonal guides.
There are four seasonal guides, and when you purchase you are asked if you are Northern or Southern Hemisphere.
- Spring Family Rhythm Guide
- Summer Family Rhythm Guide
- Autumn Family Rhythm Guide
- Winter Family Rhythm Guide
Each seasonal guide is three months, and each month has a sample daily rhythm, a caregiver’s meditation, and caregiver’s handwork project, in addition to weekly fingerplays, stories, simple recipes, crafts, beeswax modeling, weekly hiking ideas, and painting.
The recipes range in difficulty from baking bread (harder) to cutting watermelon slices with fish-shaped cookie cutters (super easy).
The hiking ideas are nature oriented but are not about learning or transmitting information. They are more about experiencing. For example, one Weekly Hike is “Perhaps you can find a muddy trail this week and let the kids sink their toes into the dirt” while another is “Take your little kite out for a walk in the park this week. You won’t need strong winds as it can sail along behind you” while still a third is “see if you can find a bee and observe it with your child in silence as it gathers pollen and flies from flower to flower.”
This will be a wonderful addition to our days with my almost-8 year old, but if you only have older children, the seasonal guides will not be useful to you.
Spring, Fall, and Autumn guides are secular, but Winter is not.
Winter has Christmas for December, including an Advent section, and several mentions of God and Jesus. However, the months of January and February included in the Winter Guide don’t have any religious references.
What’s the difference between the seasonal Family Rhythm Guides and the 3 in 1 seasonal Bundles? The Bundles contain the Family Rhythm Guide for either Spring or Autumn, the celebration guide for the season (Easter or Harvest), and the Return to Rhythm Mini Course.
If you are going to buy the seasonal guides, I highly recommend spending the little bit extra to get the 3 in 1 bundle.
Or you can get the All Seasonal Family Rhythm Guides (bundle).
All ages if you are crafting your own traditions, for ages 2-10 if using as-is.
Under the Celebrate tab are Whole Family Christmas eGuide, Easter, Harvest, and Birthdays.
If you have older kids and want to be more intentional about your seasonal celebrations, these are the guides you’re looking for.
The Harvest eGuide will walk you through incorporating your family values into your celebrations with questions like “Write down as many values as you can think of associated with Harvest Time and which you would like to model to your children.”
Then there is a deeper look at harvest figures and symbols, and then a short look at harvest festivals from around the world:
- Thanksgiving (Canada and United States)
- Sukkot (Jewish)
- Moon Festival (Chinese and Vietnamese)
You will create a Harvest Season vision board, brainstorm how you want to model the spirit of the season and how to prepare for the festivals so that you remain calm and present, and more.
On top of that, there are stories and finger games.
Handwork is appropriate for a wide range of ages, from a toadstool felt covered matchbox for younger kids to waxing fall leaves and making a garland. While the felt covered matchbox probably wouldn’t appeal to teens, my teen would have enjoyed making the fall decorations like the waxed leaf garlands.
Caregiver’s handwork includes a crocheted field mouse and a wool felt pouch. The pouch would be a good thing for teens to do, and while the instructions are for a mushroom applique, you could very easily make any design you wanted.
There are also caregiver meditations/reflections.
Easter and Christmas are similar, but adjusted for those holidays.
The Easter eGuide does not focus on the Christian aspects (the resurrection), but instead on spring and rebirth and so can easily be used by non-Christian families.
Easter crafts are
- Lambs for little hands
- sewn felt egg
- wetfelt eggs
- herb and vegetable dyed hardboiled eggs
- felt Easter basket
- knitted bunny
- eggshell candle holder
Out of the three Festival guides (Christmas, Easter, Harvest), Christmas is going to be the least useful to non-Christians from an open-and-go perspective. Our family does cultural/secular Christmas, so about 75% of the content is still useful — the planning pages, how I’m going to bring the values I want to my family, that sort of thing — but we won’t use the stories.
While there is mention of Yule as a solstice festival, the focus is on Christmas, with Advent as a countdown to Christmas. The Advent story is of Joseph and Mary, and while the guide says it doesn’t focus on the religious aspects and instead calls Jesus the Child of Light, there is still that underlying monotheistic vibe.
- Hanging gnome
- Advent wreath (a clay ring with 4 candles; you could just make it without tying it to Advent)
- Beeswax candle decorating
- Hanging wreath (fingerknitted)
- Jingle bell garland
- Winter gnomes
- Needle felted ball (tree ornament)
- Wooden star
Whole Family Birthdays guide
The Whole Family Birthdays eGuide contains ideas for simple and nourishing traditions for your little one. This is appropriate for ages 1-6, and could be stretched to a wee bit older. My daughter turns 8 in May and while I can use a few of the ideas, most of it is things we already do for a simple birthday celebration. This is not a guide of party ideas, but more reassurances that simple is good.
Return to Rhythm Mini Course
Return to Rhythm Mini Course is wonderful! If you are struggling with a daily rhythm, this is for you.
Each section — mealtimes, playtimes, bedtims — has both a few pages of suggestions and also worksheets where you’ll think through what’s working, what you want to change, and then how to make the changes.
It’s a simple formula but so powerful, and for the high return on investment, completely worth the price.
More than any other single thing, having a strong family rhythm will help you create the life you want.
I’m going to dive right in this week on it. While you can use it as-is for your younger kids, it is still very usable with modifications for your olders. For the olders, you’ll want to work through the pages with them.
I plan to work through it as a family, with my husband, 22 year old daughter, and 7 year old.
Whole Family Herbs eGuide
Whole Family Herbs is the only guide that I would honestly tell you to pass on. There are several herbs included, with a recipe for using each one, but the growing information is minimal, and there are no explanations in the Wisdom section for how to actually use the plants.
For example, for Chamomile we have “Chamomile has many medicinal qualities but is best known as classic nervine. It nourishes our nervous system. It is great for insomnia, anxiety, depression, stomach upset due to nerves and headache. For children it is an excellent teething medicine and helps to calm children after lots of excitement or upset.”
The growing information is the same or less than you will find on the back of your seed packet.
And following there is a recipe for Sweet Chamomile Popsicles.
After reading this, I wonder what a nervine is or does, what does “nourishes our nervous system” mean, and how I’m actually supposed to use chamomile for insomnia, stomach upset, etc.
Do I give my child a popsicle before bed? Do I let her chew on a chamomile flower if she’s teething? Do I make it into a tea and rub it on her gums, or put it in a cup for her to drink? Should I make a chamomile salve and rub it on her tummy?
My point is that for this guide to be useful, you would need to have a good background already in how to use herbs… and if you do, then this guide isn’t very useful because you’d already know the information.
It assumes too much prior knowledge for a beginner, and is too basic for an intermediate user. The best skill level for this is an advanced beginner who is looking for some gentle ideas to incorporate some herbs into their children’s lives.
If you’re just looking for a single recipe using an herb, then this guide is ok. Rosemary is stew, chamomile is popsicles, calendula is an easy salve, violets is violet jelly.
#ourfamilyrhythm Printables Bundle
If you are a printables fan and want some for your daily, weekly, and seasonal rhythm, #ourfamilyrhythm Printables Bundle is a good choice. They are beautiful with watercolored pictures.
I am not a printables person. I am more likely to just grab a blank piece of printer paper to draw out my ideas and brainstorm on. I also don’t have a color printer, so to get the beauty of this pack I will need to send in a print order to Staples or Office Max.
Are they nice to have? Sure.
If you’re looking for guides that will hold your hand as you bring more rhythm and connection to your family, these are for you.
- Return to Rhythm — all ages. Work through it together with your older kids and partner to craft your family rhythm.
- Harvest, Easter, Christmas eGuides — all ages if using as a guide to craft your own meaningful celebrations, elementary and younger as-is
- Seasonal Guides — (winter, spring, summer, fall) — ages 2-7 as your primary guide, ages 7-9 as a supplement to your days and to add connection
- Birthday — ages 2-7
- Herbs — probably skip this one
- Printables — pretty but unnecessary
I purchased the All Guides Bundle and added on the Printables pack and Unplug Childhood Training. Since Unplug Childhood Training starts on Sundays, I haven’t yet received the first email to begin and give you a review.
Whole Family Rhythms is a wonderful group of guides to to bring peace, joy, and connection to your home. Visually stunning, and nurturing of both mama and child, I’m sure you will love them as much as I do.