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Introduction: Hi there mama. Are you searching for another way to approach motherhood? One that puts your needs first? That allows you to live it all without guilt or holding back any of your amazing talents and unique gifts? Then the live it all mommy podcast is made for you. Each month we are taking you behind the scenes looking into the real world of motherhood.

Giving you a roadmap to unleash your unique potential, your passion, self trust, and purpose as an amazing mother, deep soul, and powerful working woman. It’s time to live it all, Mommy. Let’s dive in.

Pia Dögl: Do you want to know how to live your life with passion guided by the spiritual world? Today I’m most delighted to interview Rahima Baldwin Dancy, internationally known parenting expert and world of early childhood educator. Rahima is also the author of the Transformative Book You Are Your Child’s First Teacher – Encouraging your child’s natural development from birth to age six.

Rahima also worked intensively as a midwife and offered one of the first in-home childcare programs for children three and four years old. Rahima offers lectures, conferences, and courses throughout the world on alternatives in birth, parenting education and unconscious aging.

She has an online course for parents and childcare providers coming up in September through Life Ways North America, of which she is one of the founders. Last but not least, Rahima and her husband have raised four now adult children and are delighted to have four grandchildren. Rahima, thank you so much for being here today.

Rahima Baldwin Dancy: Five grandchildren. Don’t forget little Leo. He’s the youngest.

Pia Dögl: Before you share any details about the practical tools that you have developed for transforming the home life of families, I know you describe yourself as a woman was always driven by passion and being of service to tasks given by the spiritual world.

Can you give us some deeper insights into what that means and when you first felt that connection with the spiritual world and started getting information about your life path and tasks?

Rahima Baldwin Dancy: Well there are stories I don’t usually talk about, but in the seventies my husband and I went overland to India, and we met with various spiritual people at that time, Ramdas’s Guru, Nampally Baba and Muktananda before his work was known and so forth.

And we had just come from three weeks at the ashram with Muktananda, which is the same ashram as Eat, Pray, Love. But we had asked Muktananda’s blessing when we left and he touched my forehead and on the bus 20 minutes later the heavens opened, which is part of what happens with the Shakti in that regard.

And God, in quotes, said to me, you’re going to be a midwife. And I was like, you must be putting me on! To the Bob Dylan line. I knew nothing about birth. I was married, I was 23 perhaps, and wanted to have children, but I wasn’t really sure about midwiffery and births! But I said yes. And so that really guided me.

We spent two years in England where of course midwifery was well established. Throughout my life then I was writing a book called Special Delivery, which impacted the country quite a bit. For natural birth and home birth and midwifery. And then with You Are Your Child’s First Teacher, it was a similar kind of summons . Less trumpets and whatever, but we were in the teacher training in Waldorf teacher training in Detroit at the time and Werner Gloss, who was head of it, was lecturing and he says, what we need is someone to interpret Steiner’s indications for cultural creatives for the people today.

And of course I had that following already through natural birth and the Leche League and breastfeeding and so forth. And I sort of internally went, oh, I could do that. And I was like, oh my gosh, what just happened? What have I done? What have I said? What happened?

And that was this task of really writing You Are Your Child’s First Teacher, which was quite a task of not turning Steiner into Pablo and yet not making it too esoteric because the early childhood – and I was trained to be an early childhood teacher – there was very little translated at that time in America.

In the 1940s, pediatricians from German were saying at that time wean your baby at two months. It’s like, no, this is not right. Everything else may be right, but that’s not right. And so that then came to me writing You Are Your Child’s First Teacher, which has really been a bridge from what I found were life-changing insights from Steiner and people who really are looking for, how can they raise their children in a way that resonates with their internal knowing, that follows child development that takes into account, head, heart and hands, the whole person. So that was, again, given to me by the spiritual world.

And when I did it, it was really hard to write, unlike my other two books. And I didn’t know if I had done it. So I got all the Steiner people on the one hand, and I got all the birthing people on the other hand, and held my breath and they both liked it. I was able to carry it out.

Because boy, when you’re in the thick of it, you’ve got no idea whether you’re really being successful or not.

Pia Dögl: What I’m learning from you is that once you get the information from the spiritual world, the insight we are getting might come easily to us, but then to realize the information we get isn’t always an easy path.

Is that right?

Rahima Baldwin Dancy: Absolutely. I mean my response to being a midwife was to put the covers over my head. I was scared to death, what does this mean? People sometimes say, oh, I wish my life had spiritual direction or tasks or whatever. But in fact, for me, it was scary

And then it took seven years to really realize that you have this idea that, oh, this is what I’m supposed to do, but seven years is a long time. The Bible thinks it’s a short time, but I think it’s a long time.

Pia Dögl: Yeah.

And I think it’s so important that we share that it is really a path that includes our personal development, our ongoing personal development. That it’s not something where we get information and then hoorah we are suddenly there.

Rahima Baldwin Dancy: Right. I have a bumper sticker made by a woman that says, “Motherhood, the shortest and steepest path to enlightenment.”

It’s a favorite of mine. I mean, parenting really is a spiritual path and it provides us always with that challenge and opportunity to grow, opportunity to heal our own way we were raised. I really approach parenting, conscious parenting as such a spiritual path.

And in that sense, you don’t you don’t ever get good at it in the sense, oh, I got it now. And the first child is always leading the way. The subsequent children have their own challenges that you haven’t encountered before. So it’s a real challenge for inner growth. Absolutely.

Pia Dögl: Beautiful. Beautiful. Yeah. And you mentioned Steiner already. So for those parents who are not familiar with Rudolph Steiner, can you share a little bit about who he was and also your approach? I mean, you were one of the first to create the early home care programs for children three and four years old.

What was special about your program? So that way we can get some information about Rudolph Steiner, maybe.

Rahima Baldwin Dancy: Well, Rudolph was such a visionary and really tuned into child development in a way that now has been born out by Piaget and others and brain imaging. But he developed it whole cloth and he really talked about how the child develops, and that they’re not little adults and these things were, and still are, quite revolutionary because that’s not the way our society functions.

It really ignores child development and the development of consciousness and so forth. So Steiner was really quite remarkable in that regard. And of course he turned his attention to education, to biodynamic agriculture, to all kinds of things. Whenever he was asked, then he would pour forth, as it were, with his insights.

I had been involved in inner growth and spiritual work. I said I went to India and various things.

But it was like, Whoa, children! We had these wonderful alternative births and alternative children and oh my gosh, what do you do with them now? Very few spiritual people turned their attention to children.

It was much more common that you take the mums path, you don’t have children, or you have to go on a retreat for three years or all of these things that are incompatible with being a mother, being a father. And so when I said, well, who has turned their attention? It was like, , Hara Khan was one, bin was one, , Steiner, he was one that really founded the insights that then became Waldorf Education and became parenting.

And in terms of the childcare, it’s interesting because, when I first did the. When the, when not I, again, these things spring up all over the country. Wasn’t that I was doing it, I was doing a home care program in the Detroit area in 1984. Other people were doing it in Boulder.

Other people were doing it. We were just saying, what, gosh, childcare, there is no child, there’s no good childcare, so let’s do something for. Under 3, 2, 1. There was nothing and nothing within the Steiner movement. In fact, it was dic. Oh, they should be at home, they should be at home, with the parents.

Absolutely. So we were a little bit revolutionary in the, in the eighties, but just a tiny, three and four that’s considered old now. People build children in childcare. Quite commonly at six weeks or one year, are looking. For a, a preschool program and what was, so not revolutionary was that even though another teacher and I were doing it in her home, we had, , 12 children.

We were imitating the Waldorf Kindergarten program. We made it, a little bit simpler, a little bit younger, but we didn’t even use the rest of her home because we hadn’t that mindset of. Home is the model, life is the curriculum. All of these things that have been formulated so well by life ways.

It wasn’t really readily accessible. So when I did it again, a home program. , 10 years ago, so 35 years later with my daughter. That was the biggest difference was that we really used the whole home. We used the activities of daily living. We didn’t have a separate beautiful Waldorf program.

We had the Waldorf program, but we incorporated living. And I think that’s the biggest insight that, Both life ways and why I worked with life ways is to say the value of home, life of baking, and Sweeping and gardening and, , all of these things that, that, , again, we don’t quite value. Many parents try to get the house housework done while the child is napping or while the child is off at preschool, and then they finally have to be entertaining the child playing with them.

What do we do together? And to realize that there are ways to incorporate your child into both the things that have to be done for home life and the things that you love to do. Maybe a hobby or, gardening is something that you love to do. Incorporate the young child into that. So I think that’s a real insight that’s so valuable and transformative to home life.

Pia Dögl: Yeah. And that, that brings me to, to the next point, what is really transformative of your program? And you mentioned already to include the child in our daily activities. Within the household, the garden, whatever. Can you describe that a little bit more deeply? Because as you mentioned, most of the time we do all the household things while the child is napping and then we afterwards we think, oh, how can I amuse, entertain my little one?

And you were talking about the other way. Can you give us a little bit more details about that?

Rahima Baldwin Dancy: Yeah. One thing is to incorporate rhythm into your household life. And you may not have that already. I know, I certainly didn’t until I got into Steiner. Many times people are driven to rhythm at child two or child three.

I was a slow learner. I didn’t really understand rhythm in this context then.

Pia Dögl: Maybe you can call yourself a deep learner instead of a slow learner.

Rahima Baldwin Dancy: Yeah. Maybe people come up with nicer adjectives! Once you’re alert to it, then you see the value and you start. And when I tried it I pride it it was like, oh my gosh, home life was transformed.

Pia Dögl: What do you mean by rhythm? Can you give us an example of rhythm? It’s such a big word for those that have no idea.

Rahima Baldwin Dancy: Yeah. I encourage parents to start with the easiest things which are sleeping and eating. We all eat, we all sleep, we feed the children, they take naps or they don’t, and they go to bed at night.

So how can you bring rhythm to those things? How can you have them occur at the same time each day, the time that matches the child or that matches your home life. The father is away and doesn’t get home till seven o’clock at night. That might make a later rhythm in the evening than if it’s possible to do something earlier.

So rhythm is looking at what is the day like, and then what is the week like? If you do something, let’s say you do grocery shopping, you take the toddler with you to grocery shopping, can you do that on the same day each week? Like say every Wednesday we do the big grocery shopping, or every Monday we go to the park, because some of these things you’re doing anyway.

So it’s just putting a little bit of consciousness into, can I make a rhythm? Because rhythm creates strength. It creates a platform which nourishes everyone. And we think, oh, freedom and spontaneity are so wonderful, but anybody with a young child knows if you spontaneously miss the nap time – and yes you should. I mean if it’s the grandparents visiting or whatever, but you pay a price, right? And as children get a little bit older their rhythm changes. They go from two naps to one nap for example.

It’s not like, oh, I set it up and now I’m on autopilot. You have to be awake and alert. But what it does is, is it makes home life have a sort of rhythm, and this is why the Waldorf Steiner/Life Ways, whatever we want to call it approach to childcare works so well is because it provides this healthy rhythm where there’s a lot of outside time, lots of free play, a short inside time for a snack or a story or whatever.

And then, free play again because the rhythm needs to breathe. The rhythm really has an exhale and an inhale. And with young children, they need a long exhale activities that come from them. Free play, big movement, and a very short inhale, very short focus where they’re learning to do your finger plays or to listen to a story or something like that is focused.

And then back to maybe a nap. Sleep is a great exhale as well. So some of the insights about rhythm that I found really changed my life. You’ve maybe quit working because you want to be home and you’re following them around all the time. You’re doing snacks and it’s a little crazy making. It’s really very hard to find the support for yourself in an arrhythmical, child-led home.

Pia Dögl: Yeah. And, and that brings me to, to another topic. So what I’m hearing to create a healthy rhythm for the child means we as parents first have to be aware of what kind of rhythm are we actually living.

And then as you said, it’s not something that stays forever. We have to be aware when changes are needed. And then we also have to work on us to first stay nourished enough to really go and find the rhythm that’s healthy for the child, which is not always healthy for us. So to really take good care of ourselves as well, and also to make it possible that means we have to do internal work, right? We have to be aware of our own needs and we have to be flexible to make it happen with the outside world. What would you say is helpful for moms, for parents to really take good care of themselves, to nourish themselves so they are able to really look at the child’s needs and rhythm.

Rahima Baldwin Dancy: Yeah. Especially the young child really takes our, what Steiner called etheric energy, and we don’t have to be esoteric about that. It’s our life forces, it’s our vitality. They’re really living in the aura, the exchange of our life energy. And so then we’re exhausted

I can remember being home with my baby. My husband came home from work and said, What you do today, dear? It was like, yeah, I was right here! And what you’re doing is invisible. It’s like watching the grass grow or something. You can’t see the change. All you see is the entropy. The house was clean this morning, but now there are toys all over.

I cooked, I cleaned. None of this stuff is visible. And so I think that what we have to recognize is how important that energy is, that we have it and then we refill it. Fortunately, there are several things that refill that energy for us. And one is nature, right? So get out in nature whenever you can with the child.

Sit in the park when you’re sitting in the park. Don’t go, oh, I’m so bored. Take nature in, because that nature gives you that same energy that your child takes and needs. Wild nature is even better. Go on a hike or take the three wheel stroller when you can, or have a sitter or a trade off with your partner, whatever it is to really get out in nature.

So nature is one thing. Artistic activity is another. Anything that you love to do that is really from you, whether it’s dancing, movement, writing. Whatever it is that is an expression of yourself that gives you that same kind of energy. So, artistic activity, does it .

And sleep? Oh my gosh. I had two children two years apart, and the first time they slept through the night, I woke up at 6:00 AM and I thought, they’re dead. Oh my God. They’re dead!

I had six years of sleep interruption. That’s a tough, that’s a tough thing. They use it as torture in the military, interrupt your sleep. So how can you nap? How can you get to bed early?

And this was an insight to me, the Waldorf teacher training people said, your children should be in bed by 7:30pm. I’m like, yeah, right. You get up at five with them, then you put them to bed at 7:30pm. But I’m paying all this money for teacher training, so I’m going to try it. I’m game.

So I put my children to bed at 7.30pm and they didn’t seem tired to me but they didn’t wake up early that morning and I though, oh my God, maybe they’re onto something. You know that really children need more sleep. Often we think they don’t seem tired to us. They love consciousness. They hate going to bed. But really, if we really go for an earlier bedtime with ritual, with rhythm, with activity, that then calms them down, puts them to sleep, they won’t wake up that much earlier usually. I mean, individual children can be an exception, but in general my children were sleeping an hour, an hour and a half longer, and they didn’t seem tired to me before.

I never would’ve guessed it. And what it did was it freed up evenings for us to have adult time. Which is important. That gives you energy too, by the way. And then to get to bed at night I found when I was working with the young children, I had to be asleep by 10 o’clock. Otherwise I was trashed the next day. They just seemed like noisy ants running around.

But if I got my sleep and I really was asleep by 10pm, then I had the patience be able to bring that to them. So those are three of the things.

The fourth one is, Any kind of spiritual practice. Whether it’s yoga or tai chi or meditation or contemplative prayer, even just five minutes. It restores that same energy that the children need. So I think recognizing that young children really feed off of that energy they need, it’s what helps them to grow and that we need to replace that for ourself.

It’s not being selfish, it’s filling your own cup.

Pia Dögl: It’s wise. And also we take responsibility because if we want to nourish our child the best way and sustainably, then we have to make sure that we are nourished ourselves. Right?

Rahima Baldwin Dancy: So my children were two years apart and I was overwhelmed at one time with a six month old and a two and a half year old. And I took a course two afternoons a week to be a travel agent and I was about halfway into it when I realized it was pure wish fulfillment, right? It was talking about, oh, you can rise above all, you can go to Tahiti.

But it really kept me sane. I had childcare coverage. It kept me sane to be with other adults to have that input. That’s what I needed. And I find with myself, I need stuff to keep my brain stimulated. And partly I found the depth in Steiner and the understanding of child development and all of that engages me and nourishes me.

But I also needed some kind of other adult or intellectual stimulation. So I know that about myself.

Pia Dögl: Beautiful. And what I think is so important is that we really trust ourselves. So first we listen to our own needs, we recognize our own needs, and then we have the courage to be different, right?

Because to be different means we have the risk of not being accepted, not being loved by everyone, but that’s the only way to truly find our way to parent and our way to be as a person, as a woman. If we don’t allow ourselves, then we just do what everyone else is doing and we can’t. It’s like food we digest differently than our best friend, our partner, our children, right?

Rahima Baldwin Dancy: There’s not one right way. You know, you really have to figure out what works for you, what works for your children, what works for your home life. And that’s one of the things I’m going to be offering in this course in September on Lifeways North America. I’m calling it Inspired Homemaking. And what you really do is make a picture of your home life.

How is it right now? What are the physical elements, like how are the rooms used? What’s the relationship between inside and outside? What’s the rhythmical, element? What are bedtimes like? What’ s nap time like and mornings and getting out of the door? Then the relational element.

How is everybody relating? How do you relate to the children? How do you relate to your partner if you have one? What’s going on a relational level? And then on the values level, what are you trying to do? What’s important to you? What’s working, what’s not? We take those four lenses, which really are thinly disguised from Steiner to really look at and make a picture of home life, because you have to know what you want, but you also have to know what you’ve got.

What’s going on, what’s working, what’s not. And then we learn from each other. How did somebody else handle that? What are the principles?

Pia Dögl: Yeah. Yeah. And just one, last question. How do parents set boundaries to prevent discipline problems? Because oftentimes when people hear Rudolph Steiner and world of approach, then they think, oh, they can do whatever they want to.

Can you share a little bit about how to set limits and prevent discipline problems?

Rahima Baldwin Dancy: Rhythm. Having rhythm is about 80% the answer to that. It prevents 80% of your discipline problems and it avoids the conflict because there’s nobody to argue with. If every night the sun goes down, and this is what we do, and a little harder in the summertime with daylight savings time, but you know, we do this and this and this.

It just happens, you know? And they appreciate that internally. They can’t argue with you, oh, just tonight, can I, no, it’s just the way it’s, and so it objectifies it to say this is the way life is. Children around age nine realize that you don’t know everything and that you’re not omniscient. Take advantage of and provide that rhythmical life. That’s 80% of the problem.

My daughter wrote a book called Joyful Toddlers. And it’s really talking about that transition from the baby. You’re responding, you’re providing food, you’re everything, you’re at their beck and call, you provide everything.

And at what point does that change? They don’t change, they aren’t doing it to annoy you. Your two year old isn’t, doing something to annoy you. But how then do you set boundaries? And she has this wonderful, practical suggestions of using imagination of. Walking them through it. You have to get up. You have to get up and do things with them. If you’re going to give a choice, and giving fewer choices is better, but saying, are you ready to do that on your own or do you want me to help you? That’s a good choice, right? Because getting it done is part of that boundary of, I really do know what’s needed here.

We’re not going to discuss everything. We’re not going to debate it. We’re not going to have a scene. Life flows along and it flows along with joy and humor and fun and little games and the Waldorf things make such a difference.So for parents at home, she really starts with age.

What is this transition of creating mutually responsive relationships that you know that the children want to say yes. And that you help them to become part of the family, really.

Pia Dögl: Which means we have to work on ourselves as well, right? Very often, as you mentioned, we think the child tries to provoke us on purpose or to hurt us, but the brain isn’t actually developed to be so rational and intellectual, think how can I now hurt my mom?

That’s just the way we adults things, right?

Rahima Baldwin Dancy: Absolutely. Really. And to understand imitation. I mean, imitation was something I didn’t understand until I studied Steiner and child development. And then you see it everywhere. They learn everything through imitation. And they’re wanting to find out what works.

And so if we go into arguments with him all the time. Well, this is the way mom relates to me and we have a good time. Life flows and I’m part of this and it’s good and it’s beautiful. That’s something that then nourishes us as well. Because who wants to be arguing all the time or having it fall apart. And I know,I tell people I made every mistake in the book, that’s why I wrote the book.

I was a disaster with my two year old son. I was like, we were just at loggerheads and it broke my heart. And understanding that, oh, this is really a positive developmental thing of them feeling their oats, feeling their power, feeling whatever. And it’s our work to provide correction.

And to teach manners and all these old fashioned things without getting angry ourselves, without taking it personally. But that is our task then to provide the correction with right action, with goodwill.

Pia Dögl: And which is only possible if we are self-aware, right? If we know ourselves, if we know our wounds and trigger points so we can prevent us from poor behavior towards our child.

Would you agree?

Rahima Baldwin Dancy: I think that’s one of many things that help. I think you can also have a bag of tricks. Okay, then I do this and it works because it matches the child where they are. You don’t have to be completely healed or completely self-aware to improve and have life get better.

There are many things. One is understanding child development. Sure. One is understanding your own past. There are many. Many things.

Pia Dögl: Yeah. Beautiful. What is your number one advice for working moms who want to live it all, who want to bring their full potential into life as a mom and also as a, , working woman?

Rahima Baldwin Dancy: Of course, we all want to do that, don’t we? I’m in my seventies now, and so that’s a perspective of age is that, ah it’s really much more spacious. You can slow down. You can take more time, you can do things sequentially.

I didn’t feel that way when was younger and more intense. So in a sense that’s the key of realizing that only one thing fits into any given moment. Coming to that is a product of aging as well. So when you’re in the thick of it, I would say, see what things bring you back to yourself.

Whether it’s just taking a breath and, okay. Getting new knowledge, getting connection and help. It’s crazy to try to do it alone. The nuclear family or the sub nuclear family, children need more than that. They need a whole network. So I think there are many things that can help you, but I think to value yourself and it’s really important that you’re not overtaxed and over overwrought.

And I think that’s if you have that as a value, you’ll find more, of the help you need.

Pia Dögl: Beautiful. Rahima, thank you so much for being with us here today for inspiring and encouraging all moms, including myself, to have the confidence to find our own way as loving mothers and successful working women.

And to find out more about Rahima’s book and work. Go to our webpage Thank you so much again.

Rahima Baldwin Dancy: Thank you for all you’re doing.

Outro: Mama, are you ready to learn how to keep your cool even during the hottest family fights and biggest struggles at work? Head over to my website at to get our free self care guide And the top self compassion tools you need to know in order to feel more patient, confident, and more yourself It’s your decision to be a fulfilled mom and woman.

I truly believe in your amazing unique potential. Until next time Don’t forget to live it all mommy

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