How Old Are You?

 

I had a wonderful week last week visiting St. George Island in Florida.  We did the typical beach things – built sand masterpieces (not castles, but mainly sea turtles and mermaids), jumped and dived in the waves, flew kites, walked to the lighthouse on the island, shopped a little (only a few stores), played board games, ate seafood and otherwise relaxed, rested and read a lot of books.   It was a much needed break and time to be together as a family.

It also gave me some time to look at the feelings I have been carrying around this school term.  I adore homeschooling, but I  have lately been more wanting more time to myself, .  I have vacillated between feeling a bit resentful of not having more time to myself and then thinking what would I  even do with this time –   a vocation?  a job? a midlife crisis? (Insert cheeky grin here).   I love homeschooling, adore it, but  often what I want is a few hours a day where I am not on call so to speak and can devote time to my own interests without any of the outside world intruding.  I have  also had this same conversation with many veteran homeschooling mothers, and I know many other homeschooling mothers feel this way (especially, it seems,  those of us in our mid-40s).

I wonder if this is partially just midlife – that strange time and feeling where you wonder is this what life is?  What different path would have taken me somewhere else?  Where is the future really headed?  In past generations, many women had children earlier and often their children were headed off to lives of their own by the time a woman hit her mid-40s.   At this point, a woman really had the time to re-discover herself.  My mother- in- law remarked to me awhile ago that most women in her generation hit menopause by their early 40’s (ie, when she was 40, many of her friends were already menopausal), another sign that life was taking a different turn than previously. Contrast that to this day and age when so many of us in our mid-40s are still in the trenches raising small children or even having babies.  So, part of me wonders if this is programmed from the past – this need to re-discover one’s self apart from children – and if we as a generation are not yet caught up yet  to the reality of having children later.   I feel for me as if these thoughts and feelings started with the seven year cycle that began around age 42, but now is in full swing at age 44.  I keep being drawn back to the words of Betty Staley’s book “Tapestries” about the years 42-49 here.  here..  I am even looking into the years ahead ahead.

Sometimes I also wonder if  this feeling of wanting more and needing to be alone something specific to homeschooling mothers?  We spend so much time and energy as a homeschooling family on our children (and hopefully on our spouses as well, but I guess that is a whole different post!); perhaps it is only natural after some time to feel or want a bit more for oneself.    I don’t feel like a “veteran” homeschooler by any means, but my oldest is in seventh grade and we have been at this for some time without any interruptions.  Perhaps this stage of homeschooling  just contributes to restlessness in general?

I don’t feel burned out or worn out, just thoughtful about the developmental process in adults.  Where are you, and just you alone, these days in your thoughts and feelings?  How old are you and do you think that plays into how you are feeling and what you are wanting at this point in your life?

Love,
Carrie

A Special Offer for Parenting Passageway Readers!

 

Although it is only September, we  have already endured bouts of cold weather around the United States and  The Farmer’s Almanac is predicting a colder than usual winter, especially for the eastern part of the United States.  Warmth is so important for our children.  Warmth allows our children to settle in, to not be restless, to rest and sleep and grow better, and to reach their fullest potential as human beings.

We see this in many cultures all around the world in the  dressing of babies warmly, even in subtropical and tropical climates.  When our children are warm enough, then energy will not be diverted from the growth and maturity of the nervous system  in order to just keep warm. 

As a rule, three layers on the top with one layer tucked in, and two layers on the bottom is recommended.  Here in Georgia I like two layers on the top and two layers on the bottom, just depending upon how cold and windy it is.  Contrary to popular belief, the Deep South does see snow and we do get freezing temperatures.   My favorite article about warmth by Mary Sutton, MD, appears in this back post  as reprinted with permission. 

Because of the importance warmth plays in the health and well-being of our children, I am excited to announce Green Mountain Organics (my favorite place to get woolens)  is offering the readers of The Parenting Passageway 20 percent off woolens for winter through next weekend with the code pp20.

Many blessings, happy woolens,

Carrie

Let’s Read: Simplicity Parenting

 

We are up to my favorite chapter!  Chapter Five, entitled “Schedules” is well-worth reading for yourself.  I don’t believe parents in the United States intend to overschedule their children, yet that is where so many families are in reality, and this chapter offers a hard look at what we are doing, why we are doing it and what we could do differently.

This issue is not a new one.  Kim John Payne points out that David Elkind’s book “The Hurried Child” first asked the question as to whether children were being pushed toward adulthood in the form of “super-competency” because parents lacked the time or interest for parenting.  This was in the early 1980s.  The latter half of the 1980’s saw a real focus on the child’s accomplishments and achievements.  These trends are not new. 

How do children spend their time?  According to this chapter:

  • Children ages 6 to 11 spend many hours in front of a television screen and a computer screen
  • School takes 8 more hours than it did in 1981
  • The amount of time in structured activities has doubled
  • Time spent doing homework has also doubled – with the implementation of No Child Left Behind, students are averaging an hour and twenty minutes a night of homework.
  • Children have 12 hours less free a week than they did – about 25 percent of a child’s day is “free” on average; in 1981 the average child had about 40 percent of his or her day free.

 

Kim John Payne points out that, “And it is really so bad to be busy?  Why aren’t their busy kids seen as fulfilled rather than frantic?  What is wrong with wanting your children to have as many opportunities as possible?  I don’t think the central issue of “overscheduled” kids is motivation – either the parents’ or the kids’.  Most parents are driven by good intentions…In wanting to provide for their children, here again parents act with generous motivations.  But just as too many toys stifle creativity, too many scheduled activities may limit a child’s ability to direct themselves, fill up their own time, to find and follow their own path.”

 

Some children really do not know what to do with even moments of spare time because they are used to having every minute structured.  Kim John Payne points out that interest in an activity can be real and sustained over time for children but that time, leisure and other interests often help a main interest to  grow.   Children need unstructured time.  This is coming out in more and more studies and childhood psychology literature  regarding the development of executive function in children – things such as working memory, mental flexibility, reasoning, judgment – are enhanced by non structured activities, not by structured ones. 

 

Awareness is the first step in stepping off the overscheduled  burden.  Play happens in unstructured time and opening up schedules lends itself to spontaneous moments .  If a child has fewer activities, then a parent’s schedule (who is often a driver) will also open up as well.  This can impact the entire family  in a positive way.

 

How do you simplify your outside activities?  Does your family need help in this area or is the balance easy?

Blessings,
Carrie

Gentle Discipline By Age–Part Six

 

Today we are up to common discipline challenges and responses for our terrific ten year olds!  Our last post about the nine-year-old and the nine year change, can be found here.

 

Gentle discipline is the mainstay of parenting life, because it encompasses guiding and validating the authentic spiritual being that is every human being and child.  It is a mindset to live by and parent by, and if you can master some of these techniques, you will find yourself even having more positive communication and conflict resolution with other adults.   In Part Two of this series,  we focused on birth through age 4.  In Part Three we looked at ages five and six and in Part Four at the ages of six and seven.  The mainstay of gentle discipline for these years begins with our own inner work and development, as discussed in Part One of this series.

As a quick recap of development up until this point, birth through age  four encompasses a time of protection, physical movement, warmth and trust and love in a caregiver and in a good world.  The ending of this stage sees the use of the words “I” and “no” NOT as an act of defiance or disobedience, but as growth into individuality.  Ages five and six also sees the same  importance of protection, physical movement, warmth, and love and trust in a caregiver continue but play and social experiences now expands during these years.   Ages seven and eight see a dichotomy in developmental outlook, with seven often being more insecure, wailing, gloomy;  a time of feeling the world is unfair and eight taking the bull by the horns with brash boasting and exaggerated tall tales. The nine year old is in a time of great change in the inner life of the child, typically with a more insecure and inward gesture.  The ten year old typically is in a smoother stage of childhood development with a niceness, goodness and friendliness about him or her.  Usually ten year olds love their family very much, love activities and outings,  and they typically don’t resist too much what you ask them to do; a fairly happy age.  The challenges parents write to me about  their ten year olds are as follows: Continue reading

Wrap Up of Weeks Four and Five of Seventh and Fourth Grade

 

I am trying to post a little wrap-up of each week of grades seven, four and five year old kindergarten year throughout the 36 weeks I have planned for school this year.  I hope this will encourage mothers that are homeschooling multiple children (or who want to but are worried!), and  encourage mothers that even homeschooling children of multiple ages who are far apart in age is doable.  You can find weeks two and three here.  Week one is  here. and further in back posts you can find a post pertaining to the first two days of school this year which gives insight to our general daily rhythm.

 

Our fourth week began with Continue reading

Let’s Read: Simplicity Parenting

 

Today we are talking about simplifying food, dinner, and sleep.  We are on page 116 of “Simplicity Parenting” and I am so glad to be reading about this topic today.  I think whenever things get a little out of kilter, we can always “re-set” our families by going back to basics regarding mealtimes, sleep and rest.

Food.  Kim John Payne recommends simplifying food.  He writes:

These basic guidelines can accompany you down the aisles of your supermarket:  Is this food designed to nourish, or to entertain?  To stimulate?  More simply, is this food designed, or was it grown?  Did it exist fifty years ago?  It is unnecessarily complex, with ingredients you can’t identify or pronounce?

Kim John Payne mentions that  the number one priority is to wean our children off of high processed snack and junk foods.  He reports in the families that have done this, it takes about one month for the palate to clear and the child to be able to recognize the fresh  flavors of real food.  Try seltzer water and juices instead of sugary soda.  Set limits at home.  Don’t give tiny children too many choices before they develop their own good judgment.  You are really helping by limiting choices in food to whole foods, and in  knowing that children need to try things at least eight times.  Once you simplify food, you may notice your children actually becoming less and less picky.

Meal plans and dinner time.  He also suggests Continue reading

Wrap Up of Weeks Two and Three of Seventh and Fourth Grade

I am trying to post a little wrap-up of each week of grades seven, four and five year old kindergarten year throughout the 36 weeks I have planned for school this year.  I hope this will encourage mothers that are homeschooling multiple children (or who want to but are worried!), and  encourage mothers that even homeschooling children of multiple ages who are far apart in age is doable.  You can find week one  here. and further in back posts you can find a post pertaining to the first two days of school this year which gives insight to our general daily rhythm.

Weeks two and three were fruitful.  Here is a glimpse into some of what we did during those two weeks:

Kindergarten – Our little four year old (soon to be five years old this fall) spent time with whittling under supervision, a simple circle with singing and circle games, watching puppet shows of the story “The Fishing Pond” from Suzanne Down’s work Old Gnome Through The Year.and working with our simple weekly rhythm of making salt dough, drawing or crafting, baking, nature walk and painting, along with cooking with his big sisters and housekeeping tasks.  He also helped plant seeds and has been busy watering each day.

Fourth Grade – In weeks two and three, our fourth grader worked with Continue reading