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

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

Let’s Read: Simplicity Parenting

 

Rhythm calms and secures children, grounding them in the earth of family so they can branch out and grow.  The implication of rhythms is that there is an “author” behind how we do things as a family.  Parental authority is strengthened by rhythms; an “authority” is established that is gentle and understandable.  “This is what we do” also says, “There is order here, and safety.”

-Simplicity Parenting, page 103

 

To establish rhythm, Simplicity Parenting suggests: Continue reading

Let’s Read: Simplicity Parenting

 

RHYTHM.  Does that word strike fear or guilt into your heart when you hear it?  Rhythm should be something that is inherent to your particular family, and it should be a source of freedom, not any negative emotions.  Kim John Payne opens this chapter by noting:

“Life today for most families is characterized more by randomness and improvisation than rhythm.  Tuesday wash day?  Cookies and milk after school?  Sunday roast beef dinner?  With both parents working outside the home, these kinds of weekly markers may sound more quaint than realistic.  Family life today often consists of whatever is left over, in terms of our time and energy, when the “work” of the day is done.  When I ask a mother or father to describe for me a “typical day” in their home, nine times out of ten they begin by saying there is no “typical”.

Just as there are inherent rhythms in the rising and setting of the sun each day and the change of seasons, there are rhythms inherent in us and our own bodies.   Our families often too, hold their own inherent rhythms. Our children, in this often hectic world where children are pushed to be miniature adults, NEED rhythm more than ever. It is a source of dependability, a source of reliability and promotes the child’s feeling that the world, their world,  is a safe and secure place!   This is the essence of believing the world is a good place!  This is also the first stirrings of boundaries and of family identity. Rhythm is what you do in your family.

Too often today children are the center of the family, a sun in which the parents orbit around the children’s desires (which is totally different from the what –I-want IS actually what-I –need in the years of being an infant!).  Instead, family life, should be that needs of the whole family are set forth as a beautiful trajectory, yes, like the arc of the sun rising and setting in the sun, and the children find their places on the trajectory.  This helps children find their own place in the family and the world.  The children are part of something bigger than themselves. Rhythm is the thing that can most help with this arc.

This is also important from the viewpoint of simplification.  Rhythm does not assume Continue reading

Let’s Read: Simplicity Parenting

 

We are up to the section entitled, “The Power of Less” in Chapter Three.  Kim John Payne talks about going through toys in this section.  He advises:

  • Try doing the first whittling away of toys without your child present.
  • Throw out the broken or damaged toys or ones that are developmentally inappropriate.
  • Throw out any toy that is too complex or ones that will break easily.
  • Evaluate the remaining toys – is it a toy a child can pour imagination into or is it too fixed?
  • Choose and keep the simplest toys.   Children usually play with what they can move or what they can use in conjunction with their imagination.
  • Avoid high tech toys or gadgets for small children – realize things like cell phones and such are being purposefully marketed to children as young as 8 to 10 years of age.
  • Do not buy the toy of the moment.
  • My favorite quote:  “In a world as sped-up and hypercharged as our own, surely the last thing our children need is more stimulation.”
  • Donate the rest of the toys, and organize what remains.
  • Remember the role of  real work in play:  baking, digging, gardening, food preparation….Have real items around for children to participate in these roles.
  • Play with the four elements outside and have tools for this available:  buckets, nets, shovels, kites, scoops, bubbles, baskets and containers for pouring and collecting.
  • If you have a yard, this is your “first frontier of nature”.  Use it!
  • For books, children before the age of eight or nine only need one or two books accessible.  A dozen or fewer books can be on a bookshelf as a permanent collection.    Kim John Payne advises at seven or eight years of age to add in reference books about the subjects your child is interested in.

How do you simplify your child’s toys and books and encourage outdoor and social play?

Blessings,
Carrie

Let’s Read: Simplicity Parenting

 

We have arrived at Chapter Three, entitled, “Environment”.  The chapter begins with painting a picture of the child’s room which ends with this sentence: “The room’s pastel color scheme and basic furniture – bed and bureau where the changing table once was – are no longer visible, buried under a thick overgrowth of multicolored, ever-growing, and expanding stuff.”

Kim John Payne talks about how in many of his workshops, parents want to begin simplification by simplifying the environment.  This is a tangible, doable step toward simplification.

American culture leaned toward selling toys to children beginning around Continue reading

Let’s Read: “Simplicity Parenting”

 

We are jumping ahead to Chapter Two, “Soul Fever”.  Kim John Payne opens up this chapter with the fact that parents know their children so well and all of the different sides our children can have, “the too little sleep side”, “the overcome with silliness side” etc.  He admits toward the bottom of the page that our love for our children never falters, but the instinctual knowledge of our children can wax and wane.

In many cases, I have talked to parents who have felt so disconnected from their children. This can especially occur as children grow older and are out of the house for almost more hours a day than they are home.  I have also talked to parents who are very fearful of their children being away from them and are fearful their connection will no longer be strong as their children’s world expands.  It is a delicate balance, and I think worth checking to see where you are right now, today, with connecting to your children.

Simplification can help Continue reading