Using the 168

There are 168 hours in the week.  Once we take out hours for sleeping and eating, my goal this school year has been to use the remaining hours well. So what does this look like?

I think for our family, it means making good use of rhythm.  Rhythm is an important part of strength for individuals and in the family at all times, but I have found it even more important this year as I am working toward regaining my health and with having three children in very different levels to work with in homeschooling.

The main parts to rhythm for our family are-

  • Rest and sleep – we don’t skimp here and will cancel things in order to rest!
  • Warming meals –  I usually prep food by roasting large pans of veggies, making salad that will last several days, batch cooking any meat. We connect over our meals together and eat three times a day together most days of the week.
  • Movement, play  and FUN- movement and play is super important, so that is a priority. Play and movement most often happens outside for us, so we can lap up the Vitamin D and being in nature.
  • Work in nurturing our home (aka, chores) but also creating beautiful things to make our home lovely. Many of the chores I work around school times, bath times (ie, clean the bathroom while one child is showering, pick up downstairs before dinner whilst things are cooking)
  • School is important as well, but overall health is the greatest priority.
  • Outside activities

Something that really has shifted for me over the past  few years was a realization that I was essentially spending only one to two hours a week on me in a conscious way.  Sure, there was the downtime after everyone went to bed but there was very little conscious thought about things for myself and if there were things for myself, inevitably something else needed my attention and what I planned to do for myself was tossed to the wayside and cancelled.

So, deciding to spend up to 10 percent of the 168 hours on ME was quite a perception-changing event. That’s 16 -17 hours a week?!!   I could focus on my own health for 16-17 hours a week?  What would that look like?  Where would those hours come from?  Would it only happen at midnight (Hahaha)?  What would I do with those gift of hours? Right now I am mainly spending those hours in medical appointments and in physical activity, but I can see things expanding in the future!

Prepping is VITAL to making the best use  of our 168 hours. You can see below for what it looks like for us.  I am actually reluctant to put it out there.  Some will be aghast and say it is too much out of the home.  Remember, when all my children were under 14/15 years old, we homeschooled most mornings and went out only in the afternoons.  Now it is much more chaotic with the addition of outside classes for our high school junior that are all over the place in addition to having two horses to help care for, but this is real life, and I want to be transparent as to how homeschooling evolves the older children get!  We also have three out of five of us  in our family who are extroverts, and need time to connect with community and other people!

So, this is how we do it, and what it looks like for us!  Take what works for you and your family and leave the rest behind!

Mondays – (Crockpot meal) (Laundry)

  • Homeschool third grader at barn whilst older two are in lessons
  • Come home and finish third grader and homeschool eighth grader
  • Eleventh grader has outside class/third grader and mommy at park in sunshine/eighth grader homework
  • Music lesson for third grader with Dad; Rest for everyone else
  • Yoga at night for the mommy

Tuesdays – (Fast grilled meal/roasted veggies/salad)(Laundry)(Vaccum)

  • Waldorf homeschool enrichment program for eighth and third graders
  • Homeschool during this time with eleventh grader
  • Grocery shopping/Medical appointments as needed after 3:15
  • Rest
  • Gym for me at night

Wednesdays-(Meat/roasted veggies/salad)(Laundry)(Dusting)

  • Homeschool all children
  • Eleventh grade outside class (park time for third grader or gym time for me or meet a friend out)
  • Rest
  • Barn time
  • Exercise if didn’t happen earlier or Coffee with friends as able

Thursdays (Crockpot) (Laundry) (Vaccum)(Kitchen)

  • Homeschool third grader
  • Check in with eighth grader
  • Outside class for eleventh and eighth grader
  • Rest
  • Music for all/ music plus karate third grader (all in same place) (grocery store/errands for me)
  • Barn with Dad as able for eleventh and eighth graders
  • Yoga as able

Fridays- (Homemade pizza or breakfast for dinner)(Bathrooms)(produce and egg delivery)

  • Homeschool all children
  • Medical appointments late morning to early afternoon as needed (chiropractor)
  • Barn
  • Rest
  • Possible date night with husband
  • Some Fridays are days off with friends or field trip day

Saturdays (Clean house)(Laundry)(Fast cook chicken meal)

  • Yoga or gym early morning/ Rest/Barn or something fun with family

Sundays

  • Church/Sunday School
  • Rest/Prep for week ahead
  • Soccer for third grader
  • Eleventh and Eighth Grader Music Rehearsal/Youth Group

Tell me what you do with your 168!  Make it count, and most of all, have fun!

Lots of love to you all,

Carrie

 

 

 

 

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The Pelvic Floor – Everyone Has One!

Yesterday I went to a course about fucntional rehabilitation of the pelvic floor.   For a long time, pelvic floor was associated solely with “female issues” and while urinary and fecal incontinence are the number one and number two reasons for admittance of the eldery to nursing homes, many people didn’t seem to be willing to look into options for treating the challenges.

I am happy to see that times are changing.  Physical therapists (and hopefully doctors) are screening the genitourinary (so urinary, colo-rectal, reproductive systems)  system just the way physical therapists screen all systems of the body.  (For the record, this includes the integumentary(sking), neurological, musculoskeletal, cardiovascular, and respiratory systems for therapists plus gastrointestinal and genitourinary systems along with general constitution, eyes, ear/nose/throat, hematological, immune, endocrine, and pyschiatric systems).

The pelvic floor is a region with over 20 muscles in 3 distrinct layers, and yes, men have a pelvic floor as well.  The pelvic floor provides support for the pelvic organs.  Genitourinary and reproductive function includes excretion, urination, urinary sensations, sexual functions, menstruation, procreation, genital sensations.  Many doctors seem to forget that men have a pelvic floor as well.   The pelvic floor also provides sphincteric control for the bladder and bowels, supports sexual function, supports stabilty of the back as part of the core muscles of the body, and supports the lymph system.

Some of the main issues pelvic floor physical therapists work with include elimination disorders of the bowel (constipation, incomplete emptying, incontinence), pelvic organ prolapse (when the pelvic organs are no longer in the right place due to loss of muscle, fascia, or ligament support), pelvic pain,  nerve pain.  Incontinence also rises with diseases such as insulin-dependent diabetes, chronic pulmonary disease, and more.  Low back pain is also associated with pelvic floor problems, and EVERY low back pain patient should be screened for pelvic floor problems.  You would hate to have a back surgery when the real problem is something in your pelvic floor that a back surgery will not fix! Pre-existing incontinence, gastrointestinal problems, and breathing disorders are also associated with developing low back pain.

Incontinence is a big deal because it is a huge independent predictor for falls and injuries, depression, and nursing home placement.  But you don’t need to be over 65 to have incontinence.  There have been studies on  elite athletes and incontinence.  17 percent of elite female athletes are noticing incontinence for the first time in JUNIOR HIGH and 40 percent of elite athletes are noticing incontinence in HIGH SCHOOL.   You are actually 1.37 times to have urinary incontinence in middle age if your strenuous activity exceeded 7.5 hours per week during the teen years.  Leakage of urine is failure of the tissue to handle the repeated load put upon it – if you keep straining the pelvic floor muscles repeatedly, the incontinence will just grow!

There are many ways to rehabilitate the muscles of the pelvic floor, and Kegel exercises (which most people do INCORRECTLY) are not the only way.  Anyone having pelvic pain or leakage incontinence or suspiciion of prolapse should be evaluated by a therapist instead of just throwing a Kegel exercises at it. You will need more than one exercise to fix any of these situations, and “exercising” for pelvic pain might just make the pain worse.  Pelvic physical therapists will work on posture (of the body and the posture/positioning of the pelvic organs), strength and endurance and coordination of the pelvic floor muscles in order to help challenges.

It was an interesting course, and nice to see physical therapy moving in the right direction in recognizing the pelvic floor as an integral part of core stability and as a body systems and a neuromuscular region that responds the way to rehabilitation as any other region of the body.  There is hope!

Blessings,

Carrie

 

Self-Care in the Midst of All The Things

I was recently reading this article from Beth Bridges, entitled, “https://bethbridges.com.au/17-reasons-why-modern-women-are-struggling-so-much/ ” from July.  I agree so much that women do way too much, are way too busy, give away from themselves when they don’t have it to give, try too hard to please everyone and do for everyone.  I would add to this list that many women, especially homeschoolers mothers, don’t do a great job taking care of themselves.  Yes, many do small things like take a multivitamin or taking  a  relaxing bath, but many do not do even the bare minimum of things they probably need to function.

As many of you know, last year was really stressful for our family.  We came through it, but about May, my asthma. allergy, and infection levels were not  so great.  It was kind of like being a student at university, and you get through all the final exams, but by the time you get home for Winter Break, you have bronchitis for the first week of break.  Did that ever happen to you?  That’s what this summer and into fall has been like for me.  I had to jump in and deal with it in BIGGER ways than I had been.  Taking a bath wasn’t going to cut that level of depletion!

So these ideas about self-care is really about dealing with complete and utter depletion.  Homeschooling mothers push themselves harder than most people I know.  I think you can push like that for awhile, but again, years of pushing and years of homeschooling without break…well, I think then somewhere between your tenth year upwards of homeschooling, you may crash, unless you have a health crisis before that.

My idea is that self-care can be like a pyramid. It is individualized, because different people are doing to consider different things little, medium, or big, depending upon time, money, resources like who can watch your children if you need to go to the doctor alone… But here are my ideas, and my pyramid.  Take what works for you and make your own pyramid of self-care! But, much like the slogan, I think we have to decide to “just do it.”  There will never be enough time, money, etc.   You have to decide  you want your levels of self-care to change, that they can change, and that you are willing to make your self-care a priority.

LITTLE.  It is hard to think about doing BIG things if you can’t do LITTLE things.  Here is my list of some of the little things:  finding time each day to read, finding time each day to be outside, making whole foods for meals, taking a relaxing bath, listening to a podcast or inspirational app that nourishes you, sleeping 8-9 hours a night, walking at a brisk pace (not a toddler’s pace) several times a week, let go of something, hydrate with enough water, sitting in silence each day.

MEDIUM.  Then, are you ready for the MEDIUM things?  Maybe that is a morning or evening routine that focuses on YOU , not the children.  Maybe medium things are like making daily healing herbal infusions, making the time to exercise most days of the week, finding inspiration in daily offices of prayer or daily meditation and weekly spiritual community outside the home. Those things take overall incorporation into your rhythm outside of your family rhythm, and it takes weeks to build them as habit, so I count them as medium things.  

Maybe some medium things aren’t daily, but are those yearly things you try to do – your yearly eye doctor exam, OB-GYN appointment or physical exam with blood work by a physician.  

BIG.  Then, finally, the BIG and sometimes scary.  Getting those doctors’ appointments done.  Getting the follow-up appointments for said doctors’ appointments. Making those appointments for therapy and following through in order to heal the woundedness that is plaguing you and all those self-help books aren’t helping.

I find therapy is the one no one really seems to want to do, yet can often have such a large impact on physical health and the vitality of your life if you can find the right therapist or counselor. For lower cost options, try places of worship that have counseling centers, or therapist who offer sliding scales of payment.

These are BIG things because of the extended time commitment and need to change thought patterns, ways of prioritizing time and money.  Many don’t do it due to time, but also due to money.  If you are in the United States, and lack good  health care insurance, I urge you to look at health cost sharing programs. This began with Christian programs as outlined in this blog post, but there is now a secular version of this starting called Knew Health.

Maybe you don’t think you need these sorts of things, but I find many mothers who are in their upper to late 40s and early 50s do, particularly if we want to not have health problems in our 60s.  So if you are younger and not needing any of this, maybe you can plan ahead.  Or maybe your BIG self-care would look like something else…

Maybe BIG self-care would be leaving your children in another homeschool mother’s care so you can have an afternoon to yourself.  Maybe it would be leaving your precious children for a weekend along with your husband or a girls weekend or even a weekend alone.  Maybe it would be, gasp, a change in lifestyle, and putting your children in school instead of homeschooling.  This happens more than you might think for homeschoolers with high schoolers, who have homeschooled for many years, and their health is just burned right out.  For those of you with older elementary-aged children, and middle school aged children,  please please consider carefully your health and long-term homeschooling plans.  You cannot bloom all year round, every year – no flower, no creature on earth does that.  Where and when are your fallow periods?  Do your older children, again, older elementary and middle school, really need YOU every minute?  What other trustworthy and wonderful adults can speak into their lives?

The ending of my story (or the beginning)…..After not being able to breathe  for months and enduring repeated problems, this month I needed to pull out bigger guns than the little self-care steps I was already doing,( or even go beyond the medium steps).  First I had to deal with the immediate crisis at hand, since I was headed towards hospitalization since I was getting so many infections on top of the asthma (despite doing all the usual healthy things and chiropractic).  For me, this involved working with a  the chiropractor I was seeing, a Western (regular) MD, a Western allergist/asthma specialist, a functional medicine specialist to clear allergies, and a holistic dentist who had a speciality area of asthma and airways. These  were and are hard steps, because they are weekly appointments on top of an already busy schedule, they cost money (see above for options beyond health care insurance), my husband travels weekly and is rarely home, and so doing this also is just one more place to go and to coordinate where my children will be at that time.  But these are important places, and I want to encourage you to go to your important places too – whether that includes medical appointments, therapy or counseling, or whatever the BIG thing is you have been putting off for your health.

 

I would love to hear your journey of self-care and health.

Blessings,

Carrie

Successful Waldorf Homeschool Planning

Successful Waldorf homeschool planning is a little like planning anything else….

Where are we doing this?

We are doing this at home and within our family unit, and perhaps within a broader homeschool community.  The where is important, because this makes it different than a school.

Why are we doing this?  Sometimes questions beginning are helpful discernment, and helps provide motivation.

  • Our idea of a wonderful homeschooling education is…
  • OUr idea  of a wonderful family life is..
  • Our idea of a healthy adult is…
  • Our children need…
  • Our family needs…

That should be a little motivation. To get specifically motivated  and discover “why” regarding the broader picture outside of our family about  Waldorf Education,  there are helpers such as…

  • Rudolf Steiner Audio
  • Rudolf Steiner Archives
  • Rudolf Steiner’s lectures about education
  • You Tube videos about Waldorf Education made by the schools and Waldorf-trained teachers
  • Articles and books that discuss why we are teaching for each grade the subjects we teach – this is the developmental piece that anthroposophical education hangs upon, so if you don’t understand this developmental approach, you will not understand why you are teaching what you are teaching!
  • Great books that are inspiring about Waldorf Education

Then we need the what –

  • what are we teaching?  This becomes the basis for the larger picture plan of blocks.  A list of the blocks by grade can be easily found; the pieces that often are missing is how that ties to your place in which you live, and how that ties to the child in front of you, or even your family culture.  Waldorf at home starts with the wholeness of the family at home.  This is different than a block outline by grade that has served schools, and yet is a template that we also cannot ignore as it fits so strongly into the archetypal development of the human being that is a centerpiece of Waldorf Education.

How are we teaching it?  These are the details that become important in the day to day planning.

  • Artistry – we need not only creative ideas, but HOW to teach these artistic techniques.
  • Academics – we need to know an academic progression and sequencing, which many curriculums honestly do not provide well.  We also need to know how to teach these skills.
  • Combining – HOW can we combine our children so we are not teaching 3-5 separate main lessons, which I highly doubt Rudolf Steiner would have recommended for the homeschooling mother.  I think the essence of combining comes with looking at field trips and experiential learning as the basis for the blocks and academic work – which goes back to looking at where your specific family lives and your specific family culture.

It seems like a super tall order!  I find many curriculums do well in providing the motivation, the why, even the “what” (although the blocks, cannot often fill in the approach of your family’s geographic place and culture), but often really lack details as to the art of teaching, the scope and sequence of academic and artistic progression, and definitely in the combining.  These pieces may need to be filled in by you, the teacher, as part of your approach to education.

Blessings,

Carrie

 

 

 

 

Toolbox of Tips For Communicating With 9-12 Year Olds

This is second in a three-part series of discipline, communication, and development for 9-12 year olds so we can all be more effective parents!  The first part to this series can be found here and got a warm reception from readers as it tackled discipline, responsibility, protection, sports, emotional intelligence, and more.

One thing I love about this age is that I think we have a chance to make a big impact on how we resolve conflict and communicate with one another.  The home is really the first and most major place in which children learn this!

So, the first thing to be aware of is what is your communication style?  I find many adults have a really hard time helping 9-12 year olds with conflict and communication within the family because they themselves were never taught communication skills or conflict resolution?   So, I think we need to think of things such as:

  • How do we deal with things and other people when things are not flowing smoothly? How do we react? What do we say?
  • Do we accommodate conflict by being a people pleaser and backing down on our boundary?  Do we avoid conflict and run away?  Do we become competitive and try to win over why we are right?
  • How good are we a collaborating during times of conflict?
  • Are we direct?  Can we say and use “I ” statements directly when we communicate – “I am frustrated!”  “I am angry!”  But……
  •  What do we do with those feelings then, though?  Take it out on everyone around us?  Yell, scream, shut people out, cry?
  • Do we put people down when we are frustrated or irritated at the situation?  What do we perceive as “disrespect”, why, and what do we do about it?
  • Do we use steps in resolving conflicts?  Only then can we really model.

For younger children, we often think of things such as using our bodies to walk over to the child, connecting with the child and getting the child’s attention, using a calm voice with a simple request, helping the child follow-through in the request.  If conflict ensues, it often is just a matter of hungry/tired/exhausted/needing connection, helping the child calm down, following through or making restitution.  Attacking, lecturing in a long tirade, blaming doesn’t do anything to teach a child how to communicate or solve conflict.

For older children, things become infinitively more complex however.  There is often less of a “working together” model in place developmentally, which is normal, but it can also impact communication and openness.  Here are some suggestions to lay a good baseline:

What are the ESSENTIAL family rules (boundaries)?  Not like pick your socks up off the floor, but the really essential things. What specifically triggers the adults in the family, and the 9-12 year olds and makes the house less peaceful?  What is so essential it can’t be avoided, but what is not essential and could be discarded?  Pick and choose the ESSENTIAL.

In our family, this does include respect and good manners for one another.  Manners are how we show we care about one another, and we should have respect for the fact that we are all different people with different temperaments, personalities, and interests living in the same house together.

If there are things like doing homework or completing chores causing conflict in the family how could you break it down into an action plan that garners cooperation?

Make the family a place of POSITIVENESS and SUPPORT.  One of my favorite phrases to use with my children is, “I am here to help you.  Tell me what you would like to see happen.”  That opening often sets up a much better conversation.

Make the family a place of TEAMWORK.  This is often set in ages birth-9, but it is never too late to start!

EMPOWER.  Children ages 9-12 are not going to do things the way you do them as an adult, but the more empowerment you can give them within the rules of the house and what needs to happen. What will happen if responsibilities are not done?  If poor words are chosen?  If the child becomes completely angry?  Figure these things out in a time of quiet and calm, and have it ready to go and draw upon.

START TEACHING. Responding to what other people say in a defensive way is not an effective way to communicate, and just like learning to walk or throw a baseball, learning how to communicate takes PRACTICE.  A few hints:

Everyone must be calm. This step often takes much, much longer than everyone would like.  Take the time to calm down. Come back later.  There are few things that have to be solved in a split second.

No defensiveness. No yelling. No name calling.  No accusations.  No physicality. If any of these things happen on the part of your 9 to 12 year old to you, stay calm.  Tell your child you would like to help them.  Most 9-12 year olds can still get really overwhelmed by emotions, and need space and time. Defensiveness, yelling, name calling, accusations only ramps up the whole thing and instead of problem solving it is just emotions spilling everywhere.

We can all disagree, but the reality is if we all live together, we have to come up with solutions that work for the family, and we have to agree upon boundaries and rules in order to  live together.  Nine to twelve year olds are often not really logical, so it is important to help guide the discussions.

Listen carefully, and talk about how things happened and what you would each like to see happen.  Come up with a plan.   Make restitution.

I would love to hear your experiences in communicating with your 9-12 year olds!  Let’s exchange ideas!

Blessings and love,
Carrie

 

 

 

Hello, Gorgeous August!

August is one of my favorites!  It’s hot and sultry, it’s my birthday month, and there are lakes and pools and flowers and fireflies.  The harvest is coming in, and there are so many wonderful ways to celebrate that from picking blackberries to apples in our area starting to ripen to helping harvest hay!

Here are a few things we are celebrating this month:

This month we celebrate:

August 6th – The Transfiguration

August  9th  – The Feast of  St. Herman of Alaska  – for this feast, we plan on reading this lovely book.

August 13th – Our first day back at school with 11th, 8th, and 3rd grade!  Looking forward to a beautiful year!

August 15th –  The Dormition of St. Mary –  August 15th  – on this day, we tell the story of the Dormition of St. Mary and read this little book.

August 31st  – The Feast of St. Aidan  — we plan to tell the story of St. Aidan and the horse he was given by King Oswim

Ideas for Celebration:

  • Making beautiful triptych to celebrate the life of St. Mary.  There are many wonderful ideas regarding this on the Internet.
  • We have about another month of tubing, swimming and water park availability to us, so we hope to take advantage!
  • Camping
  • Gazing at the stars
  • Walking in the mornings
  • Celebrating the back to school with little things to use during the school year

What We Are Working On At Home:

  • Making some supplies for the upcoming fall/cold/flu season – mainly elderberry syrup
  • Still working on a four week rotating menu for breakfast, lunch, and dinner to streamline things in the kitchen!
  • Medical appointments – I try to schedule all of my medical appointments in August
  • New habits!  Getting ready for  school and busier schedules and finding and sustaining a home-centered life  in the midst!
  • Changing out the nature table

Our homeschooling life is starting on August 13th.  So close!

Our 11th grader has a number of outside classes this year, including Pre-Calculus and Advanced Placement Psychology.  I will be teaching Chemistry , Health,and World Literature.  We are going to have a ball!  Our eighth grader will be starting with a physics and meteorology block and our third grader is starting with a harvest/farming kind of block.

Share with me what you are up to in the beautiful month of August!

Blessings and love,

Carrie

What To Do When Life Is A Mess

Are you in a dark place?  Divorce, death of a parent or spouse, lack of employment or other financial woes, older teens into things that are just plain challenging, something else?

Yes.  I have been there.    It can be tough.  It can be dark. It can be lonely, especially if people really haven’t been through what you are going through.

And it will be okay.  Life is beautiful and life is messy.  They just go hand in hand.

Lean into it.  Sometimes there are no quick fixes.  It just takes time.  It just takes healing.

Shelter your younger children as you see fit, but certainly teens deserve to know that life is messy, people struggle, and yes, you can come out on the other side.  This is called resilience.  Life is not the the perfect spot in the home that people post on social media.  It is more like the picture of all the dirty dishes piled in the sink that were never posted.

Lean into each other.  When darkness and depression fall, lean into family and the friends you can who are understanding and compassionate.

Take care of yourself in whatever capacity that means to you.  For some, that means drawing the wagons in and becoming insulated with just immediate family and the closest of friends.  For others, that means reaching out and getting help with the children, getting counseling, or getting a physical workup to help support the stress that they are experiencing. I don’t know what it looks like for you, but take care of yourself. If you feel like you are having thoughts of taking  your own life, or that people would be better off without you and that you are a burden, or if you just need to talk to someone about what is going on in your life, text TALK to 741741.

Keep things simple.  You may only be able to get one thing done a day.  And that’s okay.  This phase will not last forever and forever.

It will pass.  It will be better.  Sometimes life is just about hanging in and hanging on.

Blessings and love,
Carrie