Unbusy In All The Right Ways

There is a lot of movement toward becoming “unbusy” – however when I look at many of these Facebook groups and websites, it almost becomes more about de-cluttering than it really is about picking the priorities of being unbusy or about…well, the life that happens along the way of homeschooling and parenting for many years.   To me, the material de-cluttering is actually the easy, if not time-consuming part.  The bigger question becomes, ” How does one become “unbusy” from too much life?”

This is  important  to think about because the reality is, for most people and for most homeschooling families, life does get busier the older children become (unless you have an roadschooling/wildschooling lifestyle or your children are just very introverted and don’t care about doing much).  Most older teenagers, especially, are eager to be busy.  When I talk to mothers of older teenager, they are busy. I have grown to think that in this season of life, it isn’t bad.   It just is.

The other thing to couple into this is that if you homeschool (and parent!) long-term over decades, LIFE just happens.  There may be illnesses in the family, death in the family, separation and divorce happens.  Life happens.  Sometimes there is more life than homeschooling.  It is one thing to sustain a very calm homelife for many years, but surely in fifteen to  twenty years or more of homeschooling a family  probably will hit some bumps along the way!

My very best advice for those of you with younger children is to figure out how to enjoy your days at home and of   being outside in nature with a simple rhythm but no real agenda.  Practice the art of just being in the moment.   I know the days and nights at home can sometimes feel endless, and parents sometimes rush to fill it all up.  And some of that comes from worry or fear.  Maybe you worry (just a little bit) about fitting in with mainstream society..  Maybe you worry ( just a little bit) about all the other children are starting gymnastics at 5 and cello at 4 and how will your child ever compete later on.  Maybe you worry about your child not having any friends.  Many of these things can wait. You only have the time for your children to have this protected innocence of being little  once.  The life of activities and more formal learning will come.  An d, by learning to be present in these early years, you can learn to survive the coming years of ups and downs.

For those of you on the cusp of becoming busier, my plea to you is not to have your eight to fourteen- year old carry a schedule or behaviors  like a sixteen year old.  There will be time enough to ramp things up.  We used to start things later, like sports in middle school.  We were just starting to get our feet wet in middle school, and our playing peaked in high school.  So, I know it doesn’t feel like it right now, when everyone is learning and doing things much earlier and for more sustained periods than we ever did in my years of growing up in the 1970s and 1980s, but I guarantee talent and drive can still lead to  great success  in the  high school years, even if your child didn’t start something super early.

If your child is under that fifteen/sixteen change, boundaries are still really important.  Don’t let them carry the behaviors or the straining separation from the family that the 15-17 year olds carry. Those in the 8-14 range are not there yet; if they are pushing to go there try creating a community for this age instead of a bunch of friends you don’t really know.  Family is life.  The separation will happen eventually, but I still think the goal is to have the family unit be the most important unit of togetherness.  If your child’s friends can be integrated into your family fun, and your child into family life of families that you are super close to, all the better for enriching everyone’s lives.  It becomes a community, not just an outside friend.  Our older daughter’s closest friends are like this, and we so appreciate it still.

Make time for family nights, dinner together, family vacations, limits on technology, long drives and long talks.  Help siblings learn to be together.  Help children learn to be content without being constantly stimulated, entertained, or with friends. These are skills that will determine health.

Think about your priorities as your children expand outside the home.  Sometimes this  expansion happens in your neighborhood, or school, or through an activity.  Our older girls ride horses and we are pretty wrapped up with horse care.  For the most part, I enjoy this.  It is a close knit community of support and love for all of our children.  Yesterday I was outside all day during a horse show while our son played all day outside (hay bales can be a full-on day of entertainment!).   Win-win.  It is good to think about these things when your children are 8-14.  It isn’t just about what your child wants to do but also  can it be a supportive community for the whole family?

For those of you with older  high schoolers past that 15/16 change….they have their WHOLE lives ahead of them.  It doesn’t all have to happen in four years of high school.  Life is way beyond the high school years, and the late teens and early twenties I think are a hard time period where young people still need our support.   My cousin and I were talking about this just last weekend – how hard the early twenties actually were hard times and how family support, even in the form of letters back in the day, were very helpful. Sometimes it only takes one person to make a different in the life of an 18-22 year old.

In homeschooling high school, I see many homeschooling parents, including myself sometimes, feel antsy about these years.  Are we doing enough in our teaching? (We are!)  I always think that the children who are brillant in school probably would have been brillant at home too, and the children that aren’t so brillant at school probably will do better at home than they would at school.  Find the balance between the need for chill and the need for  accountablity, perhaps with you or with someone else.  Some high schoolers really need the “someone else” to rise up. That is okay.   Most of the parents I talk to talk about the long days their teenagers keep, especially those teenagers  in pursuit of colleges, and how they  boh teenagers and parents are exhausted.  You can read more about why the average American teen is exhausted and burned out here.  If this is what we are coming to as a society, I think we as parents need to rebel for the health of this future generation.  Balance is needed for our future leaders. Help your teenagers find your family priorities, and learn that give and take.

Choose to be unbusy in all the right ways.

Blessings and love,
Carrie

 

 

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Cold Weather Fun

Much of the eastern United States and Canada has been in a cold snap this month – um, it snowed in Savannah, Charleston,  and Florida this past week.  That is not unheard of, but it is pretty unusual!  Are you dealing with cold weather?  (And to my Down Under Readers, Happy Summer!)

With prolonged cold weather, there often come a few things that happen.  First of all,  wonderful cozy time at home, hopefully complete with hot drinks and a warm fireplace going.  It can be a great time to catch up on projects and declutter.

If you need a way for your children to get out energy inside, try the suggestions in this post

It can also be a great time to play fun games!  I will try to post some pictures on the Facebook page of our favorite games by age, but a general list includes for those under 9 cooperative games ( we like the ones by Family Pastimes;  Snowstorm! could be appropriate) and games like Wildcraft.  For those 9-12, we love the Monopoly games, Labyrinth, Sushi Go, chess (and many more).  For younger teens, we love games like Monopoly  (or Monopoly-type games like Horseopoly), Boggle, Scrabble, Tellestrations, Catan, Risk.  Older teens (16  or 17 and up) like party card games, games like Secret Hitler, Resistance, One Night Ultimate Werewolf, and even old school games like the Game of Life  and Rummikub can still be loved.

For adults, sometimes thinking about a new rhythm is rejuvenating.  It is a great time to get rhythm together or to think about  warming meals for January.  Warmth is the name of the game this time of year, both on the body and in the heart:  Emotional and Physical Warmth (lots of comments on this one!)

Maybe you would like to  use some of this time to plan ahead for Martin Luther King Jr. Day (are you planning volunteering as a family?)(here is a back post on The Impulse of Martin Luther King Jr. and one on the Celebrating the Light of Martin Luther King Jr.)    or  Candlemas?

How is the weather in your part of the world? I would love to hear what you are up to in dealing with the cold or the hot!

Blessings,
Carrie

 

Light + Joy: 2018

May love and laughter light your days,
and warm your heart and home.
May good and faithful friends be yours,
wherever you may roam.
May peace and plenty bless your world
with joy that long endures.
May all life’s passing seasons
bring the best to you and yours.

From an Old Irish Blessing, author unknown

May this be your year of light + joy.

May this be a year you are renewed and replenished.

May this be a year you make great memories.

May you be proud of how far you have come and undaunted by whatever is ahead.

Go boldly and be your beautiful self.

Happy New Year, dear readers!

Blessings,

Carrie

Refreshing The Rhythm

This is a great time to think about how to ease back into life after the holidays!  Here in the Northern Hemisphere many have taken the week off between Christmas and New Year’s, and some children are going back to school the day after New Year’s and some are starting on January 8th.  Parents everywhere are wondering how to get back into the groove of things, and homeschooling parents especially (you mean we can’t just end school here?)

Some of the things I love to do to help get back into things:

Review where we were in the fall semester and where we need to go in the spring semester. Some Waldorf homeschooling families write progress reports at this time.  I only write one at the end of the school year, but I think each family is different.

Get some inspiration from favorite Pinterest boards and You Tube Channels

Get the house under control!  Need help with rhythms and routines for house cleaning?  Try this back post from 2009 called Housecleaning and Homeschooling

Breakfast plans. It is hard to get the day going if we are caught up in making breakfast and then distraction sets in and everything starts really late. If you are home all day with younger children, this may not matter, but older teenagers often have places to be in the afternoon, and we need to get going in the morning. I find a warming breakfast often helps.

Planning rhythm around your rest and your  own physical and emotional needs. This can be hard for some of us to do whether e we often put everyone else’s needs before us or we feel as if the education of every child in the house is relying on us. For a refresher, try this back post on Building Your Homeschooling Around Rest

Ease into the rest of the school year by having a nature week, a handwork week, a week focused on one great book (“The Living Language Book” by Christopherus has suggestions for this sort of unit), plan extra time for crafting or playing wonderful board games (post to come on our favorites) or being outside… in other words, take half days to just be together with structure before you start trying to throw a full schedule onto everyone!

If you must tackle a full schedule due to time constraints, then plan to start on a Wednesday or Thursday so you have a few days to be “on” and another mini-break. 🙂

Just a few ideas!  Tell me your favorite way to ease back into school!

Blessings,
Carrie

Building For Justice and Peace: The Fourth Day of Christmastide

This morning, the day of the Christian Holy Feast of the Innocents,  I was meditating on this piece about the humility of children from a Roman Catholic source.  It pointed out  how children are the builders for justice, peace, and truth. Children have a way of getting to the heart of things.

I really want my children to be bearers for this generation of these values and ideals.  I want them to not only be able to take care of themselves, but also to be able to take care of those around them who are suffering, who are poor, who are needy, and to be able to have a moral compass that will help them stand up for social justice and truth in a context greater than themselves.

In doing this, I have been thinking about:

Modeling Compassion and a Moral Compass-  Children are watching, and I better walk what my talk is saying.  It is sort of like saying, “You cannot watch TV (but I will watch 15 hours a day on my computer or phone”).  We cannot say we want our children to demonstrate a value for justice and peace if we do nothing to show compassion in our own family and in our community, and if we live a life completely separate and without regard for what we espouse.

Respect – If we cannot respect our children when they speak up, how on earth do we expect them to be able to speak up on important issues or when they have the differing opinion from a room full of people?

Humilty – It is not up to us to save the world by ourselves.  But it is up to us to do our part and to shine our light where we can. We need others to show us, help us, heal us, and strive together.  Change can be slow, slower than we often would like.   We must be humble and acknowledge that it takes long, hard work to make effective change whether in ourselves or on a societal level and it takes more than just ourselves.  There are many stars shining in the darkness.  Respecting the boundaries between what I can do myself and what I can’t without sacrificing my own family or my own health is part of that humility.

Community – Living in a community of people dedicated to justice and peace will not only push us as adults toward greater education, knowledge, and activism, it will help us model for our children and control our own egotism.  It helps us share comfort, forgiveness, and reconciliation as we work together.

Diversity – I have a quote up on my personal Facebook page that “love illuminates.”  Demonstrating love for all and putting those ideals into action is even more important than the words.   Think of others, think of others as individuals, and think about things, even large issues, from that point of view.

Still pondering on this winter day.

Blessings,
Carrie

 

What’s Your Truth?: The Third Day of Christmastide

I got up this morning and I was thinking about this third day of Christmastide.  For Christians, it is the Feast Day of St. John the Evangelist. One of the familiar symbols for St. John is a chalice, sometimes with a snake emerging from it as by legend he was challenged to drink a cup of poison to show his faith.  He is often represented as an eagle, his truth soaring and illuminating and ever ascending.  In the Celtic tradition, (of which my spiritual path of Anglicanism has strong markings),  St. John was favored over St. Peter and St. Paul.  St. John, the Beloved Disciple,  is said to have leaned against Jesus during the Last Supper and to have heard the heartbeat of Jesus, which in the Celtic tradition became a symbol for this idea of listening  within ourselves for God and for listening to all of creation.  Find the heartbeat.

In parenting, we often have to hold a fine line between the truth and the values we hold and listening, really  listening, to the child and the family members before us and keeping ourselves centered.  Good truth requires not an idealisitic, I-will-get-my-way-for-my-truth-come-hell-or-high-water, but instead a careful consideration of truth, guiding, listening, and not losing our own center. We have to know our own truth and not be tossed about.

Six year olds will fight you and tell you that you are not the boss of them.

Nine year olds are certain there is more out there and possibly you are not all that there is.

Twelve year olds change their minds incredibly fast as to how they want to dip their toe into outside activities – how many, how much, when.

Fifteen year olds are certain you don’t know much about the pressures they are facing and that you cannot listen and really hear them.

What is your truth in the face of that?  And how will you listen?  It is sometimes difficult to fully and wholly listen.  We often want to  form our own response before the other person has really finished speaking. I think in order to be effective illuminators of truth, we have to ask ourselves through inner work what is that truth, why is this our truth and is it rightfully so, and how do we stand for this truth in a way that is harmonious with the unity of the family or others?  What is our responsibility toward ourselves and others, and what boundaries do we need to be healthy in that endeavor?

I encourage you to set up an art station for a few hours this week – paints, colored pencils, pens – and see out of this free artistic spirit what prayers and truths arise for the coming year.  These are precious days in winding down this year.

Blessings during these Holy Nights and days of Christmastide,

Carrie

 

The Fourth Week of Advent and a SPECIAL offer

This year, the fourth week of Advent is very short since it is also Christmas Eve Day and then we are thrust into the joy and splendor of Christmastide!  There are some wonderful activities for the fourth week of Advent, including baking gingerbread men, adding human figures to your Advent spiral.  There are wonderful stories for this week.

But most of all, this fourth week of Advent is about LOVE for humankind. Are there any single mothers who might need your help?  Maybe their children would like to go shopping and get their parent a gift.  Are there any people around you who you know are having such a tight Christmas financially that maybe a card for groceries would make a huge difference?  Is someone suffering through grief and loneliness this holiday?  Can you listen, walk with them, have them over.

This is a short week this Advent, but I really encourage you to look outside of your realm and see if you can help anyone else.  I am grateful we were in a space this year to help several families out.  It really was the best!  Let us teach our children that this is what Advent and Christmastide is all about!

I had several mothers contact me this past week about working with them to set new patterns and new intentions in their family life and homeschooling.  I don’t normally do consulting and answer a lot of email questions for free.  I have for years and years.  But this year, in a spirit of love and encouragement, I am offering half hour and full hour phone consultations through the month of January.  If you would like a phone consultation, with me please email be at admin@theparentingpassageway.com to reserve your spot.

Many blessings to you in this special week.  Looking ahead, may your 2018 be bright.

Blessings,
Carrie