Golden September

September feels like new beginnings and fresh starts, even here in the South where the temperatures are still sweltering, everything is still green at this moment, school already started in August – but it still holds that harvest promise and the intimate feeling that the autumnal equinox is coming soon.

What my family is celebrating this month in great gratitude:

Labor Day – September 7  I have talked about attending parades on this day in the past, and of course, this year I imagine most will be canceled with COVID19. Perhaps you have had builders or workers in your family that made important contributions to tell your children.

The Nativity of St. Mary – September 8

Holy Cross Day – September 14

Autumn Equinox – September 22 – You can see my Autumn Pinterest Board for ideas!

The Feast of St. Michael and All Angels – September 29.  This is one of my favorite celebrations in the church and at home!  You can see my MIchaelmas Pinterest Board for some ideas!

The Home Mood:

To me, the fall becomes a time of turning inward; a time of gratitude and reflection.  How do my words, my actions, reflect my gratitude toward my Creator and toward my life?  How do I interact with others in order to show this?  There is a quote I often think about from Dr. Rudolf Steiner that talks about this. He says;

The cultivation of this universal gratitude toward the world is of paramount importance.  It does not always need to be in one’s consciousness, but may simply live in the background of the feeling life, so that, at the end of a strenuous day, one can experience gratitude, for example, when entering a beautiful meadow full of flowers……And if we only act properly in front of the children, a corresponding increase in gratitude will develop within them for all that comes to them from the people living around them, from the way they speak or smile, or the way such people treat them.”  Rudolf Steiner from “A Child’s Changing Consciousness As The Basis of Pedagogical Practice”

Gratitude is such an important mood to create in the home. I think this creation can be tangible,  like those gratitude jars or going around the table at night and sharing something we have gratitude for…those are wonderful in their own way, but I think creating a  true mood of gratitude in the home actually is a much harder and deeper task.  How to  really permeate this mood and carry it, even when things are overwhelming, is for this season of overcoming and courage as we head toward the longer nights of Winter.

Menu planning:  we are warming up to oatmeal, chilis, stews, soups, fresh baked bread.

Homeschooling:

  • Our oldest graduated in May and is off to an out of state college!
  • Tenth Grader – Our tenth grader is in a hybrid school (four days a week, modified schedule)  so by law we are homeschooling, but I honestly don’t feel as if I have much to do other than help with homework and organizing assignments.
  • Fifth Grader – our fifth grader is still traditionally homeschooling.   We began with Ancient India and will be moving into Ancient Persia this week.  We are busy with math and spelling practice, main lesson, some physical fitness activities, chores, and barn life with our horses.  Our days at home look like reading aloud, math practice, main lesson, a break,  art, spelling practice, chores, and in the later afternoons physical movement. On the two days I work at a clinic, our fifth grader attends an outdoor homeschool enrichment program that is for boys only and involves a lot of work, team building, and physical fitness.
  • Me – I am still working on my clinical doctorate and working two days a week at a clinic and seeing some private patients. It is a juggle some weeks and can be overwhelming but honestly I really enjoy my patients and am glad to be working a little in my field.

I would love to hear what and how you are celebrating in September!

Blessings,
Carrie

 

Beautiful Month of May

It’s the beautiful month of May out there and despite #covid19 and #socialdistancing (#shelterinplace has been lifted in my state with the exception of the medically fragile), the weather is gorgeous, the sunshine is bright, temperatures are in the 60’s-70’s (Fahrenheit), and we are verging on being ready to swim.  It will be very sad for us if the pools don’t open this summer, but hopeful the large lake near us will still be an option!

We are celebrating this month:

Eastertide

May 1- May Day

May 10 – U.S. Mother’s Day

May 14 – High School Graduation for our oldest!  Homeschooling is done!

May 18, 19, 20 – Rogation Days

May 21- The Feast of Ascension

May 25 – U.S. Memorial Day

May 31 – The Feast of Pentecost – you can see some beautiful cross-cultural images for inspiration

Ways to Celebrate:

These are a few of my favorite things for small children:

  • Hiking on The Feast of Ascension, watching clouds
  • Making Pentecost crafts
  • Gathering for May Day and dancing around a May Pole!
  • Making crafts for Memorial Day, this year decorating our own front porch and walking in the neighborhood since I doubt there will be parades of any kind!
  • Pedal toys – trikes and bikes!

These are a few of my favorite things for grades-aged children:

  • Seting up playing in the water and sand – we ordered a slip n slide for the backyard and are awaiting its arrival and a pool for our dogs
  • Observing all the dragonflies, bees, and butterflies
  • Calming rituals for rest times and the end of the day.  I strongly believe that children ages 8-13 still need earlier bedtimes and I work very hard to make that happen. Calming rituals and rhythm are soothing for sleep!

These are a few of my favorite things for teens:

  • Spring cleaning and spring decorating of the home, gardening tasks
  • Spring cooking, making special treats for The Feast of Ascension and Memorial Day
  • Planning surprise May Day baskets for neighbors, and doing things to serve others.
  • Picnics at the lake or park with #socialdistancing
  • Later night walks in the warm air – great time to talk after the smaller children have gone to bed

These are a few of my favorite things for myself:

  • Celebrating our family with family meetings and family game night.
  • Celebrating our marriage with a night out on our anniversary – this year it might just be a drive together to celebrate our 28 years!
  • Vigorously moving 5 to 6 days a week, whether that is through yoga, hiking, at the gym, or whatever I choose.
  • Drinking lots of water and herbal teas.
  • Daily Compline from The Book of Common Prayer
  • I made notes for who I am praying for in my phone with One Note and it has helped me immensely to stay on track and not forget!

These are a few of my favorite things for homeschool planning:

I am starting to work on Botany as our first block for fifth grade in the fall!  Stay tuned, as I may put it out to be able to be purchased when I am done since it’s my third time going through fifth grade.

I would love to hear what you all are up to!

Many blessings and deep peace to you, stay safe,

Carrie

Things I Am Keeping From Quarantine

We are still here in #shelterinplace. My state has been lifted  for certain businesses with regulations (except for the medically compromised who are supposed to #shelterinplace until June 12), but we are still choosing to be home, and #socialdistancing is still in place.  So, I guess our life isn’t changing too much right now.

Interestingly, it  really didn’t change a ton from before #shelterinplace.  We  were used to being home all together when my spouse wasn’t traveling, we were used to all the kids schooling here for the most part, and we were all used to taking care of the house and cooking all the meals because we really didn’t go out to eat a lot as a family (expensive for 5 people, right?) with all of us being home.  We did homeschool before, although our high schoolers were in outside classes that moved to online,  so with this the major changes were that we had less places to go, and my spouse stopped traveling for awhile.

The hardest part was not being able to see family and friends, and also the lines of school and work not having really set times as well as we normally do, especially in the beginning. It all just kind of blended in together, but putting in school and work limits are important for sanity and to not feel glued to the computer all the time.

However, what I did notice that was positive:  since there were less places to be we exercised more, we walked daily, we did more puzzles and things like that together, we baked more (good thing we offset it with exercise), and I actually de-compressed after about six weeks and watched three nights of movies in a row (unheard of) and took a few naps, which I don’t normally do!  We all also read a lot, which we normally did, but now I don’t feel like we were trying to squish the reading in amongst other things. I think we were also more intentional with our home spiritual life, since we were used to being at a place of worship each week and couldn’t go.

So, the things I want to keep from quarantine life:

  1.  Less places to run around to! I know we will be driving to outside classes again in the fall assuming everything opens up completely, but I hope to really keep all the automated deliveries of groceries and household items, to call and/or use telehealth for various medical things, to call and have shipped things like the supplements I take or contact lenses or whatever.  This will help  limit the places I go.
  2. To continue walking daily and to keep exercising at home.  I love the gym and will be back there, but I hope that will be on top of a great home routine!
  3. To put limits on the hours I work (self-employed) so I can have a good balance.
  4. To make Friday nights a crockpot  or grill dinner night and time for our family to gather – kids’ friends welcome, of course.
  5. To make Saturday a day to spend out in nature.  We usually do this, but just to keep it on my radar.  We are lucky to have a yard and our neighborhood connects to trails that we have been able to use  daily during this.
  6. To really keep connecting with the people that I have had Zoom calls with and friends that I have kept close contact with during this time.  Their checking in made a world of difference.
  7. To not put off taking vacations – this has proved we don’t know what will come, so take the vacation!   We had a vacation planned for the first time in two years when this happened, but I hope we get to go somewhere again!
  8. My newfound spiritual traditions – for my religion, using The Book of Common Prayer daily, which in the past I have gone through great spurts of diligence and not, and reading our sacred texts.

What will YOU be keeping from #shelterinplace? What are you excited to get back to?

Blessings and love, stay healthy,
Carrie

5 Things You Can Learn From Veteran Homeschoolers For Your Pandemic Homeschooling

I truly hope that the millions of people forced into helping their children learn at home right now don’t think this is normal homeschooling. It’s so far from it! Homeschoolers are generally out in the community for learning and to be with each other. Some homeschoolers do choose to learn on line, but most of us create lesson plans or follow something so that we are homeschooling for up to 4 hours a day and on to the rest of our lives after that. Some of us do work around homeschooling, but this is something that is planned, and we aren’t thrown into it. So needless to say, pandemic homeschooling can be so stressful!

However, I do think there are five things you can learn from your veteran homeschooling friends (besides how to hide in the closet with the secret chocolate stash). Hopefully these will help you as now most states are finishing out the school year at home, many with shelter in place orders:

  1. Get dressed. Yes, you can homeschool in your pajamas and we frequently do in the winter, but trying to set a new rhythm for learning at home sometimes can seem more serious and worthy if everyone is up and dressed.
  2. Figure out how to get movement into your school day. Many of the schools are on-line at this point, including some with live classes running all day. That’s a lot of sitting and can be a lot of eye strain! So starting the day with a walk, taking breaks between classes, moving a laptop or tablet from room to room for different classes or even outside can all be helpful. You can also plan movement breaks after school. Some people have large yards or land, which is great, but some of us are sheltered in apartments or have a small yard. You can try Cosmic Kids Yoga online, lead a game of tag or sardines or a dance party or a pillow fight.
  3. Plan your work day around when your children need you most. If you have small children, they are going to need more help than a high schooler. You can adjust your work day by working earlier or later, switching with your partner if you have a partner in the home, or just planning work and school increments. Veteran homeschoolers are often working with multiple children coming at them with varying questions and projects along with all the household chores. Folding laundry and doing math problems together, for example, is common. Veteran homeschoolers are used to interruptions and rolling with it, and you can do that with all household things but not so easy with online meetings and online work – so try to plan the best you can in increments to alternate meetings/work and schoolwork and helping your children. Increments are okay, things will get done!
  4. Put your children in charge of doing things around the house. Everything cannot be on one adult trying to work and direct learning from home. Everyone needs to pitch in for laundry, meals, and nourishing care of the home. Try a crockpot or instapot to cut down on some of the meal preparation time.
  5. Pull out toys and things to do so your children find something to do when they are waiting for you to check their schoolwork or to help them. Learning how to wait is something that traditionally homeschooled children have to learn as well. You can rotate small boxes of toys and pull thing out so something new and fresh is out every few days. Invest in some art supplies, crafts, puzzles, yard toys, or things for inside your apartment for movement as it will help save your sanity in the long run.

Last of all, have as much fun as you can. These times are hard and uncertain, but it’s a gift to be with our children and safe if we are able (I know not everyone is able, and some parents come home to being on quarantine due to their high risk jobs). Give yourself some slack, and know you are doing the very best you can do right now in this moment.

Many blessings,
Carrie

Celebrating The First Week of Advent

I love the season of Advent; it is a calling for preparation and anticipation; it is a coming to terms with the past; it is an exploration of the mystery of life; it is a calling to chart a new course for the future; it is a time when Nature is drawn into the Earth.

Roger Druitt writes in his book, “Festivals of the Year:  A Workbook for Re-enlivening the Christian Festival Cycle”:

“We can say that in summer, when everything is at its fullest extent of growth and splendour, the Earth is asleep- its soul is outside and its consciousness is in the periphery.  It is ‘unfolded.”  In winter, however, the landscapes, light and the starry sky exhibit a distinct clarity, a wakefulness.  In the Northern Hemisphere, then, during winter, nature is drawn into Earth, is infolded, is awake.”

I love this imagery of turning inward and being awake, seeing the lights above us in the stars and beautiful colors of the winter sunrise and sunset, and seeking a little bit of light for our homes and for ourselves to bring to our family, friends, and community.

Advent in the Waldorf Home is something that is frequently celebrated by people of every religious background, every faith, every spiritual path as part of the festivals of the cycle of the year.  The first week of Advent at Waldorf Schools is marked by a reverance for the mineral kingdom.  This quote is attributed to Rudolf Steiner, although I don’t think anyone has been able to show exactly where Steiner said this:

The first light of Advent is the light of stone–.
Light that lives in crystals, seashells, and bones.
The second light of Advent is the light of plants–
Plants that reach up to the sun and in the breezes dance.
The third light of Advent is the light of beasts–
All await the birth, from the greatest and in least.
The fourth light of Advent is the light of humankind–
The light of hope that we may learn to love and understand.”

I have many suggestions for celebrating this week on an outward level for children in the home in back posts – just search “first week of Advent” in the search box and many will come up with suggestions for activities, songs, verses.

However, as my children age, I am very interested in not only these hands- on activites that set the mood of Advent, but the real inner work and inner light of this season and this idea of the cosmic wondering. How do we create wonder,  warmth,  and light within ourselves to bring in an outward form during Christmastide (the 12 Days of Christmas) and beyond?

There are several things that help center me during this season that can be riddled and frenzied by commercialism and materialism:

1 – try to get any shopping done by the end of the first week of Advent so we can focus on crafting and making things for our home and for gifts with love for those we care about. Focus on the giving for others and marginalized groups, which we do in several different ways for the homeless children and women in our area and for the children who live in economically disadvantaged areas.  This giving and work around this is an important part of our preparation for Christmas.

2- get out in nature daily so we can notice the small still changes that often accompany this season, even in the Deep South of the United States where the seasons don’t often change as dramatically as other parts of the country.

3 – establish a rhythm that is more focused on the inner parts of Advent, whether that is using a devotional booklet to help us bring focus to lighting our Advent Wreath, or using an Advent Planner such as this one from Wildflowers and Marbles geared to Roman Catholic families or Little Acorn’s Advent and Saint Nicholas Festival book.  Specific to my own Episcopalian tradition, The Very Best Day: The Way of Love For Children (ages 3-10) and The Way of Love Advent Curriculum and Calendar.

Our specific plans:

Sunday –  (Worship on The Way of Love Calendar) The First Sunday of Advent; Make Advent Wreath,  set out Advent Reading Basket, out in nature – all through first week clean and declutter house

Monday -(Go on The Way of Love Calendar); make stuffed stars for Christmas tree, shop for gifts for the teens we adopted through our church, out in nature,

Tuesday-(Learn on The Way of Love Calendar)- reading sacred texts; add minerals and gems to our Advent Wreath;  out in nature

Wednesday (Pray on The Way of Love Calendar) – silent meditation, out in nature, decorate house, bring in branches to force into bloom or plant bulbs to bloom such as paperwhites in honor of St. Barbara

Thursday (Bless on The Way of Love Calendar) – give presence, out in nature, prepare for St. Nicholas Day

Friday – (Turn on The Way of Love Calendar, St. Nicholas Day)  celebrate St. Nicholas Day, acts of kindness anonymously, out in nature

Saturday (Rest on The Way of Love Calendar); Volunteer in morning, rest

I would love to hear how you are preparing for the first week of Advent!  Let’s share ideas to make it wonderful.

Blessings,

Carrie

“Kids, Parents, And Power Struggles” – Chapter 5

This is a GREAT chapter called, “Stopping the Tantrums.” Teaching children how to recognize their emotions and take actions to soothe and calm themselves is really, really important.  It takes years to practice this, because many of us are still working on this as adults (and yet we expect our children to control themselves like adults!)

Think of the way we respond to children.  The scenario author Mary Sheedy Kurcinka gives on page 74 is that of a child coming home from school where every.single.thing has gone wrong.  The child comes home and falls apart.  Did this ever happen to you as a child?  Were you heard?  Or did you hear:

  • Go sit in your room
  • It’s no big deal
  • Or did you hear nothing?  Child problems were ignored because somehow they weren’t as valid as adult problems.
  • Did your parents hug you?  And did you want to be hugged or touched at that time?
  • Did they get in your face and match your intensity?

The author describes pulling out a big bag of fluffy white cotton balls and having parents imagine themselves soothing and diffusing those strong emotions with our children. What would that look like?  What would the words be?  How would we want to be treated?  Teaching children to soothe and calm themselves begins with US. We can choose to soothe and calm, and our children will learn to do the same.

A child’s emotions can be completely hijacked by their fight or flight system.  The author describes on page 77, “Does Your Child Need To Escalate To Be Heard?” on page 77, a common scenario.  She writes, “The more you know about your child’s day and life, the easier it is to pick up the more subtle cues.”   It all begins with connection.  

If we are stressed, our children are stressed too.  When we are stressed, things that don’t normally bother us do bother us, and we either don’t pick up on other’s cues as well (the author calls this “neural static”) or we overract.

Several of the strategies to help bring down intensity:

  • Get down on eye level.  Listen.  You are not getting in your child’s face to yell at them, you are getting on their level to listen to them.
  • Allow enough time for transitions, because this allows time to monitor emotions and then you have time to help manage the emotions.
  • Physcial activity – kids and adults NEED it.  A twenty minute physical break can be really important.
  • Space -sometimes the best thing we can teach our children is to say, “I need space.”
  • Deep breathing
  • Distraction
  • Sensory Activities

Parents wonder if this isn’t SPOILING the child.  The point is this is the first step, not the only step.   Have a plan for soothing for all ages, and teach teens to exercise DAILY (see more about that on page 86).  If you do all of this, and your child still just rages, it’s time to call in a professional.  They can teach your child the best strategies, and it’s easier to do it sooner rather than later.

We are here to be the alley of our child.  Let’s make a plan.

Blessings and love,

Carrie

Manbabies

Manbabies are the subject of sarcastic definitions and memes on the Internet….here is an example from Urban Dictionary:

Manbabies:

A man who acts like a baby. If he doesn’t get his way, he becomes crabby and unable to work with. thinks he’s always right. Can be angered and upset by anything.

Must proceed with caution!

If you come into contact with a Manbaby, back away quickly and run like hell.

Manbaby’s are good at concealing themselves amongst society. They seem normal at first but throw fits not long after dating them. Be wary.

-From Urban Dictionary

I am so fortunate because TERRIFIC and WONDERFUL partners and dads write me every single day!  I am so grateful for them!  I am married to someone who is the complete opposite of a manbaby and I am grateful for that, every day of our 27 years of marriage.  However, I have to say being 49 years old can be a bit disheartening because I see a lot of women in their mid to late 40’s and early 50’s dealing with divorce.  

Some of it is infidelity and growing apart…but a large reason is women who have killed themselves for years doing EVERYTHING and her spouse or partner essentially  wanted to do nothing at all, sometimes not even wanting to work, and who certainly didn’t act like they wanted a close emotional relationship with their family – partner or children.  They wanted to do what they wanted to do, and it didn’t really involve the family.

Selfishness in romantic relationships has always existed. In this sense, the idea I think people are trying to convey with “manbaby” is maybe just a new term for something that has been around for ages.  So, my definition of a manbaby  might be a little bit different then the Urban Dictionary one. My indicators, not all inclusive but a few brief points  in the context of family life goes something like this:

  • Does your partner want to at least equally contribute to the finances of your relationship? Does your partner hold tight finances over your head but buys whatever he wants? Can you even talk about finances?  That’s partnership level stuff in a relationship.
  • Does your partner support and nourish and protect you? That’s the friendship/lover side of a relationship.
  • Do you find equity in household chores and caretaking?  Inside and outside, lawns and garbage and car care and cooking?  Or are you doing EVERY single thing every week, including working outside the home, taking care of children, and everything thing else?
  • Does your partner do anything with the children – does he change diapers, feed them, help set boundaries, do bedtime, help with homework, help arrange so you are not always on and that you can have time by yourself? Or is every single thing an unwanted chore and source of complaint?
  • Is your partner verbally and emotionally supportive?
  • Does your partner want to be home or are they always gone out with friends or zoned out in front of a screen?

I know relationships can be more complicated than the famous Ann Landers question, “Are you better off with or without him?” – especially when it involves children and marriage. It’s complicated!!    And sometimes there are extenuating circumstances such as addiction, mental illness and more.  Sometimes I do wonder though if the whole phenomenon/idea of manbabies is sort of a cover way of saying “narcissist” – you can always look up narcissist and find a therapist specializing in how to deal as the partner of a  narcissist if you think that is what you are dealing with.

However, not withstanding all that, maybe a better question is this:

Can this relationship become legendary? Can we be an amazing, communicative, connected TEAM that drives the family?

 How can we move towards this?

What would that look like?

Is my partner or spouse open to that?

Perhaps the second better question than a casual meme or definition found in Urban Dictionary is:  Can relationship dynamics change?

I guess I am always hopeful that relationships can get better, that we can get better.  Maybe you are saying  right now, hey, my partner and I are ready!  We have talked about it and we are ready to change our lives and level up!  I love this, I have seen it happen, I think it is possible if both parties are open and narcissism is not involved.

But How?

  • Clear and open communication
  • Visionary goals set together!
  • Counseling
  • Time and attention on your actual relationship, not just the children. You are a team, you are the beginning of the family as a unit and after your children are grown up and living their own lives, you will be together again without them living with you.
  • Respect and appreciation for each other and each other’s strengths

A few recommended readings:

Feel free to DM me admin@theparentingpassageway.com and share your thoughts or comment here.

Blessings,
Carrie

my teen is lonely!

It’s itneresting that I hear this not only from homeschooled families, but also from families who have teens in a school setting, and probably more from the families with teens in school.  The teen years can be hard in that teens are often figuring out who they are.  Cliques and bullying can be an huge issue, especially in the middle school grades of 6-8, despite everything said at school about inclusion and being kind to everyone. IN high school, this seems to dissipate, but friendships often fade away and shift, particularly around tenth grade typically.

It can be hard for parents to navigate this time.  Sometimes it can be hard to tell what is loneliness versus moodiness versus being withdrawn versus being anxious and depressed.  Teens may be moody (and when does that line cross from moody to depressed?), and  they can withdraw from groups of friends they previously enjoyed to be with a new group of friends (which many times is around 10th grade).  Maybe the teens feel as if they tried many of the clubs or things geared to their interests, but for whatever reasons, they didn’t make good friends out of it.

I have read some sources that say lonely teens go on to be lonely adults because they don’t learn how to function in groups and practice social skills.  Well, if that isn’t panicking to the parents of a  lonely teen, I am not sure what is!  And I don’t think that is necessarily true.  I have a different take. I think as human beings we are always changing, always growing, and that it doesn’t have to be that way.  Change is possible.  Some people are more introverted,  and if your teen is, they may be happy with a smaller circle of friends both as a teen and as an adult.  But if your teen is lonely, I think change can come  in the upper years of high school and in college, and often these teens garner friends for life in a different setting.

In dealing with this situation, I think it is very important that first and foremost your teen spend time with you and the family.  This connection is loving and grounding.  It may not replace the  friendships and peers that they are lonely for, but they will  know they will always be loved and that the family is the first place of friendship.  

And,  in this connection and grounding with us, we can help facilitate. No, you can’t set up  really set up playdates for mid to older teens, but you can talk to your teen about how sometimes we have a circle of acquaintances and that it is great to reach out to someone you don’t know as well to see if they would like to do something.  Providing that bit of emotional coaching can be really helpful.  I have seen that many teens are lonely, but none of them seem especially willing to reach out!  That is so hard.  We can also encourage jobs, volunteer work, and activities where teens spend a good amount of time with other teens for a common goal – sports, music, theater, robotics, speech and debate – whateve

For those of you with younger teens, you  can encourage groups of friends going to do something instead of having just only one friend that everything is done with.  This helps for the high school years where things dissipate a bit more. Tenth grade is particular seems to be an age where many friendships fall apart and the social circle shifts.  You can help your younger teen explore interests and connect with peers over that interest.

I would also make sure you as the parent are not projecting your wishes for your teen’s social life on to them.  Make sure that they are actually seeking friends before you offer any words or actions to them.  They may be happy with the way things are, and it is up to us to respect that.  So make sure it is true loneliness, and not just you projecting that you think they are lonely!

Lastly, teens connecting over the Internet has replaced much of the going and hanging out somewhere, so I think always being aware of your teen’s digital connections is important, whether they are lonely and seeking friends on-line or that they feel their social needs are met through on-line venues. It really is open to us to keep the lines of communication open on that and to set and use the  boundaries we set as a family regarding media usage.

I would love to hear your thoughts and suggestions for parents dealing with their lonely teens.

Blessings and love,

Carrie

 

easy ways to own your life

When I came back from the Waldorf Homeschooling Conference, which was held March 8-9 in the Atlanta area, I wrote a post about owning it.  I got some great feedback on that post, and families who are hungry to have a more peaceful life, a more satisfying homeschooling experience, a better outlook as a family are wondering HOW to do it.

These are the easiest ways I can think of to own your life

Figure out your goals.  Sometimes this is easier said than done.  If your goal is nebulous, like increased family peace, I think you need to think about what parts of the day are not peaceful? Which child is derailing the peace?  Are you derailing the peace with your own reactions?  If you can really break it down, then you can set goals to really address the smallest and easiest steps that would have the biggest impact.

Ask yourself, what is the ONE thing I can do today toward my goal?  If you have a bigger, overarching goal, it may be that you can  break it down into five baby steps and then you have five things you could do to address those baby steps – but most of us can’t do five things in one day!  We can pick one thing and work towards that one thing, and then move on to another baby step and finally all the baby steps are conquered and the goal is within reach.

Check where you are. I don’t know about you, but sometimes I am exhausted from life and I need to be very careful about what goals I set,  how I intend to address them, and the timing of everything.  Sometimes I need to pick a different time to start or to give myself a lead in period to build up when to start the baby step for my goal.

Find accountability.  If there is another adult in the house, maybe that person can be your accountability partner. If not, find a friend who will support you or someone also trying to accomplish the same type of goal.  Check in with each other, and encourage each other!

You might need to put money in the game, and you will definitely need to put time in the game. That’s just the reality.  I talk to parents all the time who want to improve their marriage, but they don’t want to spend money on counseling, dates, babysitting (but admit they are getting nowhere fast on their own without any of that), or homeschooling parents who want everything laid out for their homeschooling adventure but don’t want to spend any money on a consultation or resources.  Not everything takes money but the reality is that  some things do.  Decide for yourself what you need to invest in, how much your investment should be or can be, and if it is an absolute and essential priority how you will get it done with the schedule you have today and the budget you have today or what you can change to meet your goal.

I love this season of renewal, and to me it is the jumping point for reaching some new goals – I would love to hear your goals around parenting and homeschooling.  Let’s share and support each other!

Blessings and love,
Carrie

Top 7 Ways to Fearlessly Waldorf Homeschool

I wrote a post about “fearless Waldorf homeschooling” in which I talked about how despite our fears regarding homeschooling, we are enough.  We really are.  Every family has its own unique circumstances, family culture, family dynamics, strengths that interplay with the Waldorf curriculum at home to make it unique and able to meet the child in front of us so wonderfully.  Homeschooling is full of possibilities, but it has to be sustainable for us as teachers and parents.  And for that reason, our homeschool adventures will never look like, and should never look  like a Waldorf School.

Here are ways I think we can fearlessly Waldorf homeschool, and leave our worries and doubts about this sometimes intense way of homeschooling behind!

Decide your priorities for homeschooling based on  the amount of energy you have.  Everyone has a certain amount of energy, and we all have a fixed number of hours in the day.  Are you a low, medium, or high energy person?  What does an ideal homeschooling day look like for you?  Remember my mantra  – the Waldorf homeschool will not, and should never look like a Waldorf School program!  So what are the top priorities from looking at all the things that Waldorf homeschooling can bring that your children, and you, really really need?  Resign yourself that you must likely won’t do all the things, and that is perfectly okay.

Design your priorities for Waldorf homeschooling around your strengths, and decide if the things you are weakest at is something that you actually want to learn and grow better at doing  OR if this is something that you can outsource!  For example, say knitting is hard for you.  Do you want to spend your energy learning how to knit and then teach your child, do you want to learn together with your child, or do you want to send your child somewhere to learn how to knit in your community?

Build your homeschooling around rhythm, but remember to include self-care in  your rhythm.  I don’t know what that would like like for you, but I think for many of us, sustainable homeschooling involves being more than just the person teaching or keeping up everything around the house.  It involves being a whole human being, and for many of us, we need some time either alone, with our spouse without children, or with our own friends in order to recharge.  It might involve when  you exercise, or when you sleep in or take a nap or meet a friend for tea.  Whatever it is, plan out your self-care for the week on Sundays.   Mark it in, arrange where your children will be, but do it.  Generally, homeschooling is not sustainable into the middle grades without this piece.  Burnout is real, and many people who start homeschooling and throw themselves into it with gusto either have to reinvent how they homeschool in the middle school grades or they put their children in school.  

We must always teach to the child in front of us.  What parts of these traditional blocks are of most interest to our child?  What things do we need to include in the grades that are developementally appropriate , meet our family culture, meet the time and place in which we live that are different than the Waldorf Schools?  

How do we deliver these lessons?   Waldorf homeschooling is about more than creating main lesson books!   There will always be children who hate to draw orwho hate creating main lesson books, and we must do more than just decide an education based in the arts, based around health and using sleep as an aid to memory,  is not for them.  In the home environment, we have so many creative options.

What is our end academic goal? I think far too many parents enter blocks without thinking about what they are trying to accomplish skill-wise – so think about this in your planning.  This keeps you confident and courageous!  What academic, social, emotional, physical and artistic skills is this material a springboard for?  What’s the end point? 

When in doubt, what will foster connection and responsbility in your child? Both of these are important, as the ultimate goal of Waldorf Education is that  human beings once again learn how to live with each other, that we can connect with the “other”, that we see how things are interrelated, that we can serve humanity with love.  It helps to begin with the end in mind. 

Blessings and love,
Carrie