Category Archives: Gentle Parenting

Not Back to School Bash!

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Not Back to School Bash!

I co-admin a local unschooling group. There are a couple hundred members on the spectrum of unschooling, but it hasn’t been very active in the past couple of years. Parents occasionally ask questions. There has been the random meetup. I have been wanting to get the group more active, but hadn’t really figured out how to.

As the school year was approaching for all the kids around us, I had the sudden desire to get the unschoolers and relaxed homeschoolers together to celebrate another year of living life together at home. So I went out of my comfort zone and created an event for a “Not back to school” park day and potluck. I shared it around our various local forums to spread the word.

As the day approached, I didn’t know how it would turn out, but the kids were excited. I figured even if only a couple of people came the kids would have a park day at least. I was so pleasntly surprised, however, at just how successful the day went. We had over 50 people come. There was lots of food.

There was hours and hours of running and playing. Imaginative games, Pokémon talk, and interesting conversations.

We had chalk, and someone brought a few toys.

Kids of varying ages came, which was awesome. I set out our Not Back to School sign for everyone to sign or draw something on for an awesome group collaboration.

We even had a brief thunderstorm. Everyone gathered under the shelter, eating and taking. Hailey pulled out her tablet and kids gathered around her to check stuff out with her. I won’t show everyone because some people may not prefer their kids pictures online, but it was a fun sight.

Winter played with his brother and friends for hours too, and enjoyed some dirt fun.

Even after more than 5 hours of play it was tough to get the kids to leave. We met so many new awesome people, and reconnected with some we hadn’t seen in a while. There were kids that had never been to school, and kids in their first year staying home. Many parents were so happy to get together and excited to get the group active with me. It was a fun day and the kids are happy to officially mark another year staying home!

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Unschooling Today 8/20/2018

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Unschooling Today 8/20/2018

The schools are starting all over the place this week. Our city starts on Wednesday, and we seem to be one of the last. I am not buying into the back to school hype at all. We couldn’t be happier to keep living our life without school. I am actually hosting a fun “Not back to school” playdate for our local unschooling group. The kids are super excited about it, and hopefully I will have time to write about it once it happens.

Another Monday. I try not to be a downer about Mondays. We don’t have to get up early because of the day of the week. The only thing that changes is Papa goes back to work. Yet, lately Monday’s have still felt difficult. I don’t know if it is because we are in this season of change with the baby only being 12 weeks, or if it is because our weekends have been busy so the kids are overstimulated a bit. Some of both likely. Today started out tough. My toddler was being very rough with his brother. The toilet clogged and overflowed. Some people woke up grumpy. Etc.

After breakfast, we got the day back on track with some outside play. This almost always helps the mood around here, especially for my 5 and 2.5 year old. We headed to the back yard and they played, rode on the jeep, went back in for costumes, and played some more. Hailey was up by this time. We watched a little of YouTube with her when we were inside too. After the boys were finished outside, I made everyone a snack and offered to read some new library books to the kids. We sadly hadn’t gone to the library and ages. It may have had something to do with library fees owed…cough….cough. They boys picked out a bunch of books and we sat at the table and read.

I laid the little ones down for a nap, then got up and made lunch. I chatted with Hailey and Elijah while they were playing on their tablets and ate. The baby woke up. I asked if the kids wanted to play Roblox with me while I nursed. They really love it when we play together. We played for a while, then when Winter woke up from his nap I took him back outside to play. Elijah followed shortly after and they worked together to get cups of water and pour it into an outdoor pan. They said they were making an ocean.

Hailey is off now at Kung Fu class. Elijah is playing the virtual reality headset job simulator game. The rest of our night will probably include more outdoor play, some tv, dinner, some more library books, ice cream, and definitely some coffee for the adults.

Those days you wake up in a bad mood.

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Those days you wake up in a bad mood.

Yeah today was one of those days. The classic “woke up on the wrong side of the bed” type of days. It seemed the kids were upset before we ever left the bed, the baby needed a diaper change, the dog refused to go out, and I just wanted to make breakfast. I felt myself withdrawing and just wanted to start the day over.

It’s like the universe just knows you are already struggling. It’s the type of day where you just feel kinda sad. Then every little things seems to go wrong. You drop everything, coffee spills, kids keep getting hurt, trash tips over. And on and on. Maybe on a good day these normal things are mild frustrations that you just breeze through, but on this type of day each thing just piles up.

These are the days it’s easier to slip up and yell at the kids. It is much more difficult to stay mindful and present for me, and when my mind wanders my gentle parenting tools seem farther from reach. I don’t mean to sound so negative, but this is an honest picture of where I was at today. I don’t always have sunshine and rainbows type of days even though we unschool and believe in gentle parenting.

I have come far in how I handle these days. Years ago I would just try to get through it telling myself it was okay if I snapped at the kids a bit because everyone has bad days. They’ll be alright. Truly if it happens, and sometimes it does, they will be alright. That does not mean it’s okay if I give myself permission to take out my mood on them though. They are not responsible for my feelings, my hard day.

So about halfway through our day, I laid down the two youngest for a nap. I had managed to stay fairly calm despite my mood. I had set us up a relaxed, slow paced day and expectations were realistic. Then, just as my toddler just falls asleep I hear it. I hear my older two in a very loud argument. I wasn’t surprised. Kids have an amazing ability to pick up on our vibes. Often, my bad mood translates into a similar mood for them. My 5 year old seems particularly sensitive to this.

I jumped out of bed hoping to quiet the fight before it ended the much needed nap of my toddler. I was frustrated and wanted to yell. I wanted to threaten something mean in that moment. I even started to. The words began to come out of my mouth. But I stopped them. That is one thing I’ve gotten better at through my years of practice. I do not have to continue my tantrum. I don’t have to finish what I started if it isn’t going to help our connection.

So I stopped. I stopped my thought and set up the kids in the way we do so that I could help facilitate problem solving and good communication. I heard each child out, validating and paraphrasing. I reframed it back to the other child. We figured out what each kid was feeling and how it led to the behavior. We talked about how we might handle things differently next time. I really didn’t feel like handling it that way at that moment, but again, the kids are not responsible for my feelings.

Then I invited them to play a game with me. I had imagined spending the toddler nap time watching a TV show and hoping the others would play together while it happened. It was clear that wasn’t in their capability at the time. Their behavior was telling me they needed connection with me. So I invited them to play. Elijah set up legos on the table, while Hailey set up a board game. So I played Legos in between my turns. Hailey destroyed me in Sorry. Elijah liked his Lego man beating up mine.

Now they are playing together and getting along I’m sitting on the couch, window open, feeling a breeze. Maybe I’ll get to watch a few minutes of TV after all.

Our day has many hours left in it, and I don’t know if it’s going to not be one of those days anymore. I still feel kinda blah, but I certainly feel much better than earlier. Play is good for me too apparently.

Unschooling Today 8/01/18

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Here again with a peek into our day today. I woke up today with a positive mindset and consciously decided today was going to be a great day. I find this comes more naturally to me when I’ve been listening to Pam Laricchia’s Exploring unschooling podcast regularly.

Our morning started with breakfast and coffee for me as usual. Elijah was excited that he was 24 hours fever free, which meant he could hug and kiss the baby.

After breakfast, I read a book to Winter, and played a pretend game with Elijah. Hailey was watching YouTube during this time. We then went outside. It’s been unexpectedly cool around here, which I’ve enjoyed. Winter picked me dandelions from around the yard.

The kids played on the swing set for a bit and climbed the dome.

We headed inside for lunch and relaxed watching TV. I laid with the two youngest and actually got them both asleep!

Hailey and Elijah played the Wii for a bit. I cleaned a little. I invited the kids to play Uno with me and they both excitedly agreed. We played a few hands together, and then a couple more after Winter woke up.

Hailey went to play the Wii some more. I needed to start dinner soon, so I set out some cloud dough. This was a new thing I wanted to try. The kids enjoyed it and played for about an hour with it.

Hailey and Elijah are now playing a pretend game together, while I juggle nursing the baby and finishing dinner. I know more YouTube will be in our evening, and probably more play and books.

Feel free to share about your day in the comments!

Some quick pics from our week

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I have shared most of these on our Facebook page, but wanted to have it all in one place. We’ve still be hanging around the house mostly during the week, besides one evening trip to Grandma’s house so Papa could work on her car. Anyway, this is some stuff from our week.

She is writing a book. She’s been writing a chapter a day with pictures included.

Hailey wrote the alphabet on our bricks. The boys have been walking back and forth singing the letters with me. Elijah wanted to do it forwards and backwards, so now I can expertly sing the ABC song backwards 🤣.

These boys sometimes fight hard, then play even harder. Winter looks up to Elijah and copies him, and Elijah takes pride in teaching his little brother life lessons.

Here they are joined together to fight the bad guy aka our poor tree 🤣.

My daughter went to some garage sales with her Grandma and Great Grandma today. She came home with a bunch of stuff to create a home for something she’s pretending is a caterpillar. She said she is “really into caterpillars right now”. Apparently that started yesterday. 🐛

Coincidentally, shortly after she got home I spotted this on our porch. They were excited to observe (but not touch!). We looked it up and found out it is an American Dagger Moth caterpillar. So we read a bit about those. Now, Hailey wanted to show her younger brother The Very hungry caterpillar story on Netflix while I search for the book.

Last night, Elijah asked to make some candy with his Zombie science candy kit. We did a few of those but didn’t snap pics.

We also had a playdate with friends. I didn’t get any pictures of them running around and having fun.

That’s been our week!

2 year olds

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I don’t believe in “terrible twos”. I do believe the words we chose to say or think about a situation changes out perception. I know this can be a tough stage as a young one tries to figure out where they can be independent and when they still really need help, all in the middle many cognitive growth spurts in language and functioning. I have so much empathy.

I’m on my third 2 year old. My first was a higher needs kid and all her years have had some big cough spots. My second was much more easy going, although super physical in a way I had never experienced.

This little guy is much more the typical 2 year old experience that people refer too. He is so much fun, but wants to be fiercely independent without all the skills to do so which feels overwhelming and frustrating for him. He has also been on a very late sleep schedule for a long time now, so that has its own challenges. I’ll be honest and say, many days lately my empathy has been more forced, my patience thin. I’m tired, pregnant with my 4th, and sometimes wish I could just speed up this stage. I know I *really* wouldn’t want that.

All that to say, that no matter how long you’ve been on the peaceful parenting journey, sometimes it’s hard. Sometimes you catch yourself thinking things that go against what you know to be your real core values. I’m searching my toolbox to find ways to feel more centered and present again. We are all learning.

I don’t fear daylight savings anymore. 

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Daylight savings time. I used to go with the rhetoric of how awful it had to be, because everyone else complained; and truthfully, when we pressured ourselves with early time commitments, I’m sure it did have its challenges. 

Back then, I was very much still discovering who I was and what I believed as parent. I caught myself parroting what I heard others say. That was the normal. I wanted to fit in. Not only in my words, but my actions. I did many things differently, but I also conformed in ways that were hard for me. Get up early, rush to a million activities. Go go go. 

Not now though. Now my kids can sleep and wake as they need. We adjust each day and go with the flow, sometimes earlier, sometimes later. Hailey did wake up earlier than usual today, not because the clock was changed, but because of an excited little brother who made a bit too much noise. That’s okay. We can figure out what we need as the day goes on. Our morning was free to take it as slow as we needed it to be.

We ate breakfast, the kids watched a bit of a movie, checked on their birds nests they made for the back yard, and found ladybugs on the porch as I sipped my coffee. Winter demands I take pictures of anything he deems interesting. 

I am thankful that this day won’t throw us off the week and that we have no strict schedule to adhere to. I know that can’t be everyone’s reality. My husband will still have to sleep at his normal time, even if the kids are still up. I could look at that as putting more “work” on me. I don’t look at it that way anymore. I love this life.

Unschooling Today 10/26/2017

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It was a chilly morning. I decided to bake some apples to go with our breakfast. I whipped up some cream too, as my kids love fresh whipped cream. We ate breakfast and had a relaxing morning.

Yummy

I cleaned up while the kids played together. They listened to some music. It was really the first time they played well together all week, so that was nice.

Winter wanted some chips. I has picked up a new flavor at the store. It was called Voodoo. We all tried them and talked about what voodoo dolls were and a bit about New Orleans.

The kids played with Magnatiles. I made a big snack plate.

I layed Winter down for a nap. The kids were still playing with the tiles when I got up. Hailey was multitasking them with her DS.

My Mom called and told me she had left a surprise for the kids in the mailbox. Elijah had mentioned he wanted to get mail, so Grandma to the rescue. She surprised them each with a letter and a small box of goodies. They were thrilled.

Papa came home. He had a virtual reality  headset with him that he was supposed to test. The kids all took a turn.

We had dinner. The kids are playing on their tablets for a bit, and then we will tell stories and snuggle for sleep. 

Feel free to share about your day in the comments. 

Not back to school 2017

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I was so happy to sleep in a bit with the kids today, instead of waking up at hours that nightowls (like myself) scowl at. We had a slow morning. I made french toast for breakfast for those who wanted it. The kids played and watched tv.

Hailey has been really into Pokémon again these past few weeks. She’s always loved Pokémon, but other interests take a back seat for a bit while other interests come to the forefront for a while. Shes been trying to unlock all the extras on Pokémon Y DS game. We chattes about that often throughout the day.

The kids all played various games together. At one point, I asked if they wanted to help me put away laundry. They ran around pretending to be wolves and putting the clothes in their rooms.

Hailey made herself a snack of peanut butter and bananas while I made lunch for everyone.

Hailey for ready to head to her martial arts class. When I picked her up we went to the store for a few things.

Back at home, we read some library books and ate ice cream.

That was our first day not back to school!

Unschooling today and yummy snacks

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Some public schools near me started back today. That is almost hard to believe. It is so early! It is summer! I continue to be glad for the choices we’ve made to keep the kids home. 

This morning started out with an oatmeal bar. I got the idea from Our Muddy Boots Facebook page. If you don’t follow her already, head straight over and check her out! The kids made their bowls of oats with their add-ins of choice. 

After breakfast, Hailey picked up a workbook we have laying around. She found these at the store a couple of years ago, and works in them when she wants. I call them activity books. She’s really enjoying practicing her spelling lately, so that’s mostly what pages she chose to do. 

The majority of the rest of day, the kids spent in the computers together. They u watched some shows, played starfall, then some PBS kids games. I’d bring snacks and check in. They’d show me their computer creations, and songs they made. The toddler was running around doing toddler things like building blocks and making messes. 

On the way to taking Hailey to her martial arts class, I mentioned I was stopping at the store while she was gone. She asked me to pick her up a couple of things because she had an idea of a treat to make. 

I grabbed the groceries, and then picked her back up. I made dinner, while the kids played and chatted about their plans. Immediately after dinner, Hailey set to work on her recipe idea. She wanted to create a bar with marshmallows, peanut butter, pretzels, and chocolate chips. 

She had me help her with the peanut butter and breaking the pretzels, but she did everything else herself. The recipe was completely made up by her. 

We baked it. It was hard to wait for it to cool. 

Hailey was disappointed that they weren’t as sweet like a dessert, more like a granola bar. She decided on less peanut butter and more marshmallows next time. 

Elijah had fun making some creations with the extra supplies. 

That was our day. Please feel free to share about your day in the comments.