Category Archives: Gentle Parenting

Following the Rabbit Trails of Conversation

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One of my favorite things about our unschooling days has to be the chats that evolve into unexpectedly deep conversations. We have the time to let one topic naturally lead into another, and end up on a rabbit trail that leads to new discoveries. I never know when this is going to happen; it isn’t something that can be contrived.

After one of these talks, it is interesting to reflect on what topics we touched. How can we start out talking about tea and end up exploring religion, geography, morality, drug addiction and thoughts on the afterlife? I come away from these conversations, not only with new ideas for me to consider, but with a greater understanding of the people my children are blossoming into.

This very thing happened today. I sat around the table drinking tea with the kids. One chat flowing into the next, almost seemlessly. I’m not directing it here, I have no agenda. I love seeing where this goes. I find it amazing to learn more about the values and opinions the children are developing. The topic of heaven and hell gets brought up, which religions believe this, what differences are there in each belief? What do you believe? Good and bad people? What makes someone good or bad? I watch as new ideas form as they talk through it. What starts out as black and white becomes more gray as they explore the possibilities outloud.

My oldest remembers an app that gives backstories of people and we are to sort them into heaven or hell. How do we decide? One person killed their countries leader, but that leader was a genocidal madman….not so simple. This person has lived a fairly simple life, but has battled drug addiction. “Mom why is it an addiction? Are you a bad person if you are on drugs?” I don’t present as having all the answers, just my own experiences. Each person from a different country, bringing up questions about where that is, or what’s going on there because that might influence the final decision.

I couldn’t have predicted this afternoon’s tea time would include these important conversations. I can’t even know all the learning and connections that were made, or what connections will be made in the future because of this one afternoon. What I can do is create a life that prioritizes the free time to have these spontaneous discussions. I can hold a non-judgmental attitude, encouraging my kids to examine their own thoughts around these ideas. I can let go of expectations of how these conversations will develop, letting them flow where they may. I can keep my own mind open, because I walk away from the chat processing new thoughts too.

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Summer days!

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We’ve been busy living life and enjoying our summer. The reality hit me today, while watching my kids run around in the sprinkler, that summer is ending for many kids in just a few short weeks. I’m so thankful, and feel so privileged to be able to continue living this life without school.

I wanted to update with some things we’ve been up to latley. If you want to see more follow me on Instagram.

I had my interview with Pam Laricchia, and we dived into my deschooling journey. It was so fun and I’m so glad I stepped out of my comfort zone to do it.

We’ve don’t lots of hiking and exploring this summer. My oldest has taken an interest in insects, and they a love animals, so we’ve been looking out for critters and creatures.

We’ve explored so many new (to us) trails.

Got inside a little cave.

And had to hike back in the rain one time. The kids laughed and pretended it was a in real life roblox game.

We’ve spent many days at home. One of my kids has really needed more home time this season. That has meant many days of YouTube videos discovering new channels, lots of roblox & minecraft, movie days, Sims 4, and Pokémon. Deviant art has been a favorite pass time for Neon.

All that time at home also means days of slime, homemade Playdoh, baking cookies, flipping pancakes, building legos, and paint.

It’s also meant finding creative ways to burn energy. I’ve been diving into tons of research on creating a sensory diet for my kids that need it. My 3 year old needs a lot of movement. Today we piled up blankets and pillows to cannonball off the couch 🤣.

We’ve done lots of running around our own back yard catching fireflies, a playing in the sprinkler, and hours of pretend play.

We adopted two kittens from the animal shelter. They have quickly become part of our family.

Our days out of the house have often been spent at the pool. The kids are learning how to swim. We usually go with friends so that adds an extra layer of fun.

We’ve had a few meetups with our local unschoolers group. I love watching the kids get lost in play with friends.

I think that covers most of what we’ve been doing. Summer isn’t nearly over here, and when it is, all that means for us is less crowded outings and cooler weather.

Do you want to go home?

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Imagine a scene for a minute. A few kids are playing at the park. One kid keeps having some big feelings, maybe arguing with the others, raising their voice, and overall having a tough time. Their parent is nearby says “do you want to go home?”. What do you picture? Maybe, like me, you usually imagine the parent saying it in a frustrated tone. It may have a thinly veiled tone of threat, sending the message “I will make you go home if you don’t stop”.

This is not an uncommon scene at all. In fact, something happened around here today. Being in public when your child is having some problems isn’t easy. You feel the pressure of the people around you watching. The pressure to be “a good parent”, whatever that means. Maybe even the pressure to attempt to control their behavior to make or more socially acceptable. I will admit that these thoughts still cross my mind.

However, I’m trying to reimagine those same words. “Do you want to go home?”. I see it in a different light. Not a threat. Instead, it’s an offer. An offer to help someone leave a situation that isn’t meeting their needs. A check in to see if they are hungry, thirsty, or in need of connecting. An invitation to partner with them in changing the environment to set them up for success.

“Yes, I want to leave”, my child answers. She knows she isn’t being threatened, she’s simply being asked. No undertones, no veiled threat. I put aside the internal thoughts and offered help. This time i remembered to breathe first, see behavior as communication, and remember that leaving a difficult situation shouldn’t be a punishment.

Acceptance and expectations

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Today was a good day to practice letting go of expectations. We had some fun low key options for play today, but after the kids stayed up super late last night with fireworks and friends, they were all tired and easily irritated today.

A few years ago, I might have felt disappointed that things I had planned or looked forward to were canceled. I’ve learned that peace is the best gift I can try to facilitate in our home. So the pool can wait, we can see friends another day, because today is a day for TV, cuddles, big breaths, and going slow. Not so surprisingly, whenever I accept the situation for what it is, everyone usually starts having a smoother day. They sense my inner acceptance.

Unschooling today 4/22/19

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Browsing Instagram, it can sometimes look like all people do tons of outside of the house, nature based, super cool activities. We try to do plenty of that, but we have lots of home days that flow with what everyone wants to do. Today was one of those.

Hailey and Elijah were the first ones up today. Hailey walked Elijah through creating a character for a gacha life story she is working on. I made breakfast for everyone.

Elijah spent most of his morning browsing minecraft addons, and trying a few out. Winter slowly ate and watched dinosaur videos. Hailey spent most of her time playing our newest game for the VR headset. It’s called vacation simulator and she loves it. She probably played for for 3 hours or so.

I asked if anyone wanted to do a science experiment that someone had posted about. The boys said yes, and Hailey said she’d come for the end of it.

While the water for our experiment was cooling down, we headed outside to help the time pass faster. It was a really nice day. Elijah noticed a bee buzzing around. We talked about how bees pollinate and how they do a little dance to communicate with other bees. We sat in the shade and picked dandelions and took silly pictures.

We went back inside for our expirent. It was supposed to be rainbow water in a glass but it was a flop. We tried a few different ways to make it work, all unsuccessfully. It was a little disappointing.

Elijah took a turn on vacation simulator for a bit. Hailey napped because she had only slept for a few hours the night before. Winter watched a show, while I used the baby’s nap time to clean up and prep food.

Elijah asked for ice cream comes and we took them outside so we wouldn’t wake up Hailey. They wanted to play in the water for a bit. It was play then fight, then play again type of deal.

Back in for dinner and welcoming Papa home. We then watched some americas got talent–the champions. The boys showed us their talents of headstands, picking up heavy boxes, and jumping off the couch.

Most of us are winding down now. Hailey is playing a game on the computer and having a late dinner after waking from her nap.

Working on my Triggers

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I spent some time at the nature playscape, enjoying fresh air with the kids. We were playing, climbing, and exploring.

Everyone was having a good time, until my daughter just wasn’t. She was frustrated with her brother not playing a game she set up for them in a way that she intended. She was having some big emotions. I sat down and talked it through with her.

She wasn’t exactly happy, but she went back to play. Then she scraped her finger. Hailey has always felt little hurts as big hurts. She feels deeply. The hurt added on top of her already big feelings sent her over the top. I could tell that this tipped her into a sensory meltdown.

Papa stayed with the boys, while I took her over to get some space and sit down. She was feeling her big emotions and I tried to comfort her. I know from experience, she has to fully feel her emotions, often loudly, almost inconsolably. She will not be distracted, or persuaded from them. In a way, it’s admirable, to truly honor where you are at and what you feel.

I rubbed her back, listened, validated. Her sobs were loud. We had moved away from the playscape, but the people nearby definitely heard her. This is my trigger. I feel like everyone is looking at us, thinking bad things, wishing she’d be quiet, judging my parenting. I hear society’s voices in my head. “Children should be seen not heard.” “Stop crying, it’s no big deal.” I have flashbacks to all the times my own mother struggled with us having big emotions in public. It was her trigger, and now it’s mine.

I’ve spent years working on accepting that all emotions have a place, and that none are bad. I know happiness isn’t the only emotion worth feeling. I know denying sadness and anger do not make them go away. I know what it looks like when someone buries their feelings until they can’t anymore and then explode in rage. I know the shame of being told you’re being too sensitive.

In the minutes I’m sitting with my daughter, I hold all these thoughts. I acknowledge them, and remind myself to breathe. I think to myself that these strangers opinions of me, are not more important than my child’s opinion of me. I remind myself that my daughter feels all the emotions and then is just suddenly ready to move on, and that this will be over soon.

In a few minutes, we are talking about the trees, then tossing little sticks at them to see if we can hit them left handed. A few more minutes, and some giggles later, Hailey and papa are checking for bugs under bark.

Was the rest of the the a breeze? No, it was pretty clear that Hailey was feeling a little heavy today, maybe not as rested or something is else going on. Later on, she got hurt again and we quickly headed home. I predict the rest of the day will involve cuddles, rest, and comfort food. Today was challenging, but I’m grateful to recognize and work on my triggers.

Unschooling today 2/27/2019

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We’ve been without a van for about 6 weeks now. Trying to keep our days at home interesting has been a challenge sometimes. If I stay on top of being present with the kids, and paying attention to our connection, the days have gone much more smoothly. Today was a pretty good day.

Me and the boys ate breakfast together, then played in the living room. I put the baby on my back, started waking up Hailey, did some quick chores and get her breakfast and us lunch. Throw in a little dance party.

The 3 year old played with our homemade Playdoh for quite a bit. We all sat around talking, snacking, and listening to music. I read a couple chapters of “diary of a minecraft zombie” out loud.

We had some tea in the special cups. The kids loved that.

Elijah played on minecraft for a bit, showing me what he was creating. Then the boys went outside to play for a while. Hailey spent that time drawing.

When they came in, I helped them get dry clothes. My 3 year old wanted to cuddle and watch TV, and the baby was ready for a nap. I played roblox with Hailey while I sat with them.

Dinner time, then I went to the store to buy some fruit, while the big kids played minecraft some more at home with Papa.

A simple day, but a good one!

Unschooling today 2/7/2019

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Today was a relaxing, sweet day. We’ve had some tough days this week. Our van is out of commission for a long while, so we’ve had more home days than usual. I’m trying my best to help the days flow, but some built up frustration has definitely reared its head this week. That made today feel extra nice.

After breakfast, the kids and I all watched some monster mob school on YouTube. These are hilarious videos with the minecraft mob monsters. Lots of laughing by all.

I made some snack plates, while we all hung around chatting and listening to music. My 8 month old loves to dance, and it’s adorable. We all love it.

The boys helped me make a batch of baking soda clay. It was our first time, and they were super excited to try it. While it was cooling down I made us all some tea.

I invite the kids to come on the porch with me and watch the rain. Elijah decided to stay inside playing minecraft but everyone else came out. It was a perfect time to make potions with the rainwater.

When we got chilly, we all headed in. The clay was ready, and each kid set to work.

They can’t wait until they dry so they can be painted. It’s going to be a few days, so lots of patience needed.

My 3 year old moved onto Playdoh next. I cleaned up a little, while the kids played. I played a little roblox with Elijah. Then they hung out together, while Winter pretended to be a superhero.

Dinner was made, more music, more minecraft, and probably some books here soon.

Just a simple, fun, down day!

My kids are braver than me

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While browsing Facebook the other day, I came across a screenshot of a conversation that so very accurately described my childhood.  49938988_1965298690184873_3182184653071056896_o

I have had anxiety for, well forever I guess. As long as I can remember. At times, it was pretty bad. I was the kid afraid to make a mistake. I was the kid afraid the world was going to hurt me, or those I loved. I thought in worst case scenarios. I also was the very smart kid that got excellent grades and never caused trouble. I was the kid that almost always listened, and the idea of breaking a rule was completely foreign. I was also the kid who was terrified to try new things, for I failed at something, than maybe I wouldn’t be thought of as smart anymore, and smart was all I felt I really knew about myself. I thought failure was bad, so I took very few chances trying anything new. New became very scary to me quite honestly.

When I was dating my now husband, I never had met someone who was so very not afraid. He would try anything, and laughed at himself when he screwed up. He encouraged me to step out of my comfort zones, and bother literally and figuratively, held my hand when I was in the middle of an anxiety attack. I have grown a lot since I was that scared child. I still have anxiety, but I have also developed a lot of tools to help. I still get scared, but I am slowly trying new things.

My daughter Hailey (8 years old), is much more like her father when it comes to trying new things. She has a lot of self confidence, and doesn’t stick herself in a box. She is dynamic and proud of it. Even though she has a perfectionist streak like me, she also seems to be learning to go with it when things don’t turn out. She took an advanced art workshop last month. She used a wood-burner for the first time, and grabbed the wrong spot and burned her fingers pretty badly. It was a big deal. The next day, I talked with her about it and asked her if it would stop her from trying it again. She said “Well, at least I know what not to do next time. Of course it won’t stop me from trying again. Nothing can stop my art!”. I was shocked and in awe of her courage. If that had happened to me, I probably would have been too afraid to ever try again. But she took it in stride and learned something from it.

I started thinking about all the smaller things that I had still been too afraid to try for fear of failure. I wanted some of that bravery, courage, and self confidence that she shines with. I told Hailey that she has inspired me to be brave. Cooking is one of my passions. I really enjoy being in the kitchen and trying new recipes. I love food. For years, I wouldn’t veer from a recipe until I had tried it many times. Why risk it? Because sometimes something amazing gets made. So I have been allowing myself the creative freedom to throw things together guided by my taste and instincts in the kitchen. I have been giving myself permission to make a mistake and learn from it. It may seem like taking a risk in the kitchen is insignificant, and maybe in the grand scheme of things it is, but it might as well be climbing a huge mountain. I am conquering fear and self doubt.

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This weekend I made homemade sushi. I had built this up in my head as big and difficult. Past me would have put it off for years, but instead I took it in small steps. I watched some you tube videos one day. Read some recipes another day. Bought a few things at the store another day. Then I decided I was just going to try. If it didn’t turn out, I could put it all in a bowl and enjoy it. It turned out great. Not perfect, but that is okay. I learned some things for next time too. It was yummy for sure.

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So yeah, it starts small. But it matters. I am thankful. Thankful that my kids don’t have to be defined by one characteristic like smart. They can be lots of things, and they can make lots of mistakes. It is okay to do things that scare you.

New Year, New Words

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The first day of the year always seems to feel particular sentimental. I am not really one for new years resolutions, as I strive to always be growing and committed to healthy change. However, the idea of picking some words to focus and guide my growth does appeal to me. I had not had the energy to put much thought into it, and decided that it would come to me naturally. The universe delivers, and the past 3 days have shown me what I think I want to meditate on this year.

                                                   Play

                                                             Adventure

                                                                               Flow

It really started the day before New Years Eve. My husband and I had some big, much needed, deep cleaning goals. Things that get put off after you have a baby and are in survival mode, but eventually you have to face the music and just tackle. We got the cleaning done, and more than I expected. The whole day was different than my typical deep cleaning day though. This time, we remained playful all day. Clutter often stresses out my anxiety (another issue I am working on), and cleaning but not being able to get it all done (because kids and life) is sometimes frustrating. But on this day we had dance parties, sing offs, told jokes, and just laughed. We communicated well, and just enjoyed one another company while working. Staying connected, playful, and going with the flow just made the whole day so much sweeter. I want more of that. More playful days, even through our regular everyday tasks and responsibilities. Play doesn’t have to be reserved for the cool outings we go on. Playfulness is a state of mind.

I like to listen to Pam Laricchia’s exploring unschooling podcast in the mornings while I make breakfast. Sometimes they talk about having an adventure mindset. It is kind of like the old saying “it is about the journey, not the destination”. Not being set on a fixed outcome, and looking at the whole thing as an opportunity for adventure. We do not always know how it is going to turn out, plans do change unexpectedly, and things are not how we picture every time. That doesn’t mean the time is wasted or we have to be upset, but instead, we can try to enjoy the adventure. We can find good, fun, play, love, growth, and learning in all things if we don’t assume we know the ending and keep our minds open.

Flow is another thing they talk about on the podcast. We all know the people in out lives who are the go with the flow type. My husband is. I am most certainly not. I don’t strive to be someone completely different than I am. I am a planner, organizer, and this is very helpful to accomplishing the goals of our lives. But as I said above, sometimes plans need to change or just unexpectedly change, and being willing to accept that is apart of life and not let it put me in a funk, is always something I need to work on. Every day is a flow. Sometimes we get really into a project or a game and we just flow with it. Sometimes we are in a season of lots of outings, and we flow with it. Sometimes we need to be home more and we flow with that. More flow, more flexibility, more acceptance of what is.

So those are my words that I want more of in my life this year. I have had a good start today. We spent our New Years day playing roblox together, chatting, watching Doctor Who, playing Kirby, hanging out, making art, and eating yummy snacks. Here is to a great 2019!