Every day is a new beginning. I am always motivated in the spring. Maybe it’s the lengthening hours of sunshine and the starting of my gardens. Life is bursting forward and I am running face into the wind with all of it. It’s a good time to check in with yourself and see if you are where you want to be…
“Honoring your children” is a phrase you will hear a LOT in the homeschool community–but especially the unschooling community. I’ve come to see how this phrase is very subjective–with an incredibly broad spectrum of meanings.
Let me tell you what it does (and does not) mean for my family… Continue reading How do you honor your children?
Yesterday, I appeared to be having “a day”. And my blog is here to help me process, so I turned to my blog. Because it was just after noon and it was a bad morning. Here it is… raw and real and freshly outpoured yesterday. ❤ Continue reading Small confessions: all out of courage
This is not a proud day for Mama, and that’s okay with me. We all have those days. Those days where our parenting behavior is just not stellar or admirable or what we aspire to in any way.
That being said, having one of those days every once in a while (usually) doesn’t end up harming anyone; and sometimes–it even provokes some change in the people around you. Time will tell if that is the result of today’s experiences, but a mama can hope… Continue reading This is what a bad day looks like
My blog post on allowances was posted to Facebook and someone asked me “what happens when they don’t do their chores?”
Fair question… because that happens. So here is how I handle it at my house… Continue reading How I get my kids to do their chores
BigGuy woke up very late and I heard him sneeze twice. They were deep, chesty sneezes that may have hurt him in his chest. We’ve been skirting illness for a few weeks now; and honestly–I could not be more thankful that we haven’t been sick. The last two years (almost to the week) have been EXTREMELY hard on my family and a lot of the things we had in place that kept my kids (and the parents) healthy went largely out the window as we worked on other things that took the front seat.
One of them is how we eat. The other is stress management. Continue reading My day… Monday, Sept. 29th so far…
Yeah… I think this is going to work out–not being part of the Young Philosopher’s group that was meeting on Fridays from 11:30am-1pm. I mean, that’s lunchtime. Seriously? And it’s kind of far. And it falls on the day that BigGuy and I are supposed to hold our big Socratic white-elephant-in-my-head discussions… which might be too much heavy conversation for a day.
But Fridays are really, really open now and I think that’s going to work well for us. For one, it’s the day we prepare for the weekend. We do our “weekly home blessing” (thank you, stronghold of The Fly Lady) which is a set of two chores per family member that help get the house cleaned up before the weekend. This started long ago when we hosted “Wine Night” at our house every Friday night for nearly a year before relocating. Taking care of cleaning up the house before the weekend set in meant that we enjoyed a clean house all weekend and company dropping by wasn’t an issue. We could just relax.
Well, we are returning to that. And I think having the review of the week’s work and the Socratic discussions on Friday are going to dovetail nicely into preparing for the weekend. Because we can also have these discussions WHILE we work on stuff.
So each day the kids have all kinds of responsibilities…
- Make their bed
- Put their laundry in the hall basket and one of them takes the basket down to the laundry room (or one of the adults do)
- Pick up toys in their room (which usually happens twice/day–once before going down to breakfast and once before bed… but we’ve removed a lot of toys from their rooms)
- Pick up whatever toys they were playing with all day before getting their screen time or going out to any cool play dates
- Set the table and get drinks. Honestly, I have no idea who does what part of this now except that at a prior family meeting, Girly wanted to put out the plates. That meant someone had to get them for her. Apparently, not anymore. She’s pushed her kid chair to the cabinet, stood up on it, got down four large dinner plates, and put four forks on them and then carries it all to the table. Whaaaaa…..???
- Clear the table after every meal
- BigGuy has to clean his bathroom and the master bathroom–and doing that is broken down so that he does a different part each day. He often forgets this chore or forgets to include my bathroom… but this is a new one.
At the end of the week, it goes like this (or rather, IT. IS. PLANNED. to go like this):
- BigGuy vacuums the entire first floor and upstairs hallway. With his complete failure to master vacuuming, we are now sweeping.
- Girly is supposed to dust and put away whatever toys are left out.
- Papa is supposed to empty EVERY. GARBAGE CAN. IN THE HOUSE. including the laundry room and powder room; and mop the first floor
- Mama is supposed to clear ALL of the horizontal surfaces–desk, kitchen island, counters; and sort/purge all papers–bringing the keepers to the office.
Honestly, the kids are the only ones being held to this right now and BigGuy bears the brunt of it. So add this to the list of “things mom should really get better at”. To be fair, Girly is WAY more helpful in general than BigGuy so I kind of don’t feel all that horrible about it. At 5, she tap dances rings around him in the helpful category. I love my son and he has his amazing qualities. I’m just saying that being helpful isn’t one of them.
And then there’s the general keeping things in their place crap. Shoes go in the closet, not out and about. Pencils have a place. Library books have a place. Board games have a place. My core sense of self is only at rest when “everything has a place and everything in it’s place”. With this house presumably the final place (until retirement), sh*t’s gotta get put in it’s place and that needs to become a habit.
Friday is also farm share day. So if we can get the rest of the house clean, by the time we get our farm food later in the day, we really don’t have anything standing in our way to deal with the vegetables. We get two shares from a farm in town; but then another farm uses our house as a drop-off point (it’s complicated–they started using us mid-season when we were already midway through a full season share with the other farm. Although to be fair, last year we did 4 shares total–two from each of these farms; and we’re likely to go back to that next year since we will not yet have our own gardens to the point of supporting us. Wait-wait-wait… I digress..
I’m looking forward to Fridays. Especially if they’re sunny. And clean.
Things I did well this week:
- Planning an appropriate amount of work
- Planning work that BigGuy found interesting and engaging
- Planning around events we scheduled
- Reading our character building book
- Working (unexpectedly) a consignment sale fundraiser (for a friend whose kids were sick) and although EX. HAUST. ED. I really handled all my responsibilities well! WOOT!
- And on that note, bought some good shirts for BigGuy at above-referenced sale.
- Nearly kept up on our new (or rather, return-to-former) laundry routine where nobody has hampers–all laundry is collected every morning and a load is done every day. BAM!
- Not losing my sh!t on anyone. This is actually an accomplishment because my PTSD therapy in the last week was rough.
Things I did not do well this week:
- Having backup plans when primary plans fell through–which left us kind of in a not-great situation sometimes.
- Finding engaging things to do with Girly because truly, I didn’t realize how this whole new “wake up and work with Papa” thing would pan out
- Reading to either of my kids
- Doing the socratic discussions with BigGuy. To be fair, this was partly my not wanting Friday to be C O N S T A N T discussion/analysis and partly because we had an emergency plan-change for Saturday that left me missing Girly’s soccer game (and a night out for someone’s 40th birthday that I was really looking forward to) and canceling attendance at a kids birthday party.
- Apparently I may not have enforced the deodorant rules well enough to BigGuy because his Friday discussion group leader sent out an e-mail to all of us parents requesting some body odor enforcement. I’m not sure if it was BigGuy (since I didn’t notice offensive odor… this week) or someone else. But note to self: bear down on this one.
- Definitely did not enforce the bathroom chore routine well enough with BigGuy. But also didn’t enforce any chore routines with Girly, either.
- Keeping my grumpy on the down-low at times. Like when there was a detour for a field trip and I had zero contact numbers to find out where to go. I’d been told “the big main entrance–parking lot is right there, you can’t miss it” only to find out 1) there were no less than 6 parking lots; and 2) we weren’t going to the big, main entrance. And my car was out of gas. In an area I didn’t know well. And I was really, really grumpy about it to other people including adults.
Other things that happened this week:
- Girly has become a brick wall goalie. I seriously cannot even…
- BigGuy decided that he would start going to bed without a parent laying down with him “so that he could start doing sleepovers”. This is simultaneously an awesome day and the worst day of my life. I knew it was coming just like when you KNOW someone is going to die of a terminal illness and yet, it blindsides you anyway. So far, we have discovered that we need a “goodnight” routine as I wound up without a kiss goodnight.
- Girly decided to start doing HER OWN hair. Have you seen this kid’s hair, folks? This is a picture of what it looks like for her to “do her own hair”. She pretty much flattens the top with water and I’m not really sure what hair “utensil”. She does it often and is VERY proud of herself… so I compliment her every time and remind myself that we will absolutely HAVE to REALLY do her hair the next morning rather than slack.
- We went on a crazy awesome field trip to a municipal airport and aviation school that included the control tower.
- We wound up with 4 shares of Community-Sponsored Agriculture (CSA) farm shares to manage. Two that we normally get from our farm plus two more that people did not pick up from our house (which serves as a host site for a local CSA farm). This would normally be an awesome thing.
- BigGuy and Girly are clearly fighting off illness. Between Illinois being one of the 6 states with confirmed cases of Enterovirus and close friends kids coming down with Coxsackie… I’m concerned. Last night, BigGuy let out a few coughs in the middle of the night (for more on why this is a big deal, see BigGuy’s background)
Overall, I think it was a decent week. I would love to be downtown drinking with a bunch of happy women celebrating a 40th birthday right now, but I will take a hot bath and soft bed after this day of being on my feet ALL. DAY. and up since early (for a work-related meeting before covering at the sale).
Upshot is that BigGuy is happier and feels like the dynamics of the household have changed for the better with this recent change in who is getting up when and doing what.
I can’t lie that there is a very, very tiny part of me that is sad that Papa gets to connect with the boy instead of me. I mean, I know he loves me and all. I just wish I had the resources right now to connect with him more meaningfully. Or that I was at least gaining something else in the absence of that connection. Like maybe connecting with Girly. They grow up so fast. I just need to focus on the gratitude for having a husband that gives them that rather than my kids lacking it completely.
I’m sitting here listening to the sounds of Girly crying in her room and BigGuy finishing an hour’s worth of trying to clean the bathroom vanity in my room.
I’m not exactly getting this “teaching practical life skills” thing down very well.
Ideally, these are things that would have grown with us as a family–learned and added as time wore on. But that’s not what happened. Instead of gently ushering my kids into independence and the keeping of their environment, my untreated PTSD led to a rather volatile “mom can’t take any more of the mess and freaks out” method of trying to keep house. Only further derailed or enhanced, of course, by 7 moves in 4 years (Girly aged 8mo-4 and BigGuy aged 6-10… formative years).
Now my kids have grown into a lifestyle of simply not taking care of their things and not really wanting to keep the household clean. Mama’s upset about the state of all of it doesn’t really move anyone because Mama’s been kind of a b*tch for the last several years as the symptoms of her condition got worse.
So… first, Mama canceled this afternoon’s events “because obviously we need more time to get things done”. That resulted in lots of playing. Cool that they’re having a good time, but Mama can’t do it all by herself. Then I tried some consistent redirection. #fail
The biggest mistake Mama made was telling them that I sold tonights tickets to “the circus” (it’s really Cirque Shanghai). Oh my. They get upset, but they don’t exactly get motivated to do anything. In fact, sometimes BigGuy will cry and plead that “he’ll do AAAANNNYYYYthing” to get whatever he lost back and sometimes, I fall for it. I tell him to do some subset of what he was responsible for and he still won’t do it.
The whole thing is really just a parenting mess that needs to be made right. And the way I’m handling it is nothing positive… which is making everyone miserable and not exactly suring up the shaky foundation we’re working with.
Mama’s decided that I need to be WITH my kids as they do this–talking them through it and helping them find joy in the process until it becomes a habit. I need to be engaged instead of just barking out orders.
Today was a Thursday. Every Thursday, we have a babysitter from 1-5pm. He’s a big, goofy 30yo man from Spain and our time with him is temporary as he is due to leave the country soon. My kids love him. We will call him Nando.
We were supposed to go to some homeschool event this morning, but Mama got up at 4:30am with horrible anxiety and had to take some medicine that I wasn’t sure was safe to drive with. So I canceled that.
Instead, BigGuy got through his Biology lecture. He then managed to get his bathroom chores done. Oh–I didn’t tell you that he actually did his bathroom chores yesterday, too. He often gets motivated by the potential for earning his screen time back. Pfffft…
We did our helpfulness story this morning. Yay!
I hadn’t organized any learning for him today because I thought we’d be out all morning and he’d be with Nando all afternoon. He finished any unfinished work from earlier this week–except the stuff he needed me to be involved with (he asked, I just wasn’t prepared). The deal is: he can only do the electronic-based schoolwork when the rest of it is done. Only because the screens really screw with his head.
Girly and I sat down to read and it became clear that she needed some instruction on vowel blends. So I let her watch “LeapFrog: Code Word Caper“. But then I realized that she doesn’t really know her vowels COLD, so tomorrow she will be watching “LeapFrog: Talking Words Factory“.
I’m not really sure what the kids did all afternoon with Nando. I went to therapy and ran errands and came home in time for Husbeau to go to a group where he could hang with other energy workers (he does reiki… I don’t fully understand it all, but he can pretty much put me to sleep on nights my anxiety is in overdrive). I took the kids to get ice cream because I was just not having a great day and ice cream fixes everything. When we got home, I tried to respond to an e-mail, but Girly wanted. to go. to bed. And she was NOT happy that I was allowing an e-mail to keep me from putting her down. And I was pretty grumpy about her not letting me finish the e-mail.
Shame on me. (I mean that seriously–not sarcastically).
She was so whiny and upset. When I finally got upstairs and snuggled her (about the time Papa got home) I apologized to her.
“I’m so sorry I was finishing my e-mail instead of coming to put you to bed.”
“It’s okay–just don’t do it again.”
“I’ll try not to. I’m sorry I was grumpy about it because I love you and I wasn’t acting like I love you. I’m so thankful that you are our girl. You’re so helpful all the time and I wasn’t being kind or helpful to you; and I’m really sorry about it.”
“I still love you.”
Ugh… tears. I seriously don’t deserve these kids sometimes.