There are times when I feel like I’ve got this all under control, and then there are times when I don’t know which way is up.
Sometimes things flow beautifully. Kids are happily working on projects of their own choosing, and they just so happen to involve reading, writing and numeracy. The counter tops are clean, I’ve showered and put on mascara, and the beds have clean sheets.
Then the following week, two children are digging through baskets of unfolded laundry for unmatched socks and underwear, there are tiny legos on the carpet, dog hair on my pants, and for lunch it’s peanut butter and banana sandwiches. Oh wait, there’s no peanut butter…
There could be any number of reasons that things aren’t working optimally, but most of them revolve around one main concept, connection. Sometimes what’s missing is time to connect with my partner, and sometimes time to connect to my own needs and dreams, BUT when there is disconnect between the kids and I, they’ll be grumpier, more defiant, and mopey, and everything kind of crumbles. After all , we are also co-workers, teacher and students, friends…
Sometimes connection looks like working together on a craft of their choosing, not something that will make me feel like a great parent (sooo hard!)
Sometimes connection looks like snuggling and actually watching a movie together (no scrolling!).
Sometimes connection looks like talking and laughing together.
Connection is involved.
It means getting up and joining in on their project clean-up, or brushing our teeth together rather than sending them to tackle the job, only to find myself anxiously waiting while they got lost along the way (YOU’VE GOT FIVE SECONDS…it really doesn’t work).
It means sliding the clothes on the hangers while Wildflower sorts her laundry, or involving Moonchild in dinner prep even though I’d rather do it alone. It means a pause in writing this post to hear out Big Brother as he shares what is on his mind. Not all of the time, but enough of the time.
Sometimes connecting is hard because I’d just.like.five.minutes.to.my.self!
But it almost always solves our problems. The effort is a valuable investment.
Sometimes I feel like I’m running from a bear… the ominous term my partner and I use to refer to the burden of stress.
We are all familiar with the bear; maybe it visits you in the thumping of your heart, or the cyclical thoughts that keep you awake at night. However it visits, the bear encompasses our fear of failure, of not being enough, of not doing enough, of not being respected.
The bear is anxiety and sadness and unhealed trauma. It keeps us from caring for ourselves and of course, from providing helpful care for each other. It’s very difficult to love someone else properly, while our own cup is empty. It’s the reason we can find ourselves leaching our needed energy from the people we love, draining them of their resources. It’s the reason we over-eat, drink, and drown our sorrows in Netflix and 2X4 screens only to turn around and see that the bear has doubled in size and strength. It’s a culture-wide issue.
Here is what I have learned…I can only minimize the bear, with self care.
For me, that typically follows a levelling up system that looks something like this….(Mamaslow’s Hierarchy of Needs?)
Basic physical care…. showering, brushing teeth, combing hair, eating healthy food, adequate rest…
Once I’ve cared for my physical body, I can add in…
Daily spiritual needs… a few minutes to myself, something interesting to read or learn, a few minutes of intentional movement, fresh air
And then I can work on more detail and routine…
30 minutes of exercise, a course to expand my knowledge, meditation, an artistic project…Once I hit this level, I start to feel like I’m making progress.
Most importantly, completing steps on my personal self-care checklist as though they are tasks to be ticked will give me the same sort of emptiness that comes from a household chore to-do list unless I complete them with the right intention….that I, too, deserve to be cared for, and that these few moments will help me step into the real me. Before I know it, the bear is just large enough to drive me, but small enough for me to know peace.
Mother of Hays
Wildflower requested a fall celebration. Her description entailed food that was ‘just harvested’ and apple pie, fall decor, and all of us sharing a meal together around the table. That used to happen a lot more than it does now that Big Brother has a life all his own.
But tonight, the timing was just right, so together we all pitched in and began our meal prep at 3pm. With Big Bro on Sparrow watch, Moonchild on table decorating, and Wildflower making apple crumble, we made magic happen. I roasted a chicken with rosemary, fresh garden onions, and apple cider, cut corn off the cob to be served warm with butter, made ham and raisin sauce, and even snuck outside to dig up some new potatoes.
On the way back, Moonchild helped me salvage some of the garden’s carrots. He was excited to see how large they had become.
A little roasted pumpkin turned into a crustless pie and we were only waiting for Papa Bear’s arrival home…
Needless to say, it was a lot of work. I know I could have said ‘no’ the way I often do, but sometimes I say yes to the work for a chance of memory making. The photos displayed here are nothing but a few semi-decent phone snaps to give you a glimpse into the experience we enjoyed, but mostly the moments were preserved in our hearts and minds, and of course, with our bellies. Tonight the work was worth the win.
It’s early in the morning. The kind of early I spent my entire childhood and young adult years dreading. I drag myself out of my warm, cocooned nest and thump down the stairs, in spirit, since doing so in actual reality would likely wake the littles.
I stumble into the front room and roll out my yoga mat. Its familiar click onto the floor reminds me of a simpler time when my eyes were less tired and my hair less grey. Even if I just lay here, I think to myself, I’m further ahead than I have been. And with these words, I provide myself the comfort that comes from a lack of self-imposed pressure. I’ll just fold into child’s pose and see where this goes. Before I know it, my body is remembering the sequences of movement that provided my peace and guidance years ago…when I had time to make for self care.
All of my expertise in this area stems from a consecutive 2 days of daily exercise, meditation, and fresh air, and 9+ years of neglecting myself. I have ample experience in being too busy, in forgetting my value, something that can easily occur while providing care around the clock for others.
It is true that there are times when life gets in the way. In my case, young children mean that care for myself comes only when there is time. When our babies are very young, often the care of myself means making time to eat and to sleep while they do. The problem I’ve always run into is that this doesn’t help my spirit to thrive. Often, I spend those first 2 years in survival mode, despite the cultural belief that by 3 months, 6months, 12 months, everything should be back to normal.
Although Sparrow’s timely step towards that two-year-old mark has played a role in my ability to carve out a small piece of time for my own care, it has been a deeper understanding of self-worth that has truly lit my fire within for growth. When I remind myself that I am valuable, that I am worth a few minutes, that I am more important than the laundry being folded (though those menial tasks are valuable to me and my wellness), I begin to feel successful.
This isn’t to say that I feel that I am worthless. I have a good life. I’m a good person. I like myself a healthy amount. I’m not saying that I feel as though I lack value, but I realized that my actions were telling me this. Too many times I’d wait until I finished cleaning the kitchen before I’d take a simple bathroom break. I felt I didn’t ‘need’ new clothes because there was always something more ‘important’ for us to spend our money on. Always. I had convinced myself that I couldn’t relax until all of the work was done, so I never relaxed. I’m worthy of a break.
So Hey You! Person reading this blog of mine.
- Thanks. It feels nice to know my thoughts aren’t being ignored
- You are valuable and deserving of good things. Cut yourself some slack
Mother of Hays
It’s the most wonderful time of the year.
We’ve been harvesting and drying plants…canning pickles…and enjoying the coolness of the outdoors sans mosquitos. Yesterday, we even sported our toques while visiting Papa Bear at work in the orchard.
One might imagine us picking apples, riding the wagon, and munching on donuts, but really, how we spend the majority of our time orcharding (it’s a verb right?) is…
Scaling the dirt pile.
Over and over and over again, they climb and slide
As a grown-up, it can be difficult to carve out time for things that feel frivolous. I’m no different than anyone else this way.
I can see that this type of ‘fun’ is going to be messy. It’s going to involve more work on my part to keep our vehicle clean, to shower dirty kids upon our arrival home, only to clean out the shower AND the washing machine, likely making a mud ball with the leftover dirt.
But this kind of fun is free and freeing for both them and myself. When I quiet the voice inside me, the one that drives me to tick the next box on my list, when I really connect with the outdoors, with my kids, with the moment, I quickly feel a calm sense of power rise up inside of me. I remember what’s important…not an endless nagging voice telling me I forgot to add the potatoes to the slow cooker, but things like…
“I was reading a great book at the beginning of this week…where did I put that, and how did my life become so chaotic that I forgot about it?”
“Nothing else matters more than this moment”.
You know…things that get pushed aside in the Making of Hays.
How are you finding balance in your own life?
while the suns shine,
I’ve been trying to put a little extra into our mornings lately.
Anyone who knows me well, knows how resistant I’ve been to becoming a ‘morning person’. For some, they put off their minivan purchase until trying everything shy of strapping the eldest to the roof racks, but for me, waking up early is my last cling to my pre-motherhood days.
But, like so many areas of my life, I’m working on it.
I was lucky enough to convince our first two children to sleep in, but currently there are weeks at a time where my total consecutive hours of sleep, land somewhere between 45 minutes and 1.5 hours. I feel this in my body and my mind, and I can fully understand how sleep deprivation could be used as a form of torture. No amount of ‘you’ll miss this later’ will ever smooth the raw edges left by sleep-debt, and I can assure you, that of all the things I will miss after our children flee the nest, lack of hours in dreamland will not be one of them.
In spite of all of this, my latest mission has been to start the day off on the right foot. If you have read this post here, you’ll know how deeply I miss those morning moments before the house rises, when I can sort out the tangled web in my mind. Since this is no longer a possibility, in this age of toddlerus-sprintus, I just….get up. My eyes pop open the minute his little toes touch down, and mine are right behind his.
Typically, we make our way to the kitchen where we put the kettle on and begin a morning project. Fall fills my soul with an urge to create, nest, and nurture, whether or not I have to corresponding energy, so we’ve been really working on our breakfast game.
As each child rises, I’m mindful of how I greet them. I could grumble and launch into a lecture; I could look at them with discontent. But Granny says some version of “it means a great deal to a child if, when they walk into a room, they are not looked upon with disappointment, even if we are well-intentioned in the long run.” And she’s brilliant, so I’m working on it.
Ultimately, we are all more eager to listen and even comply when we feel respected, so I say good morning with love and what I hope looks like genuine happiness, even if I wish I were sleeping.
One last thing I’ve learned through this 3rd and final bout of sleeplessness, is that how we start our day is important. It’s the edge from which we jump into the next many, many, many, many, hours of the day, and if our children wake up feeling special and loved, and if I wake up giving that to them, it’s easier to pass around some positive energy, rather than spending the day trying to reclaim it.
It’s interesting, how we often don’t realize the need for a change until one is thrown upon us….
There are three statements I hear most frequently about homeschooling:
- I wish I could homeschool my kids, but I don’t have the patience
- What about socialization (a whole other post)
- We couldn’t afford to homeschool.
For the sake of this post, we’ll let the first remark slide with a simple explanation of, I don’t have patience either, but this is certainly teaching me a lot about how to find them.
As for the third comment, we live on a small, well-earned income . Rather than the privilege of money, there are many skills that we’ve honed over the years that we likely take for granted (doesn’t everyone know how to build a chicken coop or harvest nettles for tea?) Creativity and thriftiness are just examples of gifts both Papa Bear and I possess that have both brought us together and moved us forward. So I thought I’d share the wealth here.
Here are 3 things lifestyle choices we’ve made to save money and live simply…
We Purchase Real Food First
The perimeter of the grocery store contains all of the food we need, while the centre of the store, typically contains our wants. In order for us to save money, to feel good, and to thrive, I try to offer us the best food we can with the dollar that we have. We buy organic when we can and when it counts the most, while the remainder of the time, we simply focus on purchasing real food as much as possible. Healthy meats, such as whole chickens and cuts with a bone in offer the opportunity for more than one meal through means of soup. Veggies can double as both snacks with dip and sides for meals. We garden as well as source items directly from farms and roadside stands to find deals on inexpensive, healthy produce.
We avoid purchasing ready-made sauces, cookies, and sugary snacks that keep us coming back for more. We are not perfect, but really, I find the less sugar we consume, the less we have empty cravings to fill. When we eat real food, we fill our bodies all of its vitamin requirements, and in return, we feel satisfied. The bottom line is, sometimes we spend a bit more on our food because it gives us more now and saves us later.
We Thrift 90% of Our Needs
By purchasing our clothing secondhand, I’m able to buy beautiful brandname items at affordable prices. I select only items that my children will wear, since purchasing things that only I like would be a waste of our money, not to mention, hinder the relationships with my children. I only choose items that are in pristine condition, though I do recognize the I’m lucky enough to have some basic sewing skills which allows me to alter items to fit and flatter.
I’ve recently stopped storing clothes for the future, since I can easily outfit our family for a small amount of money at a variety of local thrift shops as the seasons change, and the sanity I was losing over keeping clothes in a home without closets just wasn’t worth it. Anything we are finished with is then donated to continue the cycle of being re-loved and to avoid being added to the unimaginable amounts of textile waste being sent to landfills every year.
Of course, not only do we buy clothing second hand, but we also drive second hand vehicles, purchase previously enjoyed dishes, snowsuits, furniture ( mostly antiques)…the possibilities are endless.
We Keep Homeschool Purchases Minimal
If someone were to ask me about our homeschooling budget, I’d have to be honest and say that we don’t have one. I don’t purchase curriculum, but rather, piece together my own using free printables, text books I’ve thrifted, and real living books from our library. There are surprising resources everywhere, allowing us a jumpstart on topics we may be interested in, or perhaps had no idea about. The bank sometimes has activity books about finances and budgeting for kids, the vet had an animal care booklet that lead to research projects, and most recently we used a hydro dam safety activity book to jumpstart our learning about electricity.
Occasionally, we’ll subscribe to specific services for a short period of time to fill a need, but ultimately, the joy of learning comes from all around us, and I’d rather avoid recreating school at home. I have many friends who are excellent curriculum educators, but this has never been my forte, so I felt that it would cost us unnecessary money for what we would get out of it.
“Live simply, so that others may simply live. ”
More to Come,