It’s February and we’re tired of winter, so rather than head south, join a gym, or visit a museum the way other folks do, we’ve decided to rearrange our home! gulp.
With Big Brother venturing out into the world shortly (shhh I’m still in denial), we’ll be moving an excited Wildflower into a room of her own again, which she frequently reminds us means she’ll be getting her room ‘back’. She undoubtedly hasn’t healed from that wound yet, but adding a fourth member to our family two years ago required a bit of a switch around. We’re excited to spruce it up and give it ‘back’ to her, just the same.
However, that’s not even the project that we’ve begun tackling. Nope, we added another to the list. We’ve decided to swap the tv room and the school room. The tv room is currently in the parlour, the largest room, which as a child, was reserved for the best of company (not me apparently, nor any of us kids), so we never had a chance to use that room. Ironically, we’ll be morphing it into our art room shortly, with ample space for both grown ups and kids alike to have access to all types of art materials. I can imagine it will be a nice big smorgasbord of kinds of creating that would make proper folk cringe. I apologize in advance to my ancestors (who likely had only the best of intentions). Though there will still be ‘school’ supplies accessible, I hate to think that we’ll dedicate a whole lovely room in our home to an institution we’ve chosen to forgo, so the name change will be just another shift.
And finally, the back room, as we’ve taken to calling it, which was the room where my great-grandmother birthed her babies when it was referred to as the summer kitchen, will become the family room. We’re planning a small tv nook and some comfy space for us to chill together as a family, but since that room is relatively cold in the winter and warm in the summer, we hope it will be used less, or else the chilling will be literal. A mama can dream right?
All in all, the current struggle for me is just figuring out how to manage the ‘stuff’ I’ve accumulated over the years. Which things are going to aid my creativity? Which things will I take forward with me? Which things no longer serve me? Answering these questions will take the most time and of course, be the most difficult. Although I love the concept of having less and feeling lighter, I don’t feel that the minimalist lifestyle is my jam, so I still plan to be as eclectic as possible despite sharing our living space amongst 6 soon to be 5 of us…
Wish us luck and minimal arguments,
Our ceiling will never be free of cobwebs
The idea of being caught up on the laundry is actually impossible, unless we become nudists.
The floors are maintained at a level of ‘clean enough’, which to me means, go ahead and eat that strawberry you dropped…
There will always be smudges on the cupboards, even though I wipe them
There will always be bathrooms that could be cleaner because we use them
There will always be toys on the floor because we play here
I might not always make the best choices or say the right things
I might not always be the ideal role model
And while these things are important in running a home and raising children, focusing on them too intently, takes my eye away from the prize.
Sometimes it’s important to remind myself what that is….
This morning I woke up determined to make this a better week, or at least, make Monday really great so that the natural decline in mom-awesomness (momsomeness?) that tends to coincide with the days of the week, would at least plateau by Friday rather than plummeting into abyss.
I was pleased as punch to see that Sparrow let us sleep until 8am, though slightly less impressed that it was Moonchild who finally leaned over and whisper yelled into my ear that he ‘couldn’t lay in bed anymore’.
So we got up.
And then we went outside because there is nothing like fresh air to spruce up my mood. Yes, mom, you were right.
I knew that the best way to bring a sense of calm to our home was to bring back our rhythm…some of the usual staples, and some new ideas. I took the opportunity to dig into my back pocket of tricks to pull out a Hay-child pleaser, anything stemming from a nature walk. So we foraged and identified various plants and their seeds which branched into creating our own ID cards….and on and on it flowed.
Though of course, Mother Nature had other plans for our walk. We tucked under the lean-to just in time to avoid being completely drenched.
Once we made it back inside, my shoes were soaked and our bellies were rumbling. A pot of tea and some warm applesauce quickly brought us back to life. The day wasn’t anything spectacular, but I kept on top of the dishes, made healthy meals, ran through a good four hours of lesson time, and folded the laundry. I even snuck in a few episodes of something for me while I worked.
Success. Small, but mighty.
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,
This summer was like no other. With the chance to explore new territory, old and new family relationships, and opportunities to pour a bit deeper into ourselves, I find myself wondering where the summer went!
Sure the proof is in my garden, as usual. The season truly has passed by while I barely took the time to care for the essentials here at home. Yes, I can feel the changes stirring within, plans for the future, for our home, for our family, for my own self-development, yet I find myself stunned to hear others speaking of this supposed ‘back-to-school’ season that is upon public school families.
Here at home we are still riffling through seashells and sea-glass pieces, harvesting a beautiful bounty of tomatoes, and seeking out that last bit of dill for my yearly arsenal of pickles before this season has, too, passed me by.
Quite suddenly, we find ourselves playing catch up from our adventures on the coast, time with family, days spent camping in the woods, and the latest moments when company filled our home with purpose, once again.
Below are just a few unedited snippets of moments shared together on our East Coast journey to warm this space back up…
Be Back Soon,
Frequently I am asked about our reasons for homeschooling, and it seems I am never able to deliver the right message, the real juice behind why homeschooling suits us. I tend to ramble on about how disappointing the experience has been with BigBrother’s schooling years, about the lack of emphasis on the foundational skills such as handwriting and spelling, not to mention the fact that children are essentially, raising themselves while they are away from their parents for the majority of their young lives. People tend to nod, half interested, hardly convinced. I’m not interested in standing on my soapbox because I know the decision isn’t everyone’s brand. (We’re a seventh generation laundry soap kinda famjam while others prefer Tide; and ya know what? I think if we all used the same kind, no one would notice how delicious their soap smelled, cause everyone would be wearin it.) Someday, perhaps the next time I’m asked, I might just tell people some of the real reasons we choose to bypass traditional education.
Cue photos of awesomely fun times:
Who doesn’t want to spend their days with friends, despite their ages? Who doesn’t want to learn from real life experiences, using all of our powerful senses? Learning to work together, respecting each other’s individual skills, is something that children need help with, and who better for the job than a person who she deeply respects. It could be a parent or a carefully selected individual. We can see all around us that children need someone to orbit around, and if we don’t help them choose those people, they WILL find ’em themselves, whether we think it’s best or not.Sibling relationships, although not always amicable, are valuable.
How about having the freedom to grow and learn in the direction that best suits your family? How about saying to your kids ” Get your stuff on we’re going out”. And then you just…do.
The opportunity to learn is everywhere…just waiting for you to drink it up!
Happy learning, happy living,