Tag Archive | family life

The gift of weblessness and the wonder of ‘wasted’ time

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Typical spring; sunlit blossom against a stormy sky

We call Spring a fickle bitch in this house! That’s because it’s brazen and hot one minute and blasting your face off with gales and ice the next.

It doesn’t take much bad weather where we live to put the internet off – there are several times a year it disappears. And of course the landline phone.

Who needs a landline phone in these days of mobiles? People like us who live in places of no signal!

I can pace about in anger and frustration – again – it happens quite often. Or I can just be stoic and remind myself that I did actually happily exist without the Internet at one time. And do other things like reading, or walk – always available, always free.

Since I couldn’t work I drove to town, partly to get enough signal to ring BT, mostly to have a long browse in the library, an oft forgotten pleasure. I brought home a stash of books. And did some writing with pen and paper, ready to be blogged when service was restored. It was quite nice really – once I could get my mind turned in that direction and stop fretting over time wasted.

Time ‘wasted’ is a state of mind I reckon. I could look at it as time ‘gifted’ instead.

My mum, the loving character you may have met in ‘A Funny Kind of Education’ Untitled-1 copywould have considered time on the Net as time wasted, in complete contrast to how we view it now. In her lifetime it wasn’t the facility it is now, more of a hobby. And anyway, time wasted is a point of view – she could spend/waste hours by her fire with a good book and a cat on the knee. Wasted? She enjoyed every minute, how is that a waste? But she wasn’t sucked into a lifestyle that depended on the Net and an image obsession of busy-busy on Social Media like we are today.

When we first came to this old house of hers, which we now occupy, I was a child in the seventies. It had no electricity, no phone of course. No heating except the coal fire. And it was NO problem – it was just how it was. And I consider myself lucky that I have memories of that because it reassures me that life can exist without it when necessary. And I have the skills to cope for a while.

It pays to have this kind of resourcefulness. Will our kids have it, so pampered and cosseted are they? Resourcefulness is a life skill that is invaluable. Can you imagine, we even started home educating without the Net? But the access it gives us to information and community now means parents can home educate with confidence.

There were some great programmes recently called ‘Back In Time for the Weekend’ that showed life in a family pre-technology, did you see any? They’re not available at the moment but similar programmes about existing without it are, that provoke some great historical discussions with the kids about this concept, which enriches their education. (Bit alarming to find I’m now history!)

Meanwhile, I kept reminding myself that the Internet would only be off for a while. It’d be back. Work would be back. Networking would be back. So instead or ‘wasting’ my time and energy fretting I decided I might as well turn my attention to the other things I value and enjoy this little gift of Weblessness.

So later that evening I visited a friend instead of being on the Net and had an evening of happy natter which I’d never have done if the Net had been available.

Gifts indeed!

Acting wild!

20151231_105913Heck it was wild out there at times this weekend. I keep up my daily walk in the wilds even when it’s blowing fit to knock me over.

Yesterday I got a ducking. And the day before I got my cheeks bitten with the stinging cold.

There will be a time I go out there and it’s all soft and gentle and hanging sweet with birdsong.

Doesn’t matter what the weather I always go. Because with all these years of going I’ve learnt the importance; it changes my mood, it gives me inspiration, it keeps my mind and my muscles fit – the heart being the most important one. And besides, despite my complaining and not always wanting to go when it’s a real challenge out there, I know it’s the answer to a sense of holistic wellbeing. You see articles like this about it all the time.

Even though we’ve tried to tidy it all away and ignore it, being out in the natural world is something we naturally need.

We all need it. Me, you, families, kids especially, young, old. Everyone does. We need it to be regular and ongoing. Only then will we reap the benefits. Being shut away from it is affecting our overall and longer term health dramatically.

Which is why the Wildlife Trusts have started a 30 days wild campaign. To get people, especially families, to reconnect with nature. Doesn’t matter where you live, there’s ways to do it even in urban areas.

Check out the link – and sign up for the inspirational pack. And go act a little wild for yourself, each day, and see if it puts you and the children in a healthier frame of mind. You might also find that, not only do you reconnect with nature, you reconnect with each other better too.

You won’t ruin them on your own!

Chelsea’s working so hard at the moment. She’s initiated a new production for the Brighton Fringe

A bold and thought provoking production

this year and is working on it with friends. It’s an impressive undertaking and I so admire her, tinged with concern of course at how busy she is.

I look at our two young adults now and wonder how they got to be the wonderful people they are – it’s something you always worry about as a parent, particularly a home educating parent.

I know all our experiences shape us; from childhood, school, home education, family, work, whatever. And although we can control some of the experiences our youngsters have we’ll never control all of it however much we want to keep them sweet. And we certainly can’t control how they respond to those experiences – that response is inherent in them. We won’t be able to determine that entirely.

For it is never nurture (or nature) in isolation, as the debate leads us to believe, it is the interaction between the two that determines the people our kids become. It is the youngsters’ reaction to their experiences which determine how things turn out. So that is never entirely the parents’ fault. A lot is genetic.

That’s a comforting thought when you’re parenting, particularly if you’re a home schooling parent and worrying you may be ruining the children.

Be reassured; if you are ruining them – you won’t be ruining them on your own!

In fact, I’m sure you won’t be ruining them at all, it’s far more likely that by parenting with care and respect – and I guess you care and respect otherwise you probably wouldn’t be the type of parent visiting here and reading this – you will be developing those qualities in them. And this will in turn nurture caring and respectful responses to the world from them, thereby influencing a little how they respond and what they will become.

But mostly they do it for themselves, even if they make decisions based on our attitudes.

Chelsea is inherently who she is on her own. Maybe with snippets of attitudes she grew up with here in her early years, but mostly she’s chosen what she reckons are the best of what she’s seen for herself. That’s what they’ve been educated to do.

And seeing the choices she is making I can only be proud!

Managing a moody homeschool monday

It’s been one of those Monday mornings. You’ll know the ones; where you want to stick your head back

A bit of blue sky for Monday brightness

A ray of sunshine for a Monday morning

under the duvet and pretend it’s not happening.

You get those whatever you do.

I got them when I worked full time. I got them when I was a SAHM – even though I felt it was the best thing I’d ever done and was besotted with the little ones. I got them home educating, even though that then became the best thing I’d ever done. And I get them now, even though writing full time was something I always wanted to do.

It’s the nature of our human psyche more than it’s about what we’re doing. And however much we love what we’re doing, overkill can sometimes prevent us from feeling that. It’s quite normal. It’s how it is. Accept that and it gets a whole lot easier, because once you accept it, I’ve found, you can then do something about it.

I thought that might bring a little comfort if you’re waking up as a parent or home educator who doesn’t want to face the day and are feeling guilty about it. Don’t! Guilt is irrelevant. Planning how to deal with this very real part of all family life is more practical.

Some of the ways I’ve found to deal with this are:

  1. Take it slower with the children this morning. Nothing wrong with doing things like reading stories in bed together or watching films or just letting them play. Playing is an enormously valuable developmental activity anyway. And a less directed day will give them time to practise the essential life skills they need to take charge of themselves.
  2. Explain you need a little time to recharge this morning and they can sort out their own activities. Don’t be afraid to admit you’re not up to much today – they’ll only worry if they suspect something’s wrong and you pretend it’s okay. They’ll be better people for understanding you’re human and they have to cope with that.
  3. Do something different with the day. Change your routine. Swap things round. Look at photos. Have a de-clutter. A change is as good as a rest.
  4. Get out of the house. Walks – city or rural, picnics, parks, playgrounds, explorations of areas you’ve not been before, all change the tempo of the day. Get out under the sky. Find some space.
  5. Phone another parent/friend and get together with their kids.
  6. And don’t worry – it’s not going to scar the children. You’re not going to look back in ten years time and say I ruined their education and their life with this moody Monday, are you? I had plenty of moody days and I’m pretty sure my kids aren’t ruined. They’re intelligent young people who understand what it is to be human, how to be compassionate when others need it and that life isn’t only about their needs!

And one last thing – it helps to think of all the teachers who’ll be going into school in a horrible mood this morning. Because they’re human too and many of them will feel this way and the children probably won’t be getting a very inspired day either, could equally get shouted at, and are stuck with it. At least yours can go in another room!

Lighten up and let go and the day and the mood may very well change itself.

Do you listen to your own advice?

Last weekend I listened to my own advice and got out of my comfort zone. spring15 005

I’d posted a blog about the benefits of doing so a little while ago and then ignored myself. Hypocrite or what?

I’ve set that right now. I had a meeting in town last weekend and the others needed the transport. I could have messed about with lifts but everyone else would have had to change their timings. I could have walked the three miles up to the main road and caught the bus. Or I could push beyond those comfortable alternatives and get the bike out.

I can’t say that I didn’t teeter on the edge of comfort and indecision for a while. After all it was ten miles. But conditions were good – the wind was blowing in the right direction and it was dry, even if only just above freezing. Then there was the problem of what to wear in order to combat the cold but not turn up in all weather gear for a meeting. And did I really want to arrive with a weather ruddy face and a sniffy nose?

I gave myself a kick up the comfortable and got over all that. And I’m SO glad I did. I would have missed so much that I actually delight in.

The morning fields were full of Lark song and the occasional gardens I passed full of Spring chorus. I surprised a Munkjac deer who scuttled across the lane and squeezed through a hole in a hedge but not before I got a good look at it. Chaffinches piped their distinctive call from various perches along the route. And even the town gardens when I finally got there were bursting with signs of Spring; birdsong, blossom and blooms.

I have to admit cycling through town was a bit of a culture shock, but that was counteracted by the fact that most of the miles were done and it looked like I was actually going to make it. And in good time. Time enough for the eyes to stop watering, the nose runs to abate, the face to stop glowing quite so beacon like and my legs to recover enough to walk normally.

But one thing that didn’t recover was the buzz it gave me from having pushed beyond my excuses and faced a challenge, from being out in the elements, from physical activity and achieving a long cycle I hadn’t managed for ages, and a change in my routine.

Sore bum and wobbly legs aside, it was absolutely worth it. The boost it gave me lasted for days.

It seems then I do give good advice sometimes. I should listen to myself more often. Do you listen to your advice – all that advice you’re imparting to your children? Or have you slipped, like me, into a little bit of hypocrisy!

Now, what shall I go for next?

Kids and comfort zones

The recent storms were challenging weren’t they!

And I don’t even have to work out in it like some of the people I see on the land.

I can go out in it if I wish – or not. My work is otherwise snug and comfy at the computer in the warm.

However, I did dash out in it at times, pushed myself out in the ripping storms and battalions of wet that blasted across the flatlands, one after the other. I ran from hedge to hedge whilst the worst passed over, coveting a bit of shelter for a while like the rabbits do judging by the droppings. The dog has got wise to this strategy and butts up to a bush with a miserable face, not understanding the value of pushing past the comfort line sometimes.

But I know it’s the best remedy for Indooritus. That disease which sludges up the soul when I’m shut inside, inactive, inert, for far too long.

Pushing beyond always being comfy develops so many parts of us we wouldn’t give it credit for, even confidence. It gives us different experiences, stimuli, sensations, which arouse parts of us which may go unused. You know what they say; use it or lose it. That goes for brain, muscles, heart, all organs and all senses.

And pushing ourselves through a bit of challenging discomfort is an example to the children that it is sometimes worth it. For, as parents, we spend quite a lot of our time following the opposite path.

It is the nature of our parenting to care and cherish. Feed and shelter. Protect and provide. Always look to their comfort, naturally, since they were babies, from their warm fed tummies to their shiny shod toes. We see to their needs, answer their demands, pander to their whims. Of course we do. Mums are genetically primed to do so; we almost can’t help it. We want them to be safe, happy, snug. Why on earth then, should we ever make them uncomfortable?

Well, the reason is that uncomfortable is going to be pushing their boundaries a bit, showing them parts of themselves that they maybe hadn’t known. Giving them opportunities for achieving things they never thought they could. And the consequence of achievement – whatever it is and however small – is feeling good. Building confidence.

It may not seem like it at the time. But sometimes we have to do the deeds for the feelings later.

It doesn’t have to be going out in a gale, although that’s very stimulating. It could be eating different

Nipped out at a time of day I'd usually be comfy indoors and was rewarded with a sight I normally miss - moonrise!

Nipped out in the descending dark when I’d usually be comfy indoors and was rewarded with a stirring sight that made it worth it – moonrise!

food, trying a new activity or exercise, meeting new people, going out at a time you wouldn’t normally, walking a different route, switching off the technology for a day! Examine your comfort routines and break out of them on occasion.

My cheeks were chilled and my clothes were wet by the time I got back in – and I was certainly glad to do so. But my soul was singing and excited. I rarely feel like that when I’m still. Or doing the same thing in the same way, day after day.

And it’s so worth showing your kids that pushing out from comfortable will on occasion make their soul sing too!

Applauding our children’s achievements

Are we there yet?

Look back to see how far you've come

Look back to see how far you’ve come

Is there a parent who hasn’t heard that on long journeys?

But it’s maybe something we’re also guilty of thinking as parents; about our children’s progress. And missing the ‘journey’ because of it. Wondering if they’ll ever ‘get it’ or ‘get there’, especially in regard to their education.

And therein lies the problem; ‘getting there’ can be a false concept, because life doesn’t always happen like that, or to order. There isn’t always a ‘there’ to aim for. And whilst you’re striving you can sometimes miss the little things that have been achieved.

It’s like hill walking; I could bet my boots that as soon as I reached the top of one summit there’d be another one waiting just beyond that was even higher, diluting the achievement of climbing the first one. Unless I looked back and acknowledged how far I’d come.

We can do that with our children sometimes, always pressing them for more. Missing what’s achieved and what is now.

Yet now is where life resides.

There may be many days when you feel there’s no progress. It certainly can feel like that when you’re home educating long term. You may feel that your days are boring and pointless, the children haven’t gained anything. That you have nothing to show – no progress.

Life can be like that whatever you’re doing, whether it’s raising babies, or doing a tedious job day after day to feed them and keep a roof over your head, life may feel stagnant.

But; progress isn’t always measurable in tangible terms. 

And each day IS a progression in itself, even the dull days.

If you have lived, that is progress. Because each day however mundane supports us in some way, however small and insignificant. Each day is a demonstration to the children about living a life, will have taught them something. Each day makes up a life, so each one has it’s value as such even if you can’t feel it at the time.

If you look back to years gone by, or when your children were little – good excuse to get the photos out – you’ll see a huge progression and many achievements.

Life is a long journey. Life with kids is a long journey. A journey of learning and experience. Each day is another footstep on our way. And we mustn’t devalue a step because of a false concept of not being ‘there’ yet. Or it not being as you first imagined.

And each day is worth, even if not applauding, simply blessing for what it is. We don’t have to be ‘there’ to acknowledge that. And the children don’t need to be ‘there yet’ for us to cherish their achievements so far.

They may not be glamorous or measurable, but they are still achievements. And can always be appreciated.