Tag Archive | motivation

For when you’re losing the will…

I’m finding it tough now! I’m sure you’re the same. Some days I get to the point where I’ve lost the will to be cheerful or motivated.

Bet you know the feeling? Which is what prompted me to doodle this.

Feel free to share…

This Lockdown – or rather the awful pandemic – is a catastrophic challenge for us all, whoever we are, whatever we do. Perhaps a way to help ourselves is by being realistic: We’re not going to manage upbeat, or busy, or motivated all the time as I’ve been trying to. Some days just have to be got through.

Staying in is hard, despite sweet moments we may have. It’s incredibly demanding mentally and spiritually being home based all the time. Our resilience will wear thin at times, without the dilution of going out.

I especially feel for those who are not used to it and the kids who are used to school. Some families, who are not used to being together so much like home educators are, perhaps have it doubly tough. However, home educators have it tough too because they can’t go out as they’re used to. Everyone’s facing challenges if for different reasons.

But we’ve all got to screw up the courage to keep going from somewhere for a very important reason; because the kids will learn how from you. And courage and endurance are important life skills.

So think how you’re going to do it – when you can, that is.

If your children are working at their school stuff online help them keep motivated by talking about how you’d push through your tricky bits. Perhaps you promise yourself a walk/treat/cuppa/Netflicks when you’ve worked for an hour, for example, or start the day with warming exercises or a good dance and a giggle to get you going. Or by discussing what you’re going to enjoy when the tough bit’s done. Explain how you do it at work.

Having conversations in the family about motivation and how to energise it will help your kids learn about motivation and getting through boring bits, another essential life skill.

If you’re a home educating family already used to working in a DIY or self-directed way maybe there are school kids you know who could link up with yours online and share what you’re doing. That’ll help yours keep motivated too.

Children are inspired, remember, not so much by being taught but by the experience of seeing how others tackle and overcome challenges.

This closeted time is a tough one. For all the family. It’s a time for being inventive about living and working together – and surviving amicably with as little damage as possible! Even the bad days.

But on those days remember what it says above – some days it’s enough just to get through and stay well. And even the ability to do that, will be teaching your children something!

The Icarus Deception

007Oooops; I’ve ranted about creativity before. But I’m just reading a book which is blowing me away and it’s all about the importance of being creative: (‘The Icarus Deception’ by Seth Godin).

Did you know you can’t actually live your life without being creative?

People think being creative means painting pictures or making other artworks. That’s just one side of it. In reality we are all creative every day of our lives. You basically need creative skills in order to live.

My partner thinks he’s not creative at all – then he goes and tells me how he’s had to think out strategies on the pool table to win a game against people who are better than him. It required creative thinking – yea – even that’s creative.

You will be doing it all the time, even in the simplest of terms like asking ‘what am I going to wear today?’ Every moment of every day you’ll be engaging creative thinking to move yourself forward.

Here are some of the things you’ll be creative about:

–          Making decisions

–          Arranging your home

–          Solving problems

–          Feeding yourself

–          Your budget

–          Mending things

–          Thinking round a challenge

–          Your parenting (definitely need creative thinking to overcome the challenges that one throws at you!)

You beginning to see what I mean?

You are creative every day of your life really. And the more creative activity you have in your life the better it will be. And the more you encourage your children to think creatively the better skilled they will be in leading their own lives.

They are going to need it. In the current economic and employment climate they’ll need to be creative as there won’t be the opportunities there once was to get a job and stick with it for life. They’ll have to be far more creative in the way they generate income, create their own living spaces, develop their own lives, make a contribution, look after the planet.

So encourage as much creative thinking and activity in your children as you can. If you’re home educating, you will already have started as it takes a creative mind to think outside that school box.

Life, (and schooling and politics and some parenting and some employers and society in general), usually likes to keep us inside the box. If we stay inside the box we stay the same as everyone else and that makes people feel safe. They feel threatened by those who step outside the norm – hence some of the negative attitudes towards those parents who choose to home educate!

Seth’s view on school; “School has become an industrialised system, working on a huge scale, that has significant by-products, including the destruction of many of the attitudes and emotions we’d like to build our culture around. In order to efficiently jam as much testable data into each generation of kids, we push to make those children compliant, competitive zombies”.

Thought provoking stuff.

If you think about it, it is those who could think beyond the obvious who have made the greatest contributions, the greatest advancements and developments. That takes a creative, open mind. That’s what we need to educate our children to do and stop making them obedient little test passers.

Seth Godin’s book is about making art. But he sees art as the kind of creative activity I’m talking about and maintains that being creative is part of the journey of living. He says;

“The challenge of our time is to find a journey worthy of your heart and soul”.

That is our aim in parenting our kids isn’t it; to help them on that journey?




Worry a little less…

HEeven older still151 I have to admit to being mega excited. I’m going to visit my youngest at uni tomorrow.

We’ll probably have a bit of a girlie day seeking our treasures in charity shops, or maybe explore the galleries and museums. Once a home educator always a home educator – or maybe that’s just being a parent.

Doing this sort of thing with my youngest was not always a pleasure!

She was such a lively little thing, full of the need to investigate and explore as all kids are if they’re allowed and not told ‘Don’t’ all the time. I hate to think what would have happened to her in school where this was considered of no value. Although finding the balance between investigation and what was appropriate was definitely a challenge.

She was the one who investigated the deep end – before she could swim. Nearly gave her dad and me a heart attack – we had to be vigilant. She was the one who liked to investigate whether it was possible to climb up something not meant for climbing. She was the one who found investigating the world’s things and their properties, (melted candle wax springs to mind), was far more worth doing than tedious stuff like writing, reading or maths.

Home Ed kid all grown up

Home Ed kid all grown up

And, of course, just like you no doubt will be doing with your littlies especially if your home educating, I wondered how it would all end.

But, with gentle practise occasionally among all those investigations, she bloomed into a young person who can read and study, write her essays and work out her student budget admirably.

And I think she has come to that as much due to that investigative nature as anything academic. Because what all those investigations did were build an intelligence and interest in the world to a far greater degree than tedious written exercises day after day which children can see no point to.

For, the truth is, once they are interested in the world, in living their lives within it, that’s all the motivation they need to practise and gain the skills needed to do so, academic or otherwise. As mine did.

So, whilst I go and spend a day with this once wilful and challenging child – now an intelligent and beautiful young adult – maybe this story will help you worry a little less!

(You can read more of those antics in A FUNNY KIND OF EDUCATION. See the Books page for an extract)

How do flies poo upwards?

  Being a wonderer I’ve always wondered that! And with the spring sunshine illuminating all the dingy corners neglected all winter I noticed that flies must poo upwards to get the dirt in places they do.

But it’s not just fly poo I wonder about.

I wonder how to be the best parent I can without smothering the poor kids to death. I used to wonder how to enable the kids to learn in ways that didn’t ruin our relationship. I wondered how to keep them switched on to the wonders of the world.

With small kids, you don’t have to. It’s like they’re born with wonder. They want to know about everything, hence the endless ‘why’ questions. But we found with ours that this wonder, this interest in learning about their world, got trashed in school when there were other targets to be met like ticks on charts. It dies a death in many children and that made me wonder; what happened to their interest in this magnificent world? Where did that go? That was the question that started us home schooling. That gave us plenty to wonder about!

The biggest question when you home educate is about education itself. What constitutes an education? Is it exam passes or something broader? Or another way of looking at it; what exactly is an educated person, if it’s more than a just a person with qualifications?

Each of us will probably have different answers to this one. We found our ideas changed over time and we began to see that an educated person evolved as the result of experiences rather than anything they were taught. And the starting point for those experiences was often –  wonder.

Children’s wonder at their world, their inquisitiveness and awe, is a marvellous aspect of childhood that, if we’re careful not to push aside, keeps them interested and motivated to learn. Keeps their education developing.

It’s nurtured by encouraging observation and questions, by posing more (we don’t need to know the answer we can learn together – thanks Google!) I remember their laughter at me asking ‘Why do flies poo on the ceiling?’

But fly poo aside, you and the children can raise questions about everything they see and do. E.g. what makes it rain? How do chickens get eggs inside them? Where does bread come from? What makes our arms bend? Etc. Your conversations about the answers will keep them thinking and begin to develop an educated person.

Besides, there is nothing more enchanting than being with a kid who still has awe about these seemingly insignificant things. They make us dulled-down adults look with fresh eyes at even a mundane job like buying milk. (Where does milk come from – and how?) Wherever you are, whatever you experience, you can use their wonder to encourage learning and keep their mind stimulated and alive.

And this is the best opportunity ever to develop it into something great; an educated mind.

Spicing up the home school motivation…

End of holidays. Back to work. Back to schools. Or not back to school if you are home educating.

I’ve realised that home educating is just the same as any type of working at home. People tend to think that you, or the kids, are having an easy life, sitting comfortably drinking tea, baking biscuits and hiding away from the tough touch of a real world.

Yet it’s the opposite that’s really true. It’s bloody tough – tough because everything; motivation, drive, energy, inspiration, has to come from you. There’s no boss or teacher whose eagle eye is keeping you motivated, no colleagues or peers to give you a cheery good morning and pull you round. Sometimes not even any pay or payback to make it worth it!

Anyone who has worked at home or home schooled will understand how extremely hard it is cranking up again after time off. Forging your own route is akin to forging metal; it takes a lot of energy to stoke the hot fire of motivation and a lot of hard work hammering things into shape.

When we were home schooling, cranking up the children’s motivation after Christmas felt like cycling a rusty bike through deep mud sometimes. We had to be inventive. But there’s nothing like a new year to set intentions.

Intentions for the day really helped. It brought focus. It gave something to work towards. And a sense of achievement afterwards. And some of the strategies I used for the kids still work for me now, working at home, and I see the children using them for themselves now they’ve grown beyond home education and lead their own lives.

We used to discuss intentions for the day, made lists and set targets. ‘Targets’ is a horrible word because of the destructive associations with school, but don’t let that put you off, they’re a really useful concept. We’d maybe set a work target to achieve then plan a swimming trip afterwards. A work task completed could earn some gaming time later perhaps.

Small tasks that are achievable give children a sense of success and of being in charge. A specific target to complete motivates better than setting a time target (say an hour’s maths) because kids can so easily procrastinate and waste it and don’t see what they’ve accomplished so easily. Their accomplishments are their payback.

It also helped to make the activities variable. A sedentary task follow a more active one. Study followed by a practical activity. Or working on our own followed by a social activity. Contrast helped to keep the children fresh and active pursuits stimulate them much more than academic ones. It helped to keep me fresh too. Contrast is the spice of a day. I still practise that now and so do the children. Holidays wouldn’t be nearly so nice without the contrast of work in between.

So, having sat writing this indoors in the warm I’m now going to add some spice to my day and take a break by going for a walk in the freezing gales just like I made the kids do too. They really appreciated it once they got back!

What do you do to spice up your motivation and get back into work mode again? Perhaps you’d like to leave a comment with your tips for others.