And it's been "one of those days"! So lets put it all into the soup pot!
Here are a few random things I've learned during my first two homeschooling years...
* Some days (such as today) everything will seem chaotic and seemingly wrong.
This is life.
The key is not to see these days as failures but as the workings out of a bigger picture. Remember the Navajo Rug?
Many are the opportunities for my children and me, ( especially me!) to learn a little more compassion, tolerance and empathy toward one another during these "imperfect" days.
Even when I react in completly the wrong ways and I feel like a complete failure. I have found that we all kind of grow stronger and kinder when we have to stretch a little to reach one another.
All things can be redeemed!
Days such as these are far from wasted.
*Every experience can be embraced, remember childbirth! It might look like one step forward, two steps back at times but good things grow underneath the ground. Little shoots emerge if I give my love to the moment and leave the outcomes with God in trust.
I shouldn't shelter my girls from the messiness of life's lessons anyway. What I can try to do more is guide them on a viable pathway through the stresses, conflicts and disappointments of life. One benefit for having lots of siblings is it certainly gives many opportunities for them to learn these lessons right in their own home!So here I am after "one of those days" writing this as a message to myself as much as anyone else. I am still learning the best ways to navigate these emotional waters. I trust that God gave us to one another, just as we are, so that we can grow towards Him together. At least we are doing it "in love" and as a family rather than as part of a peer group in an emotionally detached playground, for this I am grateful.
Here are some of the positives, for there have been so many, I've gleaned along the way...
* Doing one thing truly well is better than doing 100 things, half heartedly, distractedly or poorly. Quality over quantity every time for us.
* I find my girls learn best when there is low stress levels in their environment. This has meant sacrificing some things in order to prioritise peace in our hearts and our home.
These things have often been housework related.
Sometimes it has also meant cutting out some extra curricular activities.
I have had to let go of some expectations, schedules, plans and curriculum choices that simply haven't worked for us.
* Customising our homeschooling life has been key to maintaining, balance, peace and harmony through the days.
What works for one family, will not work for every family.
Comparisons are never healthy.
Intuitively, I know what works for us but I have sometimes followed my insecurities instead of my intuition when I have done this things just don't flow.
I truly believe that home learning should happen without great strain or effort on a parents part.
If there is terrible stress or strain involved it is probably because I have been trying to fit us all into a mold made for someone else.
*I have come to see more and more that although fashioning long term objectives can be important, these objectives should not be fulfilled at the expense of daily peace and joy.
Real success is measured in soul fulfillment and contentment not pound coins and certificates.
* I've learned to let go of guilt! Some high ideals just need to be released back into the universe for safe keeping :)
*For us movies and TV can be an enjoyable part of our life. However we choose what we spend our time watching carefully and if there is something controversial on, we freely discuss the issues involved as a family.
*We also eat our fair share of frozen pizza, take out Indian food or fish and chips!
Healthy food is a part of our day to day life but there are times when we need to be moderate and not create a religion out of our ideals however good they may be.
* Memories are more important and enduring than spotless surfaces.
* Ironing is also not a priority. I'll give that one it's own bullet point :)
* Good quality art materials are always worth investing in, even for the littlest artist!
* Over time, it seems that I have become much more flexible with our days.
It is good to maintain a deep level rhythm but the surface waters must keep on a moving freely and spontaneously or life will quickly stagnate.
* I really have tried to smile at the children more. Sometimes when I catch myself in the mirror looking serious and harassed I have felt really awful that the children have had to see me looking like that. I want to become more mindful of my expressions.
* I've learned that one of the best learning tools is letting go. Simply letting the children explore their passions as much as possible. I now let them have much more time for their own projects than for "regular" school.
*I've learned to facilitate rather than legislate. Present opportunities rather than objectives.
* I constantly aspire towards afternoons left completely free to simply live and be.
* I delegate household chores so much more now the children are older (real work is learning too!) Chores also give the children a sense of responsibility. I wish that I had learned more about what it takes to run a home when I was younger. That really would have been a practical vocational training!
* This saying has served me well over the last two years..."Don't worry about tomorrow, every day has enough trouble of it's own."
I can only so my best with the resources available at each given moment. It is a waste time regretting the past or fretting over the future.
* I have come to see that truly, given enough freedom for inspiration to take root, children will learn loads no matter what. It's what they are designed to do!
* Over time I have become more passionate about my own work! A parent's passion is the greatest inspiration. Children imitate more than they follow instructions. When I'm loving my work the children pick up on it and find joy in their own passions and projects.
* I try to follow Jewel's advice as much as possible and take time everyday to wonder at my children. Look deep in their eyes, stroke their hair, enter into their world.
* Our faith is our life. When we put God first everything else just seems to fall into place.
* Relationships are always more important than results.
* Creating a gentle ambiance in the home using music, candles and sticking to regular refreshing break times helps things run more smoothly.
*Tea, biscuits and blankets are cures for almost anything.
* So is bubble bath!
* Spending time alone with God is something I need to do every day.
* I have begun to take more time out to nurture my own creativity, whether that be writing, painting, sewing, knitting or baking.
* These days I read and consume (online or in Real life) only that which inspires and nourishes my heart and soul.
* Ann and her "thousand gifts" have helped me become thankful for the seemingly small and simple yet endlessly precious moments that each day has to offer. This has created an incredible new perspective for me.
* I have become braver during these last two years I think. I really want to try, day by day, to live the dream I have deep within me regardless of what others may think or say.
Each of our paths is unique. Little by little I am beginning to walk mine with a head held high. Our own splashes of unique colour only make the world a more vibrant place. We should all paint away!
* ... And as we paint our own canvases endlessly encourage our children to express their own uniqueness fearlessly too!
These past two years have been some of the most challenging, messy, joyful, spirit driven, beautiful, wonderful and vibrant years of my life. I wouldn't trade them or change them for anything. The ups, the downs and all the bits in the middle have brought us close as a family. I have learned so much about my children and myself. I have learned about my capacities, limitations, strengths and intuitions. I have learned to trust myself more. I have learned to be braver. I have learned not to worry about what others think and be true to myself, my beliefs and the life God has given our family to live. I have learned to be truly content with my portion. I have learned to extract joy from simple, everyday moments. This next year will have it's own set of challenges with a new baby on board. But I am so ready to embrace it all. Mess, glitter and all!
This little piece of Rumi's poem "Miles of Riverside Canebed" is making me smile at the moment...
"You think you are idling around town
on a donkey, or heading off
the opposite way, but you are not.
This caravan is a triumph
being drawn directly into God's reality."
Sometimes it seems like we aren't fulfilling any of the world's conventions or obligations. Certainly, our way is nothing of the fast paced production line modern life seems to have embraced.
Often there is no evidence to behold of what we have gathered and gleaned. but I know deep inside that this way, the way we walk is the right way for us...
... And I am enjoying the journey .