A few weeks ago, someone asked if I’d be “going back to work” anytime soon and assumed homeschooling wasn’t something we intended to dedicate our lives to. Unschooling, in particular, requires dedication. With the goal of learning by pursuing interests, we have to make every situation an opportunity to learn. Every question is treated seriously. Sure, I’m like any other mom, when we’ve had a rough day, or it’s late I definitely say, ‘let’s figure it out tomorrow,’ or ‘go ahead and look it up’.
Because I is tired, I is Mom, I is normal-ish. 😉
The truth is, sometimes we forget that just because something is the ‘normal’ or a most common way to do things, that it’s not always the right way for one family, person, or situation. What sounds impossible, wrong, or inconceivable to you, doesn’t mean it is any of those things for another.
It’s been a while since I’ve written something of substance for the blog. I’ve just not felt up to it lately. Haven’t felt connected. Recently, I had two different people tell me they enjoyed the words I’ve put together in these post and it gave me just enough of a boost to get back to it. So, I picked up this piece I started last summer. Yes, last summer. I still feel the same way, and it’s on my heart right now.
When doubt creeps into our minds, and into our lives, remembering what it was like to drop my kids off somewhere and leave them for the day, only to pick them up at dinner time, is usually enough to set me back on track. To remind me of why we do this.
Sometimes when I’m frustrated with my kids, what I need is more of them.
I know this sounds wild, y’all. Don’t get me wrong. The mere idea of more of your kids when you’re frustrated probably makes your face crumble. Who wants more of their kids when they’re feeling overstimulated? But let me explain.
I recently picked up a full-time job. I was away from my house nine-plus hours a day, for five days straight. Someone else was parenting my children. You might be thinking, “woah, that’s a bit extreme,” but it’s true. For twelve “awake” hours in the day (minus the hours’ small children nap.) someone else was coaching my children on how to behave and was solely responsible for their well-being for nine of them. This, is just one of the many reasons school teachers receive such high praise! They’re raising children!
But, it takes a toll on kids’ ability to follow parental expectations. It’s confusing. Leading to them “forgetting” how to behave when with me. We end up in a constant battle of “so-and-so lets me do it when I’m with them” and “but, you’re home now, and you know what is expected of you here.”
But, do they?
Can they, as small children, remember and hold fast to the rules of one place and then come home and figure out what you’re expecting of them?
I remember when I wrote this. I felt helpless at home. The kids were spending their day at my mother-in-law’s house while I went to work over the summer. She’s a good parent, and an amazing grandma, but what’s acceptable at home, isn’t necessarily important there and vice-versa.
Rules are hard. Especially when you’re young and there are so many other things that you’re trying to remember. Social expectations and rules that apply to certain locations can be difficult to remember as adults, let alone as a child also learning to do simple things like count and tie their shoes.
During this time Ryder was newly four. I remember meltdowns when he’d get home because I wouldn’t allow TV time. I knew he had unlimited access to games and shows at Grandmas so I would require electronics to be off. We had to get up early, so everyone had to come in, eat, shower and go to bed. I realize that this is natural for some families, but for us, it wasn’t.
I was high-strung and frustrated. I hadn’t seen the kids all day, and instead of wanting to spend every second with them I was barking orders and getting ready to do it all over again the following day. It just didn’t work for our family.
As a parent, and one blessed enough to be able to stay home and teach my kids in a self-paced, loving environment, it’s my job to help my kids not only enjoy their childhood but benefit from it. We weren’t enjoying much during this time.
I needed more of them and they needed more of me. I needed them back into our routine. They needed their normal, and it was up to me to provide that for them again.
Most sources say that kids are able to comprehend rules fully between the ages of five and twelve. Maturity and personality play a big part in that age gap, as well as the intricacy of said rule. When kids are small, we tell them “no” repeatedly and they pick up that touching/tasting something makes adults scowl, so they stop. They don’t understand why, but humans are naturally inclined to please.
I learned that summer, that because I have the ability to stay home with the kids, I could teach them not just to follow blindly, but to understand that there are rules everywhere you go, and no one will ever have the same rules. We learned that structure and routine looks different in every home, and that unschooling and spending time together as a family is what works best for us.
We’re aware that what we do, and how we do it isn’t normal. We are aware that our life isn’t for everyone. We learned that summer that while that extra income was nice, it wasn’t worth the time away from home for me.
We don’t live in a bubble. If my husband lost his job tomorrow and couldn’t get another, I’d get a job. I don’t think our kids would go back to school even then because it’s not part of our plan, but we do well enough to not have that worry right now. We live simply, use all of our resources wisely, and don’t buy new, but we love the people in our life more than things and choose to live this way by choice.
Remembering that summer is always enough to keep me on track.
Are there things in your house that work well for your family that might seem odd or wrong to others?