Unschooling Journey

Our journey from traditional schooling, to "school at home" and then on to greener pastures…

Tag: relationships

Why not??

Sometimes, we say “No,” because we’ve been conditioned to have that as our first response. “No,” because it’s too hard. “No,” because I’m busy. “No,” because I said no last time. This journey has forced me to look at what I’m saying no to, and really ask myself why? Why not?

Take bubble bath for example. Jessie loves bubble bath. Like, a LOT. To the point where there’s never enough bubbles until the whooooooole bottle is gone. She has so much fun, pouring in the soap, discovering that it works better under running water, building up the bubbles on her head like a hat, chin like a beard, my entire face like…..well, that’s just because it’s funny apparently.

Unschooling girl covered in bubbles

Why do I “let” her use the whole bottle in one go? Isn’t that a waste?

A waste? Of what? She’s going to use it all anyway, eventually. What does it matter that it goes in one bath or ten?

The cost?

Bubble bath costs $3.20. I’ll grab a bottle when we’re at the shops, maybe a couple a week, maybe more, depending on how often we pop to the shops. I spend more than that on coffee…much more than that on a bottle of wine…so really, when this first started to happen, I had to ask myself, is it more important for me to save a few dollars, or to just let her have the fun and use her bubbles the way she wanted to.

Sometimes, bubbles get alllllll over the floor. That’s ok, I throw a towel over the top, they get cleaned up pretty easily…and I rarely need to mop the bathroom floor, so really she’s saving me time, right?

Obviously there’s times when “No,” is the only response you can give, “No,” you can’t run across the highway, “No,” you can’t ride the dog, “No,” you can’t drink the cleaning fluid…unless it’s homemade with vinegar, then they can fill their boots.

But next time you hear yourself about to give “No,” as an answer, try and pause to ask yourself “Why not?”, is the “No,” because it’s a real safety issue? Is the “No,” because you really don’t have the money? Is the “No,” because you have an important appointment?

If not, can you instead figure out a way to lead with “Yes,”? Saying “Yes,” fills them with the knowledge that they have some control, that they can make things happen, that they have a say in their own lives. This is so important, in this world of rules and constraints, to have them grow knowing that they can have an affect their situations…be it as small as bubbles when they’re 4, or  taking the leap to move to the other side of the country when they’re 18.

"Children learn to make good decisions by making decisions, not by following directios." Alfie Kohn

Yep, there’ll be plenty of “No,”s in their lifetime, I’ve learnt not to add the unnecessary ones…

xx

Respect. Word.

THEN…

“ENOUGH! Into your room! You’re in time out!”

How dare he talk to me like that?? That’ll teach him. He needs to learn to be respectful, he can’t yell at me or get angry because things weren’t going his way, that’s life, better get used to it!

My child was going to learn to be respectful, any deviation from that path would be nipped in the bud. Time out, privileges gone, toys binned, whatever it took to get him to toe the line, I mean, if I couldn’t get him to be respectful at age 5, what hope did I have of having a respectful teenager??!

NOW…

*Cringe*. Oh dear. Those days were not my finest parenting moments.

Where had these ideas come from?? Ohhhhhh, wait. I remember now, all those glossy parenting magazines with glowing, happy mothers and perfect children on the cover. Oh oh, and the books, yes, that “magic” counting method, and that other one about wrestling…no, “wrangling”…kids…then there’s that Nanny…

Those books and shows have a lot to answer for.

The term “respectful parenting” is a relatively new one for me, having spent most of Clay’s life more on the “authoritative” side, believing that children should do as I say, toe the line, that sort of thing. At the time it didn’t feel right, I hated how upset he got…but it was easy. I had control, I could give and I could taketh away, not just toys and experiences, but affection, attention. Nine times out of ten it worked straight away!

But the older he got, as we left the school system, I saw around me different styles of parenting, children who were happy, Mums who were happy…there was no yelling, they weren’t constantly on guard, hovering, waiting for their children to step out of line…it made me question how I was doing things…

Turns out it’s called “respectful parenting”, and, essentially, it boils down to treating your children with the same respect and courtesy you would your spouse, a friend, a guest in your home. Interesting concept hey?

Unschooling Mum and kids exploring nature

At first it was…weird. Here my son was getting frustrated and raising his voice, and me, responding gently, acknowledging his frustration and calmly asking how I could help. Then there was the time when he was swinging over the bars in the shopping aisle, narrowly missing passers by, and me asking if he would mind not doing that as he may hit someone….asking a few times, explaining a few times…or that other time when he jumped up and started walking along a brick fence, and me, pausing, asking what the harm was…averting my eyes as a parent behind me scholded their child for following suit, glaring at my apparent disregard for…what now?

I wont pretend to have this all figured out, I’m still learning, I still slip up every now and then, though fewer times this week than last, fewer last than the one before… And there’s still meltdowns that happen, there’s still tantrums, like just yesterday, in the car on the way to dropping hubby at the train station, lots of yelling….oh wait, sorry, that was me…don’t worry, my husband was gentle in his response and helped me calm down…see, he has this “respectful husbanding” down pat.

So yeah, it’s different, it’s weird, it’s likely to bring more than a couple of sideways glances from friends, family, strangers….but you know what? Our family life is calmer, our relationships stronger…it works. It really does.

xx

PS. Read more about respectful parenting over on Rachel’s blog, Sara’s explanation here,  or the facebook page Respectfully Connected…or pop it into Google, it’s everywhere now, get on board, the grass is greener over here 😉

 

Shiny chrome taps

THEN…

Someone might drop by, unexpectedly. They might follow me in to my bedroom as I grab some shoes, or my bag. They might (*gasp*) have to use my toilet if the main one was occupied!

The house had to look perfect, always.

We had built our home, the furniture was bought for this house, everything was as it was meant to be.

Perfect.

But in the end, to be closer to family and friend’s, we made the difficult decision to sell. These were some of the photographs from when we sold…

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Not a smudge on the windows, not a mark on the table, floors polished, pillows in place. Now I could tell you that this was our home staged. But in reality, this was our home as I liked to keep it.

I can’t even tell you how much time I lost polishing those porcelain tiles…Clay was at school then, what else was I to do with my days?

NOW…

Our home is too big. The yard is too big, we have a room we don’t even use, the backyard is only ever seen when I need to rake it. Wasted spaces, and wasted time spent cleaning those wasted spaces.

I discovered the idea of Minimalism, and (inspired by the simplicity of it) I purged, I got rid of so much stuff. We had a garage sale, and I can’t even remember a fraction of what was sold. And after we had cleared out all these possessions, the house seemed too big.

So we made the decision (after only a year) to sell, again. Here are a few photographs from this house…

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…and these photographs are most definitely staged. From top to bottom, as I type, the outdoor table is covered in craft supplies; the kitchen has last nights dishes (washed at least) and Jenga game, and this morning’s breakfast dishes still covering the benches; the dining table has texta’s and paper on it, and the fruit bowl is off centre (it makes a great ipad stand), fruit spilling out of it (as I had to pop away my other fruit bowl, it didn’t look right with two bowls for the photo you see…); my bed doesn’t have a doona cover on it (I always removed it after showings so it wouldn’t get wrinkled/dirty), and there’s washing on the floor; Jessie’s room is covered with barbie dolls and hair accessories; and finally, the ensuite, well, that one I’m trying to stay on top of, those darn chrome taps and glass shower screen need to be wiped dry of any water immediately because of the harsh water we have here…wouldn’t want any calcium spots building up for the new owners!

We have spent the past couple of months renovating and painting this house so that we had a better shot of selling it for something more than what we paid. It worked, we signed the paper work yesterday after only a week and a half on the market. In monetary terms, it was worth the struggle, but in terms of time…time away from my children, time spent painting and tidying instead of baking cookies or playing Minecraft with my kids…it doesn’t even come close.

Unschooling family selling house

If I’ve learnt anything from this experience, it’s that I have changed, a LOT. I no longer want the perfect home, the show home, I no longer want everything in it’s place. I want the mess, I want the chaos, I want the laughter and the Lego under foot, I want the time to spend with my family.

Unschooling is so much more than an education philosophy, it’s a way of life, and it has changed our lives in more ways than I could have ever imagined. It has bought me immeasurably closer to my children, and it’s allowed me to figure out the things that are important in life.

And shiny chrome taps aren’t one of them.

xx

 

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