Hurricanes or Chiefs?

Changes are afoot in the Oh Waily household.  Big changes.

We are no longer going to be Wellingtonians, or Lower Huttians for that matter.  This time next week will see us packing up and heading north.  After a seven hour or so car journey we will arrive in our new town and have travelled from A to B.

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I’ll be sorry to say goodbye to Wellington.  We’ve made lovely friends here and have enjoyed our time in the city.  I can highly recommend it if you are looking for a great city to live in.

But the rest of 2016 will see us become more familiar with the Bay of Plenty.  There should be quite a few field trips in the offing as we see what this new-to-us region has to offer.  As this is the area that some of our family lives in we are familiar with quite a bit of it, but by no means all of it.

We will get to know the locals, like this chap – Tangaroa.

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And hopefully spend a bit of our time here.

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I’m picking that not only will our location be different this year, but so will our regular home ed days. I feel a new vibe coming on this year, so I will write more on that once we are settled in and most of the boxes are unpacked.

In the meantime, wish us luck, we’ll need it to get through the next two weeks without going potty.


 

For those unfamiliar with rugby in New Zealand, the title of this blog post refers to the two local Super Rugby teams for Wellington and the Bay of Plenty.  Oh the quandary of who to support. 😉

 

The weather strikes again…

get-well-soon-funny-dogWhy, yes we are Mr Dog, thanks for asking.

Well so far Miss Oh is.  She woke up this morning sniffling and with a sore tummy which has developed into a full scale cold.

I suspect it won’t be long before the rest of us manage to catch it and start to look and feel like our canine friend in the picture.

Today, the only thing going on at the Patch has been snuggling up, keeping warm and resting.  And that’s all there’s likely to be tomorrow too.   Possibly the day after that too…. and you get the picture.  We’ll be keeping everything low key until this passes along.

Until then, I’ll do a bit of reading and write about that instead, eh?  Yeah, right!?!

Life skills for kids – a timely reminder

Over at my personal blog I’ve talked about starting out on the KonMari method of decluttering and organisation.  Interestingly enough I started this morning off by thinking about moving through the untouched bookshelves today.  The Universe clearly approves as when I sat down with my coffee and the interwebs for my morning perusal of everyone else’s lives, what should come across my screen but a link to a post about the method.

What has this to do with homeschooling?  Well the post was by a home educating parent supporting her kids to learn how to look after their environment and possessions.

I often find that things poke my conscience in roundabout ways, and this one not only reminded me of my earlier morning thoughts of clearing out things we no longer love, but also of my overarching ideas around allowing the kids more autonomy as they grow.  It certainly is a completely 360º approach to kids’ stuff than I’ve come across from most other parents.  Elsewhere the sneak-it-out and hide-it-out-of-the-house method seems highly popular, as does the authoritarian method where the parent decides what goes and too bad for the kid as “we’re doing it’s for their own good”, that I’ve heard of from others.

Personally I’ve struggled with both of those ‘normal’ behaviours ever since I read another opinion on treating kids possessions the same way you would an adult’s – i.e. you wouldn’t give your grown friends gifts and then go round to their messy homes and start chucking out stuff you gave them, all the while saying “You have too much stuff, this is for your own good!  And think about all those people who have nothing in this world.”

Yet, like most parents, my eyes roll up in to the back of my head when I look at the bombsite that the kids get their rooms in to.  Clutter does my head in, there’s no denying it.  I am a person who requires space and clear surfaces in order to feel relatively relaxed in my home, not that I get them, or am great at looking after my own space.  So it’s a constant tension for me – a relatively clean kid’s room vs their autonomy.  Then along comes observations like this that challenge me to remember that some things in life are a process and not available for immediate gratification.

We have to accept our responsibility for things getting to this point and know that there is no quick fix for getting back out. Shifting the family culture is a long term goal best met through supporting their own choices (mistakes included) and leading by example.

Reading this blog post by Memoirs of a Childhood, I’ve realised that perhaps I need to button down that need for immediate success in cleanliness and strive for seeing the beginnings of self-control and self-determination in my kids.  Maybe I need to shift my focus from my (desperate, at times) need to be able to see the floor all through the house, to one where I help and support my kids with taking ownership of their own space.

Anyway, that’s a bit semi-philosophical this morning.  To finish up, here’s the link to the blog post that sparked it all off.

KonMari with Kids by Memoirs of a Childhood.

 

Family Meetings

PDOver this past Christmas and New Year I spent some of my quiet time reading Positive Discipline by Jane Nelsen. I was looking for more ideas on how to positively interact with the small Oh Wailys. I found a few new ideas and met some old favourites.

While the book is a bit of a mish-mash of home and classroom ideas, there is plenty to take away from one environment that would work in the other.  The key idea for me, though, was the Family Meeting.

Not long after I finished the book we decided to give it a try and see how it would work, or not, for us.  At the first meeting we wrote the ‘minutes’ down on sheets of paper and it dragged on for what seemed like an interminably long time – especially for the kids.  There was a lot of explaining about what we were going to be doing at the meetings, and setting up expectations around listening and taking turns speaking.  Then, finally, actually trying to have a meeting.  It was all a bit dry, in hindsight.

We persisted and by the third meeting, which was just myself and the kids as Mr Oh Waily was away for work, I had taken up the further idea of having a permanent record of our meetings.  I had the perfect book for the task that had sat in my stationery drawer since my last pre-kid trip to Singapore way back in 2006, an A4 blank ring bound journal.  It had been waiting for a good use and now I had one for it.

We struggled through the next few meetings, trying to get a rhythm and working on the fidgety bugs that seem to infect the kids after a fairly short while.  Now we are two months on from those first tentative steps and I have to say that our meetings flow really well, for the most part, and the kids are both participative and able to concentrate for most of the meeting now.  We have dealt with a number of problems (one of the key uses of the family meeting) that have occurred during the preceding week, and everyone has been able to have a say in possible solutions.  The kids are learning to problem solve and to come to a consensus – as that is the only allowable outcome of the problem solving.  You just keep it on the agenda if consensus cannot be reached.

It seems to have reached a point where we rarely have actual problems to solve, so the focus of the latest few meetings has been firmly on the positive sections – compliments and planning fun activities for us all to do during the next week.  We have also dealt with our chores issues through the meeting, with a fair amount of success.  It is an ongoing work in progress, but at least it is not left to fester with anyone for long periods of time.

I think we will have reached another point in the process when we come home from our holiday in April.  It will be time to add in a new aspect or two of the meetings – expressing gratitude and maybe coming up with a family motto – just to spice it up a little and keep it interesting.  I can see that the meetings will become a more positive aspect in our lives as it becomes another family tradition, just like pancake day has.  It is something that binds us together and adds memories.

I definitely recommend getting a copy of Positive Discipline and checking out some of her ideas.  There are moments of repetition, and slightly banging on the same points, but overall it was a useful read and the Family Meeting idea made the reading all worthwhile.   Check out your local library for a copy first to make sure it gels with you and your family.

And as some wise friends said – keep it short, don’t make it a parent-lecture-opportunity, or a hidden parent-control-method and actually make sure the kids are involved and listened to.  Otherwise it will turn out to be the opposite of what I personally hoped for – a proactive, cohesion building tool for the family.

Motivation

I love this photograph of Miss Oh Waily that I took on our visit to Tikitapu, just outside of Rotorua.
I also happen to love the quote from Lao Tzu.  What could be better than combining the two?
This is now my desktop wallpaper.  Every time I open up the laptop, there she is with a reminder and motivation for me to focus on three really important aspects of our character.