The horse, and getting back on it.

Well that was the world’s shortest NaBloPoMo.  I fell off the wagon on the third day!
Oh well, I figure that I’m always telling my kids not to give up when things go a bit pear shaped, so here I am.  Keeping on going.

Sadly there is little to report on the home educating front around the Patch today.  Courtesy of a late Spring cold everyone is feeling well below par and so I caved in and let them do as they pleased.

Instead, I will share my favourite quote from our* October Quotes series.  It speaks to the core of home educating for me.  And as an ex-Anthropology graduate, I can’t possibly pass over Ms Mead’s observation.

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Herding elephants…

Let’s start off this blog post by pointing out the elephant in the room …. GUILT.

Lots and lots of guilt.  Attached to the idea that I should be taking time out for myself.
Who is this crazy woman?

I figure I’m a pretty normal sort of person most of the time, but when it comes to what goes on in my head when I bump up against the burn-out wall?  Well, let’s just say it’s not that pretty and it’s not that normal.  If you consider normal to mean that you value yourself as much as you value others.   Interestingly, no one else around me seems to think I’m less valuable in terms of needing time off than them.  They all actively encourage me, but there’s a nasty little gremlin in my head that tells me… they’re my priority and it’s my job to be educating them or looking after them 24/7.
Okay, so maybe I am crazy after all.

In fairness, I’m now a recovering crazy person.
The realisation that one of the best ways kids learn is by seeing behaviour modelled for them was a nasty moment for me.  The idea that it’s not an ‘either them or me’ situation also took a while to bed in.  But now I get it.  I need the time for my own benefit, my family’s benefit and as an important life-lesson for my kids. They need to see that their Mum values herself, and that she looks after herself.  I don’t want my kids to grow up thinking this is the right way to go about being a parent.  So now I have an extra incentive – I’m teaching them a life skill just like I did with brushing their teeth and making food.

So, what does a struggling, recovering, guilt-laden parent do for self-care?  Well, whatever flicks your switch, even if It needs to be a small thing to start off with.

I instigated a daily walk with my kids.  I’m the sort of person who needs to get out in the sunlight as often as possible, especially through winter, in order to feel good.  The walks get us all out in the fresh air, with a light amount of exercise thrown in.  When the time permits I try and do really long walks on my own, but they are still a rarity. I’m a work in progress and as my kids grow up I’m hopeful of making these walks longer and with a little more speed to them.

I indulge my creativity whenever I can.  I take photographs, either out on my own, or if I can’t get free time to myself – with my kids.  It isn’t always possible to have time to myself, and sometimes the guilt of taking big chunks of time out of our weekends makes it hard.  So I compromise.  We take a family field trip and as part of that I make sure the camera comes out and that I sneak my creativity in to my day that way.

I write whenever I can too.  Blogging is a great outlet for me and can be crammed in to a spare hour or so.  Often I write book reviews as a way of combining two things I love to do.  And there’s nothing quite like the bliss of going to the library on my own, to browse quietly and without distraction.  The urge to rush through the process and head home quickly still strikes every now and then, but it is getting better.  And on my good days (read: feeling less guilty) I even indulge in finding a cafe for an added treat.

I still have hurdles to climb – like getting fit and eating better.  But at least I’m finally on the road to better self-care, and like I’m always telling my kids – mastery comes from practice, so practice I will.


Edited to add:

Every now and then the hurdles get pretty big, and sometimes the best self-care is to take a guilt-free break.  It’s pretty hard to face that sort of decision when your inner driving force is all about working for the betterment of others.  But that’s where we sometimes need to go.  Self first, others second.  Only then can we hope to keep giving our best efforts to those around us.

It’s also a bit of an ego issue, albeit a subconscious one and not related to a narcissistic temperament.  They need me to always be available.  Things will fall apart if I’m not the one doing and organising and driving us forward.  Well, guess what sunshine?  The world doesn’t stop when you take some time out.  In fact, it might just be the perfect thing for everyone if you stopped trying to be in control of everything.  Maybe they will learn to take control.  Maybe they can be self-organising.  Maybe they will learn to step up to the plate when they need to.  If you don’t give them the space to try, then they and you will certainly never find out if it is possible.

Take the break.  Fill your bucket with fun, creative, healthy adventures to re-invigorate yourself.  Let those around you step up for themselves; let them stretch their abilities and grow as people.  You are, in fact, doing the opposite of being selfish – you are empowering others.

Go on.

Do it!

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. 😉

 

Tuesday afternoon, I’m just beginning to see

Today’s blog title is rather fitting as Tuesdays in the Oh Waily household tends to be afternoon heavy with events.  So I’m only just beginning to see the end of my working day right now.

As for during today, thanks for a willing volunteer who has taken the job over from me, we are now back at swimming lessons for the remainder of the term.  Unlike previous terms the kids aren’t in back-to-back classes and we only have one teacher for all three classes.  This means that young Master Oh starts out at 1:30 and Miss Oh doesn’t start her class until 2:30.  So altogether the kids are going to have a minimum (and you know it’s going to be a minimum) of one and a half hours in the pool every Tuesday afternoon.
They might just love that.

The only issue is the half hour it takes to prise them out of the pool, into the changing room, under the shower and then dressed to head home.  This is compounded by the fact that the pool is a 20+ minute drive from home.  So you can see that pretty much ALL of Tuesday afternoon is taken up with swimming.  Definitely ticks the PE boxes, eh?

My only weapon in winkling them out of the pool is the fact that we have to get home in enough time to eat something before Miss Oh heads off to her evening at Brownies and Master Oh gets to have his Daddy Date.  It also looks like, being out of practice, that the swimming might just be tiring Miss Oh out a bit.  I’m not sure how she stayed awake on the drive home from the pool, but she managed albeit with the odd moaning… ‘I’m soooooo tired’ coming from the back seat.

Then at Brownies she gets to go a bit crazy too.  Thankfully tonight seems to have been a relatively calm evening involving crafting a picture out of random items.  Phew!
A bit of a change from the weekend when she attended the Brownie Revels in Carterton, which I will write about some time this week.  Mr Oh Waily went as a parent helper (bless his cotton socks!) and he took some nice shots of Miss Oh in action during the assault course and the water relay events.  The only hiccup being the discovery of a second Brownie hoodie in her bag when we went to clear it out… now to find the owner.

And so that is the key bits of our Tuesdays here at the Patch.  Just in case you wondered if home educators ever socialised with anyone but their families.  (Tongue firmly in cheek, tinged with a dose of sarcasm.)


Monday’s Blog Post Title.
– no guesses?  Surely it wasn’t that hard!
Answer: The Mamas and The Papas’ “Monday, Monday” of course !!

Today’s title hint:  another song lyric.

 

A discussion and an idea

I’m currently KonMari-ing our books.  I mentioned this earlier.

Today while doing the kids’ books section of the process I compared the releasing of the unwanted books to our other semi-regular donation of goods and clothes to our local Women’s Refuge.  I also tied in the purpose of the “Donate” portion of their pocket money to the short discussion.

Miss Oh saw a connection immediately to helping others, and what they might need.
She asked if it would be a good idea to donate food to those who may be in need and could we do that.
I said it would be, then I suggested the idea of going to our local food bank and asking what items they most need.  Then perhaps we could get together a box once a month for them.

Apparently that would be a good idea.   And apparently we have stumbled in to another life lesson in appreciating what you have and doing what you can for others.

It’s the joy of impromptu discussions and a joy sparking result for me.

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.