Our culture is so fast-paced. Everything should have happened yesterday. There are enough ideas on Pinterest that could keep us busy for the rest of our lives and enough recipes that we could never try them all. There are so many different homeschooling styles and I never could find one that helped me feel that I was doing enough. They all seemed to offer “the way” for our kids to learn. There are scores of curriculums; it’s dizzying. There are enough different types of parenting styles that it can get tiring to read how other people are parenting and feel like you are falling short because you do not hold it together like the theories suggest.
When we started homeschooling I felt there was something I was secretly being measured against. Secretly, because it was in our family and friends’ minds. The “something” was public school. So I set out to prove to everyone that homeschooling works and that we were not the cliche “awkward and introverted” homeschooling family. Can I please say for the record (of this blog) that living up to ideas others have for my life is just plain wrong? It really does not work for me. It did not as a child, and it does not as an adult. Also, introverted does not equal awkward.
So, I basically quit all of that. About two years ago I was stressed out and exhausted. We had been homeschooling for two years and I had gone from only planning unit studies, to a curriculum of sorts called Five in a Row AND unit studies AND I added a math curriculum. I was worn out when we were only doing the unit studies. We had chore charts, earning charts, a schedule, and a routine. Seriously. I thought I was so much more obsessive about things than I truly am. I planned so much and then did not see advancement in my kids (mainly in Rico as he was the oldest). I felt that he was not progressing quickly. I also felt like he should be obeying better than he was. Can you feel the pressure?
I should also mention that I had four kids in five years. Three are about 18 months apart, and two are 22 months apart. I nursed pretty consecutively for all of them. So, I was pregnant and nursing for five years during all of this. Sound like a lot? It definitely was.
So how did we de-clutter our lives and find connectedness? First, really, we de-cluttered our diet. We started eating a whole food-plant based diet and it really opened up a lot of other avenues for us that we did not know existed. It may sound strange but once we de-cluttered one area of our home life it was easier to start seeing everything else in a better light.
I stopped checking Pinterest. I only got on to view a recipe I needed. I stopped looking at homeschooling blogs because I just saw all of these cool things moms were doing for their kids during “school time” and I was tired just thinking about doing anything else. I had not been on facebook for about 5 years because I was just not into it and did not want to parade my family on the internet.
We rediscovered life learning and in January of 2016, we dove in. In February we left the confines of technological parental control and the kids were able to watch what they wanted, when they wanted. (No, I am not talking about R rated things.) We did away with our chore charts and charts that allowed them to earn money. We did away with as much control as we could fathom at that point. And you know what? We started seeing our kids and ourselves. We started connecting in joyful, adventurous ways and also in relaxed and worn out ways. Our relationships started the long road of healing. (We are still on that road.)
I joined facebook again thinking I needed some support for Rico. I was trying to find people for him to connect with but everything we tried was not the right fit for him. I was not listening to him or to God. Finally, I was told, “Ask him what he needs.” So I asked Rico how many times a week he wanted to be with people. He replied, “One or two.” I was astounded. I was sitting there thinking he was feeling so alone because he was not with people all day every day but he said any more than that was just too much. My extroverted son’s limit was 2 days with people outside the family. It was a relief.
The boys attend parkour classes twice a week for an hour and that is all that is on our schedule for now. We see friends too! I use Facebook and Instagram to share what our family is up to because we live a pretty unconventional lifestyle and there are people around us that are interested to see how it is going. Although it feels so comfortable, I forget how abnormal we seem. I follow mainly two life learning blogs and that is it. I still only use Pinterest for my recipe collection.
Being less distracted, less engaged in the worldliness of the world, and relying less on the “arm of flesh” for my answers as to what our family needed helped bring us together. It helped me see that God wants our family at home. It helped me hear His voice. He wants us learning from and with each other everyday. He wants our home life as stress-free as possible. He believes our passions and interests will lead us to the knowledge we need, when we need it. He believes my children develop at their own pace and there's no need to worry. He supports us and loves us. Which means, he supports you and your family and loves you all too!
What things in your life are you trying to have a better connection with? What changes are you making?