My Secret Fantasy

I have the occasionalĀ escapist fantasies – think nice hammock somewhere tropical. But as a home educating mother, my secret fantasy is… a complete boxed curriculum.

Isn’t that strange? I don’t even believe in curriculum! So what’s the appeal?

Easy!

Sometimes home education seems so overwhelming. The children each have different needs to meet and I’m kept busy just keeping up. Then I am strewing but nothing sticks. Each book I read contradicts the one I read just before. I don’t have straightforward children. Its times like that I start to dream about boxed curriculum. It’s the sense of certainty that boxed curriculum exudes. The slick packaging. The blurb that says this will make sure your child turns out happy and healthy. Someone else taking responsibility.

Of course in the real world it doesn’t work out like that. As soon as those children arrive you are responsible – even if you drop them at a the nearest school. And believe me, I’ve looked but there is no prepackaged curriculum that would suit us. Unfortunately šŸ˜‰

Despite that, I have found that the urge to start looking at prepackaged curriculum is really useful as a warning sign, telling meĀ  its time to breathe, time to step away, time to stop and go for a walk. I know I need to go back to basics.

Home education isn’t always easy. I often feel like I’m working in the dark!

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Phonecian Dyed Pasta

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The Phonecians were famous for the purple dye they made. It was made by boiling down a mollasc, sort of like a marine snail. Not having any of these handy, we decided to use berries. We but a good half cup of berries in a saucepan with some water. After boiling for about an hour, we strained it. My children insisted on eating the berries with some yogurt but I don’t think I would! Anyway, the resulting syrup was brightly coloured. we dropped dry pasta into it, leaving it to sit for a good ten minutes before fishing it out and placing it on a cake rack to dry. I think they came up really well, but it is tricky to tell. You see, most of them were eaten by the dog. Sigh.

Mummy’s Little Helpers

A few mothers days ago I posted this. It was all about me. Today I feel its time to acknowledge something we don’t mention enough. The wonderful people who help us be better Mummies. The communities without who I would be a blubbering mess (well, more often than I am, anyway). So here’s to Mummies Little Helpers who work behind the scenes to make me a better parent.

Here’s a glass of red to the co-parent who help me be the parent I want to be, and who picks up the slack when I give up. The one who mucks in with dirty nappies and discussing gravity, and gives us time out, so we can be a better Mummy.

Here’s a Raspberry Leaf Tea to the women who tell me that yes, sometimes it sucks, but it will pass. The ones I can answer honestly when they ask how my day has been. The ones who sympathise when I complain without suggesting school (or formula, or CIO, or whatever is flavour of the month) will fix it all. The ones who bringĀ  meals and beads and positive affirmations.

Heres a warm cup of coffee to the sleep deprived ones, who help me laugh when it all seems too much.

Here’s a glass of bubbly to the rare friend who doesn’t have children of her own, but listens to me blabber about mine like they are important to them too. And for the occasional close-to-child-free dinner.

Here’s a spot of tea to Mummys who swap book tips and cool excursion ideas.

Here’s a virtual *chink* to the online friends who can identify with my children’s weird idiosyncrasies, who remind me I aren’t crazy. Or making it up.

And last, but not least, a giant Kaluha bottle to the diamond friend who helped me clean a giant nappy explosion in the middle of the city, instead of just pretending she didn’t know me.

Being a mother is a hard work, but it’s just so much more bearable with all of you. A share of my chrysanthemums and chocolates belongs to my helpers.

Happy Mother’s Day!

A Traveling Education

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One of the perks I hadn’t considered when we chose home education was that we would be much more free to travel. We wouldn’t be bound to expensive school holiday periods or fighting with all the other parents for holiday leave. We have the freedom to take up opportunities as they present themselves.

We recently returned from a trip. I admit it wasn’t the best holiday ever – it was plagued by bad luck and fire alarms – but it really got me thinking about the ups and downs of a traveling education.

I don’t think we will ever be a permanently traveling family. I am too addicted to my comfy bed to be without it too long. But I do love traveling. Travel with children IS hard work but it is intensely rewarding. A child’s presence changes the way you look at things. It forces you to travel more slowly, to seek out playgrounds and meet locals. You find yourself exploring not just the tourist listed sights, but the cute parks, the slightly unkempt fringes. It is a different way of traveling.

For children, traveling is an education in itself. Not to mention all the museums and other interesting involving places to visit. So much to take in!

I love, too, how travel binds you as a family. There are so many fewer stresses and so much more shared experiences. It can be a part of the shared ethos of your family, develop a shared family culture, the in-jokes, the memories and the laughter or tears of a holiday can stay with you for a long time.

 

I am not a expert on travel with children, but over time I have picked up a few tips I am happy to pass on.

1. Pack masking tape. Its a great baby-proofing material, and it can even be used to keep small people occupied.

2. You will need more clothes than you did before children. You will end up with food/mud/something on you. Children are mess magnets and somehow it ends up on you too.

3. Bring toys for children. They miss having self-directed play.

4. Bring about twice as much food as you think you could possibly need. Expect said food to last half as long as you think it should. Expect said food to run out when you have not much hope of finding more with ease. Something about travel seems to make children eat constantly.

5. Chocolate after the children go to sleep will be mandatory. Trust me on that.

Travel doesn’t have to be far or long to be interesting and involving. It doesn’t have to be expensive or extensive. Just moving out of your comfort zone is enough. It really is worth it.

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