The KISS Principle

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I love looking at pretty, exciting sensory tubs. But when it’s been ages since you made one because you haven’t got time, then KISS. I kinda think the fancy ones are for me anyway.

Probably ought to apply that elsewhere in my life. 😉

A Recovery Program for Homeschool Split Personality Disorder – Homefires.com

http://www.homefires.com/articles/paranoia.asp

Sometimes I think we all go through doubts. It’s nice to know we aren’t alone when we do.

Some children just want life to be predictable…

Secondus is like that. In an attempt to make things easier for him, we are trying to be more clear about routines and rhythms, and what is coming up for our day. Today I discovered these cards offered graciously by Martianne Stanger. Thanks, Training Happy Hearts. In the interests of not reinventing the wheel, I thought I’d try them out! While you are there, have a look, too, at the neat Home Sensory Diet ABC cards for some great ideas for sensory activities.

Adventures

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We love going on adventures! Adventures are our daily walk. Sometimes it’s a rambling walk, sometimes we have a specific quest in mind.

Walking in the same place is very rewarding. It provides a chance to notice the seasonal changes as they happen in our own little spot. It also encourages the children to start asking deeper questions about a place. Why do something grow in one spot but not another? What signs of birds or other animals are there and how does that change?

At the moment our own adventures are very similar to the description of Charlotte Mason’s nature study as described in Ambleside online, if you scroll past the prescribed list and read the description of how it should be implemented. Most of the time I just let the children discover what they will, but every so often I will send them off with a quest to look for something in particular – like The Quest for The Golden Leaf in Autumn.

Oh, and don’t forget to bring a bag, for all those leaves and feathers they will collect!

My Secret Fantasy

I have the occasional 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 😉

Despite that, I have found that the urge to start looking at prepackaged curriculum is really useful as a warning sign, telling me  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!

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 bring  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!

Dealing with Meals

Having my children at home means that by necessity we eat at home more often too. And that means a different type of work from making school lunches. I wanted to share some of the things that have worked for us. As usual, Your mileage may vary.

What doesn’t work for us is leaving it free for all, all day long without specific meals for a plan in my head for what we are going to eat. I am sure some people work well with that, but when we do it, it results in a great deal of mess, dishes that could cause an avalanche and children who have eaten nothing all day but apples! So we gave that one up.

 LUNCHBOXES

Sometimes we do this even if we are going to be home. Sometimes it works. 😉 Lunchboxes allow us to have a variety of foods ready, so my boys eat protein and salad and complex carbs. I can include lots of things that they enjoy but might not necessarily think to eat on their own. Lunch boxes have saved us in the early babydaze, or when I am unwell,  since DH can do them in the morning and they are all sorted for the day.

The down side of lunch boxes is that sometimes my older two would eat the most interesting bits out of them and then spend a lot of time complaining about what was left.

COLOUR CO-ORDINATING

I’m not going to lie. This is one of those things I never thought I would do. Who wants to be stuck with the specific colour all the time? Then there is the colour battles when a certain colour isn’t available. BUT as the children and sleep deprivation have both increased, and the workload too, I have discovered why generations of mothers have done it. It makes life simpler. It’s much easier to omit disliked, or reactive food items from specific plates, dramatically reduces washing up, and makes clean up much easier. I am amazed at how much more happily my children respond when I can remind them specifically that they haven’t yet put their plate on the sink, instead of generally pronouncing that someone hasn’t put their plate away.  It even makes it easier to repackage uneaten food too! Morning tea fruit can be put in the fridge on the colour coded plate and then just put next to lunch’s sandwiches. And my children love it. Go figure!

LEFTOVERS

Leftovers from the night before do make great lunches, but think broader. Children can be somewhat wasteful sometimes, and while I am not going to be draconian about that, I do want to minimise it as much as possible. So I try to reuse leftovers. The colour coding makes this fairly easy. And if you are a little creative, it doesn’t feel like leftovers! Best tip from my mum: Uneaten fruit can often be chopped and quickly stewed for a breakfast topping, ‘desert’ or even snack.  Lots of other foods can be ‘repackaged’ by adding a sprinkle of cheese, or putting it in a sandwich, serving it over plain pasta, or on a cracker. Ta-da!

EAT OUTSIDE

Call it a picnic. Just take out the mess with you. Don’t forget to bring the plates back in (See colour coding).

SERVE YOURSELF

Self serve really draws children in. Primus will serve himself (and eat) more salad than I would ever get away with! Autonomy is SO important. Remember that dishing up what you will actually eat is a pretty complex skill and one even adults get wrong. And don’t forget all the fine motor skills and social learning that takes place!

RHYTHMIC MEAL TIMES

Everyone’s rhythm is different, but I found it was really important for me to notice and prepare for the ‘hungry times’. For example, I found that  my children would often be starving an hour before dinner, eat a pile of fruit (because I was distracted trying to cook), then not be hungry come mealtime. Then they were waking up starving during the night or in the early morning. The solution has been to offer a substantial snack about an hour before they were eating. Bingo! No energy crash!

GET LOTS OF IDEAS AND EXPERIMENT

I haven’t got it all figured out and even if I did, what works for us might not work for you. Just try it and see. And I am always open to good ideas, so share yours with me.

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