And it's been "one of those days"! So lets put it all into the soup pot!
Some days everything will seem chaotic and seemingly wrong.
This is life.
The key is not to see these days as failures but as the workings out of a bigger picture.
Remember the Navajo Rug?
Many are the opportunities for us to focus on compassion, tolerance and empathy toward one another during these "imperfect" days.
Even when I react in completely the wrong way and feel like a complete failure. I can treat myself with the same compassion I'd treat my children with.
Children don't need perfect cookie cut out parents, they need authentic parents that are prepared to say sorry, learn and grow.
We all grow stronger and kinder when we have to stretch a little to reach one another.
That is how we forge real relationships.
All things can be redeemed!
Chaotic days are far from wasted.
Every experience can be embraced
It might look like one step forward, two steps back at times but good things grow underneath the ground.
Little shoots emerge if I give my love to the moment.
"Don't Judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds you plant."
Robert Louis Stevenson
Rather than sheltering my children I can guide them on a viable pathway through the stresses, conflicts and disappointments of life.
One benefit for having lots of siblings is it gives many opportunities for them to learn lessons about the complexity and dynamics of relationships within the safe context of a nurturing home environment.
So here I am after "one of those days" writing this as a message to myself as much as anyone else.
Listed below are some of the most important Home-school lessons I've Learnt along the "Path less Traveled."
Doing one thing truly well is better than doing 100 things, half heatedly, distractedly or poorly.
Quality over quantity every time for us.
Centre your day around one or two activities and really enjoy them with your children.
There are so many subjects that can be covered in a curricula but I would prefer my children to develop a depth of learning in subjects that truly interest them.
We consume such vast quantities of information these days and this kind of learning can be shallow and draining.
Real love of learning is nurtured when we are given time and opportunity to focus on our passions and interests.
A child may not be interested in maths or science until they want to build or do something which requires these skills.
Children can learn spelling and grammar by reading a variety of fiction and non fiction books that inspire, enchant and enliven their spirits.
Children will absorb facts and information painlessly and without any problem when they are engaged in meaningful work that pertains to their everyday life or the dreams and aspirations they have for their future.
Learning must be relevant.
Forcing children to memorize spellings, facts and information is not enriching for either parent or child.
Learning doesn't have to be hard work for either child or adult.
I find my girls learn best when there is low stress levels in their environment.
This has meant sacrificing some things in order to prioritize what really matters to us.
These things have often been housework related.
Sometimes it has also meant cutting out some extra curricular activities.
I have had to let go of some expectations, schedules, plans and curriculum choices that simply haven't worked for us.
Use your intuition.
Look for the bigger picture.
Certain activities or routines that might work for other families may not work for yours.
Every season of life is different.
Maybe you have lots of little ones under your wing. If so, don't compare your day to a family with older children who will be at a completely different stage in terms of what is realistically achievable.
There will be plenty of time for field trips, intricately planned craft and science lessons.
Be gentle on yourself and your expectations.
Small children, seven years and under, don't learn from books or lessons as much as they learn from the atmosphere of the home environment and the level of connection they have with their family circle.
Create warm, cosy, happy spaces in your home.
Read, play, involve your younger children in your work, talk to them, draw, make play dough, go for nature walks.
Don't put pressure on yourself and you child to live up to external pressures or demands.
Take you cues from your children not anyone else.
Customizing our homeschooling life has been key to maintaining, balance, peace and harmony through the days.
What works for one family, will not work for every family.
Comparisons are never healthy.
Intuitively, I know what works for us but I have sometimes followed my insecurities instead of my intuition when I have done this things just don't flow.
I truly believe that home learning should happen without great strain or effort on a parents part.
If there is terrible stress or strain involved it is probably because I have been trying to fit us all into a mold made for someone else.
I've learned to let go of the pressure to keep up with the Jones'.
Some high ideals such as gleaming skirting boards and crumb free counter tops just need to be released back into the universe for safe keeping.
These years go by in a flash. I know it doesn't seem that way when you have lots of little ones but it's true.
Blink and the season is over.
The little birds are perched upon the bough will be ready to fledge before we know it.
So enjoy the days.
Don't rush them.
One day you will have a completely clean, tidy, quiet home again.
Today is not going to be that day.
And that's okay.
Memories are more important and enduring than spotless surfaces.
For us Movies and TV can be an enjoyable part of our life.
However we choose what we spend our time watching carefully and if there is something controversial on, we freely discuss the issues involved as a family.
We also eat our fair share of Pizza, take out food or fish and chips!
Healthy food is a part of our day to day life but there are times when we need to be moderate and not create a religion out of our ideals however good they may be.
Ironing is also not a priority in the grand scheme of things. I'll give that one it's own bullet point.
If you have to let one of the balls drop. Let it be this one.
Good quality art materials are always worth investing in, even for the littlest artist!
Children are natural artists. Good quality materials encourage their creativity as they achieve good results that they can be proud of.
Flexibility is essential.
My well thought out plan is very often not as important as the needs of the present moment.
Staying present requires mindfulness and trust.
It means tending to the most important thing at the time.
Although it is good to maintain a deep level rhythm the surface waters must keep on a moving freely and spontaneously or life will quickly stagnate.
Life is about movement and cannot always be planned or predictable, especially with children.
I've learned that one of the best learning tools is letting go.
Simply letting the children explore their passions as much as possible.
Facilitating their passions and interests is far more beneficial than shoehorning them into pre-designed program or curricula.
So I've learned to facilitate rather than legislate.
Present opportunities rather than objectives.
I also aspire towards afternoons left completely free to simply live and be.
Rest and free play is an essential part of our day.
Without inner nourishment we cannot be fully present in our work.
Relationships are always more important than results.
I delegate household chores so much more now the children are older
Chores give the children a sense of responsibility.
I wish that I had learned more about what it takes to run a home when I was younger.
Helping and serving within a family environment help a child acquire real life skills such as self discipline, compassion, consideration, co-operation and self motivation.
These skills are just as, if not more important than formal academics.
I have come to see that truly, given enough freedom for inspiration to take root, children will learn loads no matter what.
It's what they are designed to do.
A parent's passion is the greatest inspiration.
So spend time doing things that you love. In the afternoons I'll often paint, write, read garden, bake or do handwork.
Children imitate more than they follow instructions.
When I'm loving my work the children pick up on it and find joy in their own passions and projects.
“You will not be good teachers if you focus only on what you do and not upon who you are.”
― Rudolf Steiner
I try to follow Jewel's advice as much as possible and take time everyday to wonder at my children.
Look deep in their eyes, stroke their hair, enter into their world.
Our faith is our life.
When we put God (or whatever your version of sacred or soulful is) first everything else just seems to fall into place.
Tea, biscuits and blankets are cures for almost anything.
Spending time alone is something I need to do every day.
Alone time helps me focus. It also feeds my soul. It helps me to gain perspective and think clearly whenever I feel overwhelmed.
Connection with friends is essential too.
We live such isolated lives these days.
Extended family networks and communities are not as strong as they once were.
It is hard to bring a family up without support.
We have also managed to devise the most ridiculous divisions between us as mothers.
I really don't care if you breast feed, formula feed, work outside or in the home, are Christian, Buddhist, Atheist or Druid.
In fact I have learned more from those who are different from me than those who are similar.
I have learnt to honour friendship far more than my own ideas which are likely just as flawed and subjective as anyone elses.
Let's be gentle, respectful, kind and supportive towards one another. Our children will model this too.
So let our words and actions help not hinder.
Because we all have our own path.
"We are all walking each other home."
These days I read and consume (online or in Real life) only that which inspires and nourishes my heart and soul.
Seeking beauty in the ordinary and the sacred in the everyday is the liturgy of a full life.
Ann and her "thousand gifts" have helped me become thankful for the seemingly small and simple yet endlessly precious moments that each day has to offer.
I have become braver.
I really want to try, day by day, to live the dream I have deep within me regardless of what others may think or say.
Everyone's path is unique.
Our own splashes of unique colour only make the world a more vibrant place.
We should all paint away and over the established margins as much as possible!
And as we paint our own canvases we encourage our children to express their own uniqueness fearlessly too!
Sometimes it seems like we aren't fulfilling any of the world's conventions or obligations.
Certainly, our way is nothing of the fast paced production line modern life seems to have embraced.
Often there is no highly polished, laminated evidence to behold of what we have gathered and gleaned.
but I know deep inside that this way, the way we walk is the right way for us...
... And I am enjoying the journey .
Miles of Riverside Cane bed
"You think you are idling around town
on a donkey, or heading off
the opposite way, but you are not.
This caravan is a triumph
being drawn directly into God's reality."