What?! You’re sending your child to school? 

 

Those of us who home educate, or who plan to, get a little too tired of hearing the same old grilling questions, every time we even MENTION that we are doing it. We don’t necessarily want to have a full on discussion on the pros and cons, every time we come into contact with someone who has never met a home educator before. But, sure enough, time and time again we find ourselves in this situation. A forced situation that we don’t particularly like to endure and would rather tear off our arms than stand smiling, confidently and sweetly, while we try to convince another person that we aren’t about to destroy our children’s lives. 
So, I thought it might be interesting to offer a different perspective for a change. Turn this discussion around a little bit and see if you still think it is appropriate to question others like this.

Please note, for the record, I would never actually speak to another person like this.  All families are so wonderfully different and unique and it’s absolutely no ones business how they conduct their lives!

Put yourself in this situation. Home education is the norm and sending children to an institution to receive formal education, is rare. Almost, unheard of. You announce to a stranger you plan on sending your child to school. 

You’re sending your children to school?!

Said with a deep, heart wrenching concern. 

But, aren’t you worried they will be bullied? I mean, most children are physically or emotionally abused in school at some point. Either briefly or for many years. Some adults never get over it and spend years in therapy. They become quiet, oppressed, suffer terrible anxiety and depression, as a result of the low self-esteem they developed due to their bullies constantly putting them down for their individuality. Crushing any confidence to ever feel comfortable with truly being themselves and forever comforming to the crowd. Oh. Well, you know your children best! 😊

Followed by an obviously uncertain and agreeable smile. 

Hmm…aren’t you a little concerned about their social skills? I mean, school can be a great place to make friends but it can also be a terrible place for forcing children to interact with people they don’t want to interact with, on a daily basis. Yes, I think that would concern me. 

Getting annoyed yet?

Are you sure you will be able to handle it? I mean, it’s a great idea but don’t you think it will be hard, forking out for uniforms, shoes, bags, making sure their uniforms are washed, dried and ironed every day, getting them up and dressed with breakfast eaten and out of the door by 8.30am every single morning! Making sure they eat their tea and are all in bed early enough to make sure they get enough sleep, to get up on time the next day. And the arguments you would have everyday. And when would you see them? On a weekend? I don’t know. I don’t think it’s something I could do. I really admire your strength, though!

Ready to punch me in the face, yet? 😬

You say, you want to do it because you think your children will get a better education but how can you be so sure? I mean, don’t many children who go to school, hate going to school, hate learning and leave with poor qualifications, tired from forced learning? Do you think your children will be different? I’m not so sure. It sounds like a bit of a gamble, to me. Oh, I don’t know that much about it, anyway. You obviously know better than me! 😊

Have you started to feel sick, yet? Tired? Frustrated? 

I debated continuing this but I genuinely don’t want to offend anyone who send their children to school. We all have our own reasons for the decisions we make for our children. The point is, if you ever come across a home educator, it might be a good idea not to assume your choice is a better one than their’s. That they haven’t thought this through till they’re blue in the face and are absolutely sure it will be a good decision for their family. 

Leave questions like this at the door and support your friends/family in their exciting new venture.

This world offers something different for everyone. We don’t all have to take the same path in life. And we don’t all have to go to school to get an education and live a happy life. 

Connect with me on Facebook to stay updated on my posts!

Advertisements

Messy Moments

We had a brilliant day, yesterday. The day after Boxing Day. The day of confusion, when no one quite knows what to do with themselves. The rush of Christmas is over, the stretching out of which, otherwise known as Boxing Day has been and gone and we’re all left scratching our heads, wondering what to do? 

Well, it was an easy one for me. My Secret Santa (Mother-in-Law) was fab this year and brought me some stunning rainbow wellies! With my feet itching to get in them and dirty them up, there was only one thing for it. MUD PIES!! 

So, I got the kids ready (Maya and her cousin, Sofia) and headed for the mud! 

We’re currently down in Somerset, for the Christmas period, staying with my husband’s sister in their big farmhouse. They have so much land and it’s right in the middle of lots of lovely countryside. Perfect for mud pie making. 

We headed down to the field, where I had earlier spotted a huge patch of grass-free, sloppy mud!

The first thing we did was get to know the mud. From experience, it’s never a good idea to jump into new sensory activities too soon, with modern day, domesticated little ones. Last time I did that, this happened..

  

As you can see, she was less than impressed with the homemade, organic, orange jelly-pool, I had spent all morning making for her, so that she could have a great sensory experience! 

Lesson learnt. 

Maya has spent many days outdoors and we’ve done baby-led weaning with her, in the knowledge that, with it, we would also be treating her to a bit of daily messy-play that would help to enhance her sensory development, amongst many other things. But what we haven’t had much of, is getting butt-naked and launching ourselves into pools of unknown textures. Babies and children are very sensitive to new sensory experiences and what can be a great learning curve, can also be just downright terrifying. 

I realised I was keeping my small, domesticated human a little too wrapped up in the “comforts” of the home and not getting stuck into the outdoors as much as we should be. So, we’ve been spending a lot more time outside, lately, getting to know nature. Picking up sticks, stones, leaves, flowers etc… Many got eaten. Many were brought home and played with until there was no life left in them. And over time, Maya has got used to exploring the different objects and textures of the outdoors. 

So, we were definitely ready for some mud play! 

I was a little uncertain with how Sofia would react. As we don’t see eachother very often, and all children are so different, I was secretly crossing my fingers and toes that she would enjoy it and get stuck in. Well, she did! She loved it! Learning from history, I introduced them both slowly to the mud. Maya is going through a great stage of observation, especially where ‘big kids’ are  involved. She learns so much from them and just loves to sit and watch them. So, along with some helpful supervision from Daddy, Maya was conveniently placed on the gravel, while Sofia and I took the plunge. 

We began by taking steps in the mud. There was some big pools of water, so we chatted about how there was lots of mud but also lots of puddles of water in the mud. Then we challenged ourselves to find the puddles and splash in them. This went down a treat! Sofia loved splashing and sploshing and got mega excited with every puddle. We observed the sound the mud made when we squashed it with our feet and how our feet sometimes got stuck in the mud and it was difficult (and funny) to pull them out.

Once Sofia was acquainted with the mud, using large wooden spoons, we began filling our big bowl with the lovely stuff. This was fun. I felt like I was making a big sloppy chocolate pie (…wishful thinking). Sofia, thoroughly enjoyed the task. She could do it well. 

At this point, I gave Maya a bowl of mud to play with and she sat, dipping her fingers in it. I dipped my fingers in and showed Sofia. She gasped, slightly horrified that I had intentionally dirtied my hands. I explained that it was ok, I meant to get my hands dirty and asked if she wanted to try it. It was a firm “no”. I explained that it was ok if she didn’t want to and we continued to fill the bowl with mud.

   
Next, we needed our pie to be a little bit firmer and less watery. So, we poured our mud into a collider and we watched how the water drained and separated from the mud. We then noticed how the mud was now nice and “hard” and less “sloppy”. Then we poured our mud back into the bowl. At this point, Sofia got some mud on her fingers. “Ooh, no!” She looked at me and showed me the mess. I smiled and said, “That’s OK. We’re making a mud pie. It’s ok to get your hands dirty when you make a mud pie.” She wasn’t sure. I took my own hands and demonstrated by grabbing the mud in the bowl, letting it run through my fingers and playing with it, which she found hilarious! But still, wasn’t ready to get her hands dirty. “That’s OK”, I smiled and we continued. 

Sofia was sat stirring her mud pie, when I realised there was a wooden fence right next to us that would be great for painting on. So, I took to the fence. 

  
Sofia and Maya were both engaged with their mud pies, so I took it as an opportunity to allow them a bit of independent play and tried not to disturb them. 

It didn’t take them long to realise I was doing something quite fun and they came to investigate. I showed them both how I was dipping my finger into the pile of mud in my other hand and using it to paint on the fence with. I asked Maya if she wanted some mud on her hands, to which she looked at me like I was crazy and shook her head. I laughed, “OK, Maya, no problem.” I turned to Sofia, who smiled sweetly and, also, shook her head. “No problem”. I continued to paint. 

Sofia had been watching what I was doing and was getting really excited about it. She started brushing the fence with her finger, in an attempt to paint it too but noticed that there was no picture when she did it. I showed her again, how I was dipping my finger into the mud, first, which then allowed me to paint pictures. I started painting the alphabet, to demonstrate. She watched and we both recited the alphabet together, which was lots of fun. By the time I got to “Z”, she was ready to take the plunge! 

  
  

We began with some mud hand printing. I demonstrated first and Sofia copied. She got great pleasure from seeing the print form and ended up really enjoying getting her hands dirty! 

   
   
Shortly after, Sofia’s Mummy joined us and I got chance to escape to the field for a few minutes. There was a tree at the back of the field, which was full of black birds and I had been dying to investigate. I wondered why the birds had chosen that particular tree. What was so special about it? There was loads of others trees for them to perch on. What was so good about this one? As I got closer, I realised how loud the birds were churping. They were singing! Every single one of them and the sound was amazing! I got my phone out to record the sound and a minute later, they fell silent. Just at that, a huge cloud of them flew up into the air, from the neighbouring field, and soared right over my head. It was a wonderful sensory experience that I’ll never forget. I felt so at peace and free and apart of the natural world, something I haven’t felt for a long time. It reminded me of the days I used to feel like that, all the time, when I was a child and got me to thinking.

  
There’s been a huge trend in creating sensory experiences for our children, lately. Parents all over the world have been taking part in the new craze, that is, Messy Play! Tuft tray sales are soaring and supermarkets are cashing in on sales in their pasta and food colouring products, so that parents around the world may treat their children to things that excite their senses and enhance their development.
If there’s one thing I have taken from today, it is that maybe we don’t need to be so hasty with our purses and, equally, our time, planning these indoor sensory experiences. Maybe, all we need is to take a few steps from our homes, into the wonderful outdoors and let our children explore everything that Mother Nature has on offer. What better way to excite our children’s senses, whilst saving a few pennies and giving ourselves an opportunity to relax by getting out of planning all these spectacular activities. 

Our original plan was simply to make mud pies. I didn’t know how we would make them or how it would evolve, I just collected a few kitchen bits and headed outside. We ended up learning a bit of science, art, English, construction and even some music when we sung the alphabet. The opportunities are endless! All it took was a bit of creativity and a lot of mud!

The day was finished off with a lovely co-bath for the girls and, for myself, a nice glass of red. It was so successful that I think, once we get home, I’ll make sure we get down and dirty outdoors at least once a week, from now on. There really is so much to learn. It’s relaxing, therapeutic, educational and it’s, quite literally, the best sensory experience on earth! 

  

Connect with me on Facebook to stay updated on my posts!

How Not to ‘Mess’ Up Christmas.

  
  
Messy and sensory play, is so great for our little people, isn’t it? Letting them get their hands sticky and their feet muddy, nourishes their minds and their souls. It helps develop their physical skills, enhances communication skills and allows them to be creative until their little hearts’ content! We know that. But what we seem to be forgetting, as parents, is how good a bit of messy play can be for us, too.

This year, like many before it, has brought with it a few learning curves. This is my second Christmas as a mother and I’m already learning bigger lessons than I did last year. 

Last year was great! I mean, Baby’s First Christmas? Only 6 weeks old? It was, of course, very special! But I won’t lie, it was also very hard. 6 weeks in, after lots of initial feeding problems and an oversupply, disguised as “colic”, life certainly wasn’t without stress. Last year, my concerns were for the physical pressures I was faced with. This year, I’m more focused on the social and psychological pressures, especially for us mums. 

Christmas is an amazing time of year and I’ve always loved it. I’ve especially looked forward to Christmas with my own children. But everywhere I look, all I see are stressed parents! Parents who are trying so hard to get things right and still feeling like complete failures. Don’t get me wrong, some people are absolutely nailing it. Their houses are perfectly prepped! Their doors, draped in holly, they’ve had their Christmas shopping done since June and had their gifts wrapped since July! But if most of us are honest, most of us aren’t nailing it. Or at least, that’s what we think! 

The problem is, the parents who truly believe that Christmas is a huge failure, are the ones that stand out to me as good parents. They always have their children at the heart of everything they do. They work hard, to bring in extra money for holidays or to set a good example. They’re always talking about their children, posting photo’s of them on Facebook and trying to cram as many festive activities in, as they can. They are great parents! So, what is missing?

I’ve come to the conclusion, it’s a matter of perception. These parents are trying to achieve perfection and perfection can not be achieved by anyone. 

It was once explained to me (in therapy) that being a perfectionist doesn’t mean you are perfect at everything you do but that you try to be perfect at everything you do, which would literally be impossible. We are not super heroes. And what is perfection? Well, I guess it depends on what you’re talking about but, mainly, perfection is a matter of perception. It isn’t achievable and is very self-destructive to attempt it. 

Putting pressure on ourselves to be perfect at absolutely everything, does nothing but lead us to, well, feel pressure! 

Do you really think your kids care that the gingerbread house fucked up? That the painted Rudolph foot didn’t look anything like Rudolph or that the minced pies didn’t taste quite as fruity as they should have?

Next time you sit down to a bit of messy play with your little ones, watch how free they are! Watch how absolutely nothing else matters but getting messy and watch how much fun then are having. Do you think they care that they are getting messy? That their hair isn’t perfect or their clothes are dirty? No. Because they are free.

How about, this Christmas, we take a leaf out of our children’s books and let ourselves get a little messy. Or a lot. And let ourselves know that it’s ok. We’re still great parents! Possibly even better ones.. 😉

Connect with me on Facebook to stay updated on my posts!

Articles

  

Stop Waiting for Your Milk to “Come In”. It’s Already Here!

Patriarchy for Mothers

My Letter to MP Andy McDonald Regarding APPG for Infant Feeding and Inequalities

Self-Soothing for the Gentle

A Mother’s Rest

A Poorly Toddler is Never Too Old for Some Skin-to-Skin

How Formula Avoids the Urgency of Creating Better Breastfeeding Support

Messy Moments

How Not to Mess Up Christmas

What That Article Should Have Said

I Just Got Kicked Out of a Breastfeeding Support Group for Supporting Breastfeeding!

Follow on Human Milk. Why Everyone Needs to Calm Down When Children By reastfeed.

Attachment Parenting is not ‘Just Another Parenting Fad’

Why I Will Always Give My Girl A Choice 

Bed Sharing is NOT Co Sleeping!!

I Have Postnatal Depression and I’m Not Ashamed of It.

Breastfeeding – Friends and Foes

Thirsty for Thirsk!

A Message to the Family and Friends of the Breastfeeding Mum…

There She Goes…

Hello world!