Sunday, February 23, 2014

Finding a Rythm and Discovering Peace

Making some masterpieces with my little artist.  I love how imaginative she is as we play with the paints.  I don't often try to paint anything "real" unless she asks me to.  For the most part we just play with the colors and the brushes and sometimes I sing while we paint.  She will be 3 in two months and often will say she's painting a "sdorm" at the end that is a lot of fierce scribbly smeary paints - and that's totally fine too!
 I've been thinking recently about how I've been trying to create a rhythm in our home and making tiny changes to feed peace rather than stress.  What I've noticed most is how much more at peace I am just in my own head.  Moving away from Facebook (as I mentioned in a previous post) is helpful to keep my mind on where I am and not being distracted from my lovely girls.  Teachable moments can present themselves at many an unexpected moment, but my motive isn't to try at milk those moments for all they're worth.  I'm simply wanting to soak up their sweetness and enjoy life with them.  The thing I remember the most about my childhood is just how much I got to play and imagine and play some more!  I see my girls get so inspired when they see me working on my own project or start something that they hadn't thought of.
Like when I started having fun with their chalk instead of just sitting while they did whatever.  They joined in and had a fun time adding to the loveliness of our walkway, but it wasn't something they had to do.  One or two of them would wander a bit and climb a tree or scribble somewhere else while I worked on this.  The oldest had the most fun helping me finish this.

We played a game at the end where I'd call out a color and they'd all jump onto that color. 
 It was just fun, but yes, the littlest got some "school" in as she's still learning her color names.  Really, though.. should that be my goal?  I know I homeschool them and yes they need to be learning and I need to be teaching them, but how should I teach them?  I don't think homeschooling has to (or even should) look like a classroom.  So much more is "caught" by them when I model behavior instead of trying to teach them something.  Working on something till it's complete and enjoying the fruits of your labors?  How much better in a lovely outdoor chalk design turned into a game at the end than working through a math work sheet (for instance) to earn some award or "prize" of some kind (like a grade) just to see the page completed.
I'm being a little cynical about traditional school, but I actually don't have a problem with it in general.  I think that homeschooling is such a great way to give a child the most play time and time to just "be a kid" that even if someone prefers the more traditional text book style (which we don't totally leave behind either!) is really great.  I really don't want any of my homeschooling friends to feel like how they've chosen to teach their kids is somehow a bad idea.  I DO want to encourage more play and natural learning and just enjoying life together!  My own homeschooling experience at my girls age was more of a classroom style and I don't look down on that experience at all.

The more I homeschool though, the more I feel like (personally) I just am not that kind of teacher.  I love to take them outside and read books out loud and come up with random games and projects like this.  In one way I wish I were better at just doing the text book thing and "getting school over with" each day because it can be a little tiring to be "on" all the time.  Sort of always trying to be prepared to encourage or use that teachable moment well.
 I'm seeing myself grow more peaceful though as we go farther in this journey of parenting and schooling.  Sort of like a farmer that plants seeds and waters them and waits and waters again.  You can't make plants grow faster by feeling anxious or impatient or by worrying about how their roots are doing.  What I'd tell my younger self about having kids 7 years old and under -- play with them and paint and make up games and read out loud.  Don't try to "teach" anything per-say, just live.  Also, I'd tell myself to focus more on developing my own hobbies and skills and read my own books.

I was sick Valentine's week so we did our gluten free heart cookies the week after Valentine's day.  It was a huge mess, but everything is these days.... and that's okay.   Messes just mean we are enjoying ourselves. 
 I suppose I should basically be giving that same advice to myself right now.  Even with the one child just turning 8 -- they are all going to pick up on my attitude more than what I teach and what I want them to see is a peaceful home.  I'm sure they'll probably remember the one or two times I yelled at them this week than all the hours that I patiently talked to them and waited and listened.  Sad but true, but "not yelling" isn't something you can really just stop.  You've got to get at the root of the stress and figure out how to turn that stress around.  We can't get rid of all stress because life is just hard, but little changes make such big differences.  I used to only think of the big changes that I could make to make bigger differences, but the little ones are just as important, if not more important, than the big ones.
Tonight when I was sitting with the girls to help calm them down for sleep we talked about what we will do tomorrow.  The list so far is to paint, make brownies, read a few (specific) books they were looking forward to, play a game, put a puzzle together.  Oh, and I said before we did anything fun we'd need to clean their room (which is really bad right now and no fun to be in.)  But even that doesn't seem like a very big deal anymore.  Yes, it will be cleaning it up AGAIN with everything dumped out, but what should I be teaching them?  That messes are annoying and bothersome and WORK, or is it just life and what we do?  Can we develop good habits and handle every day things like this or do they build up in our minds and turn into these "huge" struggles.

 I felt that way with emptying the dishwasher.  It shouldn't be such a big deal, but it was.  I'd think to myself every time that I had to do it, "I hate emptying the dishwasher *grr*" and grump in my head about it the whole time.  A few years ago though I decided to make it a habit and decided to put it out of the "I hate this" into accepting it.  I wonder how many stay at home Mom's could be encouraged to know that it all CAN get easier.  That is, it can feel easier even if what we do stays the same.  We don't need perfect homes (and shouldn't strive for that) but we do need to keep up with dishes and laundry and the basics and make little changes to help make our lives run smoothly.  One way to make this happen is to pick a habit you want to develop and learn to accept it and not make it such a big deal in your head.  It's amazing how little time it takes to do a little task (that seems so large in my head.)

My middle daughter was making a HUGE deal out of getting dressed.  Procrastinating about it like crazy and one day I got the idea that I'd help her get dressed while slowly counting.  I only counted to 20 and she was dressed.  We've been working on that some since and she's learning that it really doesn't take long to do.  It's just helping her take something that seems so big in her head and putting it in reality and making it quick and easy.

I make things so much bigger than they really should be too often.

Which brings me to another thought that maybe should be in another post, but I'll add it here.

I read an analogy recently about teaching a child to read before they are ready and how it could be likened to trying to teach a child to climb a tree before they are tall enough.  Being too short (unready) they fall and hurt their knee, but six months later when they are tall enough (ready) to climb the tree they only remember skinning their knee.  They only remember the pain and don't know that now it would be easy for them to do.  It's a big deal in their head because they weren't ready when they first tried and they only remember failing.

I used to hate hearing someone say "You could sell that" to something that I'd make.  Or make some other comment about how I could earn money by being all entrepreneurial with one of my talents.  After reading the analogy about the tree and not being ready I began to look back at my life and growing up and realized where that came from.  Very often my Dad would try to encourage me to make money (somehow) or think up a business plan for a skill that I *could* develop.   This was mostly around when I was 14 and up.  It was a LOT of pressure and if I decided that I really didn't want to do whatever we'd talked about (as a future career) I'd feel like a failure.  He got upset when I took off the business name that he'd had professionally embroider onto a music bag that he'd given me.. even though I'd decided that I didn't want to start that certain business.  Every time I saw the name embroidered on that bag I felt like a disappointment.  I felt that pain from the "skinned knee" so to speak.  Even when we are just trying to encourage our kids towards something it can have the opposite effect.  I know that people who say that I could make money off of something that I've made are trying to encourage me.  They are praising the work that I've done!  But all I can remember is how I felt when I was young and how unready I felt (back then) and unsure and how I had no knowledge of how to go about selling the things and how, when I'd try to, it would all fall flat.

The thing is though.  Now I'm "tall" enough.  I'm old enough to take a talent and use it for more than my own hobby.  It's hard though because I feel like I never got to enjoy it and get comfortable with my interests when I was young.  I'm just starting to get back into the things I used to love doing and I want to accept the fact that I CAN just enjoy it for myself and that will inspire my girls to want to try new things and that is perfectly enough for right now.  But I'm also seeing that I need to recognize that I'm 'tall enough' now and need to let go of the fears that I've held onto for too long.

Back to the farmer - you can't force growth in plants (or children) you can only provide them with the right environment to give them what they need to grow and flourish.

For me, this season of life is about developing patience and fostering peace and just learning to do what I love and be where I am.

No comments: