I don't know what to title this and I do this every year, sorry - Page 2 - Mothering Forums

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#31 of 37 Old 02-03-2015, 06:08 AM
 
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Originally Posted by annakiss View Post
<p>Every year about this time I have a bit of a freakout. Mainly because it's winter and it's hard, but also because we have cycles of stress and depression that come about now. My husband has been in grad school our children's entire lives, finishing a masters, then we moved here, then he's had a couple of major setbacks, I almost died a couple of times, etc. - things have been rough and especially stressful and without an ongoing sense of normalcy, whatever that is. Our normal is struggle, I guess.</p>
<p> </p>
<p>At the end of the day, we've done okay with it. I think though, that when the kids were little(r), I thought that this would get easier once they could walk and talk and choose things of their choosing and whatnot. That may have been true if we didn't have the internet. I don't know. We struggle with balancing screen time and motivation. That may always be the case. Most adults I know have that same struggle, myself included.</p>
<p> </p>
<p>There's part of me that thinks they could probably play video games these next ten years and still grow up with an idea of what it means to have a productive life and still be able to read and form sentences and so on. Their whole family has advanced degrees and strives to engage in productive, meaningful work that benefits the larger community/world/culture. They'd get that message, I think.</p>
<p> </p>
<p>At the same time, I'm not sure what precisely my job is here. I am a big believer in unschooling, but now and then a question comes up and I wonder. Right now I'm wondering if it isn't a good idea to make sure that my children are challenged. I hear other (non-homeschooling) parents talk and the things they value are really success in a well-balanced sense. They believe this includes rigorous academic scheduling and both cultural and physical extra-curriculars. There's a part of me that agrees with that.</p>
<p> </p>
<p>As a child, though, I never had to try very hard to achieve that. I was readily interested in joining clubs and activities. My children are decidedly not, however. These days I struggle to get them into the front yard to play in the snow. That's the really exhausting part - my children would rather stay inside and play video games. They don't want to get ready. They don't want to put on shoes or head outside or get moving at all. I <em>can</em> motivate them but it's hard. <em>I'm</em> not always motivated to do so. Especially lately. I've been coping with some pretty severe depression and anxiety and I find it difficult to move or wake or work. I'm impressed with myself for keeping up with the house, for making appointments, for trying to plan anything at all.</p>
<p> </p>
<p>I'm doing what I need to be doing to move forward with that. I've reached out to the homeschooling community here. My sons do not want to participate in the co-op days, so I'm searching for kids that aren't involved in that specifically. A lot of the other unschoolers live further away from us and those that we started out with which were closer dropped into school awhile ago. Regardless, I'm trying to plan the things I can and participate in what I can.</p>
<p> </p>
<p>I just feel a little lost here philosophically, I guess. What am I doing? Where am I trying to go with this? What do they actually do in school? Why do we as unschoolers paint this false dichotomy of unschooling/school? Isn't there some in-between? <strong>I'm sick of planning activities and my children not wanting to do the things or me primarily being the one doing the activity. When does that stop? There. I've hit it. There's my real question.</strong> I'll bold that so you can skip the whole first boring part.</p>
I've just read the first post, and before I continue want to say
Yes, yes to all of it.
.......
Okay off to read the responses
Anna

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#32 of 37 Old 02-03-2015, 09:28 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I haven't been on MDC in years, but your reply came to my email, WCM.

We're in the midst of a great Midwestern snowstorm. The kids still play video games all day if I let them. DH finally finished his PhD and life is more stable than it had been but not quite stable enough for my taste. We're in an unschooling co-op once a week now which makes me feel like at least Thursdays are covered. I have a job now but I work from home. If I spend the day homeschooling, I don't do any work. If I work, the children play video games. I'm still working on that balance, but I think we'll figure it out.

The boys don't do much, really. Certainly not compared to friends of mine who value academically rigorous programs and lots of extracurriculars. They're the ones who I always compare myself to, sadly. They're the ones who I think act like they know something I don't. And in many ways they do - they know how to be successful under traditional definitions. Which is not what I place a high priority on. But I look to it and I consider it, to consider what others are doing, so I can find what path I want. I seek to remember what I do value.

I think we're hitting the important things kind of, mostly, sometimes. We're doing relationships well. The children are more helpful now that they're older. They do more around the house and help take care of things (though not without nagging at times and yelling and lists and begging - but not awful, just normal). We laugh. They're doing a few curricular type things. Youngest is doing Life of Fred. Oldest is doing Khan Academy. They're both asked to read and write regularly. Like true unschoolers, their handwriting is awful. I made up cursive handwriting sheets for the oldest with creative swear words to make it fun.

They still don't do the amazing things I imagined this sort of freedom would allow for. I don't think they will. I didn't when I left school. I just hung out. We don't have the money for amazing. We have the resources for moderate curiosity.

The longer we go on like this, though, the more I believe that the challenges I face are really about narrative. If I wrote it correctly - maybe if I acted like a True Believer instead of a neurotic mess - it would sound miraculous. That's why occasionally I look at us only through the lens of Instagram. The things I capture visually tell a story of enough. Whereas the way I think of it, the way I worry, tells a story of scarcity.

At the end of the day, they're smart, they're funny, they're healthy. What else is there?
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#33 of 37 Old 02-03-2015, 09:47 AM
 
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Originally Posted by annakiss View Post
I made up cursive handwriting sheets for the oldest with creative swear words to make it fun.

.......That's why occasionally I look at us only through the lens of Instagram. The things I capture visually tell a story of enough. Whereas the way I think of it, the way I worry, tells a story of scarcity. ....

At the end of the day, they're smart, they're funny, they're healthy. What else is there?
Thank you, Annakiss, for dropping back in with your thoughts. So many pithy philosophy-bombs and creative perspectives. I clipped the above three which especially jumped out at me.

Off to make some special cursive handwriting sheets ...

Miranda
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#34 of 37 Old 02-03-2015, 11:08 AM
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It is so great to hear from you Annakiss. It sounds like we are in a similar boat, DH's work is smoother, I am also working from home, and that means screen time for them but how else can it be done, you know?

We are looking to incorporate some 'focused learning', so math using Lego, videos on the water cycle, learning French together.

It seems one child struggles to take the baby steps required to reach their chosen goals (master this instrument, develop that physical skill) and I do not want the job of reminder her each day to do the thing they've said themselves they want to do. And then the other one is so keen to do stuff, master skills, etc, but I suck at finding the time when my brain still thinks checking my work email and doing the dishes so one surface in the house is clear before we start anything is a better use of my time, and the child loses interest while they wait for me.

I like the idea you proposed early on in this thread moominmama, about journalling what IS working, what IS good. Similar to Annakiss' idea to look at us through the lense of our instragram posts. That like so much of life, it is about our perspective, the way we chose to think about things, that is the key to not giving up or feeling like a failure.

And to remember that this is a regular Jan/Feb thing for us, and for others. I don't recall such bouts of feeling stagnant and hopeless and irritated in the fall, spring or summer. So just relax into this low in the roller-coaster and trust that there will be an up swing again, sooner or later.

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#35 of 37 Old 02-03-2015, 02:20 PM
 
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My oldest of 4 is the same age as my sisters youngest of 4. I used to phone her whining and complaining, panicking and loosing my mind over toddlers in February, the first call she would be simpathetic, and say yes well it's February, by the 5th call she would just repeat
"call me in March"
And she was almost always right.
So now
I'll pass that message back to myself and others
And offer this cure to PUPD
It's February, it'll be over soon

Anna

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#36 of 37 Old 02-04-2015, 09:32 PM
 
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Wow, it's so cool to "see" you guys and this thread. I haven't been on here much at all in the last few years but WCM's post came to my email inbox (I'm glad they have that function!). I can relate to so much of what has been said in this thread, and I'm grateful for the openness and honesty that you amazing mamas bring to this discussion.

When my kids were little and we began our unschooling journey, I had these dreams of spending endless days with my kids doing super fun stuff, pouring over microscopes together, going on field trips and hanging out with other homeschooling families. Heck, we bought acreage with dreams of farming, our kids spending their days out in nature, growing food and caring for the animals. But it turned out my kids are really not that interested in nature, hate gardening, have little interest in chickens or pigs. And they weren't super social. And I wasn't quite that organized, and life got in the way sometimes. Instead, our life looked a lot more like the lives described here: lots of screen time, lots of home time. That led to occasional bouts of PUPD. Add to that, my kids were diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder at ages 6 and 9, respectively. The more I learned about structure for kids with autism, the more I worried that I'd failed my kids.

I started out here on MDC pretty rigid in my views on parenting. But after 12 years of parenting I've decided that kids are actually pretty resilient for the most part, and they mostly turn out pretty good when the basics of unconditional love, etc. are there. So I finally told myself that even if I screwed it up a bit, even if maybe I didn't make the *best* choices for them, they really will be okay. In fact, they are actually pretty awesome.

And here's the thing: I sometimes find I have to really LOOK for that awesomeness. I have to ask questions, drop what I'm doing and just hang out with them - and I have to listen to them. And I'm constantly surprised by how cool they are, how kind and loving and sweet and everything I hoped they would be. And when I see that - THEY see that I see that, and it is this wonderful positive cycle. It's not just that looking for the good side helps ME feel better, it actually is good for them too!

The last thing I wanted to say is that not only have I decided that there is no one "right way", I've also decided that what is right can change as they get older and more mature, and that we have to trust our mama instincts that we will know when that time has come. Right now I'm in a place where I feel I've provided them with a good foundation, but it's time for them to go out into the world more. I've also come to the shocking (sarcasm!) realization that perhaps I can't be all things to my children: mother, mentor, therapist, teacher, coach, and pusher of boundaries. I'm not a failure as a homeschooling mom if I bring other people in to do some of the stuff I don't really care for (like dragging my son to classes and field trips when he has a shitty attitude and is likely to have a meltdown that will bring up all kinds of emotional baggage in me!).

My son just started his first ever full-day program, twice a week, at a local learning centre for kids with high-functioning autism. It's a huge step for him and for us, but I'm so psyched and happy about it. And when that little voice in my head says "well, that's not very unschooly of you", I say "he's ready". BECAUSE of unschooling (or maybe despite it), he is ready. Maybe it is not unschooling anymore, maybe it's not even homeschooling (part time homeschooling?), but I no longer care because it feels right and it feels good for us. And I don't even feel guilty that his days at the centre are some of the best days for me and DD. :-)

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#37 of 37 Old 02-04-2015, 10:36 PM
 
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I wasn't around for the original post but just wanted to chime in. I can especially relate to was piglet just said about looking for the awesomeness and hanging out with them. My kids are younger(7 and 4) and I can see how it's more difficult to have them engaged in anything they're not used to, but even I feel sometimes that nothing is happening and since I mostly work from home too, I try my best to schedule my time well and just ask them to help me with things and sit around and do things with them that they like to learn from them and see what they're learning and also just to feel connected and productive. It's difficult for me to sometimes give awareness of the things they're doing when it looks like nothing but idle play to me, but play is learning. And lastly, I try to share more of myself with them and every now and then they are interested in what I'm doing and they learn from that.

I'm nowhere near perfect but I do try to keep that balance by adding in things like that whenever I'm feeling like there's not enough going on, not enough structure, not enough learning, not enough fulfillment.
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