Photo Credit: David Bartus
When our youngest son was in public elementary school, he loved it, he was doing well, and he was thriving. But then, I think that is probably more the rule than the exception at that age.
Then came middle school. What a nightmare. He was miserable, the education was lackluster, (to say the least), and he was turning into a little jerk. He had been such a sweet kid, so the change in him was unnerving and confusing.
“We learned about how he learns BEST.”
We pulled him out of school a couple of weeks into 7th grade and went with an online public school. That’s when we learned about how he learns best. He had trouble going from subject to subject, bouncing around, and retaining very little. He was also bored to tears and the school did little to help keep him engaged in the work. He did much better as a binge learner. He loves to delve deep into a subject and learn all he can and then go on to the next thing. And, as it turns out, he retains the information better and has learned how one subject can lead to another or even cross over into another.
He’ll spend months learning something, like ancient history and war, computers, or cooking and then move on to something else. Unfortunately the online public school was basically the same thing as public school, only at home, so that didn’t work either. Then, adding in all of the nagging that I was doing (and trust me, it was a LOT) to get him to do his homework (which was making both of us cranky) to the mix and that can squash the love of learning really fast. So we decided to scrap everything and start all over.
The first thing we did was just let him take a break, which was harder on me than it was on him. The poor kid basically slept for about 8 months. He was exhausted and it was obvious. I can’t imagine how difficult it was to try to learn something when all your body wants to do is sleep. I learned a lot of patience during those 8 months, letting his body get the rest it needed and just being there for him. After that he finally started wanting to get up and do things, becoming more engaged than he had ever been before. My sweet boy was coming back!
I had been doing weeks and weeks of research on education alternatives and discovered unschooling. I knew this would be perfect for him because it would give him the freedom to learn what he was interested in at his own pace and to the depth that would satisfy him and keep him engaged. My husband and I decided to give it a try and see how it went and I’m so grateful that we did.
No matter what they’re doing, they’re always learning something.
One of the hardest parts of unschooling is remembering that no matter what they’re doing, they’re always learning something. There is no, “and what did we learn from this?” or checking to make sure that they’re learning. Rest assured, they are. He was learning what he loves, what makes him tick, what he doesn’t like, and how he likes to be in the world. He was learning to be a responsible human being, how to find joy in life, and how to be a good person. That was more important to us than him learning how to do common core math or recite useless data that he would never use in his life. His love of learning was growing exponentially and his range of interests grew along with it.
That was 5 1/2 years ago and today he is happy, well-adjusted, can hold a decent conversation, knows how to problem solve, can build computers, and has a wicked sense of humor. At 17 he is kind, observant, smart as a whip, well-rounded and engaged. He attends a local homeschool co-op (his choice) once a week, has a job, and IRA, and loves to snowboard and do martial arts. He does spend a lot of time online, but it’s funny that a lot of it is on research of topics that he’s interested in. Right now it’s the periodic table, Spirit Science, and physics. Most of the time it’s hard to just keep up with him.
“We got to know our son as a person and a friend”
Because unschooling is learner led, it has given us the opportunity to really get to know our son as a person and a friend. We love spending time with him and we’re lucky that he loves spending time with us too. Watching him grow this way has been such a wonderful experience for our family and I am grateful for it. I will say that unschooling isn’t for everyone, but for us, it’s been perfect. I love the man he is becoming and I’m the lucky one that gets to be his mom.
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Photo credit: Di Lewis
Being a mom is freaking hard! I love my daughter SO MUCH, but sometimes I miss my old life.
If I could send a message to the pre-mom version of myself, I would tell myself to enjoy the quiet moments.
Being a mom means we wear many hats! We run our family, our home, work (whether that’s in the home or not) and more. The stress is real and we often put our own health (and sanity) last.
In the long run, not taking care of yourself will have a huge negative impact on your health, your happiness and your family.
Creating healthy habits doesn’t have to be difficult, expensive or overwhelming. It’s important to make one change/improvement at a time.
To help you make some quick improvements, I’m sharing some of my favorite healthy living hacks.
Stop counting calories
Please! I’m seriously begging you. Counting calories is one of the worst things you can do for your health. This usually leads to eating chemical filled synthetic ‘franken-foods’ that are void of any nutrients just because they’re low calorie.
Always go for quality over quantity. Make it easy and just eat real food.
Eating real food will help you lose weight, have more energy, balance your hormones, sleep better, reduce inflammation….there is no end to the benefits of eating real food.
Create a meal plan
I know this can sound like something else that you need to add to your never ending ‘to-do list’.
The good news is it doesn’t have to take too much time to create a meal plan that will then last you for months.
‘How?’ you say. I created a blank six week calendar that I fill in with pre-planned meals. I then rotate through those six weeks a couple of times.
I have two of these plans, one for cold months (with soups and chilis) and the other for warm months (salads and grilling). You can get a copy of my blank six week meal plan here.
Remember to allow days for socializing, going out to dinner and leftovers.
If creating a meal plan still sounds overwhelming, this is the amazing meal planning service that I recommend to my clients.
I heard that sigh. I know exercising may not be the funnest thing in the world, but it is a MUST if you want to be healthy.
There are seriously so many options out there now…gyms, YouTube videos, at home paid programs (DVDs, websites, etc), mom groups…the list goes on.
These programs include all types of exercise, from 10 minutes to an hour, any price range for any skill level.
Which means there is literally no excuse!
Use your smart phone to your advantage with healthy apps. Some awesome healthy living apps are:
Healthy Living by EWG.org. This app rates food, skin care products, cleaning products and more based on their level of toxicity, breaks down each ingredient, lets you know if it’s a possible allergen or carcinogen (and everything in between), and recommends clean products.
Fooducate is an amazing app that helps you track your food intake, exercise, macros, sleep, hunger and more. You can scan packaged foods and Fooducate gives it a letter grade based on sugar content, artificial ingredients, GMO’s, etc. Fooducate will also make recommendations for a better product. You can personalize it with your info like age, health conditions, goals, etc.
Calm has been my favorite guided meditation website/app for years. If you want to meditate but have a hard time quieting your mind, Calm is for you. They have free programs as well as paid.
Thankful for – Gratitude Diary. This is a new app for me and I totally love it! I love practicing gratitude but need reminders because I’m a busy mom/entrepreneur. This app has hundreds of small gratitude statements like “I am thankful for friendships”, “I am thankful for oxygen”, and many more. You can also create reminders that the app will you on your phone. It’s so awesome to get a couple “I am thankful for…” reminders every day. Practicing gratitude is so much easier now!
Please don’t attempt to begin using all of these at the same time. That can lead to overwhelm really fast! Baby steps are best when making transformations. Start to use one of these suggestions, make it a set habit and then move on to another one.
Which of these 4 tips will you commit to implementing?
As we know better, we do better ~
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