Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Where to go next

It feels as though this post has been a long time in the making because it's been a long time in the thinking. It's about something that's at the heart of every home ed home. And it has gone from being a whisper in my ear to a howling and shrieking that reverberates through my whole body. It has occupied ever larger parts of my mind and my time as the past year has gone on. I've made excuses to myself, made allowances for the stressful times and tried hard not to beat myself up, but in the end reality has to be faced. Squarely. Head on.
I have no alternative but to try and tackle it and get my thoughts, and our life, straightened out. I detest routines and structures and systems and timetables and have fought them, kicking and screaming at times, and it's not that I can no longer fight. It's that I have to find a way to bring it all together somehow. I have to get it all out and make myself face it. My deliberations have led me to one conclusion.  I'm just not happy with how things are. It seems that the time has come to start imposing things, because if I don't I'll just stay unhappy. I have to find a way to move things in a direction that meets everyone's needs, including my own. I have tried leading by example and presenting positive choices to the kids, but these methods just haven't produced the results that I need in order to feel that I'm doing my very best by my family.
The rot set in, it seems, a couple of years ago with our dog's decreasing health. This led to less exercise being taken by all of us with consequences that I am no longer prepared to allow to continue. Except the 5 year old we are all overweight, and not just a bit overweight,and it's a result of not exercising enough and making unhealthy choices in our diets. Sleep is a big issue. The lack of it means that the children seem constantly tired and grumpy and Daddy Bear and I never get enough 'together time'.The constant tension in the house is really draining. Their ability to learn is also affected, as they and we are not able to focus on what they really need. This is my 'line in the sand', my own personal Rubikon. I've tried prioritising the things that are really important, but the trouble is that it's ALL important and if I concentrate on one or two key areas, say exercise and diet, then other things suffer and lead me back ultimately to the starting point. A lot of going round in circles has been done. I'm beginning to see that a holistic approach is needed, and a pretty radical one at that. Everything needs to change, and it needs to change now. Resistance must be ignored and overcome and new habits and ways of being must be found. I hate to hear myself talking like this, but I have to face facts. My children have gone from being portable, dependent little ones to noisy, opinionated big ones. The shape of my family has changed. I look back fondly to the years when we used to be able to go out every day and wander the streets with the dog, scooters and bikes, and I wonder where it all changed. I now have kids that we have to hassle into their outdoor clothes and almost drag round walks with us. Getting Charlie, our 6 month old puppy, has provided some incentive for getting out of the house, but it hasn't been enough. The children won't go out in the garden on their own (ok, the weather hasn't exactly been clement) and it has left me thinking that maybe my mum had the right idea. She used to work nights and would shove my brother and me out of the house for hours at a time so that she could sleep. My children seem to be unable to do some things by themselves, even around the house. It often feels like I need to have at least three of me in order to just tread water. Maybe I need a bit of loving harshness in order to get them to venture away from me and more into their own (outside) worlds. Way back then what I was doing felt right. I could see that I was doing the best I could for all of us. Attachment parenting just felt so right, but the benefits that I thought would flow from it just haven't. I thought meeting their needs promptly and fully would lead to fearless, confident, autonomous learners, and while it has happened to some extent, it feels like there is something missing from their lives, the kind of inner strength and resilience that my upbringing taught me. Well, imposed on me. If I can help them to develop that kind of strength, and do it with kindness and love then I'll feel I've done my job. However in order for that to happen I (and dh) need to gently and firmly guide them to do what's necessary for us all to feel happier and more fulfilled. It boils down, it seems, to respect. Respect for ourselves and for others. If you respect yourself then you do what your body and mind need you to do. You eat well, exercise enough, sleep adequately and challenge yourself mentally. You learn the skills that you need to be able to thrive. And if you respect others, you consider their needs and appreciate who they are and what they mean to you.


Fiona Nicholson, Education Otherwise 11:21 PM  

I used to say to Theo "we're doing this because I need it". I also thought he would move away from me in his own time if I was always there for him and sure enough he did, but y'know, it was a loooong wait. Daddy Bears always think they are getting the fuzzy end of the lollipop though, so that's a different issue. I have very little sympathy with them which is perhaps why I am single.

Pauline M 9:23 PM  

Have you tried having a family meeting? Whether they like it or not!! Have everyone raise their issues and make a list (yes, a list) of what you all need to do to get things right again. This could work just long enough to give you a break from everything. It used to last about a week in our house, then we had to review why it wasn't working and how we could improve on it. It might or might not work but it would give you all a chance to do something different and let everyone be heard......sounds easy!!!! I might even try it agian in our house! Pauline X

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