18 October 2009

Rules for sane mommies

As I was cleaning up today, I was also pondering how my standards have slipped since I was a single woman living alone. (For a very brief period before I married Rod, my friends actually teased me about being a "Marth Stewart" type!). But I also realized that my standards pretty much had to slip if I wasn't going to make myself and my family nuts!

That got me to thinking about all the ways our standards, our assumptions about 'how it ought to be', have to slip if we're to stay sane while our children are young.

There hasn't been much time for introspection lately, so in leau of anything really profound, here you go: rules for sane mommies

1) It doesn't have to look like you just cleaned, so long as it doesn't usually look like no one *ever* cleans.

2) They're going to blame you at 14 anyway, and as long as you actually *were* trying, they'll forgive you by the time they're 40, so you may as well do what you have to do without feeling guilty about 'always saying no", or insisting they eat their greens or whatever it is that gets you feeling like a bad Mommy.

3) Playing with your kids is fine, but it's important to realize that they will have many friends over their lifetimes, but only one set of parents. You can play with them if you want to, but if you don't want to, save your energy for parenting them.

4) Shouting "You're driving me crazy!" isn't a good example to set for your kids. However, if you save it for times when they really, really, *are* driving you crazy, it does send a clear message.

5) Kids don't like rules for rules sake, but they do need them. Being reminded all the time to always put their toys and shoes where they belong may not be fun and may not foster creativity or self esteem, but it does mean they will be able to find them when they want them -- and no one will break their neck walking across the floor and possibly break the toys! (And knowing whwere their shoes are may, indeed, foster self esteem.)

6) There isn't enough time to do everything, and childhood is amazingly short. You tell your kids what's important to you by what you make time for. Spend some time thinking about what you'd like them to remember, because once they've grown, there are no "do-overs". Which is more important, listening or ceaning the bathroom? A hug or being on time? reading together or an immaculate lawn? That isn't to say you shouldn't clan the house or rake leaves, but it is to say "think before you rush past your child's ouytstretched arms. Soon enough, they stop asking.

12 October 2009

Reasons to love autumn

Autumn has arrived with bells on! I love this change of seasons! (Well, I love every change of season...after a couple of years, I was pretty bored bored by the year round summer
of my youth. Rainy season was a change, and a nice one, but there's nothing like an extreme change to make you come alive with the possibilities.

Anyway, among my many reasons for loving autumn:

* The earth is changing her, by now dusty, green gown for a riot of reds, yellows, and oranges.
* it's finally dark early enough to eat dinner by candle light
* hot chocolate in front of the fireplace!
* pumpkin custard and hot apple cider
* corn mazes
* yummy, warm soft sweaters
* piles and piles of fluffy, lavender scented quilts
* vegetable soups, thick and comforting with stock, and beans, and warm herbs
* the smell of baking cinnamon
* an excuse to hole up in my nest and play with scraps of paper

Perils of homeschooling

There are times when the realities of life as a homeschooling family are just not as dignified as we might wish. We had one of those times last weekend.

We had turned out parlour into a quasi “artists’ garret”, and our dear friend Linda came over to play. The light through the window was just right, we improvised easels and work areas for everyone and put on a couple of Bach discs for background music to help us focus, and the four of us set to work with great seriousness on painting and drawing …

Then, right in the middle of it all, we were brought up short by an unusually bouncy tune coming from the stereo…

I'm a verb. I'm a verb, verb, verb - I'm an action word.
So put me where the action is 'cause I'm an action word.

Hmmm. One of Jack’s learning with music CDs was still in the stereo. Linda, being a delight and a good sport, laughed, picked up a much more “spirited” colour and got into the music as she drew. I shook my head and thought darkly for a moment about submitting the whole thing to the Home Schooling Horror Stories column of our favorite magazine…except of course, that it wasn’t really a Horror Story – it was “just us” and Linda knows us far too well for this to have injured her impression of us. We can try – but we really aren’t “serious” about much of anything and she knows it.

Oh well – we had a lot of fun, and once I got over myself, I had to admit that the change in music may have changed the mood – but that isn’t entirely a bad thing.