Thursday, May 11, 2017

Habits and Rhythm to our Days

    I am going to start off by confessing I am by no means perfect nor have I "arrived". But I can tell you that I have grown and learned a lot on this journey of motherhood. Also MY way may not be your way but I hope to inspire you to always move forward from where you are in life. I have been homeschooling for almost 16 years. We have only lived in 2 homes in that time but they are very different in layout and function. Over the years I have learned how to best manage my time and my resources to make for easier days. We do not have a set schedule but we do have a calendar so we can record appointments, field trips, and seasonal things we need to accomplish. Most days we have a list to accomplish... some days it is simply the farm chores and other days it is tasks to work towards finishing a bigger project. Every time I struggled with an area as a mom I made a point to either embrace that season of life(if it couldn't be changed) or to find a better way to make things flow. Almost always did it start with ME learning a new habit that I then would teach to my children.
    I don't know about you but when I became a mom I quickly realized I better come up with a sane solution to "stuff" or I would quickly drown in it in a few years. So I first started down the "organize everything into bins" phase and "pass it on to other mommies" phase. After many years I realized that there is a better way... enter the journey into minimalism. By first glance I do not look like I manage a minimalist home but if you peel back the layers you will start to see... or not see certain items. I first make sure many things don't even enter my home and then I make sure that if it does enter it has a purpose or we find it worthy of taking up space. Watch Story of Stuff with your family and decide for yourself if this is a journey for your family. I can tell you that the less stuff you have the less stuff you have to maintain, clean, and find homes for. Keeping toys to a minimum also helps children complete their tasks of cleaning up and taking care of their belongings.
    Chores are a wonderful way to introduce your children to a solid work ethic. I never want my kids to just sit on the couch and depend on everyone else to DO for them when they can do for themselves. So even when they are little we teach them how to put toys back in baskets, how to make a bed, take care of personal hygiene, and care for a pet. As they grow their tasks grow as well. This is so very important for many reasons. They learn to take care of themselves and take responsibility for the material items they own. They also can be helpful to someone who is elderly, a neighbor, or someone in need including yourself when you get sick. My own children have learned how to cook, clean, organize, and manage their days. We also keep things kid safe with homemade cleaning supplies and Norwex clothes which just use water to clean.
    Meal planning has become very important to smooth days. I try to keep it very simple by keeping our meals simple and making many recipes twice. We shop every two weeks and often repeat a meal a second time the following week. Ours meals are mostly Paleo recipes using whole foods. Our grocery list is half vegetables, a few fruits, pasture raised meats, good fats, and some nuts. I meal prep on a Sunday afternoon which is essential for me to use up my groceries in a timely manner. I chop vegetables, marinate meats, mix up meatloaf or breakfast patties. Twice a year I mix up some "box" mixes for my teens or for when we have guests over. These DIY mixes in mason jars are for desserts, quick breads, muffins, or breakfast items for special occasions made with mostly organic ingredients. Recipes can be found for these and many other DIY recipes(cleaning supplies, toiletries, etc) in the book and site called Little House Living.  As children grow and learn safety they can help you in the kitchen. You can have a special day for making bread, mixing up baked oatmeal, trail mix for snacks, or dip for fruits and veggies. A few favorite sites for quick meals the Stone Soup and Paleo Hacks.
    We also keep our homeschooling minimalist so we can fill our day with practical learning. We find curriculum or ways to learn a subject that is simple and straight forward. We mostly follow a Charlotte Mason style of homeschooling. One of my favorite sites that talks more about keeping a simple homeschool is Salty Tribe. Our days flow naturally with appreciation of scripture, nature, music, art, and good literature. It fills our cup up.
    Lastly some tips on "mother culture". Mother culture is cultivating YOUR soul so you can tend to those of your children. Don't loose yourself when you become a mom. They will find you more interesting if you have passions and good habits of your own. Embrace you, your talents, your heritage, and your passions. These things will feed your soul. Sometimes we do go through seasons that make certain things hard; like exercise, morning devotions, or hobbies that may be dangerous to little ones. But never loose it, always return to it or learn ways to cultivate with little ones in your presence. Over the years I have gone on scrapbook/creative weekends with friends, I learned to knit and crochet, took a quilting class and set time aside to sew at home. I block out a few hours a month for a meeting or coffee with a friend. I also make sure I get enough sleep, use an app to track my water intake, and exercise a few times a week. My husband and I plan a date night once a month. The last one we stayed home and he made dinner. Other times we have gone for a hike, stargazed, or worked side by side on the farm. This year we will use some of that time to can vegetables and work on our new bedroom/sanctuary.
    Next post I will give you some practically tips on the day to day for us; but for now....
    What does your family do to make the rhythm of the day or season flow? How do you cultivate new healthy habits? If you have questions please comment!

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