Going through the photos of 2014 I just realised what it was for me – a year of confidence.
Since I stopped working four years ago things were very much in turmoil – taking care of two and then three kids, homeschooling, being the primary one responsible for running things in the house and garden. All things changed – my identity, circle of people for regular contact and network overall, daily rhythm and responsibilities, planning horizons and finances, even the language used for most of my contacts outside of the family went from English to Dutch. And lots of that came with insecurities and lack of confidence.
So I had to learn, to let go and to rebuild. And eventually it started to work. Last year was the one where all little bits and pieces started to come together into ‘yes, I can’ and ‘wow, it works’ feeling that doesn’t disappear after the next challenge.
And the best thing of all that? It’s the time for myself, my own development and growth that I’ve learnt to make in between all other things. And here I have to send you to read Learning to use the time you have by Lori Pickert, because that was really inspiring for me a year ago.
It’s all far from running like a well-oiled machine, so I guess 2015 will be very much about consistency, regularity and rhythm. And getting closer to those 10 000 hours needed for a mastery :)
My views on learning and parenting are heavily influenced by the ideas of legitimate peripheral participation in a broad sense – making sure that kids experience life in situ, not in a special child-centric settings, but by becoming part of activities of those around them and society as a whole. Which is easier said than done, especially when you go outside of a single family level.
One of the things we enjoy in that respect are family-focused camping trips – ecocamp in Russia, Russian-speaking camp in Germany or homeschooling camping in the Netherlands. Although for a period of time, they give a feeling of that village to raise a child where adults and kids are engaged in authentic activities.
But in everyday life there is not that much things you can do in a mixed age group on a regular basis. Adults go to work and kids go to school. Older kids can work as apprentices with adults, but that’s will take a while for us. Sports, clubs, courses are all either for adults or for kids. There are a few exceptions, usually targeted at parents of babies or toddlers, but even those are usually not accessible if you have more than one child. And, as kids spend lots of their time in school or kids-oriented settings, it’s also not very common to bring them along to where adults do their things. I tried for a while to find offline volunteer work that I can do with the kids, but gave up – at least until all of them are older.
We do get together a lot with other homeschooling families, but many of those meetings are still playdates or kids-oriented activities. Of course, there parents also do something – share experiences and fun or pick up on each others brains, bringing occasionally something to do for themselves – but most of the times it still starts from the kids interests.
Given all that I was very happy with the idea of getting together with other homeschooling parents to do something interesting for ourselves – learning improv and making music. So far we had a few meetings, trying to find out a way of doing things together while keeping an eye on our kids. Most of the times kids were busy with their own activities, but they came to look, to ask questions or to play along. We’ll have to see how it goes, but so far it was lots of fun.