Hygge In Your Homeschool

Hygge (pronounced HOO-gah) is an interesting word.  I came across it about 6 months ago and was intrigued.

Hygge is a Danish word that is both a noun and a verb with no direct translation.  The closest words in English are probably coziness, well-being, comfort, and homeyness.

Pia Edberg, in her book, The Cozy Life says this brilliantly about hygge (emphasis mine):

Though hygge is usually a planned affair, it can be as simple a curling up and reading a good book on the sofa.  It’s about surrounding ourselves with everything we love and treasuring the moment.  In a big departure from modern culture, we intentionally enjoy the domestic and personal aspects of life, rather than rushing through them just to make it through the day’s tasks.  We seek and embrace the warm and fuzzy feeling inside.

 

Being one who is all about trying to bring more peace, rest, and joy to our homeschool, hygge feels like it would fit right in.

As with everything else in my day, actually bringing hygge in amongst the chaos and noisy life of homeschooling 3 kids is a challenge.

So, as I try to not worry about perfection, I will attempt hygge the only way that works around here – short spurts with a lot of grace!

Here is a short list of very simple and quick ideas to bring a little more hygge into our days (with or without the kids).  Hopefully some will help you out too.

Brew a cup of coffee (or tea or hot chocolate).  Now, I may not get to enjoy my coffee hot for very long, but I try and take my time when I’m making it.  I slowly stir, inhale the aroma deeply, and really notice the warmth of the cup in my hands (sounds like a Folger’s commercial 😉).  It seems to be just enough time to ground me a bit.  Of course, if I can drink it in peace- even the better!

Read aloud cuddled under a warm, fuzzy blanket (with the dog for bonus points!).  Now, I know most of us are probably already reading aloud and using a blanket in the winter.  However, hygge is really a state of mind so I try and really pay attention to the moment.  I let the story, the heat from the blanket and the pup really soothe my mind and pay attention to the moment.

Poetry Teatime.  One of my favorite Bravewriter practices is Poetry Teatime.  Make your beverage of choice, serve a yummy treat (homemade or store-bough, no shame here), bring out the fancy table settings (or not), and pick some fun poetry or your read-aloud and sit around the table together.  We pass the poetry books around and have everyone read a couple.  They prefer the silly poems while I will round it out with some more thought-provoking ones.  Sometimes we discuss the poems, sometimes we just enjoy and talk about things in our lives right now.  It’s honestly, some of the best hygge of the week!

Play a game.  Pick something cooperative that won’t cause a lot of fighting.  I say this from experience.  Playing a game and laughing together does wonders for the soul.

Change your perspective.  Bad days happen, some seasons more often than not.  A simple heart of gratitude will help bring some hygge to your day.  Stop in the moment and pick a few blessings from the chaos.  It could be as simple as no Legos to step on that day, or kids sleeping a bit longer.  There is always something to be thankful for.  Sometimes it just takes a bit more effort to find it.

And finally,

Chocolate.  No explanation necessary!

I have found that even just being aware of hygge helps me slow down a bit.  Some days are just crazy.  Period.  A few moments of hygge can help bring your stress level down and your spirits up.  I encourage you to find some hygge in your homeschool!

What ideas do you have for hygge in your homeschool or just your everyday?

Every Mama needs a Tribe

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From our earliest days we want to belong. Our souls yearn for a tribe. A group full of people who love us, celebrate us, and like us as we are. A group who accepts us yet isn’t afraid to challenge us to be the best Mom (Homeschooling or not) we can be.

It is possible to homeschool without a tribe, but it’s lonely and frustrating to have no one to share struggles and joys with. I get that. Yet, a tribe is crucial to your long-term success at this homeschooling gig. A tribe will catch you when you fall and cheer you up. A tribe will shout “Me too” when you feel alone and struggling. A good tribe will be safe.

Early in my homeschooling career, I joined a Homeschooling Mom’s group. There were probably 8-10 ladies there. One woman was asking about a discipline problem she was having and was looking for advice. Another woman spoke up immediately and said, “Spank him. If he is disobeying you need to spank him.” A majority of those mothers were nodding their heads in agreement. A different woman jumped in and told us that if she goes to take a shower and the kids don’t have their chores done when she gets out they get spanked. She then laughed saying that her kids always obey her.

Without going into the spanking debate, my guard went up and I knew right away that this wasn’t a safe tribe for me. I never spoke up about my feelings or beliefs again, nor did I spend much more time with that group.

I have spent 7 years looking for my tribe. A tribe whose answers aren’t to strictly spank to get to the bottom of the problem. A tribe who values everyone’s voice and demands love and acceptance. A tribe that believes in teaching what’s true, good, and beautiful. A tribe that isn’t afraid to embrace the world we live in by not living in fear. A tribe that really wants to know me, not just my homeschooling philosophy. A tribe that thinks it’s ok to have different viewpoints and ideas and one that doesn’t dismiss other’s ideas and views.

So where does one find a tribe in this increasingly social world of ours? First, start with your local homeschooling community. That is always a good place to start. Ask around. If you can’t find a safe community for you, create one. If leading a group sounds too stressful, consider co-leading with a friend or joining an online group. My favorite group is Braveschoolers. It’s a group of Moms who follow the Bravewriter lifestyle. It is a very accepting and loving group of women who are trying to teach writing and live bravely.

My desire is for this place to be that safe place for you, a place for you to share and be uplifted and to ask the honest questions. If that is what you desire as well, welcome to the tribe. I’m so glad you’re here.

photo credit* Owen Benson via Compfight

What is Restful Homeschooling?

Let me be very clear.

Restful Homeschooling is NOT just pushing an easy button. It is not lazy. It is not just doing your own thing and expecting the kids to figure things out on their own.

Coffee Art
An Introduction

So, what is Restful Homeschooling?

Restful learning is purposeful. Our goal is to enrich our lives and engage in truth, goodness and Beauty wherever we find it.

Restful Homeschooling is a philosophy. It’s not a curriculum. In fact, you can use any curriculum (or not) that you choose for family. It will all work. You just won’t be a slave to the curriculum. You can pick and choose what works for you.

Restful Homeschooling is having rhythm to my day. It’s not rigid but it structured enough that it is predictable. We have always started our day with History and Read-Alouds. If there’s an artist or something I really want them to hear and know (for instance, I read MLK’s I have a dream speech every MLK day) then I do it now. My high schooler is no longer a part of this, but she does listen to the read-aloud a bit from the dining room table if she finds it interesting. I will share more of our daily homeschooling schedule in a future post.

Restful Homeschooling is flexible. We have appointments outside the house 1-2x per week, and my oldest is taking a Speech class this semester as well. So, those days are much more flexible. I don’t try to cram everything in (anymore). We just pick right back up the next day. And on very busy weeks, I schedule math and reading every day. That’s it. I used to try and fit everything in but, in the end, it’s not worth it. Kids will not retain or happily learn something if you’re forcing it on them. My kids are not perfect and do argue (somedays A LOT) about school, but it’s much more enjoyable when they don’t feel rushed and forced to “perform.”

Restful Homeschooling is relaxed. You want to do your math in your pajamas? Sure! You want to read while snuggled up under a blanket in by bed? Yes, Please. You want to play with the dog while I’m reading to you? By all means. I know most of us probably enjoy this aspect of homeschooling, but a reminder that it’s all ok is always good <smile>.

Restful Homeschooling is engaging. I am learning right alongside them. To be fair, there are some things that I’m not 100% a part of and that’s ok. My son is listening to the audio version of Story of the World on his own. I do have a slight advantage that I have already read through the book once with my oldest. Even so, my memory is not great. I spent time over the summer putting together a schedule for him that would still allow me to be engaged. We work on the map projects together and we read and discuss books about the topic together. I stay engaged and try to ask questions that aren’t just yes and no about his SOW chapter so it encourages discussion.

That being said…

Restful Homeschooling is not easy for the teacher. No things worthwhile are easy. My job, first and foremost, is to attempt to keep my cool and remain patient (my parents and siblings would be laughing right now). I am not very good at either of those but I sure am a lot better 7 years into this homeschooling gig! It’s not easy because the leg work comes down to you. I have a few programs that are just open and go (love you All About Reading, Math-U-See, and Explode the Code). The meatier subjects, History, Science, Writing, Literature are what I put my focus on. These are the ones I really want to engage my kids in and the ones that interest me the most (ok, to be completely honest, Science is NOT my favorite so I have to be very intentional about including it).

There is so much more to write about. I will go into more detail with these ideas in separate posts.

Next up, my 2 hands-down favorite resources for a Restful Homeschool!

What does restful homeschooling mean to you?

photo credit*Creative Commons License lbraun91 via Compfight

I am no Homeschool Supermom

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I’m just laying it right here on the line so no one has any misconceptions about me.  Homeschooling does not mean I’m a supermom.  Crazy? Sure. I’ll give you that.  Weird? Yep. I was weird long before homeschooling.  Supermom? Never.

Why am I no supermom?  Why do I not grind my own wheat?  Random question there, or is it?  Read on:

Homeschooling (and motherhood, in general) has brought out the worst of my personality.  BK (before kids), I had patience.  I was kind and loving.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I like to believe I still am all those things.  The problem is that in order to be patient, kind, loving, and just plain nice to my kids, I have to work really, really hard.  Not all the time, but 4 of us, in the house ALL day long together, EVERYDAY will stretch me thin (the kids too).  I overreact and lose my cool quite a bit.  Luckily, my kids are pretty forgiving and patient with me.

My house is never clean.  There are 5 people and 1 dog that live in this house.  Four of us are here all.the.time.  I prefer to call my decorating style as “lived-in.”  As long as my home comfortable and sanitized (most of the time) we are happy.  I’ve let go of my desire for clean. I have learned that a bit cluttered is ok.  And even more important… I don’t mind anymore if my friends and neighbors see it this way anymore either!

We eat hot dogs.  Not only hot dogs, but the kids regularly eat chicken nuggets, frozen pizza, french fries, and corn dogs.  We even go to Culver’s and Qdoba on a regular basis (and I can never get enough Panera!).  The kids loved McDonald’s when they were little so yes, they had many a happy meal too.  I’m still getting rid of those wretched toys!

Which leads to…

I am no cooking and cleaning superstar.  I used to attempt to make everything from scratch.  I would grind my own wheat berries, hang all my clothes to dry, and used cloth diapers for my youngest.  Yes, for a time I was the “crunchy” mom.  If you do any of that, I give you credit!  It wasn’t always easy, but at the time, it was important for me.  Well, our kids grew out of diapers, my husband discovered he was gluten intolerant, and I fell back in love with my dryer <smile>.  But, I use cake mix, cool whip, pudding mixes, pancake mix, and white flour (except for my hubby) without feeling guilty that it’s not made from scratch.

This, right now, is your season of life.  You can’t do it all. We were never called to travel this road to do it all.  There are moms that may look like they are superstars, but they will burn out.  You need to conserve your energy for this road you are on.  If you grind your berries and it makes you happy I say go for it!  If it feels like it’s just one more thing to do I encourage you to rethink why you are doing it.  If it feels like a burden, it just may be time to make a change.  Your soul will thank you for it.

How are you not a Homeschool Supermom?  We all need to hear others’ stories so please share!

Starting a new Restful Homeschool Year

Sunset at Hayling Island

Summer is winding down.  Sunscreen is giving way to bug spray here in the Midwest.  The days are getting shorter and the neighborhood is quieting down earlier in the evening.

A new school year begins tomorrow.

We follow the traditional school year schedule.  It is just so much easier with a neighborhood full of friends, swimming pools, parks, trampolines, and just a lot of good times.  I look forward to summer break probably more than my kids!  I love the slower, relaxed days of summer without a lot of planning to do (other than the month of June that I use to plan for the coming school year).

Now it’s time to turn the page to fall and begin again.  My oldest daughter is starting 11th grade (how did that happen?!  She was just 4 years old yesterday), my son will be a 7th grader, and my youngest daughter will be in 3rd grade.

As with every year, this year is sure to look quite a bit different than years past.  My oldest works independently on all but her math, which my hubby handles (I am so thankful to not have to relive my Geometry class again!).

The past couple of years my younger two have done quite a bit together, but with my son entering 7th grade, I just felt it was time for them to do their own thing for most subjects. My son doesn’t like “girlie” stuff and my youngest likes all the cuteness she can find.  They learn and are interested in completely different things.

My youngest has never had a lot learning anything that was all her own.  She’s excited to be doing her school with me, without the interruption of the bigger kids.

So, 3 kids, 3 different interests, 3 curriculums.  We will do Poetry Teatime, some read-alouds, science experiments, and a lot of art together. It’s important that we all keep connected.

These are my general restful homeschooling plans for the year.  I will follow next with the nitty-gritty details of how we will do this for 11th grade, 7th grade, and 3rd grade.

What are your plans for the year?  Anything different than last?

*photo credit old_skool_paul via Compfight

Welcome to the restful homeschool

Hi and Welcome!

I have been sitting on this domain for over 8 months.  I have been slowly building the site from the ground up (wow- there’s a lot that goes on).  I have been motivated to get this up and running but the words to share were not coming.

I long to encourage homeschooling mothers.  I want to help you see the joy and not miss a second of the beauty of this season of life we are in.  I want you to know that it really is ok to not have all the answers and to have “average” kids.

The problem with my desire to encourage is the fact that I’m often a mess.  There are times when I’m anything but restful and gracious.  I have been known to be way too lax on my kids with their studies, yet I’ve also been guilty of being the drill sergeant barking orders at them when life gets overwhelming and we’re not measuring up to someone else’s ideal.

Sometimes the house is a complete disaster and I cannot keep it together.  I know enough about myself to know that order creates calm.  On the other hand, I struggle to keep the mess contained everyday.

I long for simplicity yet life, home, and schooling can get so complicated.

I am no expert.  That has held me back for months.

What I do have is hope and perseverance.  I am always willing to try again.

Every day is a new day.

God does not require us to have it all together before we begin.  He wants us to be faithful in our calling.  I hope that I can encourage you along the way as we live this crazy life as homeschooling moms.

Here we go.

Jump in!

The restful homeschool begins with a happy mama

 

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I lace up my shoes, get my podcasts lined up, harness the pup and head out the door.

It’s my time.  Time to just walk the neighborhood and listen and be by myself.  It lasts only about 30-40 minutes but its my time.  I’m a happier Mom because of it.

Women need solitude in order to find again the true essence of themselves. – Anne Morrow Lindbergh

I have written about this before, and 3 years later, it still holds true.  In fact, as my kids get older I think it’s more important for solitude.  Mainly because there’s more opinions flying and louder bickering amongst siblings.  It gets to be quite overwhelming for this introverted mama.

I am not a restful homeschool mama if I don’t take time to find happiness and quiet in my day.

As a Mom, we are always on.  We are always alert and ready for whatever the kids, the house, the laundry, the pets, you name, throw at us.  That’s a lot of “on” time.  Throw in the homeschooling day and that’s just a tornado waiting to happen!

Here are a just a few practical ways that you could snag a little time for yourself during the homeschooling day:

Set your alarm 10-15 minutes earlier than your earliest riser typically gets up.  Trust me, I know this is a lot easier said than done.  I don’t remember ever regretting getting up a bit earlier for some quiet time.  You are worth it.

The 1 coffee rule.  If my kids get up earlier than planned, I still won’t get breakfast until my cup of coffee is gone.  With littles this probably won’t work.  Older kids can wait a bit for breakfast no matter how much they think they can’t.  It won’t kill them.  Also, it encourages them to be more independent and respectful of your time.  My kids know that they can grab some cereal or a granola bar if they are hungry before I make breakfast.

Commit to a daily walk.  I know I mentioned this at the beginning, but this is my #1 rule for getting some time for yourself.  Walking is really one of the best remedies for a busy, hectic life.  Walking is good for your mind, body, and spirit.  Make it a brisk walk (just enough to get sweating) and you’ve got a great inexpensive workout. Queue up some podcasts that you would never take time to listen to on a regular homeschooling day.  Or, simply enjoy the quiet.  Make sure to take in the beauty of the sky and the trees- it will uplift your spirit no matter what kind of day you are having.

There are so many more options to carve out some precious time.  Think of what will work in your situation and commit to that one thing for the next month.  It could be 5 minutes or it could be an hour.  Your solitude and sanity is important.

You are important.

What are your tips for getting some of that elusive quiet time?

 

*this photo originally appeared on my personal site, Hectic Sweetness

The Good Old Days

I wish there was a way to know you’re in the good old days before you’ve actually left them. – Andy Bernard

Oh, how I enjoy The Office. Hilarious and profound at the same time. Absolutely brilliant. This quote stuck out to me as I watched the series finale (which was bittersweet and touching- not weird like some other finales- Seinfeld comes to mind). I haven’t been able to get this quote out of my mind-or the fact that Steve Carrell came back for the last episode. I love me some Michael Scott!

These ARE the good old days.

Some days stop me right in my tracks. Time isn’t going to stop for me. My kids ARE growing up, I AM getting older, those really are age spots on my face. We are in a sweet spot of time. The kids can run around the neighborhood with their neighbor buddies without a parent holding their hand to cross the street. We can plan a day out without planning for strollers, bottles, or naps. At times I do miss the sweetness of the very little years. Mostly, I’m thankful for where we’re at now.

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This, right now, is the sweet spot.

Wherever you are at, cherish these days. Even during the difficult, the messy, and just plain hard days. This moment in time with these kids at these ages will NEVER happen again.

Lord, help me keep my eyes wide open so I don’t miss a thing.

*this post originally appeared on my personal blog, Hectic Sweetness a little over 3 years ago now.  This message still holds true the further we get along the homeschooling/growing up journey.