Once upon a time, I never thought I’d be at the place to wonder if I had my child to raise again, how would I have done it differently?
It seemed that the clutter, the high energy, the interpersonal clashes, and the never-ending wash cycle would not decrease, let alone top altogether.
Those ponderings about how I would do things differently were for another mom, an older mom, who could have a coffee on a Sunday morning undisturbed, tapping on her keyboard in quiet. (Oh wait, that’s me.)
Now I wonder, if I had my child to raise again, what would I have done?
If I had my child to raise all over again, this is what I’d do:
First, I’d honour and acknowledge them as unique individuals, not extensions of myself.
Of course, I did think they were unique individuals when I began mothering, but if I could do it all over again, I would understand that how I teach them matters more than what I teach them.
I had no idea how unique and different they really were compared to their parents. Somehow I assumed they were a chip off the old block.
Turns out, not really.
In the beginning, I assumed that when one of our kids comfortably shone in a group, that must be my imprint. (But when a child said something awkward that must be a reflection of my husband, ha.)
Turns out, I’ve learned, they are entirely created for a different reason than just representing or reflecting their parents.
They’re unique, separate human beings having separate human experiences.
And because they’re unique, I need to mother them differently, they need different things from me, and they certainly need to be educated differently.
I would not have been afraid to allow them to just be them.
(I’m pretty sure I would have worried less, embraced their uniqueness more, prescribed a less formal curriculum, and enjoyed the ride more too).
Second, I’d not focus on these differences as character imperfections, rather I’d see that each child needs to grow and mature over time and they have unique challenges or paths to mature in.
I would be there to guide and encourage them, not focus on what they needed to do right.
My desire to right every wrong often took precedence.
- Finish the full page of math, not half a page.
- Why are you on the screen for so long? Go outside.
- Why are you outside for so long? Come read a book.
- Did you hit your sister? We DON’T hit. (Even though this isn’t uncommon for children).
- You’re complaining about prepping for an activity that you’ve begged me to participate in. WHY?
Turns out, they’re humans.
A wise woman once said that it isn’t the time you yelled at them in the van outside the grocery store that they remember or the days of planning for their birthday party, it was the overarching energy you were conveying the entire time: the energy that often went unsaid.
They’ll make mistakes their entire lives, just as we do.
And we’ll learn what we need to learn when we need to learn it.
(Just like them).
And they will have an opportunity to try again in another moment: again and again and again.
(Just like us.)
The things that are remembered are the things that showed themselves as valuable in our lives, with or without our spoken word.
Third, I’d build on the memories.
And I have. I’m grateful for…
- Everything we’ve learned through every readaloud.
- A trip into rural Africa twice, with all four kids: discovering a world where we had to clean our own water, live without electricity, and meet the most extraordinary people.
- A walk up the Eiffel Tower and celebrating a 7th birthday girl partly in Nairobi and partly in Paris.
- Swimming at a hotel resort in Las Vegas celebrating a 5th birthday party boy.
- Attend Taylor Swift’s RED tour with three girls, one of who adored TS and learned to play guitar because of her.
- Newspaper routes, wait jobs, youth groups, trips to Mexico, summer intensives in Toronto, and applications to colleges and universities.
- Language explorations, doing deep dives into Latin, Italian, Spanish, French, Swahili, and ASL.
- Listening to all my kids’ cool stories.
- Playing every game known to childkind.
- Tucking educational and pure-play gifts under the Christmas tree.
I’d recognize that though some days definitely felt incredibly long, and frustrating, they are also short in duration too.
The days can be long, but the years are short. It’s a cool saying. Also, it is TRUE!
“If I had to raise my child all over again
I’d build self-esteem first, and the house later.
I’d finger paint more, and point the finger less.
I would do less correcting and more connecting.
I’d take my eyes off my watch, and watch more with my eyes.
I would care to know less and know to care more.
I’d take more hikes and fly more kites.
I’d stop playing seriously and seriously play.
I would run through more fields and gaze at more stars
I’d do more hugging and less tugging.
I’d see the oak tree in the acorn more often.
I would be firm less often and affirm much more.
I’d model less about the love of power,
And more about the power of love”.
Big Emotions Journal for the Homeschool Mom
Introducing the Homeschool Mama’s Toolbox, a set of resources designed to help homeschooling mothers deal with big emotions and specifically address their thoughts. Your brain and thoughts are important tools that need to be regularly sharpened, and the Toolbox is here to help you do just that.
Incorporating mindfulness practices into your homeschool is one of the most effective ways to separate yourself from your thoughts and be present. The Toolbox includes three questions from Dr. Amen, author of Change your Brain, Change your Life: What am I feeling? What is the thought behind my feeling? What is the story behind my thought? These are questions that you can practice regularly to get the most out of them.
The Toolbox also encourages a daily meditation practice to help you distance yourself from your thoughts and just be present. Guided meditations such as Guided Meditation on Controlling Negative Thoughts and Guided Meditation for Inner Peace & Calm can help you get started.
Additionally, the Toolbox offers a Thought Care Checklist to help you deal with challenging situations that may arise in your homeschool. By considering alternative perspectives, you can reframe your thoughts and deal with the situation in a more positive and constructive way.
With the Homeschool Mama’s Toolbox, you can learn to influence your thoughts and create a better reality for yourself and your family. Download the Toolbox today and start sharpening your tools!
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