You accuse me of sheltering my kids like it is a bad thing.
For 9 months they were part of my body. For another year+ they needed to be within arms reach for both nourishment and mobility.
They will walk out on their own into the world around the age of 18. But there is a a huge transition for them to go through between being a toddler and being an adult.
This transition is made possible through sheltering
It is a parent’s job and responsibility to help kids grow, learn about the world, and feel the pain of the world at a rate that they can handle and will benefit them. This is sheltering and I fully intend on continuing.Read the rest of this entry →
Last week I told you about our Simple Living – Take 2 where we downsized again. We went from a 2 bedroom apartment to a 1 bedroom apartment. Many of you (rightly) asked about the kids. We are a family of 4 living in a 1 bedroom apartment… that doesn’t work right? How does this work for the minimalist kids?
Since I had to take the book back to the library, I don’t have it on hand to give references or share some of the great quotes I found, but I wanted to share with you the idea and how we are trying to use it.
Soul fever is basically when kids get emotionally ‘sick’. He used the comparison with a physical fever because of the similarity.
Causes of Soul Fever
Physical fever come from over-activity, not enough rest, and exposure to sickness. Soul fever can be caused from over-activity, not enough rest, and exposure to stress. Too much stimulation and an inability to process or handle it.
What the author found was that kids in first world countries were exhibiting similar symptoms as kids who have gone through very traumatic situations (natural disasters or war) from a constant level of stress building up. Soul fever is when this constant stress tips over the top and starts being displayed.
Just like a fever, cough, runny nose, etc for physical sickness, kids with emotional ‘flu’s’ or soul fever start displaying symptoms. Just like each kid and germ creates different physical sicknesses, the symptoms for each kid with soul fever are different, but as a parent, we know something is up. They can be withdrawn, or hyperactive. They can be demanding or refuse everything. They can be destructive or controlling… the list goes on. Basically, what the author talked about is that we all have personality quirks, but it is stress that makes them really stick out.
As a parent, sometimes it is hard to put our finger on physical or emotional sickness symptoms, we just can tell something is up.
With physical sickness we put our kids to bed, cancel all activities, make them special food, cuddle and read books etc. The treatment for soul fever needs to be the same. Kids need to rest emotionally and heal/process. They need to have some really quiet days with little activity, lots of attention and maybe even hot soup.
This is where our society has a disconnect. Most parents (hopefully all parents) can tell when their kid has soul fever and is emotionally stressed beyond the processing point. They know something is up, they can tell something is different. But it is at this point that they either don’t know what to do, or they don’t want to slow down. Cancelling activities and staying home from school is a requirement for kids with physical fevers, but stressed out kids can be pulled around everywhere with promises, threats, treats, or other parenting tools until they have a really serious soul ‘fever’.
This is why a simple life for kids is so important. I do lots of things so that my kids can stay physically healthy and not get sick. A simple bubble around my kids and their life helps guard against this kind of emotional sick. Just like age is no barrier for physical sickness… it isn’t for soul fever either.
What I have loved about home school is that it is much easier to pull back and take a break. Whenever either kids hits a new concept that doesn’t come easily they take breaks and go lay down for 10 or 15 minutes. At first, I didn’t give them a choice. It wasn’t a punishment, it was just a rest if they were struggling and we weren’t getting anywhere. Now, they do it willingly, because they feel much better after a few minutes of quiet.
As adults we understand this. If we are in a stressful situation we need to pull out and have a few moments of quiet alone time to process.
So on this note, Lily especially has been struggling with a new concept in math the past few weeks. She can do it, and understands it, but it is mental exercises to get all the way through it and it has been stressful for her. I decided to take the whole week of Thanksgiving off. We haven’t had a day off school yet this year and the school system has had several already. I have done a few shortened or field trip days, but this week was just off. Nothing planned, no field trips, just sitting home doing nothing.
This was also because the book talked about the need for kids to have more unscheduled time. Scheduled time needs to be structured for the comfort of routine, but kids need lots of unstructured time where they can just play and learn to play. They need to learn how to play on their own and come up with their own entertainment because that is where they develop their creativity and imagination.
Well, Lily loved it. She read, colored, played Barbies as well as many other games she came up with on her own or played with me.
Ian, still needs some practice on this. With nothing to do, he becomes a terror. This is probably because he is the second child and hasn’t had much practice playing alone. By the second and third day he was doing a bit better. It was this week that he first chose a book (by himself) from the library, decided to read it to me (by himself) and read the whole thing (except 1 word) all by himself. It was Dr. Seuss ‘Green Eggs and Ham’. Easy words, but they aren’t short books. I am so excited! Sure, he has been reading for a few months and we have been practicing, but it was this week that he (several times) has chosen to read for fun. He also woke up Thursday morning and over breakfast decided to count to 100 for daddy. I was speechless. We haven’t done numbers past about 40 with his math yet. He went from 1-100 straight with no trouble. Was it our quiet week that helped with these two things? Who knows. Might have just been timing. Either way, taking the time off sure didn’t slow them down much.
I struggle with ‘Tiger Mom’ tendencies with my kids, especially with home school. I believe they can do much more than the school system would dish out and it has been proven because Lily (and now Ian) are working ahead of their age. With my learning and trying to practice more simplicity I have been bringing more and more simplicity into my kids life with home schooling as well as many other areas. It is a balance, but I am happy with where we are going and what we are learning.
I started reading Simplicity Parenting last weekend (off my November reading list) and was pulled in with the first page. There is no way I can give away everything in the the book, I recommend reading it, and would love discussing it together, but I wanted to share with you what has come of my beginning the book.
Disclaimer or note: I am not writing any of this to say that I am a good parent, I struggle with it. It is hard to come out and admit struggles, especially with something as close to home as parenting, but I hope with my sharing my experiences it can help others who are also struggling.
I came out of our room after reading the first few pages and said to my hubby “this has to change our parenting”. We have done a lot in the last year to simplify our lives and our family life already. I believe that the simplicity of schedule, of belongings, and of home schooling instead of the the sensory overload and social pressure of school all make a big difference with my children.
But, I knew/know it wasn’t helping as much as it could. My daughter still struggles, less now, but went through a bad week last week. She struggles with refusing to eat/being extremely picky, and goes through times when she can’t focus on school at all. At the age of 7 I can’t tell if it is intentional or not, but it seems more unintentional. It is so hard for me, because in her struggles, I see or feel my parenting fail, I want to do all I can to help her. When I ask or look for help, I feel like it is admitting that the fact that I am doing everything I can for her and spending nights awake stressing about it, and it still isn’t helping. There is no one parenting manual, there is more parenting theories out there than there is people on the earth and every child is different.
This is the only pic I caught of her ‘shopping’. She was moving so fast.
What I found in the first few pages of this book were stories of kids that struggled like Lily. I would love to tell you that everything is much better after finding the right ‘pill’ overnight, but it isn’t like that. What I wanted to share with you today is what I learned in these first few pages and what we are trying to do differently because of it.
What I learned (though not rocket science) is that kids are way over stressed and struggling and really need a simpler life. What the author was pointing out and discovering was that kids in our first world societies were acting and showing signs of ‘Post Tramatic Stress Disorder’ PTSD that are usually associated with very large wartime events or life-changing traumas. He discovered, in research all over the world, that the same type of disorder was being caused by little and constant stresses that built up.
Just like every kid in a refuge camp is going to process and have different issues, so children in our society all react differently to the intense pressure that is now on them. The truth is that they are being affected by the huge increase of stress.
Just think, even 50 years ago (maybe less) most kids didn’t have
daycare at 6 weeks of age,
rooms so full of toys that there is only small pathways
start school at the age of 3 (if they already weren’t in daycare)
multiple extra curricular activities
tv’s, phones and computers in their bedrooms (even as teenagers)
Ian got caught running by.
This is a mass of stuff and stimulation to take in and process. It seems like each year grows more crazy with advertising to kids, must-have toys, and new ‘necessary-for-learning’ extra curricular activities. I am an adult and learning I cannot handle all the information and choices put in front of me, so I can only imagine how crazy it is for kids.
We have cut out most of this stuff, but what the author started talking about was the mass of information and the adult world that kid were being exposed too. I had never thought of that. Neither of us are kid people so we have never been great with kid things. We have been functioning in an adult world and bring our kids with us.
First of we never fight in front of the kids, that should be a given. We never stress about not having enough money or get upset in front of them. That said, they are still getting lots of adult world through us.
We talk work, lots of work, in front of them. Being self-employed, work is a big thing, it is a constant problem to solve. Reading this book it made sence that the kids could be stressed by hearing all that. I want them to learn all about business and the excitement of creating a business and the joy of figuring it out. It is (typically) good stress to me, but they might not be able to handle it.
We have moved around lots in our life. That, by itself I don’t think is that bad, but all our discussions of moving and where and how have been around or even involved the kids. I want them to feel a part of the family and of the decisions, but reading this it makes perfect sense that they probably aren’t ready to process that and those kinds of decisions.
It specifically talked about the environment and how that was a problem that was more than kids could handle. I had never thought of it that way. I have done a bunch with my kids teaching them about the importance of taking care of the earth. I don’t harp on the fact that it might just blow up and be gone or they might run out of water in 20 years or anything, but that stuff is in there even if it isn’t specifically designed as a scare tactic. The environment is a huge problem, as an adult, I don’t know what to do about it. As a kid it is a way bigger issue than they can fix or process. For example, I love the ‘story of stuff’ movies, but watching the movies (especially the one about beauty products) has made my daughter toxin phobic. The world is full of all kinds of issues, and toxins are a big problem… but I don’t want my 7 year old to be loosing sleep over which shampoo she uses.
I have tried to educate my kids on the struggles that so many people have with not enough food and water because I want them to grow up to want to help. It has created very compassionate kids, Lily prays for the people who don’t have enough food every night. It is good that she wants to help, but it is a problem that she can’t solve or even wrap her mind around. It is a stressor.
I have always tried to tread lightly on the issue of physical health and appearance, but this is another stressor that kids pick up on that creates all kinds of lasting issues. I was grateful to learn that sleeping and eating were places of control that came out most often when kids were stressed and it wasn’t somehow an eating disorder.
This was a bubble show. Ian was the lucky one to get picked to go inside a bubble. He was so excited!
I sat there, with only the first few pages read staring in the face the mountain of well-meaning stress I had allowed my kids (specifically my daughter) to deal with in these last few years. I want my kids to grow up well-informed and globally responsible, but maybe my kids can’t handle that, maybe no kids can handle that…. sure would make sense, as an adult, I can’t handle it.
So, this week hubby and I have been trying very hard to remove these stressors from the kids view. It is hard not to talk about adult things (work, people, politics, money, etc) when the kids are awake, but creating a world where they don’t have to process or deal with any of it quite yet sounds wonderful.
He has such a focused look
Kids still need to be eased into all this stuff and I am not sure how to handle all that. Probably kids are very different. As an adult I can’t watch the news and read very little on global problems because I find it drains me. I know and care deeply about the problems and do what I can to live responsibly, I believe knowledge to that point is good (and everyone getting to that point may need different amounts of information). My kids could easily take after me and have a low threshold for handling this stuff before being overwhelmed. ….. so how to handle this I haven’t figured out. What I am going to try and do for now is take it out of their view and environment as much as I can at this age.
This past sunday the kids went to play at grandma’s for the day and Bryon and I wandered kid-less for a few hours downtown. These are some of the pictures he took.
I want to start off by saying that in no way am I saying that anyone needs to be more than a mom to be fulfilled. I am a stay-at-home mom. I am also not saying that being a mom isn’t super important to me. It is my biggest responsibility and my greatest job.
That being said, I am more than a mom.
Becoming a mom is the single largest identity change. Graduating from college, getting married, getting the corner office, none of these are close to the social change that comes from becoming a mother. (probably the biggest personal and physical change too)
I was someone before I had kids, and I will be someone after they leave home. I want my life and how I see myself as well as others and society to remember that identity.
I am not talking about doing, this isn’t a post about working or non-working mom’s, I am talking about who I am.
Sure the world is going to end, but convinced I need to trust God and enjoy life, only dealing with what can make a difference and not stressing about what I can’t change… or packing cans in the basement. … this isn’t a problem we can work out or plan for beyond staying close to Jesus.
Accepting of others but unsure how to culturally meet several
Live life in fast/happy or slow/sad swing
Don’t watch TV or movies much, I get too emotionally drained
Don’t watch or read the news (see #15)
Believe that most of life is what we create, how we respond and what glasses we choose to look through
Not near as strong or healthy as I wish I was, but determined to keep working on it
I don’t spell very whell
Have been in 7 countries and really hope to multiply that by 10 or so if I get the chance
Love my life
In love with my husband more than when we were married
Really this is a post about stereotypes (motherhood is just the big one I see everyday). It is hard with human nature to look beyond them. But, I am learning the joy of taking the time to look past the outside and obvious parts of a person and finding some of their true self. Often, even though the outside/obvious person doesn’t seem similar or have ‘friend potential’, the inside has pieces identical to mine.