Raising Little – Big People

What a privilege it is to be a Mommy and be able to daily watch our little people grow from scrunched bundles of pink to dirty toddlers into lanky teenagers and beyond….. As we navigate this uncharted territory with each individual child I repeatedly remember someone once telling me that, “We are not raising children but adults.” In our homes we don’t have before us a future Big Kid but instead a little Mommy or Daddy, a business owner, an entrepreneur, a farmer, a dancer, an artist, a friend, a home maker, a designer. All these things and so many more are all packaged up – often not so neatly – into these little bundles set before us. So as we discipline and train and mentor our children as much as it feel tedious and that I’m doing this to just have some quiet or order in my day today – we are in fact missing the whole point. All our hard work parenting isn’t about the here and now or today but rather about the “..ever after.” And yet what we do today can deeply impact that to become a “happy” or “disastrous” ever after story.

As I hear my son speak sharply, using harsh, barking commands with his sisters everything within me wants to give him a piece if my mind and send him into a timeout – till he can be nice! Yet what will this gain? How will he know “how to be nice” if I never equip him with the gentler tones to replace those bossy ones that come so naturally to a born leader? I once again gently draw him aside reminding him how you use your voice matters and how it effects  people. We talk about what our home would be like if his daddy spoke to me like he spoke to his sisters. We talk about him being a Daddy and a business owner and how he thinks his family and employees would like to be spoken to. Because the reality is the way he talks to his siblings will overflow into the way he talks to his wife and those around him in his adult life.

Beyond just managing the way our children talk to one another we have an awesome opportunity to use our daily lives to equip them with business, family, home making, people, leadership and many, many more skills that they can draw from in their adult lives. I send an older child to fetch a younger sibling off the trampoline, ask a 8 year old to make biscuits, request an older sibling to bath, dress and make a bottle for the baby, I require one to call the library to renew the books or another to phone the take away to order dinner. By the age of 10 every child needs to know how to run the home for a day – do and hang the washing, cook 3 meals, look after the younger siblings and such. A challenge each of our children have risen too and been so proud to achieve.

So as I lie on the grass in the park and watch my 13 year old stroll off with his 2 baby sisters in tow – seeing him playing with them and taking such joy in them as well as taking the initiative to take their hands and care for them my heart swells with pride as I see not before my eyes a clumsy, lanky 13 year old but instead a little Daddy. A small man-child growing in his role of leader, provider, carer and protector of those placed within his care.

As I hear my 9 year old ensure that everyone is doing their part to clear and clean the kitchen after dinner I see before me growing a leader and CEO who understands a job well done. As I need to yet again remind an 8 year old to put her clothes in the washing or cupboard I am seeing to the training of a homemaker. As we discuss money spending and saving principles in an aisle in Spar I am witnessing the training of business men and women. When I once again train a tone or attitude used in jest or nastiness toward a sibling we are building good friends and citizens of the world. Don’t be fooled by their size – nothing is ever lost on these little people of ours.

Let us not underestimate these “little people” who right before our eyes have the capacity to change the future through the way they will one day love their families, run their businesses and share their talents with the world around them. So keep on keeping on. Your efforts will reap many a reward in the years to come.

A Wintery day…

So the last month has been once of the craziest ever. About 5 weeks ago Kadin underwent a huge chest operation. It was far from home and the kids had to stay with my folks while I was at the hospital and Neil was back and forwards.

We were home for about 4 days before we had to start packing to move house. We had decided only the week before that to rent out our home and move to a farm a few kilometers away. So it wasn’t a major move to a new town – but enough to rock little people’s lives. With the move our business suddenly required me to go back to work 8 to 11am each day. So need one say it has been a rough month.

So on Saturday with the new kitchen flooring lying in the dining room waiting to be put down, boxes still calling to be unpacked we succumbed to the cold wintery day and just had a day out. I think some children even spent their day on their PJs. So amongst the clutter and chaos around us we were able to just doing what we each enjoy doing – be that playing on the computer or putting up a tent in the play room – it was amazing to have a day off to just be as a family.

Parenting For Eternity

Someone recently posted a blog asking parents how they discipline, train and disciple their children. So many answers, so many opinions, so many philosophies – most totally contradicting one another – my head was swimming! So how do we know what is right? What are the chances of us doing a “good job” in raising children that not only “behave well” but children who choose to do what is right, even when they don’t feel like it, just because it is right. How do we raise children to think of and consider others before themselves? Children who have an undying, personal love for God, the earth and those around them, Children who are passionate and expressive, strong yet compassionate and gentle?

Honestly I don’t know!

But…

I know someone who does! Someone who not only knows all these answers but also knows each of my children personally. For this reason I do believe that the biggest, most important investment I made into parenting my children wasn’t buying the latest jungle gym or saving for a dream holiday but rather seeking my heavenly father for wisdom in raising the little people he has put into our care. Through the years He has gently guided, encouraged, rebuked and corrected our parenting and we have learned so many valuable lessons along the way.

So what I’ll share with you here are a few things we have found to be fundamental to parenting our children…

I remember, when our first child was a baby, hearing someone say that they did not allow fighting in their home. This took made me so a double take. Made me sit up an listen. Made me stop and consider all I knew about family, siblings and raising children. “Not allow it!?” As I processed this information I began to realise that as parents we are given our homes to “have dominion over”, to rule and reign. We have the right to determine the atmosphere, the attitudes, expectations and out play of bevaiour with this space we had been given dominion over. With this in mind we set out to determine what we wanted to have our family and home look like.We set high expectations for our children with regards to their bahaviour and attitudes toward one another. One of these is that our speech is to always be full of grace – love, forgiveness, patience and understanding.

Now setting the expectations and obtaining them were 2 separate things and in different seasons, for different children working towards them has meant different approaches. Ultimately when they are very little it meant removing them from a room, or sitting looking at a wall, till they could chose to talk nicely, chose to be kind or chose to change their attitude. As they became older and now knew the expectations we would ask them to “try again” when they used a harsh tone or were mean to someone else. This also often came hand in hand with role play and practicing how they will behave in a situation.

This set them up with a picture in their head of what was an appropriate response rather than just disciplining or punishing them for “being naughty” – leaving them with no idea on how to rectify their behaviour.

As the years have rolled by many situations have simply been spoken through. With the older children we have discussed how you respond when a friend leaves you out or says something hurtful. How to ensure a new child feels accepted in a group or that the boy who scores his own goal in soccer is not made to feel embarrassed. These discussions have once again set them up with an appropriate, loving response rather than leaving them to figure it out all on their own.

I remember hearing years later of another family who would not allow their children to entertain the idea of being a “teenager” due to the connotations, expectations and liberation this word presented but that they would rather become a “young adult” – an adult in training. This immediately changed the expected behavior and attitude of the child from one of reckless, selfishness to one of responsibility and maturity. With this in mind we started speaking of these things with our young children so that by the time they reach 13 they know what the expectation is of them. They look forward to being embraced into the “adult” world and their behaviour grows into this expectation.

God obviously also plays a vital role in all this as our children look to Him as their guide and as their personal relationship with him grows so does their desire to live in a way that honours him.

So no we don’t have all the answers and don’t always get things right. Yet we have learned, through God’s wisdom and guidance, that parenting is not about discipline but rather exception and then training, discipleship and mentoring a child into becoming all they were made to be.

 

Cedar Wood

At the beginning of 2013 God led us to begin a homeschool facilitation centre. This has been a most awesome privilege and adventure to embark upon!

We started out with my 4 and just 2 others last year and are now up to 12 children. The vision God has planted into our hearts is to open a learning environment that is an extension of our home. A place that breaths God, a place where individually, excellence, diligence, creativity and a high standard of academics are valued.

Each child is on their own individual program – which makes for interesting mornings, but as they are at their own level for each subject, engaging in work they are excelling in, at a pace and presented in a way that is personally unique to them they are all so motivated.

Each child has a tablet, connected to the wifi, which they use throughout the day to access their reading or maths, science or history. They are required to to do daily research and then narrate about what they have discovered.

Cedar Wood is based upon a Charlotte Mason philosophy and we use a great deal of the Sonlight curriculum – especially for the history and geography. Neil runs awesome weekly science lessons that the kids can’t wait for and many Fridays are spent attending various outings or herb club (run by Peter’s Gate a farm in the midlands that grows herbs and produces herb products.)

Each child is issued with a planner of their day’s work and what they need to achieve during the day. What they don’t complete in the morning they do at home. We don’t have a break time – they simply get to eat when their work is done.

I have stood in awe of how responsible each child is for their work – even our youngest 4 year old diligently takes responsibility for her own learning! The children manage their time and their own work program. It is so interesting to watch the level of excellence and work ethic they place on themselves.

Yes there are squabbles and irritations and attitudes that need to be tweaked but just as in a family these are dealt with promptly and given natural consequences and choices they usually come right quickly.

I think the biggest reflection that this is something good that we have stumbled upon is that the number of parents who have called me to say that within 5 weeks of their children joining Cedar Wood their confidence has skyrocketed. This was never something Cedar Wood aimed to do and yet as the children have grown in responsibility and freedom to be who they were made to be this has been a natural progression.

So as we step boldly into 2014 we hope to soon have many more children learning in this sort of environment.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Creativity Feeds Off Life Experience

One of the most frustrating experiences, as an educator is when you are trying to encourage creativity and imagination and the children are simply not engaging with you. The first few times one goes home and relooks at the lesson plan. Was it too boring? Was it above their heads? Did I expect too much of them?

However when one stops and reworks the lesson, going through it step by step, scrutinising why the creativity simply did not flow one realises that the failure did not lie in the lesson planning but rather within the child’s life experience.

More times than not a child will be asked to describe something interesting that happened to them recently and their response is, “I did go to the mall.” On further prompting and questioning they may add, “We did eat there.” One can keep digging and ask them to explain what they heard, tasted, saw and such and so try to make more of the experience. However most have been there so often for so many weekends doing the same thing over and over that they cannot in fact remember anything very specific as it all merges into the rest of their weekend memories.

A teacher is able to take items to a classroom and ask a child to feel them and write about it or the class may visit a farm and record the experience. However this is very limiting and a child cannot rely on someone always providing a structured, scheduled experience from which they will gain their creativity juices.

As parents it is our responsibility to ensure that our children are exposed to a vast array of situations, places, people and experiences. As they interact with a variety of age groups and visit many places the child is absorbing and processing vast amounts of information. They are experiencing physically and emotionally all sorts of new feelings with which they are now able to connect their creativity.

Our time with our children is so precious and short that we need to specifically choose to partake in activities that will not only form lasting memories but ones that will ignite a passion and fire within their souls. As passion that will overflow into their creativity.

It is obviously much easier to spend our spare time with our children at the mall or letting the children play computer games all weekend. The reality however is that parenting is not easy and often we need to make a conscious choice to choose to do something we may not naturally be inclined to do. However when we choose to stomp through a forest on a rainy day or go catch tadpoles, take a trip to the old age home, play a soccer game in the back yard we are not only keeping our children busy but we are reaching their hearts. This is fundamental, not only in the building of our relationship with them but to connect their emotions and hearts to a world beyond themselves and their needs. As our children reach out and engage with the world, other places and other people they form emotional connections that light the creative spark within. Suddenly they find they do have an opinion, they do have story to tell and they want to contribute to the world of creativity.

So let’s all take up the challenge and ensure that at least once a week our children are made aware of something around them that causes them to question, makes them wonder, thrills them to the core or simply engages their senses in a new and invigorating way. In so doing we are priming our children to create.

 

Enhanced by Zemanta

Free to Choose

English: Portrait of a girl from Portugal

What is it that all humans crave, strive for and will die for? Freedom.  Freedom to be ourselves, freedom to make our own choices and to have the right to be who we are. Freedom is a powerful concept and realisation, for one to be able to express ones freewill is the ultimate human experience. To be able to choose, to be able to decide for yourself and do exactly as one wishes gives one not only the feeling of liberty but one of power, integrity and self-worth.

If as parents we tap into this inbuilt desire for one to be able to express our own freewill we are able to make parenting and discipline all that much easier – as the child ends up doing all the work for us. As with all aspects of life one may have the right to express ones freewill, however there is a natural law that sees that every action results in a consequence. Children need to learn that their choices result in natural consequences.

Within the home or school one needs to have boundaries and acceptable conduct. The children then need to be aware of the choices they may choose from and what the consequences may be. It could look something like this: It is decided that within your home you don’t permit hitting. Therefore a child who chooses to hit – experiences a natural consequence – they are removed from all other children and are required to sit alone until such time as they choose to no longer hit. There is no time limit set on their “timeout” as once they choose to apologise and change their behaviour the natural consequence is that they may return. If however they hit again, well they are again removed.

As parents it is our responsibility to let our children know about the choices they have before them and what the consequences of these choices may be. We then leave them to choose and simply ensure that the natural consequences play their roll. If homework is not complete they may miss going to the beach as they need to complete it on Saturday. If they choose to not help tidy their room they may need to miss a movie to do it. This is very different from threatening or punishing a child who does not complete their task.  It is rather a natural result of the choices they have made.

The great part about tapping into the desire for one to express one’s own freewill is that you are able to step back and no longer need to rant and rave and become emotionally involved. As parents we are often too scared to allow our children to make their own choices. Instead we take on the responsibility of deciding for them and so prevent them from feeling the pain of poor choices. The result being not only that the parents are becoming more and more tense and emotionally drained but children are not learning to take responsibility and ownership for the choices they make.

Choices are fantastic, they make parenting so much easier because if a child is offered the choice to obey or share or work in a team and they choose not to it’s their choice and they are in effect “choosing their consequences.” A child may not choose what one thinks is wise or good or right but that is how they learn. Rather they learned the pain and joy of expressing their freewill within the safety of their home than to feel the full pain of making foolish choices later in life.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Household Helpers

Ever wonder what the easiest way to stimulate a little ones hand-eye coordination as well as their attention span? Well one of the best tricks is to get your child to do whatever you are busy doing! Try include them in your everyday chores as well as other household activities that they will enjoy. Recently our 4 and 2 yr olds helped squeeze a bucket of grapefruit and then we spent a whole morning freezing bananas to make banana ice-cream!

The activity involved them peeling the banana, throwing the skin in the rubbish bucket, dipping the banana in lemon juice and then placing it in the freezing tray. This required them to recall a method and a procedure, they had to focus for a length of time on one specific task and constantly use their hand-eye coordination. This was obviously developing their fine motor skills too. There was no pressure to join in or stay with the activity but they all enjoyed it so much. Some came and went while another say for about 45 minutes working in the task. It was a most enjoyable time for us all – and we now have banana ice-cream to look forward too!

You may not have stacks of bananas to peel and freeze but look at your day and see what routine tasks you perform and where your child could either help you or even do them for you. They love working alongside Mom and being of use. They also really enjoy doing “big people’s” activities rather than playing with plastic pretend toys in another room when they could be involved in the real deal. Let them wash dishes, just take out the knives and glassware, show them how to use a cloth properly and you’ll be amazed at their capability. Let them help you hang up washing on a smaller line or a clothes horse. They can help wipe tables, put dishes away and tidy cupboards. Even a 2 year old can carry their own clothes to their cupboard and learn to put them away.

All these activities are so vital to their fundamental development and coordination skills and yet so often we over look them. Before long they will be busy with school work and friends treasure these special times with your little helpers.

Being Mom Redefined

A mother holds up her child.

When I stepped into maternity leave with our first child I boldly claimed I knew what Being Mom was all about: Discipline, education and preparing a child for their future and their place in the world. I valued outstanding report cards, first team positions and social recognition. Being Mom was something that required time spent developing a child into all you saw they were meant to become.

Today however Being Mom entailed watching my 9 year old son skip properly for the first time. To see the concentration etched upon his face. Then as he suddenly surprised himself by skipping with two feet together his face broke into pure glee but as he reached the 7th skip the rope tangled around his feet and he almost went flying and together we laughed and laughed. Turning around my five year old son tugged at my sleeve, “Mommy, look I build all the numbers.” There using maths cards he’d discovered that 55 was not merely a 5 and a 5 but rather a 50 and a 5. He proudly bounced around the kitchen as he pointed out all the different number he had built. My 14 year old then bounded into the kitchen begging us to listen to the piano piece she’s figured out all on her own. There with cords and notes floating around us I settled down with my 5 year old and he began reading one of his first sentences. So far today has been good.

The afternoon hurried past in a mixture of music and art lessons. One son played the xylophone for the first time whilst the other painted the most exquisite clay birds he had made – never mind he can’t stand touching paint. The three year old twins discovered that dice have dots representing numbers and that by throwing it alternatively and moving chess pieces around you can create the most glorious game – to which I still see no patterns or rules, but the screaks of delight confirmed that none were required.

Insisting on candles for dinner, making their carrot pieces and potatoes into mice upon their plates and arguing over who was to pray first was what Being Mom was all about today.

No one came first, or won a prize. I didn’t settle a business deal or even make any great meals but Being Mom today has allowed me to tuck in and kiss 5 little people goodnight with a heart so full and proud that I may as well have conquered the world.

Why Do We Keep Doing This?

If we stop and take a look at what being Mommy is really all about and what financial payment we receive we should conclude that it’s totally ludicrous for us to keep this post.

However day in and day out we keep Mommying. Why when everything gets too tough, we haven’t slept in weeks, the demands keep getting higher and there is no sign of a break do we not just throw in the towel or just leaves? What is it that makes us stay and not throw in the towel as we would with any other job?

I’ve given this a great deal of thought and no I don’t have the perfect answer but I have a few thoughts.

The one being the idea of running as a hobby. I tried it once it and although I can never truly understand why people keep doing it – the feeling of exhilaration and accomplishment of finishing well at the race end does make it all worth while. So I believe it is with being Mommy – we know deep down that if we just keep at it we’ll eventually finish well.

I daily watch my own little girls play baby with their toy rabbits and dolls as well as how they naturally nurture each other and any one slightly younger than them. This is not something they have only learned but rather something they were born with. Just as every human is born with a God shaped hole that only Christ can fill so girls are born with a Mommying hole. Society sometimes talks girls out of this role or maybe some are naturally more nurturing than others but as them to look deep inside and they will admit they too desire to be apart of a relationship committed to marriage and raising the next generation.

So even though the going can get tough we seem supremely programmed to love and nurture these little bundles.

Finally I’ve also found that I can never do this alone but need to rely on my heavenly father and his wisdom to deal with all that Mommying requires of me. As I daily lean on him and his guidance I know that he would never throw the towel in with me and walk away. He daily puts up with my humanness and still loves me – for no payment what so ever. Knowing this – even though it is often really hard – how could I ever give my children any less than my all?

Spring Celebration

As a new mom I remember reading Sally Clarkson’s book Mission of Motherhood. One of the family aspects that stood out for me was her thoughts on celebrations. We not talking about Christmas or Easter here but rather everyday celebrations.

Since then we have selected a handful of special days and created our own personal celebrations around it. When our children look back on their childhood it’s my hope that they will say, “Our family was special because we always celebrated…..”

One of our favourite celebrations is Spring. This has evolved over the years depending on where we have lived and how old the children have been but this is how it looks today. Mom gets up really early to start making scones for breakfast. Once everyone is up we trek out into the garden with baskets to collect flowers and leaves to decorate the table with. Then while the children decorate and set the table we finish getting the scones, fruit, yogurt and fruits raw oats ready to eat. We then all sit down to breakfast with soft music playing, sweet flower scents drifting from the table and candles burning. Breakfast begins with a prayer thanking God for spring, hope, life and all things beautiful.

This year we focused on the Bible verse Song of Songs 2: 11- 13 , “See! The winter is past;    the rains are over and gone.  Flowers appear on the earth;   the season of singing has come, the cooing of doves  is heard in our land.  The fig tree forms its early fruit;  the blossoming vines spread their fragrance. Arise, come, my darling; my beautiful one, come with me.”

So after breakfast the older children wrote out and illustrated the verse while the younger ones illustrated theirs (we cut out some butterfly wrapping paper too – just to add to the effect.) As we had moms group that morning we spent the time making flower arrangements with our friends. W aim to have a lovely supper too at the end of the day during which we all either recite or read a poem that speaks of spring, hope, or new life. The evening is ended by Daddy praying for us.

It is always a beautiful, happy day that has become a focal point in our home

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...