Thursday, May 16, 2013

Our New Improved Simple Life

My poor little neglected family blog. I have left you sitting idle for two years while I ran amok chasing dreams of literary excellence. Unfortunately the state of my blog mirrors the state of my life a bit as well. I haven't completely abandoned my children and husband for hours of writing in a darkened room, but I haven't been exactly attentive either.

A few things have happened to make me slow down and readjust my priorities. I won't go into all those gory details, but the outcome of much deep thinking and observation has led my husband and I to some pretty big decisions. I will list those farther down the page. The next thing it led me to was the need to express some of my "AH HA!" moments in writing. I think this little corner is the perfect venue. So without further delay, may I present my first big fat epiphany.

LIFE IN AMERICA IS TOO COMPLICATED (for my family)

I am a simple girl at heart. I grew up on a farm. I like to sew and grow my own vegetables. For the past few years I've watched my friends living the "American Dream" - soccer games, public school, church every sunday and during the week as well, camp outs, DisneyWorld, soccer, softball, school plays, soccer, PTA and on and on and on. So many of my friends seem to thrive as a family in this environment, but I feel like I'm drowning trying to keep up with it all. I find myself day dreaming about buying an island and teaching my kids how to forage for coconuts then watching the sunset on the beach every night. (<---- br="" exactly="" material="" not="" pta="" there.="">

In the past I've had my kids in dance, gymnastics and softball. We've also done home school, private school and public schools depending on the status of our needs and the services offered. We're very active in our church and we attend all the meetings we physically are required to attend. But after I survived delivering Baby George (my fourth) into this world things got a bit out of control and I thought, something's gotta give. 

I ended up making a list of all the things we do. Then I broke it down into the things we HAVE to do and will not give up. That pretty much looked like this:

Church on Sunday
School (of some sort)

Pretty nice list eh? Everything else I realized we could really live without. Then I added what I wanted for my kids and the list looked like this:

Church on Sunday
Quality Education
Activities with other kids
Down Time

Even with my dummied down post baby schedule, my kids were only getting two of the four on the list.

It took me 18 months to sort it all out (yes I'm slow, but I blame part of it on baby.. that's why we have babies right? To blame stuff on them ;) and this is what my husband and I came up with:

We are not good at living the typical American schedule so we aren't going to live the typical American schedule. Our kids don't do very well on that schedule either. When you break it down to its very basic roots, our kids don't even function very well on a public school schedule. They get up early and run out the door then come home late and cranky, facing an hour (at least) of homework, dinner, maybe reading time and then bed. We haven't even done ANY sports this year at all because we just haven't had TIME.

So we're throwing out public school for good. We just can't do it. And that is fine. We've had a great school to work with this year and great teachers, but for a number of reasons, it just isn't the kind of childhood we want for our kids.

My goal for my home is to live a SIMPLE LIFE. I want those four things for my kids. Church, Quality Education, Friends and time to rest and play and just discover who they want to be when they grow up. We live by 14 acres of beautiful wild forest, my kids should have time to explore it and dream and just breath. As it is now, they don't.

Along with that I've simplified the way we eat, the way we spend our money, the expectations I have for my kids in general. My kids aren't out of school yet, but I've tried to implement this theory into everything else that we do. We explained most of it to the kids on their level and things around here are feeling much less constricted. There are plenty of things I need to work on as a person and especially as a mother, but for the most part this feels good. GOOD!

I feel GOOD about what I'm doing! And it feels so GOOD to feel GOOD! Like I'm finally getting something right!

In the past I've felt selfconscious doing anything off the beaten path. That didn't ever stop me, but it didn't feel good either. Not like I feel now. Maybe it's because I'm older and I care less about what other people think and say to me. Maybe it's because my nieces and nephews are getting married and having babies all over the place and I have this real sense of just how short childhood really is. These babies won't be with me much longer. My oldest is turning 10 in a couple of weeks and that means he's a full year into the downward slide right out of our home. There are rocky years ahead for him. It's rocky as a preteen and teen in this life as it is without throwing autism on top of it all.

So that's it. I'm trying to readjust my life so that it serves my children a rich but simple childhood they can look back on and feel GOOD about. Luckily I have an amazing husband who is on the same track as I am and who works hard so I can home school these sweet kids and take them to co-ops and field trips. We have the makings for a perfect storm and I can't wait to make kites!




6 comments:

Erin Isgett said...

I love, love, love this SO much. You've put into words what I've been feeling for years now, and my kids aren't even school-aged yet! So nice to know I'm not the only one who doesn't feel made to run the rat race. I seriously look admire you for so many reasons, and this just adds to the list.

Sarah@Dr.LorinMasterSarah said...

That is awesome, Jenny! I've been reading a book called Radical Homemakers, and you are doing exactly what they are talking about (It is a great read by the way). I really admire you for making big changes and doing what you feel is best for you and your family. You are so cool, Jenny!

Kristen Warren said...

Wow, this resonates with me. I'm going back to read it again. Go Jenny!

Kasey Q said...

Good for you. Do what works best for you and your family. It's all about putting family first anyway.

jennygranola said...

Thanks everyone! Always nice to get a vote of confidence from friends :)

Susan said...

Amen!