Living in a Parallel Universe to those in the Rat Race.

Do you ever have those days where you feel you’re living in a completely different universe to your old friends before home Ed and the rest of the traditional world?

The sun is shining and the Easter Holidays are finally over so off we go with friends and family for long days out at parks and tourist attractions. With packed lunches and cheap entry fees due to it being term time and the wonderful fact that so many places now offer Home Ed discounts on top!

We have most of these places to ourselves while the majority of children and adults in this country are at work or school and we count ourselves lucky that we get the lifestyle that we choose.

While I’m luckier than most, being self employed and working around my children, I appreciate every day I get to have fun in the sun with my kids with no bed time to rush back for or early mornings to race out for.

I live outside of the rat race. I avoid rush hour, as lets face it, no one sits in traffic if they dont have to!

I hear working parents who send their children to school say “ooh I don’t know how you do it!” And “I couldn’t do it, I don’t like my kids enough” and “How do you cope not getting a break?”

But what we get is so much more than time out without kids. We get to ENJOY our kids! We dont have to spend our evenings shouting at them to finish home work or rush around like a maniac getting them to school in the mornings, or cram every day out into packed weekends and school holidays when the prices rocket.

Being able to holiday either around the world or explore our own country during off peak season means we can afford to holiday more often and to places we couldn’t have otherwise afforded to go. No school fines for us and having now taken the children to many new countries I feel so blessed to be able to travel without the crowds and queues that so often go hand in hand.

When the rest of the world go back to school I breath a sigh of relief that we get to roam with our home Ed groups to uncrowded places on hot sunny days all the while knowing the rat race is in full force in an alternate universe that I am not a part of.

Happy Days!

Marie

X

Why be a sheep when you can be a Unicorn!?

So being vegan, home educating 4 children and working from home, I am fully aware that I am not what society calls normal.

However I test anyone to pick me out in a crowd. I also defy what ‘normal’ people see as ‘normal’ by dressing in a very average way. I shop in the average mundane shops. No exciting patchwork jumpers or pixie hoods and DM boots which those ‘normal’ people like to assume a vegan and home educator dress.

I like branded trainers, wear make up and go to the gym. All the traits of a young woman growing up in the 21st century. Except I make sure everything I wear and use is not tested on animals.

Do i fit in any stereotypical category?

Not really. I pride myself on being different. Not the same. I dress how i want to dress, I eat what I want to eat and I parent how I want to parent.

My friends are such a wide variety of mums who home educate and don’t home educate, are vegan and not vegan. Who work and don’t work (Although parenting in itself is work so of course they all work)

Who dress in what society call normal and who dress in what society like to call alternative. Some of my friends pride them selves in dressing like they are going to a festival every day. (Their own words)

And I love that! I love that we can all be so different but all get along just the same.

I have no room for judgment in my life. Be who you want to be. I am not religious but have my own beliefs….main one being “be kind to all beings no matter how small.”

When my children scream and shout and whale about over a spider I roll my eyes, stay calm and save the poor little thing from their radical reaction. Where do they get it from?!!!

So I am told on a daily basis by friends and family that I am NOT normal. Sometimes by those who also pride themselves on NOT being normal, and sometimes by people who I can tell are trying to be slightly judgmental. But I always pride myself on taking it as a compliment either way.

After all, why would I want to be a sheep when I can be a Unicorn?!

Since going vegan I have found I’m constantly under judgment from others who don’t understand. Their main point being…”But we’ve done it for thousands of years” and “most of the population do it so…”

My reply is always the same…”So why follow when you can choose for yourself? You know in your heart what is right so why be a sheep when you can be a unicorn?”

My grandparents and even my parents generation (not all of course) genuinely believe the change from eating meat to vegan will never happen so why bother trying. I like to call these people the generation of the sheep. (Which is ironic given that the majority were brought up eating them) They were brought up in a world where everyone was conditioned to doing the same thing. Factory work and going to school to be alike each other.

Our generation and my children’s generation I believe are the generation of the Unicorn! We believe in change, we can home educate and see the light for other species not just our own. We have freedom to think and speak out for what we beleive. Thanks to social media we can make change happen faster too.

But what I really can’t wait for is the generation of the Rainbow!

Our rainbow babies yet to come. My grandchildren and great grandchildren who can be brought up in a world of kindness where meat on their plates is no longer the norm. Just like smoking in restaurants is not the norm for our children yet was very much the norm in our own childhoods.

I may be living a dream, but then I’m not ‘normal’. I’m a Unicorn! A mythical creature who stands for magic and hope and dreams coming true.

So ill take not being normal over normal any day!

Will you?

X

Home educating a large brood.

I hear people ask, will I cope home educating all my children?

I have a 3yr old daughter plus 3 older sons and have home educated all, and some at different times.

My eldest has diagnosed ASD and ADHD and can at times be quite a handful. I first began home educating him at the age of 7 alone.

Being my first Home Ed experience I was desperately trying to immitate school which I look back on now and cringe! Poor kid.

After a while the others followed suit and became home educated too.

I loved having them all at home. We joined many groups and spent most of the summer months out of the house at parks and pools, beaches, museums and anything cheap and fun for them to just experience life.

We would work when it suited us. Quite often we’d all sit round the table with our work at 9pm at night!

Being self employed, I was and still am lucky that I can work my own hours so just fit it in as and when. (Although it is always at the back of my mind that I am not working as much as I could if they were in school) But I have decided to enjoy their childhoods now and earn full time later!

When I had all the children at home I tended to follow what the older two wanted to do and the little two just followed along. My youngest was born into a Home Ed world and my youngest son had never been to school and watching them learn from their older siblings was amazing.

I gave my older children chores around the house which they wouldn’t have otherwise done but when you’re home all day or out all day with kids and no ‘time out’ from parenting then a bit of help with chores is almost a given.

Just small jobs such as emptying the dish washer and hanging out the washing on a nice day. Making their own beds….

Board games were our best friend in the Winter months. I bought as many educational games as i could find and we did lots of cooking together. My children now 13 and 10 are so capable in the kitchen that they love to show off to our family by cooking whenever they get the chance.

With my eldest sons difficulties times can and could be very difficult and I had days like everyone else where I wandered if i was doing the right thing. But once you really commit you find it just starts working.

I found it so much easier to be out of the house with my eldest as he was always into something and up to no good if left with no activity. He isn’t able to ammuse himself and will destroy what the youger children are doing if left to his own accord. So sports were a must. Swimming, trampolining, anything i could afford to wear him out. Learning at his own pace calmed him down and choosing subjects he wanted rather than subjects I wanted was key.

For a short while my eldest sons wanted to go back to school so I was left with a 5 and 2yr old.

I had to completely change the way I home Educated. Id spent so long teaching the older ones and not being able to afford all the learning experiences I’d like that I suddenly realised I could now afford to take my 5yr old out to science classes and Art lessons, drama etc which I just couldn’t do with them all. On top of that life had been going at a fast pace due to my eldest sons needs. We were out of the house most of the time to wear him out, yet now I found myself with two calm children who happily stay home and play with toys which actually meant I could squeeze in a bit more of my own work.

My youngest son has had a very different home Ed experience in that with one child and a toddler it was very calm and we slotted into a routine around him instead of dragging him around to things his brothers were doing.

What else fascinated me about my youngest son is that he taught himself to read and write with no forced learning. It has really hit home that all those early years at school ‘teaching’ them to read and write is completely unnecessary and a total waste of time when he has spent the first 7 years of his life playing and having fun instead of sitting in a class room yet can read and write as well as some secondary school aged children I know!

Alot of his learning of this has been through computer games on the laptop. He chose the games and when he wanted to play and in this instance it has certainly paid off.

2 years on and my older sons are back out of school due to school not being quite as fun as they thought it would be (But they gave it a good try) I find the dynamics has changed again. It is no longer about them while my youngsters follow suit. Its more balanced. My younger two have their groups and friends and my older sons are just finding their feet in the home Ed world again. Im not rushing them. They are doing online subjects of their choice and join us for family days out and have swimming and gymnastics lessons. But for the most part I am still enjoying my 7yr old and almost 4yr olds time of learning and im sure the dynamics will slowly change again as the big two adjust.

We still all work together in the evenings and I dont rush them out of bed in the mornings. My parents are very supportive and have each of the children stay over every other week in turn which certainly helps.

Its chaos and messy but its happy chaos and mess. When they’re all grown up and gone, ill look back on this time with very fond memories and I hope they will too.

If you’re considering home educating your large brood, my advice is relax and let them take the lead. Make friends and go to as many cheap home Ed groups as possible to build up a network of support. There’s plenty of big home ed families out there. But my biggest tip of all is, do not try to replicate school! That in my opinion is my only fail to date.

Good luck!

Baking a cake with multiple children…

So baking a cake is easy some would say. If baking comes easy to you that is.

But what about baking a cake with the kids? Now multiply that to 5 kids!

Now there are two ways of doing this in my opinion.

1. Get 5 bowls, 5 whisks, 5 spoons…..you see where this is going.

Now this idea seems like the fairest way but what about you?

Can you really watch as 5 children do 5 things at the same time? Not to mention how you then turn this all into one cake..or are you planning on making 5!!?

2. The sharing method which your kids love to hate. Which comes with its own set of complications…”Can I go first?” “He’s already had a turn, can I go now?”

“She got to mix for longer than me, I wanted to do the egg!” You get the drift. (Although in my world there is no egg as we’re vegan)

So you get through all that and survive, the kids haven’t killed each other and the cake is sufficiently burned (sorry i mean cooked!)

Now it’s time to decorate it!

Decorating a cake with 5 children is most parents idea of hell. Until i came up with this life saving tip.

Divide the top of the cake into however many sections there are children. In this instance 5. Using either an icing pen or food colouring pen.

Share out equal amounts of the topings and icing to each child and mark their section with their name if you like.

All of a sudden you have 5 happy children all decorating the same cake at the same time with no fuss, no arguments and no issues!

Whats more is once they have finished they each know exactly how much is theirs. No arguments over which slice of the cake they get to eat either!

All that’s left to do now is relax with a cuppa….. whilst thinking Why didnt I divide it into 6 so I could have a piece!? 😄

And to tidy the kitchen of course…suddenly 5 little people are not so keen on hanging round.

Working from home with a 3yr old!

Anyone who tries working from home with a 3 (almost 4 yr old) will know what im talking about!

How much work can you actually get done with a child that age?

Well the answer is: Not alot!

Most of the day consists of..

“Mum can you play with me?”

“Mum look at this”

“Can you sit with me?”

“Can you dress this doll?”

“Mum I’m fiiinissshed!” (From the toilet seat)

“Can I do painting?”

“Can we bake a cake?”

The list goes on…

So as a dedicated mother who feels all the normal things such as guilt and….well mainly guilt.

I find myself trying the usual…

“Why dont i set your toys up in your bedroom for you?”

“Would you like to watch a film?” (I may get an hour to work if she agrees, is my thought process but who am i kidding? )

“Darling we’re not going to the shops today” (sad face staring back at me)

“Im not playing today darling, mummy really needs to work toady as we spent the last week playing and mummy still hasn’t got any work done.”

“I know! what about CBeebies!?” (With my best pretend excited face!)

But as always she wins….So I get short 5, maybe 15 minute bursts to work in between painting and dressing dolls and answering important life baffling questions such as “why is the house square?” Erm, I wasnt aware that it was square exactly so now to figure out what shes trying to ask and answer accordingly. Does she mean the square window? Or that the house is I suppose in some way cube shaped? Has she seen a square house in a book and this is what she’s remembering?

Well it doesn’t really matter because by the time I’m half way through stumbling a half intelligent answer together shes on to the next!….then, can I have lunch now?

Yes dear!

So shes finally sorted for a few minutes….the door bell goes, my older children are home and dumping bags and shoes in the hall and demanding “whats for dinner mum?” “Mum can my friends come over?” Not to mention the squabbling and arguing two boys aged 10 and 12 get up to.

My 3 yr old walks back in..”Mum have you finished work now?” (I haven’t actually started yet!)

Sigh, ill pack up and try again when they are in bed…if I dont fall asleep before them…again! 😃