Adoption, Homeschool, Lifestyle, Parenting

Why we stopped homeschooling

I am sat drinking coffee alone in my favourite coffee shop reflecting on the last 12 months. Today is the first day back at school for our boys after we spent a year home educating them. The irony is not lost on me that it was in this coffee shop that we spent our first morning of homeschool last Easter.

There were many reasons for choosing to bring our children home, but the main reason was that we wanted Jesus to be at the centre of everything; our home life and the children’s education. They were in a faith school, and one that they loved, but we felt that we needed to give them something more. I was more concerned with their character than with their class performance, and decided to spend a year working together as a family at home.

I was more concerned with their character than with their class performance

The homeschool lifestyle is incredible. We thrived outside of timetables and schedules, we loved the freedom and spontaneity that homeschooling afforded our family, and we found such incredible friends within the homeschool community. We read books on books, we spent endless hours outdoors and learned a great deal about ourselves and each other. It was such a privilege to watch my boys grow in confidence, learn new social skills and make new discoveries.

So why end it all? That is a very good question.

We always said that we would homeschool for a year and then review our decision. On reviewing, we realised that our eldest was missing school terribly, and the truth was, I was floundering under the demands of educating two very different children while running two very different businesses. Home education is most definitely a ministry in and of itself, and is a huge sacrifice for parents.

I felt that God called me to homeschool, however it wasn’t my ‘calling’ and at times, I struggled to find my identity over the last year. I loved being with my children all the time, but as God continued to speak into my heart I felt a tension between teaching them and spending quality time with them, alongside doing things that I wanted to do or felt called to. It is fair to say that the children have missed corporate learning, and although their social lives have been off the charts, the majority of their education has been in the home, one on one with me.

So what was the purpose of these last twelve months? Well, I believe that this year has not been about heart education not head education.

Our homeschool journey has been about heart education not head education

Prior to homeschooling, we were struggling at home. We were still blending as a family of five following our daughter’s adoption and still recovering from my maternal mental health challenges. Last Easter we needed to press the reset button. So we did.

As we took school out of the equation, and put God and family first in our home, we have gotten to know each other again. I believe that we have grown tremendously, in faith and in relationship. As we leaned in, God bound us together and we have now laid the foundations for a stronger family unit going forward.

Since December, God has been challenging me, guiding me and equipping me in so many areas; business, serving, faith and family. I believe that He called me to homeschool to lay down the foundations for our family future. God never said for how long we would homeschool, He just asked us to step out in obedience. We now believe that this season has come to an end and we need to build on what we have started. I am pressing in and listening hard. It feels like I am listening to a new song on the radio and God is tuning the dial so I can hear it clearly. I can hear the melody but now I need to let him refocus me so I can hear the words too.

Can you homeschool? Of course you can. Should you homeschool? Yes, if you feel led to.

I absolutely advocate home education and have seen firsthand how my children have thrived in the home environment. But I have also seen the delight on my children’s faces as they walked into their classroom, watched their eyes widen with excitement about the things they will get to see and do and the friends they get to meet.

So although my heart was a little sad as we waved them off this morning, I also felt incredibly excited for this new chapter of our story – both for them and for me. Here’s to the first entry on the page.

R x

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Faith, Parenting

Learning lessons

At first glance this looks like a father and son moment; a lesson in handling a saw and managing a garden. The truth is it is a lesson in handling consequences and managing poor decisions.

Look closer at the picture, do you see the tree on the right? It has a huge branch torn off the trunk because my son swung on it and it ripped the tree.

That wasn’t just a tree, and the damage isn’t just a broken branch. That was my favourite tree, adorned with lanterns and bird feeders. It was special to me because it helped me manage my discontent in living in the city, it brought me such joy to seeing the wild birds hopping around in its branches and it provided shelter as we played in the garden

As a new homeschooler I am trying so hard to cultivate an environment of love and joy both in my garden and in my home, but I rarely seem to succeed of late. We have strong willed children who challenge us often and at the end of the a tough week this broken branch spoke of my broken my heart.

I knew parenting wouldn’t be easier but I never dreamed it would be so hard. I didn’t know how much it could hurt when your flesh and blood acts out. I want to fight for my children, not against them. I often wish I could ‘fix’ them, but perhaps this has more to do with my own iniquities rather than theirs.

I am not just a mom, I am a daughter of the King. And when I feel like I can’t, He can.

God created me to be a mama and He gave me these children to raise. I am going to need to learn some lessons of my own in raising my wildlings.

So today as I gather the remains of my beloved boughs, I gather my thoughts and give them to God. Time to go back to the Source to find our Selah. 

R x

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Essential Oils, Lifestyle, Parenting

Why Oils Are A Mom Essential

Motherhood is especially hard when your babies aren’t well. My girl has chicken pox, which is no surprise as she has been so exposed to it through many of our close friends. What has surprised me is how hard it has hit her, and my usually tenacious toddler is now feverish and fretful.

Fortunately this isn’t our first rodeo, and having had two boys who suffered with terrible cases of chicken pox, this mama is armed and ready. Last time round, I relied on over the counter drugs and oat filled socks in the bath, however this time I have extra help thanks to my natural wellness kit.

So far I have used 10 of the 12 essential oil in my tool kit. The main contenders are Lavender, Copaiba and Frankincense in the bath and also in coconut oil as a lotion to soothe her skin and calm her mind. Next up Thieves, Purification and Peppermint diffused in her room to help support her immune response and keep her cool. Because she feels warm we are also using Digize to help her tummy feel happy. Mama is slathering on Stress Away and Orange as I cannot bear seeing my babies suffering. That only leaves Lemon (which will be in my G&T later) and R.C. which I usually use for respiratory support! So to say that my oils are well used is an understatement!

Hopefully we will turn a corner tomorrow and start to see the spots drying up, but for now I will be powered by Jesus, coffee and essential oils! Prayers appreciated! In the meantime if you want the down low on how to get this wellness kit into your home, message me or comment below!

R x

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Essential Oils, Lifestyle, Parenting

Back to School

First week into the new term and my emotions have been all over the place! The highs of the holidays followed by nervous excitement in the days leading up to the first day back all take their toll. Not to mention the fact that my middle son decided that the first day of Year 1 would be a great time to lose his second tooth. I was a hot mess.

I have a love-hate relationship with school. On one hand it is a place where I have seen my children thrive. They have learned new skills, made incredible friends (not to mention linked me to some pretty awesome mom friends!) and have grown in stature and confidence. However, I struggle with the fact that my kiddos spend over six hours of their day, five days a week, with people who I barely know. Their characters and their personalities are being influenced by people who undoubtedly have very different lives, loves and beliefs to me.

Now don’t get me wrong, I trust our teachers implicitly. The school that my children attend is excellent, the staff are kind and caring, having benefited from strong leadership and ethos. But sometimes I struggle with the fact that after a summer of freedom and learning through play, I am sending my small children into a classroom to sit still for a good portion of their day. I worry that someone may be mean to them or that they may end up playing alone. I worry that they might find the work too difficult, that they may feel overwhelmed or out of their depth. I worry that they may not be noticed or that they may be sad, or that they may simply be missing me.

Short of homeschooling, (which is something I have seriously considered, and decided that, for now at least, this isn’t an option for me) there is very little I can do to control or influence what happens in the classroom. But I can control what happens in the home.

You will know that essential oils play a massive part in our every day lives, and the children are no exception. We use them to support us physically and emotionally. I want to share with your our every day oily routine to help get the term off to a great start, for both me as a mama and for the children at school.

First and foremost we start every day by diffusing citrus oils. Citrus essential oils are true multitasking oils. They lift the mood and give you a natural pick-me-up, whilst calming the mind and boosting the immune system, making them a perfect way to start the day. We usually diffuse 2 drops each of grapefruit, orange and lemon essential oil which smell divine and make us feel soo good.

Next up we all have a swipe of our Immune Roller before getting dressed for the day. This roller includes Thieves, Frankincense and Lemon essential oil, all epic oils for supporting the immune system and helping the body during cold and flu seasons. Going back to school with lots of new children can be overwhelming for little bodies. Throw in the emotions of starting a new school/class and being away from home can make them very susceptible to coughs and colds. We use this roller day in, day out, but when it is back to school we go twice a day to keep all the bases covered.

Before we leave I use my Calm Roller Blend on the boys. It contains Vetiver, Lavender + Cedarwood essential oils which promote calm, focus and concentration. If they are particularly anxious we reach for Valor or Stress Away to help us feel cool and courageous. Meanwhile I am also rolling on Stress Away for the school run dash!

On pick up in the afternoon, the first thing we do is use our Thieves Hand Purifier. My kiddos have been touching who knows what and I want to make sure their hands are clean before giving them an after school treat. Then its back home where I am diffusing Stress Away and Peppermint. Stress Away helps them calm down after a busy day and Peppermint is amazing for focus and concentration while we wrap up any homework.

Finally, we will get everyone bathed and top up the bedroom diffusers. For the first week back we use Thieves and Orange or Thieves and Frankincense to keep that immune system boosted while they sleep. Ordinarily we go for sleepy vibe blends such as Peace & Calming or Lavender + Cedarwood. As they climb into bed we do another swipe of the Immune Roller on the soles of their feet before bedtime prayers.

And that my friends is how we use essential oils to go back to school! These natural, non-toxic products pack a punch and we wouldn’t be without them. If you have never used essential oils before and want to know how to get hold of some to support your family please drop me a line by clicking the join our team tab or follow this link as I would love to hook you up!

Have a blessed week Little Oilers

R x

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Faith

Running with others

“Oh, I don’t run with others.”

This was my response to friends who had done Couch to 5k and wanted to join me on some of my regular runs. It makes me cringe now, looking back but there was a reason behind it.

Running for me is more than just getting fit. It is my headspace, my self-care, my therapy. It is my place to run away from my worries, to run through my frustrations. It’s often pretty messy and it wasn’t a process that I wanted others to witness.

When you run with others, there is an assumption that you are going to talk. Talking wasn’t always something that I was comfortable with, so it was easier to put my earbuds in, get my head down and keep going. I joined a running club last January and was the slowest runner there. I hated watching others overtake me, but what I hated even more was when people hung back for me.

Crazy, right?

But the kinder and more encouraging people were to me, the angrier and more embarrassed I felt. I have been conditioned to independence. Much to my poor husband’s dismay, I am fiercely stubborn and determined to things my way, on my own, in my time. (Our eldest son has sadly inherited this same fierce independence!)

If things get tough? Its okay, I’m tough enough to cope.

If things get messy? Its okay, I’ve got it under control.

If things get sad? It’s okay, I can paint on a smile.

Just run with it. Run through it. Run from it.

This philosophy is okay for a while, but running alone gets lonely. Running uphill gets hard. Running on empty is draining.

This is why God put people in our paths, to encourage us, to equip us, to energise us, to excite us. Those people who encouraged me are now seeing me keep up with them, hold a conversation with them. Over the past 12-18 months, I have entered races, run distances I could only dream of and smashed personal bests. All because I am running with others who propel me forward, running in a club that cheers me on.

We were never designed to live alone.

It is no surprise that we were never designed to live alone. We are made in God’s image, and even He doesn’t live alone. He exists as part of the Trinity; Father, Spirit, Son. The Bible is packed with men and women who needed relationship; with Jesus and with other people. God created us to live in community with others, and regardless of whether we are living the dream or lying at our lowest, we need people around us.

This week is maternal mental health awareness week. I have walked (and ran) through postnatal depression and anxiety twice in the last five years. I know first hand that despite all the treatment and all the therapy in the world, it was my community and my church that got me through. As the saying goes, it takes a village to raise a child, but I believe it takes a village to raise a mother.

As the saying goes, it takes a village to raise a child,
but I believe it takes a village to raise a mother.

Wherever this finds you today, whether you are a mama who is walking a rocky road alone, or running with others, know that you are not alone. God never left you and He never will. He sent Jesus to crawl, walk and run alongside you. He sent His Holy Spirit to guide you. Even on your darkest day, He will be your brightest light.

God never left you and He never will.

When running, especially uphill, you need to keep your head up and fix your eyes on a focal point ahead. This is the best way to keep going, keep moving and get to the top. Running the race of life is no different. We need to keep our heads up, fix our eyes on Jesus and run towards Him. And He will take you through the deepest valley and over the tallest mountain out to the other side.

R x

Photo Credit: FreePik
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http://gcmsk12.org/first-day-of-school/
Parenting

Why first days break hearts

This week social media has been awash with smiling cherubic faces proudly wearing their school uniforms, and behind most camera lens is a misty-eyed parent. Walking my son to school for his very first morning was more than a tad emotional’ his little knees peeping out beneath his freshly ironed shorts and his chubby little hands clutching his book bag. Tears pricked my eyes for the umpteenth time that hour as I watched him skip into the playground to see his friends. Selfishly, I wish that I could stop time and keep him with me always, a small dependent little man who needs me always. The reality is that my four going on fourteen-year-old is more than ready to start school, just like his brother.

Once through the door, rather than waiting for the roll call, my cheeky chappy simply said “It’s OK Mommy, they know me here,” and with that, he bounded down the corridor and grabbed his teacher’s hand. All the feels.

As hard as it was for me to watch my baby step into the world of education, I wouldn’t have missed it for the world. I want to be front row and centre in every step he takes, and the idea of missing this momentous occasion fills me with horror.

Yet so many parents don’t have a choice.

My heart is heavy for the working mama who couldn’t get the time off to wave her daughter off and had to send Daddy instead. I think of the separated parents who missed out on the first day

I think of the separated parents who missed out on the first day because it ‘wasn’t their week’. I think of the dad who works away for months on end and had to wish his son good luck via FaceTime this morning.

I think of the parents who had to drop their precious child off at wraparound and missed out on the hustle and bustle of 30 excited four-year-old in shiny shoes and new shirts. I think of high profile parents the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge; poor Catherine, pregnant with her third child and suffering from hyperemesis gravidarum, was unable to watch her firstborn take his first steps into education. As she witnessed the milestone on social media like everyone else, it must have broken her heart.

Then there are the parents whose doorways are empty. The moms and dads whose babies grew angel wings far too soon and didn’t live to their fourth birthday. These parents know all too well that their child should have had their first day at school this week, yet there are no new shoes in the hallway, excited chatter in the home or pictures on the walls.

I deeply appreciate how blessed I am to be a mom of three. I have always dreamed of being a parent, and although I fail massively on a fairly regular basis, I wouldn’t trade the tantrums and tears for anything. This week has been a week of firsts, the first year in Juniors for my eldest, the first day in school for my second son, and the first day juggling three children on a school run. But it was a moment that I was able to be part of thanks to being self-employed, thanks to a loving God, and a supportive husband, and a moment that I will remember for the rest of my life.

As much as it hurts to let them go and let them grow, the ability to be able to stay home and nurture three little lives is a privilege. So as I blink back tears at the unfairness of time not standing still and feel sorry for myself this coming week, I will remember in my prayers those who would give anything to be in my position.

R x

 

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