Career or family – an impossible decision

I have been away for a long time, way longer then I ever imagined.

But life ran over me like a truck after we made the decision to go for a more streamline living. I knew it would be hard to adjust to going back to that old way, but I didn’t expect it would be THAT hard.

I didn’t miss it.  At all.

I am trying to survive through this year, and thruthfully, it is not easy.  I feel so miserable. It is a very confronting reality that makes me really question all the decisions we have taken so far, about life, about family, about work and values.  Changing to a new set of values is hard.  but going back to a set of values you don’t really believe in anymore is ever harder.

 

I don’t feel like my life is balanced right now, and I sure don’t feel like I am where I would like to be.  I feel like I should be with my kids, and not only so, I am so passionate about everything homeschooling and self directed learning.  And my daily reality is very far away from that.

So what is keeping me back??:  My career.  And I have one that I need to be active in, otherwise, I will lose my licence in a bat of the eyes.

And the most ironic thing is I am not sure that it fits me anymore.  I don’t think it still stands up to my values.  So it seems easy to say: well, just let it go, get away from it.

BUT.  there is always a but right?

I just feel like I can’t.

There will be a time when my kids will be older and they will become independent.  I can already start to see signs of this, and although it looked like a very, very  distant futur not so long ago, it sure starts to feel real and much more round the corner then I thought.

Once they are out of my care, and able to care for themselves, what will be left of me if I don’t have a career/work life/ job that I love anymore?   What will I do to help me be secure financially but most of all keep fulfilling myself?  Life won’t stop the day my kids will be independent, life won’t stop once they have moved out.   What will I do then?

 

I would love to recycle myself in something new.  I feel like this could be a good time for this.  I would be ready for this.  But I am just not able to figure out what.  I am not finding any other passions right now.  I don’t have dreams to long for.  No projects no visions of something grand and yet possible.

I just am not able to see myself doing something else that is meaningful to me then taking care of my loved ones until they don’t need me anymore.  But then what?  I will just have pushed the problem to a later part of my life when it will be harder to start anew.

I feel it is impossible to really reconcile a career and a family.  And deciding between the 2 is downright impossible.

I’d love to hear your stories.  Did you quit your career to do something else?  Did you have to make a bold move about your job?  And most of all, are you happy with your choice?  How did you make it happen?

I would love to hear you out.  And turn this rather negative post into a positive one!

 

Montessori botany with a 2 yo

E came to me with leaves that he had picked up on the trees.  After explaining that leaves were not for pulling, I suggested that we might use them for a game.

Montessori botany in action:

“E, can you pair the similar leaves together?”

“You piled them up!   They are beautiful aren’t they?  Do you notice anything when comparing these 3 sets?”  This lead to a discussion about shapes and sizes and a few hours later how pulled leaves dies.  This last part really made an effect on him.

I love the learning and the discussion that went on with my almost 3 year old.  Simple, easy and so much fun.

I might propose to do some observational sketching of these leaves with him tomorrow to add to the experience.

Even a 2 yo’s ride should shine

Or at least so E thinks.

What I thought would become a collaboration between father and son, quickly became E’s own thing.

Looking at daddy wash the car was all he needed to get himself going.  He ran inside, fetched a clean cloth, parked his bike behind the car, and got started.

He cleaned every nook and crannies of his bike, being very meticulous about his work.

M. Montessori says that children much rather doing real thing then pretend playing the same action.  I have noticed that being true for a while now, at least with my own children.

But I have also noted that when doing the real thing, compared to pretend play, their execution is much more precise and perfect.  They make an extra effort, being, I guess, motivated by truly doing, by achieving something that feels worthwhile.  I guess this might be what we call intrinsic motivation for younger children.

Everybody deserves to live according to their passion, their life mission, because this is how, as adults, we thrive.  A toddler\preschooler’s mission is to learn, to find his place socially and learn what meaningful work is.  And I think kids thrive when they can live by that rule.

shifting medium

I am trying to set a rhythm here where morning are for working on projects and doing things, and afternoons are just relaxing and basking in the sun.

I have yet to fully embark E on the Project based learning track.  It has not clicked for him yet.  But in the mean time, I am being patient, and I set out invitations regularly to have him become more fluent in a variety of ways to express himself.

Recently, we have been working with paint a lot.  E has always enjoyed this, and I am giving him time to explore, and maybe hit another level if he is ready to.

I set out an acrylic paint invitation this morning, using colors of summer.  Green, yellow and whites mainly.  You can see the result in the first picture up.

He started painting naturally as soon as he got on the paper, talking at the same time about a worm he had just saw outside.  But it was clear that he was not into it.  And I didn’t know which way to stir him to.  But then, the temptation to use his fingers was just too big, and he left his paintbrush aside, and just started to trace in the paint.

I asked him if he would be more interested in changing mediums, or if he was happy with the current one.  He then immediately asked for the foam paint again.

Although the first time he wasn’t sure of it, this time, he dove right in.  I really saw a difference in the approach he had.  And I really felt a difference in his relation with the medium he was using.  The shift has made the difference.  He was there, aware and enjoying every bit of it.

I used blue and yellow, I wanted him to repeat the experience of making green.

which happened quite quickly.  I made him aware of this by saying” look, you mixed some of the blue with the yellow, what can you see?”

I love this picture of his hands firmly planted in the paint, handling it through all his fingers, feeling it completely.

This experience is really about the process and NOT the product.  Pictures aside, there isn’t much left of the experience.  But I think it was more fulfilling for E, he seemed to have a need for that, and he clearly expressed it by simply tracing a shy finger through his earlier painting.  Good thing I was paying attention!

The paint we use is discount school supply’s foam paint.  It is very interesting to play with, a bit messy, but easy to clean.  I am sure shaving cream and either a few drops of paint of food coloring could have a similar effect.

Creativity – my missing ingredient

There are many downsides to not having access to a computer.  But truth be told, there are quite a few benefits as well, and one of them outweighs all the rest:  the gift of time.  Add this to the summer holidays, and suddenly you get a LOT of free time.

With “all” that spare time (…) I got the chance to read, a LOT, and I am grateful for that.  In fact, I needed that.  I needed to be able to refocus and rethink learning around here.  This kids being at school next year doesn’t mean that were are throwing learning out the door.  It is still part of our top priority that learning remains a prime aspect of our family culture.  I still wish for my kids to be lifelong self-directed learners, and although I don’t think school will help them with that, we sure can.  I want them to be able to own their education, to see that this is for THEM.

There is no point in planning after schooling lessons, they’ll get plenty of compulsory schooling during the day.  So this leaves the rest of the time to work on things that school does not care so much for:  the heart and the soul.

And so most of my reading was to feed this idea:  what do I want to cultivate in my children?  I need to cultivate what they’ll need for their adult life.  Ok then,  what will they need when they grow up to make their life up to their expectation?  And at this point, the answer seems clear to me:  we have no clue!

Life is changing at a pace never seen before, and so many new jobs are sprouting, jobs my late grand-mother wouldn’t even understand the need for (and she was a wise one!)  So what will life be in 30 years?  Anybody wise enough to correctly guess?

With this in mind, I am coming to the conclusion that one thing they’ll need a good dose of is creativity.  Creativity to find a niche, to make themselves a job, to be different in order to make it in a world that is already overcrowded and overexploited.  And the more I think of it, the more I realize how I lack it.

For a couple of years, I have been feeling stuck, unable to attain the life I dream of.  Now I understand that I trapped myself in the limits I have unconsciously set for myself thinking it is just not possible.  And then I look around, and see people and families who have managed to add that spark to their lives by walking off the beaten paths, by thinking outside the box.  This too is creativity.  And I have yet to succeed in my task because I fail to make it happen.

I strongly think that creativity is like a muscle, it can be exercised.  At one point in time(read during my years of schooling), my creativity was at a record low and thinking about walking off the beaten path was not even an option.  I have made huge progress.  And so my quest to regain creativity, after all those years of school, continues.

Looking ay my own kids, I see how creative they still are, and I am grateful for that.  I wish to be able to nurture this inborn creativity in them so they’ll never feel trap, so they can be what they envision, so their heart and soul will be nourished by what they do or the way they live.  I am glad that I choose Montessori for them because although I don’t believe Montessori has enhanced my kids’ creativity I know for sure that it has left it intact, which is essential in the world we live in (and miles ahead of those whose creativity has been crushed right from the start)

Creativity takes time, and after a year of giving plenty of spare time to my oldest for other reasons, he is starting to reap unexpected benefits (more about this in another post)

Now I feel like although I still don’t have the answers to all my questions, I am know where I am heading to, and most of all what my priorities will be.

How high do you put creativity in your list of things to instil to your children?  What other life abilities do you wish your children will possess to face life?  I’d be curious to know your thoughts on this.

Why I love positive discipline

My first interaction of yesterday’s happened something like this:

“good morning M.”

“rgh…”

“Not doing well today?”

“RGH…..”

“can you tell me with your words what is going on?”

M. is a very shy and anxious girl.  She has a very hard time expressing her needs, mostly when she is upset.  This was clearly one of those times.  I almost commented on the fact that her whining annoyed me at 7h am, but since she needs a bit of help learning how to express herself properly, I sucked it up and kept my cool.

She managed to tell me that her pink dress – her absolute favorite dress – was still in the laundry pile.

This is it, the reason I had to deal with a grumpy 6 year old…

Now you have to understand that M is a VERY girly girl.  I have no clue where she gets that from, certainly not from me, but that is what she is, and I embrace that.  But this leads to situations like this where unclean dress that has already been wore 4 times during the same week is cause for major grumpiness…at 7 am

I want this little girl to be a strong self dependent person, someone who can find solutions to life’s problems (whether it is dirty dresses or other things…)  without being a drama queen.  I could have ended this situation quickly by starting a load of laundry, but I doubt that this would have help me reach with goal I have in mind for her.

So the rest of the conversation went something like this:

M., you love this dress really much don’t you?, and you are feeling disappointed that it is not ready to wear this morning”

this basically stopped the whining and borderline crying crisis that was starting to escalate

She nodded

“I know you’d love to have your dress ready anytime you’d like to wear it, but with the amount of laundry that is generated everyday, I just am not able to make sure your favourite dress is always clean and ready.  So with that being said, what can we do to make it happen for you?”

After a few suggestions that were more or less useful, but that I still took time to listen to, she came up with the solution that she could wash herself her clothes whenever she was ready.  I completely agreed with this one.  The tears came to a complete stop.

She then told me she didn’t know how the machine works.  I waited a few seconds, and then she came up with the idea that I could teach her.  I am so happy I waited.  This gave her the time to really think her idea through without outside intervention.

And so we went on with the laundry lesson, she was very enthusiastic about the whole process but moreover, she was taking charge of it, which is so very important for this second born, shy and introverted person.

This entire process definitely took more time then just brushing her off, but she gain so much more from it, and frankly, so did I.

This is what I love about Positive Discipline:  the fact that we can empower our children every day at any moment of the day through life’s difficulties, helping them building their self esteem, and help them have a positive view of themselves.  I feel this is so in tune with Montessori: it sees the child as a strong and capable person, able to have control over their lives.  And I feel this is a responsibility that should be given back to the child, so they have time to practice thinking, negociating, dealing, and being  liable for their actions. This learning has to be done slowly, and at their level of capacities, while being supported by loving adults.  It takes time, but it is like slow food: slow parenting…

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If you’d like to read more about positive discipline, I strongly suggest this book: Positive Discipline by Jane Nelsen.  There are so many other excellent book on the topic, but this was my first encounter about PD, and I still come back to it often.

What is your favorite book about discipline?  What are your goals for your child as far as discipline goes? I’d love to hear your thoughts and recommendations.