Unschooling four children sounds hectic right? At least that’s the impression I get from the look on people’s faces when they find out that’s what we do, ha!
The good news is, it doesn’t often feel that way to me.
I thought I’d share some insight with you about the little things that make our days run more smoothly. I hope it’s helpful!
8 Things That Make Our Days More Peaceful
Clean up once
It can get messy around here! With four people who are quite into art and creating, you can imagine. I don’t want to disturb their play or tidy it away before they’re finished so it often looks quite chaotic. That’s ok. I do things like washing and dishes during the day but don’t usually disturb what they’re up to. And I don’t want to spend my whole day cleaning! So we tend to just have one tidy-up time. Usually at the end of the day. Everyone can let their creativity flow and we deal with the mess later. We prefer to all pitch in at once and get it over with, than to be having to do it continually through the day.
I also like to have everything tidy and reset before we go to bed so that it’s a clean slate in the morning. Everyone enjoys it much more when they wake up to a fresh house ready for whatever they desire. Cleaning up first is such a drag, so this helps a lot. I don’t always do it but when I don’t I wish I had.
Most days we have music playing! It’s uplifting and calming, and well, people just like to dance. With four children there can be a lot of noise at times and rather than add to it it seems like the music kind of makes it easier. Something for my brain to focus on over the constant chatter and sounds of play. I don’t do well with lots of noise! Somehow music helps though.
We also have plenty of dance breaks during the day when a song comes on we just have to move to!
Rushing is stressful. Luckily with school not being a part of our lives we get to avoid a lot of that. We try to take things slow as much as we can. The kids are always busy with their ideas and adventures so we certainly don’t need to add a lot to that. In a time of overscheduling childhood and trying to push kids to get ahead, we’re aiming for the opposite. Slow days, gratitude, enjoying the little things, being together, choosing joy.
I adore essential oils and we often have them diffusing. They’re a beautiful mood setter. If we’re having quiet reading time we’ll have something calming going, if we’re doing art maybe something to inspire creativity, or if I need an afternoon energy boost I’ll pop something on! They’ve had such a positive impact on our lives and this is just one way. You can read more about how we use them daily here, I highly recommend them!
This is super important in order to be the type of parent I want to be. I can’t be patient and calm if my needs aren’t being met. For me that doesn’t necessarily mean I need a ‘break’ every day or time alone. It means that one of the daily ways I practice self-care is making sure I treat my needs as just as important as everyone else’s. I communicate my needs and personal boundaries to the kids and we come up with solutions that involve everyone having their needs met. Obviously age is taken into account, babies being solely dependent on you are obviously less able to wait to be fed, for example. But with my 9 year old I can definitely say that sure I will get you something to eat but right now I am eating and I’m going to finish that first. She very well could still be a bit grumpy about that but that’s ok, I can empathise while still protecting my own boundaries. She is learning that I matter, that we all matter, that everyone’s needs count. When I fall into the trap of just doing everything for everyone when they demand it, I avoid the complaining but I end up feeling very frustrated and resentful. Looking after myself means communicating my needs too.
When you watch children play you notice they naturally fall into rhythms of rest and play. They will do something active for a while and then choose a quiet activity, and repeat, all day long. There may be an hour of intense concentration and little talk, and then an hour of jumping on the trampoline and yelling and giggling. They follow their bodies and what they need and they learn best when we respect this rhythm. I try hard to notice and not interrupt this. If we have to go somewhere where they need to be quiet, I’ll make sure there’s time after to be loud and active. If we’re meeting friends for a while in the morning, I’ll try not to have anything planned for the afternoon so they can rest. At home I’ll try to organise food for when they’re in between things, for example, so I don’t interrupt their flow.
We don’t do routines, each day can look totally different. We want our kids to have the freedom to follow their interests and routines can be kind of limiting. What we do have is rituals. Things we do daily, weekly, monthly, yearly. They’re nothing major, just little things. Things like every day around 9 or 10am they share morning tea of cut up fruit or vegtables off a shared plate, we have a time during the day where we usually all gravitate to the art table together and do something, on fridays we have a picnic outside and read poems, we lie with them every night while they fall asleep, on Sunday’s we eat Ice cream Sundaes. All the little things that make our family unique, that are predictable and feel like home. There’s no strict routines that people have to stick to, but there is a familiarity to our days. We are all connected through these rituals that have naturally evolved. They are a comforting addition to our day.
Fresh air and sunshine is good for the soul. We spend a lot of time outside. A couple of days a week are spent almost entirely outside playing with friends. On home days the kids are in and out all day.
Don’t get me wrong, there’s a fair amount of chaos, and that keeps things interesting! But mostly, spending our days together is beautiful and I wouldn’t have it any other way.