Hello Unschooling and Other Sanity Savers

Last week sent me for a loop. Deadlines, expectations, insecurities, winter blah, and the full moon seemed to conspire against me. My best attempts to "be on top of everything" together with the reality of our moving preparations was threatening to overwhelm me. And so by the end of the weekend Damien and I came to a few conclusions about my priorities in the upcoming months. 

Laurent's candid shot of Brienne and I in the kitchen

I honestly thought I’d be able to maintain some kind of home schooling, home management, daily writing, self care and full time chef schedule till at least the end of March.

I was wrong. Or at the very least optimistically naive

You might recall this well thought out and oh-so-tidily put together post on organizing and evaluating. In which I laid out the flow of our days (for what I hoped would be a couple months but in reality was just one). Well, I’ve evaluated my organizing and have decided to throw it out the window.

What this means practically is that:

  • For the next undetermined length of time we will be unschoolers*. Right now we’re learning about moving and how to work together as a family to achieve your goals. The kiddos will continue their own self directed learning. But the mama directed portion of our day will look much less routine than we are used to.
  • Most of the week I will cook meals as usual. On moving prep days we will choose more convenient healthy options.
  • I will take the time I need to be well rested and refreshed physically and spiritually.
  • My writing time is limited and must focus on that which is most personally fulfilling for me to write. Blogging is an outlet to process this move and share our family life. To celebrate home, nature and creativity. I have some other writing aspirations that are going to wait till after our move.
  • Anything I’ve ever written here (or elsewhere) about how I manage our home and schedule our days does not apply to our life right now.

My most important priority is a home life that is joyful, loving, and nourishing even during an intense season of life. There is no mental and emotional space in my life right now for routines, activities and mindsets that threaten those goals.

We've reached the point in this move where it's time to simplify our home management so the routines serve our needs, not the other way around. I'm not committing to a daily or even weekly schedule. I'm committing to my family's health, my own sanity, a peaceful home, and getting ready to move.

I release myself from all expectations to be the "perfect" mother, win natural homemaker of the year award, be a focused homeschooler, and kick-butt blogger. Yeah right. Easier said than done.

I don't think you'll notice any outward changes in this space but behind the scenes I feel more at peace and on target with our days. This is a good thing.

*Philosophically we are not unschoolers and although I may have presented it as such, I don’t believe that unschooling is a “way-out”. Unschooling takes a lot of dedication, trust and attentiveness as a parent. What I’m doing is releasing myself from the mental burden of my unrealistic homeschool expectations for this season of family life. Unschooling is just an easy way to say that.

« My Sunday Worship (Welcome to Narnia)
A Felted Green Toque »
  • Debbie

    Debbie on Feb. 23, 2011, 1:25 a.m.

    How great Renee, to know when you've got to let some things go...when you can't do it all...when there are better (easier, more convenient etc.) ways. I agree with Jill, you are an inspiration. xo


  • Karen

    Karen on Feb. 23, 2011, 2:13 a.m.

    I like this: Anything I’ve ever written here (or elsewhere) about how I manage our home and schedule our days does not apply to our life right now.

    That, to me, is all about being on a journey. We think we have it somewhat figured out, but life isn't so simple as to write it down and stay that way. There is always a wrench thrown in there somewheres. Keeps us on our toes (and hopefully, listening).


  • Naomi Kilbreth

    Naomi Kilbreth on Feb. 23, 2011, 2:25 a.m.

    It sounds like you're sighing in relief right now! Good for you! Don't you hate it when you write a post like you've got something down (even if you don't say it) and then suddenly life throws a curve ball seemingly just to challenge you on that issue? I suppose it keeps us humble at the least :0) Just remember, you don't us, your readers, ANYTHING! We enjoy reading what you enjoy writing... and the pictures of course!


  • Hannah

    Hannah on Feb. 23, 2011, 2:28 a.m.

    How great to be so intentional about this! To be realistic, to identify this season for what it is and prioritize accordingly, rather than back into it and feel guilty or regretful about not keeping up with a schedule that didn't work for you.


  • Rana

    Rana on Feb. 23, 2011, 3:44 a.m.

    You Go Girl! Sometimes you just gotta let some things go and take care of just what is in front of you and where you are headed. Your family is fortunate to have you.


  • Wendy

    Wendy on Feb. 23, 2011, 4:51 a.m.

    I love the comment above that says "it sounds like you're sighing in relief"--because I can hear relief oozing through your words. Sometimes we just have to give ourselves permission to let go--sounds like that's what you're doing, and your lives will be more peaceful for it. It's oh so hard to let go of those personal expectations, though, isn't it?


    • renee

      renee on Feb. 23, 2011, 2:36 p.m.

      That's so funny that you can hear that in my words because that is totally how I feel. In fact as I was writing I had several "breaths" (exhale, breathe, sigh) written into my post but editing them out for clarity. But honestly, that is exactly how I feel. I am sighing in relief about making choices to do what is most needed at this time, in this moment. 


  • Earth Mama

    Earth Mama on Feb. 23, 2011, 6:50 a.m.

    Too funny! It never ceases to amaze me how on key so much of us are. Its like I pop in here or there, and I'm like, mee too! I think there is something going on with the moon. My kids haven't been sleeping well since the full moon last week, and heck me neither, cause what am I doing up right now anyways, right? The insecurity thing too...I mean we are human, and any major life changes are going to alter A LOT. Just realizing that I think is key to keeping the peace.



  • Francesca

    Francesca on Feb. 23, 2011, 7 a.m.

    I totally agree with you when you say that routines (like schedules, plans and traditions) are there to serve us, and not to enslave us! I think you've found the right frame of mind and pace to tackle this big event in the way that best suit your family.


  • Francesca

    Francesca on Feb. 23, 2011, 7:01 a.m.

    PS I think I start most of my comments here with "I totally agree with you ..." !!!


    • renee

      renee on Feb. 23, 2011, 2:38 p.m.

      I recall that you didn't agree with me about enjoying and celebrating winter (smile). Which is totally cool. You are allowed to have your own opinions here and not agree! You probably just hold back opinions on posts you don't agree with (wink).


  • Anonymous

    Anonymous on Feb. 23, 2011, 7:17 a.m.

    Hi, I love how you are in the moment. Most of us fail miserably at that... you seem to acknowledge these moments as they occur and that is awesome! I am a total control freak and all that I do to try and change seems to fail. I am always on a schedule of somekind, not that it is all bad but it makes it hard to be spontaneous. Easier when kiddos aren't on nap routines and things. I am a foster parent of two little people....and my own are 6, 16, and 22, my foster kids are 3 in April and almost 5 months.....it is total confusion most of the time....but I wouldn't change it for anything. I know the little ones grow up too fast and then you wonder where it all went. I enjoy your blog alot....and I love that more and more people are being more intentional in how they live and raise their families......LOVE IT! All the best to you while you are in this transition mode, I know you will do wonderfully!



  • Natalia

    Natalia on Feb. 23, 2011, 8:44 a.m.

    Great post, and glad to see you are getting in your groove, even if it is a different groove than usual! I know when we are gearing up for a move (happens every two years or so) I get in a fluster about how I am going to stick to 'what needs to be done' along with the new pressures of getting ready for the move and then - one day I seem to wake up and realise that I can't do it all, and it is almost like I give myself permission to live with that, and things are so much easier! Glad you have reached that point.

    I am sure you have already developed such a great learning structure and habits with your great kids that unschooling will work fine for awhile. You always seem to have such a supportive environment going on, and that along with teaching kids how to learn rather than what to learn, are the important things. I am sure they are going to be fine. Are they excited about the move?


    • renee

      renee on Feb. 23, 2011, 12:01 p.m.

      Yes they are. Mostly. I'm publishing a post at Simple Mom this week, on Friday, about how we have encouraged the children to be on board with this.

      There are teary moments but we're working through those. They know that this change is going to increase our family time together and bring more freedom to our lives (to adventure etc.) so they are looking forward to that. But still saying goodbye to friends and gardens (in Celine's case) is hard. 


  • kyndale

    kyndale on Feb. 24, 2011, 2:17 a.m.

    Moving is such a stress on the mom especially. Glad to hear that you're tweaking things to make it work. What are the laws about homeschooling in Canada?


    • renee

      renee on Feb. 24, 2011, 2:21 a.m.

      Depends on the province. Legal but varying amounts of provincial interference depending on where you live.


  • Jason

    Jason on Feb. 24, 2011, 10:02 p.m.

    Reading this post made my day, as I was a bit worried by the evaluating and organizing post. Being in the process of moving house at the moment I realise just what an emotional and physical toll it can take and I feel your new approach is very sensible.

    It's not easy to compromise, but sometimes we have to and it can be a good lesson in humility. This is something I have had to learn the hard way over the past fifteen years and it continues to be a challenge.

    As a home maker Dad I love reading FIMBY, so please don't stop blogging all together and keep the wonderful photos coming:)


    • renee

      renee on Feb. 24, 2011, 10:12 p.m.

      "lessons in humility". Oh yes!

      No worries Jason. FIMBY is part of my personal self care and well being. Blogging here, on my terms, makes me feel happy. I'm not going anywhere!


You can subscribe to comments on this article using this form.

If you have already commented on this article, you do not need to do this, as you were automatically subscribed.