We're on the cusp of our eldest son returning to school after almost a year of home education. It's his choice, and one which we support, but it's made me reflect on everything we've gained from the past year.
We've enjoyed nine months of following our body's innate rhythms, getting up late, eating when we feel hungry, and resting when we're tired. A freedom I haven't felt since I was a child.
We've explored the Downs, the beach, the river. We've attended courses in Spanish, Maths and African drumming. We've swum outdoors, taken impromptu holidays, and have just hung out together. We've been to forest school and learned that we are waterproof! We've learned about mutual respect and patience. We've debated and discussed big life concepts, and I feel lucky to have spent time teaching my children how to look after themselves, spiritually, emotionally and nutritionally.
Nine months of not rushing, just BEING. Long days and weeks have stretched before us, the calendar devoid of meetings, school plays or deadlines dictated to us by someone else's schedule. To have time is a luxury, and a necessity. To enjoy time is a privilege.
My children have learned about trust, independence, responsibility and communication. They've formed a family with other home educated children, from babies to teenagers. They've learned how to fit comfortably into different groups and into society. They've blossomed and grown, their confidence and self-esteem has been restored. They feel valued, they know that they have a voice, and that they have choice.
As for me, I've SEEN my children; what makes them tick, how they learn and their incredible strengths, in ways that I didn't fully appreciate before. I am a calmer Mum for home educating because I've always loathed routines. Winging it suits me better - I'm no longer stressed by trying to make unhappy children happy, because they are happy!
Why am I writing about this on a cancer blog? For me it's been a massive change in lifestyle which has had a huge impact on healing. Prior to home educating, my children were constantly ill. They averaged 80% attendance on any given school year. Over the past 9 months I don't think that they've been ill once. I'm talking about laying-in-bed ill, throwing-up ill, weeks-of-recuperation ill (which was the norm in London). To what do I attribute this? Getting enough sleep, sure. More time in nature, definitely. But mostly I believe it's down to NO STRESS! No deadlines, no pressure to perform, no anxiety about not feeling Good Enough. And of course, this new lifestyle has benefitted me massively. I no longer have unhappy, ill children, who complain about getting up in the morning and of not having enough 'time' (if they don't have time to pursue their interests aged 11 and 8, when will they?) I've slept more in the past 9 months than I have in years. I've had a perverse amount of time to spend nurturing myself: juicing, cooking, making kefir, and just making happy. I feel joy on a daily basis. I've learned how to BE with my children, how to live as a unit, how to listen and be listened to. We've found a rhythm in being together. And I've started to understand HOW we learn, how we follow our interests. Yes, I've learned as much, if not more, than they have.
Prior to leaping into this great unknown I felt a sense of urgency, and a need to make some drastic changes. My dis-ease at being in 'the wrong life' was killing me. Many years ago, falling into depression, I wrote a list of things I felt I needed to change. Top of the list was to spend more time in nature and a desire to live within a community of like-minds. I also desperately wanted to home educate my children.
Here I am, happy, healthy, and living a big life which I manifested through stubborn tenacity. I think it would have been impossible to heal in my old life. Now I feel it's totally achievable, and for the first time in years, I'm making plans :D