Big inner battle and the way back to Love

Do you know this feeling of anger flushing your whole body? It doesn’t even need to be anger, but something that just doesn’t feel good/right …Somebody says something to you and your every cell seems to react and feels like fighting inside of your body against this statement.

Maybe you don’t feel it and react right away, it goes so quick, just a split second…Your reaction is ‘attacking’ the other one by saying something that isn’t thought through at all, and probably doesn’t even make that much sense…but you feel like you need to protest in some way and do this by protecting yourself. The outcome must be an attack, because your ego tells you that your are getting attacked and you need to fight back, you go into defensive mode.

I felt like this this 2 nights ago…Going to bed my husband mentioned in a very incidentally manner that his parents would like to take our family, especially the boys, to Disney World before they get too old and won’t be able to get around easily…

(For many of your probably a reason to celebrate! …Many people love Disney and if somebody even offers to pay a chunk of it, even better!)

But for me: the total breakdown! I have always been against going and my husband knows that I would rather get lost in a jungle than asked to stand in a line for a ride in a theme park that I imagine in plasticy pink….

Thoughts running through my head: I don’t like this idea. I don’t want to do. I don’t want my children to be exposed to this. Why can’t be do something different with your parents? You know that I hate the idea of Disney, so why are you even asking me? Wait a minute…you aren’t even asking, you are telling me that they will take them and that you just want to find a good weekend!? I am left out here, I am loosing control….

I reacted, I said something, that I don’t even remember now, but it must have been some attack, because my husband did not follow my lead. He only said that I could have a quiet weekend and he would take the boys, together with my in-laws… I repeated something about me not wanting my kids to go there either… But he did not step into the conversation that would have turned into some kind of fight, that wasn’t needed at all…I am very thankful for him taking the lead here and stopping me, in not further responding to my attack!

So than I was left ‘alone’. I was laying in his arms and was supposed to fall asleep, but inside of me was a war going on! My thoughts went crazy, but heart was pounding and I felt like I had to pull out of his embrace to make sure I somehow protected my freedom. Thoughts of betrayal came up…why didn’t he tell his parents that we are not going, because I hated the idea and why didn’t he have my back?

Every single scenario of how bed a visit to Disney could be came to my mind, the long lines, the tantrums that the boys would have if they just had to walk for 5 minutes…all the bad food, and just a big waste of money…I was trying to find reasons why I didn’t want our kids to experience Disney…

How did I get our of the circling thoughts of my ego?

It was a really bad night and I did not sleep much at all, but at some point my thought process changed…my ego was probably getting tired of firing in a circle where there was no way out…

I started trying to figure out what it really was, that I hate so much about Disney and WHY do I hate it so much? What is the real core problem behind it? The things on the surface are enough to make me stay at home and not join the trip, but clearly not good enough to reason that I would not let my boys experience something that their dad seems to see value in, of some kind.

I thought about what (if I joined them) could I do to feel gratitude while in the park? I was thinking of the people who work there and who are doing their best to make our time there special. They serve us. They serve the world with making Disney’s idea of a place where dreams come true a reality and enjoyable to the guests.

I realized that I really don’t have any clue what Disney World is about. I am making decisions on pretty much zero knowledge! I only heard these stories of long lines and I made up my own images in my head…so I wanted to do more research….

The first interesting fact I learned was that when I think about Disney I have the ‘Magic Kingdom’ in mind, which means rather ‘the’ castle…But there are other parks that might not be that ‘pink’ 🙂 and that might even be kind of interesting to visit, like Epcot or Animal Kingdom…

The one thing that stood out to be important most was that it’s my in-laws wish to share with their grandparents before they think they are too old to go. My father-in-law used to work for Disney and took his boys several times. He has taken his four grand-daughters multiple times and has never taken our boys. The girls were much younger when they went for the first time, so I have been ‘good’ in keeping this trip out of our families’ picture until now. But I do feel like I want to honor them and want to understand their wish to this trip more.

Generalizing the issue

Thinking about this whole topic, I feel like it just really all comes down to FEARS of loosing control. And isn’t exactly the ‘control’ thing, what I am trying to let go? What I am working on so hard for the past months? So, it got me again! I am ready to see my assignment that the universe is throwing my way!

My fears: So what would be the worst case scenario? Would it really harm my kids to experience Disney World? How can I change my thoughts to positive?

  • Long lines, exhausted kids, melt-downs over too much walking, bad fast-food, tantrums because we will not buy any plastic Mickey accessory there is…

We could pick a time of year that not many people will go to limit lines. We can make sure that we take enough breaks and have a family talk before about not buying knick knacks. I would take my own food with me (as I do so often), a bag of arugula and a couple of gluten free bagels with veggie spread will bring me through the day. And of course organic crackers and fruits for the boys. Maybe a stroller would be a good idea.

  • Boys going crazy for Disney TV shows afterwards, screen time going out of control at home…

Somehow I am proud to say that my kids have not watched a single Disney movie. They have watched Mickey Mouse Clubhouse before, but not crazily often. I really like how they’ve had no interest in characters or super heroes or anything like this. I like that they are pretty innocent for their ages and make up their own ideas and fantasies. I could try to just see the park as a bunch of carnival rides which I liked when I was little. They will enjoy the rides, not because of specific characters, just because it’s fun to go on rides…

  • promoting a money making giant that sells tickets and cheap plastic stuff from China for horrendous prices. A waste of stuff and too much garbage, more than this planet can handle. I don’t see the value in going there and not doing anything else more sustainable and more natural.

This one is pretty hard for me to overcome, but I know that I am in total judgmental mode here… So, I did a bit of research to find out if Disney does anything sustainable and they do donate a lot of money to children in need which does of course open my heart a bit. “Disney is committed to strengthening communities by providing hope, happiness, and comfort to kids and families who need it most.”

I am just afraid of loosing control and starting to dream…

I thought about what I liked as a kid. I never liked any princesses, the Disney princesses weren’t that in 30 years ago, but I did like the Jungle Book. I still do 🙂 I really liked the idea of this little human who was raised in a wolf pack and had his friend Bagheera, the panther who took care of him and of course Baloo the bear, who is fun and creative 🙂 Being raised by and being siblings with snuggly cozy wolfs seemed cool. And then there was just this jungle which seems to be the image of freedom to me… and I think I could have been friends with animals better than with humans when I was a kid… And I did like rollercoasters, carrousels and rides like big swings…they didn’t make me dizzy when I was a child and I liked to be in the air…pretend to fly and be free…

The conclusion

So, at the end I surrender. I give up the control over this trip and go with the flow. I think we/I could survive a trip to Disney World to honor my husband’s parents wish to take us. I wouldn’t be a grudge. I would see the beauty in things that are handmade, although I prefer the natural. I would trust my children that they find their own way of dealing with this experience. I would be there for them to help any meltdowns or over stimulations… I totally leave it up to them if they like it, enjoy it, love it or hate it… I am looking forward to a trip with my family, because family time is the best time 🙂

I am so grateful

This is just an example of how we get stuck in our minds sometimes…and burden our relationships with our partner. I am so grateful for the opportunity to learn how awareness is totally beneficial in these situations. Thank you, hubby for not engaging into this crazy dance of defense and attack!

It is super essential to slow it down in these situations that could go down the hill so fast…and try to observe what’s really going on from different angles. Being reactive is dangerous and can end in hurting someone we don’t want to hurt. Being mindful of where the reaction is coming from is so important. It took me a day to get out of this spiral, but the whole experience and going through this process was absolutely healing for me…There is always a much deeper cause at the core of the problem that needs to surface and needs attention to be understood.

So, thank you hubby for being patient with me and let me figure this out by myself. Thank you for interrupting the spiral to keep us in a safe place 🙂

With lots of gratitude and love,

aNNika

It’s getting radical

Since my last blog post amazing things have happened. As I described I had been following more of an unschooling theory to teach Noah at home…which means that Noah decides what he wants to learn and I honor this and we do our research together and see what interests him. We still sat down at his desk and I tried to make him write and do math every day beside the research of different kinds of animals.

I felt like we were doing many things they would do at a ‘real school’ too. Especially trying to make Noah read and write turned out to be rather exhausting. So I started to research more of what ‘unschooling’ really means and how this works for people in real life.

Very quickly books began falling out of the shelves, ready to be read. (As far as you can say this in an online Audiobook library 🙂 It seemed like this theory of really trusting your children that they will learn everything they need and want, in their own perfect timing, worked for many families and there was no evidence of children falling behind in life…when they were on their own feet. Really the opposite is the case. They get to be very independent and know themselves and find out the ways they learn best and are socialized well and really happy and well-rounded people.

But of course fears come up…will this really work out for us too? Is he ever going to learn how to read and write? What if he decides that this is not important to him…do I have to control him…just a tiny bit?

It says that kids are surrounded by written words and they will pick it up sooner or later all by themselves…I trust that he will…

But what does a day look like for a mother who is home with her unschooled children?

She would want to be there for the kids and whatever idea they have would be realized as best as possible…Everything would be about learning, teaching and ‘school’. I saw us sitting at the desk and me asking him what he wanted to learn and then trying to accomplish this….

During this phase I stopped sewing and the house got dirtier by the day because I was putting my whole self into this teaching job. I thought that I would have to put my small business to the side until I had figured out the whole schooling thing and that then magically it would all fall into place…but what I realized was: I got crabby, not creating/sewing…and I didn’t want to wait for something that might never happen…E.g. What if it took him 2 more years until he learned reading? I would still sit there reading aloud for him, instead of having my time to sew…for a long time….

I was doing everything I could to be his teacher, but what about ME? and MY needs?

And then the books really started falling off the shelves…and FB posts by some german bloggers hit me! I learned of the theory of ‘radical unschooling’.

This theory might sounds crazy to many of you, but it really started to grow and flourish inside of me. It took me a while to understand it and by no means do we practice it in our family yet. But deep in my heart I know that this is something that I love to make our family style/concept. It will take a while until everybody is used to it, but I can see that we can accomplish it.

Radical Unschooling, ‘Family Style of Trust and Hapiness’ (FSTH)

So here we go. ‘Radical Unschooling’ or I like to call it “Family Style of Trust and Happiness” takes it much further than only trusting your children in what they want to learn. You trust that your children know what’s good for them in all kinds of life situation. You are not their teacher. You become their facilitator. Whatever it is, you can offer your opinion, but they decide, it’s their choice. They can decide what they want to eat, when to eat and who to eat with. They can decide if they want to sit and learn about something or want to watch TV or go outside and play soccer….They can also decide on how much or how far they want to go in ‘learning something’. If they don’t want to finish something, it means that they need a break 0r they are done and don’t want to learn more…

You are there for them and you will help them if they ask for it, but always you put yourself on the same level as your children and respect their space and their decisions. You talk to them in a respectful and peaceful manner, the same way you would talk to an adult visitor at your home. All in all it means that you are real with them, honest, vulnerable and yourself…you are not somebody who knows everything, you are not smarter, you are on the same level.

Most important in this family concept is that all members of the family are on the same level and everybody’s needs get met. It says that children learn that everybody is important and they will establish a disire to make everybody happy. To accomplish this, we as a family need to make plans, so that logistically everybody’s wants and needs get met. E.g. we go to the library first when it closes soon and then to the park to play…but everybody knows that we will try to do all of it to make everybody happy.

I am very much aware that this is going to be a process…to role-model (not teach) gratitude, contentment, respect,…to my children, but I am very excited to go on this journey and I know that we, as a family, will succeed.

I just love this concept so much because it’s family based, so everybody is included and it’s our all responsibility and trust in each other, that will lead us to become the happiest we can be.

This also means to make time and effort and trust that my husband and me, as a couple, get our needs met and can establish a strong bond in being facilitators and role-models for our children…and remind each other of letting go of the old ways of ‘parenting’…

While I am still struggling with the concept of letting them decide when they want to go to bed, I think that will be easier when they get older and actually can go to bed by themselves… For now I am okay with our routine which means that we stay with our boys until they fall asleep and snuggle them…and this takes however long they need to fall asleep.

It’s a process…little by little…

In the day to day...I do catch myself telling them what they can and can’t do, but find this really interesting…to think about the motifs. Usually it’s something that would just be less messy, so easier for me not to clean up, or just things that ‘have’ to be done a certain way, because I always do them this way…but in reality they don’t. So often I now stop myself and tell them how I would do it and explain why, but state that it’s their choice to decide how they actually do it.

Of course I do not leave them on their own in dangerous situations! I am always there or they know where to find me, if they need any kind of help. And I like to help them and do so with a fun and happy attitude.

After making this shift in perspective we have not sat at Noah’s desk once in the past two weeks…Our life and learning doesn’t happen at a desk. It happens in real life situations. Here just a couple of examples:

Noah loves sports. He goes to soccer practice and plays basketball outside in every kind of weather…last week he shoveled snow, so that he had a free line for 2 pointers and one for 3 pointers ;-). My kids also really wanted to learn how to ice-skate this winter, so we try to go to the ice-rink. Noah also has been swimming for almost 2 years without any floating devices. In the winter it’s a bit hard to get to the pool while everybody is healthy enough, but in the summer he will be practicing daily, I am sure. Last year he was so motivated and fascinated during the summer olympics, that he taught himself different swim styles. He has been riding his bike without training wheels since he is 4 and just really much likes to move…We have decided to keep our sunroom mostly free, so that they can tumble and play football and move freely as much as they want…

We like to go to the Home Depot free kids workshops once a month. The boys really like to hammer and glue and paint their projects. Noah has been to 25 workshops and Niki to 10, I think. The other picture above shows Noah playing with the water at the children’s museum. He had such a blast to figure out how to get the water squirting that high and then also juggling a little ball on it…He was soaking wet afterwards, but didn’t complain a bit.

My kids really love to cook! They e.g. made turkish meat balls, falafel and rolled up lasagna the past weeks…and the other day they created their own crêpes recipe! There are the ingredients in the picture above and if you want to make it too, here are the measurements:

2 cups of water

1/3 cups of liquid coconut oil

1 egg

2.5 cups of spelt flour

pinch of salt

1 tea spoon of vanilla

2 tea spoons of cinnamon

We make a lot of batter at once, so that they can make and eat crêpes a couple of times a day/week, if they want…I eat them too with lettuce, tomato, cheese and ham…They prefer Nutella and Banana…or jam.

A couple of weeks ago me husband drew us the blueprint of a new office building, so Noah started drawing his own blue print of a house with ‘gold rooms’. He drew exactly where the doors would be and where the gold would be put…very fascinating! He is very much into snakes right now and the coral snake is his favorite, so he started to paint it…never finished, but that’s ok. It’s his decision!

I really love what he did here… We went to the book store for storytime last Monday and on the way out, the boys saw a Love Monster stuffed animal and wanted to buy it. It was $20 and I just said that they could make one themselves at home if they wanted to…so we went to the coffee store and then back home about 2 hours later. Just back, Noah hadn’t forgotten about the monster. He wanted to sew his Love Monster right away, so I suggested that he would draw it the way he wanted it to look and he did. He then made a big sewing pattern and cut out the fabric. It was the first time that he would use a sewing machine, so I showed him how to use it and he was a bid afraid. The eyes and mouth applications were a bit tricky, so he watched me sitting on my lap, while I sewed these on. We then did the rest together, he stuffed it and I then hand-stitched the little hole shut. He snuggled his monster right away and loved it.

Later that day I was cooking dinner, he started sewing fabric scraps together all by himself. He made himself and Niki some ‘hats’, more like bands, but still very creative. The day after, he sewed a bag for my essential oils out of scraps, even with two ribbons, so that I can tie it closed. He then wanted to sew a bib or loop for his nephew, but because he didn’t know his head circumference, he sewed himself a loop that he now wears almost daily as his neck warmer 🙂

But back to the Love Monster. I asked him today why he wanted to sew it and why he likes his Monster so much. (He has been snuggling his monster every night since he made it.) He said that when he made it, he put so much love into it, that now at night, he can feel how his Love Monster loves him back and this is a nice feeling. And he is very proud of himself that he made his own monster.

We decided 2 days ago that we wanted to offer a workshop for kids and their parents to make their own Love Monster. Why?

Noah: ‘Because I want others to have the same nice feeling when they snuggle up with their Love Monster at night, just like me!’

So, if you are interested to come over with your 5-year old or older on Sunday (2/12/17), please sign up following this link or the ‘workshops’ link above. We would love to see you!

https://squareup.com/store/noni-made-with-love

With much love and gratitude,

aNNika