As people and parents, we are not mainstream. We have tried living the conventional life and we can hand on heart say that it is not for us. Because of our life/parenting choices we are often at the end of lots of questions. This post is by no means a dig, the questions are more often than not well meaning and people are genuinely curious as to why we make the choices we do.
We thought it would be interesting for people to read about the 6 lifestyle choices that we make that intrigue people the most.
“When you get down to it, Unschooling is really just a fancy term for ‘life’ or growing up uninstitutionalised.”
We unschool our children. If you are unsure what unschooling means, picture a classroom in your head, with timetables, rules, structure and a curriculum. Now forget that picture and imagine the exact opposite, that is unschooling. We don’t follow a timetable or curriculum, there are no rules or structure. “But how do the children learn anything?” I hear you say. Well, they learn through life. We follow whatever piques their interest at the time. Sometimes this means reading all day, or doing scientific experiments, other days we run around the woods. Some days we like painting in the garden and dressing up. And there are the odd days where we stay in our PJs and watch Netflix because we can. No, we don’t ‘teach’ them anything in the broad sense of the word, they educate themselves. We are just here to facilitate and help them go wherever their learning takes them. And yes it is completely legal.
“Sleeping next to someone you love makes you fall asleep faster, reduces depression and helps you to live longer.”
We co-slept with our children until very recently and they still drag themselves into our bed most nights. We have never supported the ‘cry it out’ method (just for the record, no they are not learning to self-soothe, they just settle quickly because they know that crying is futile, no one is coming!). To us, it doesn’t matter where people sleep as long as they are getting the full eight hours. It is only in our western culture that we force our children to sleep in a separate room from a very early age, which can cause stress and separation problems. I can understand why people don’t get this, being kicked in the back all night and squished is a toughy, but not suffering from hours of broken sleep trying to resettle a crying child seals the deal on this one for us. Plus those cuddles! Let’s face it, in a few years they’re not gonna want to snuggle with us so we may as well milk it whilst we can.
3. Growing a Beard.
“There are two kinds of people in the world. Those who appreciate a great beard, and those who are wrong”
Yes, William has a massive beard, and he’s super proud of the fact. No, it doesn’t itch, but he can only eat dry food in public! It’s not ok to touch/pull on his beard, you wouldn’t go up to someone in the street and pull their hair, the same goes for beards people! It’s not that unusual, it’s just hair, but on a face. The best comments we get are “You’d look 10 years younger if you shaved that thing off your face!” and women who say to Natalie “I wouldn’t let my husband grow one, I’d make him shave!”. Um, last time we checked it was his body so Natalie doesn’t get a say in what he does to it. Which brings us nicely onto number 4. . .
4. Bodily Autonomy.
“If it’s not your body, it’s not your decision.”
We let the girls choose their own clothes and (whispers) sometimes they don’t brush their hair (GASPS IN HORROR). That’s right, their body, their choice! We’re not into control and manipulation. We advise them, we talk things through with them, we never force them. For example, Little Bean wants to wear an expensive party dress to the woods. We remind her where we’re going and that the dress may not be practical, she still insists on wearing it. This is where we could have a major parenting clash/meltdown. Instead, she wears the dress, we pack appropriate clothing. We get to the woods and she realises that as pretty as it is, the dress probably wasn’t the best idea so she changes into her other clothes that we packed and runs off to climb a tree. Kids are pretty capable of making their own decisions folks.
5. Positive Parenting.
“As parent’s, it’s not our job to raise children to face a cruel and heartless world. It’s our job to raise children who will make the world a little less cruel and heartless.”
Positive parenting, gentle parenting, respectful parenting. Many names for the same thing, which is, put into the simplest terms, treating our children like actual human beings and not property. Because guess what, children are exactly the same as adults, only smaller. What a mind-blowing revelation! For example, not destroying/throwing away their property, not talking about them when they’re in the room, including them in decisions and choices that affect their lives. Never ever using violence or shame as a punishment. Not chastising them for being upset or invalidating their feelings. The list is huge, we won’t bore you with it. But it’s still pretty shocking that we get so many questions about this. Our girls are not our property, we are here to help, guide, love and nurture them, not control, manipulate or parent using fear tactics.
“If you retain nothing else, always remember the most important rule of beauty, which is; who cares?”
We are parents of girls, which in this media driven world is truly terrifying. So we decided long ago that we wouldn’t talk about diets, and we don’t complain about our bodies in front of them. We eat healthily, and we talk about where food comes from, Little Bean recently decided to go vegetarian because she doesn’t agree with the farming industry, Natalie agreed to do it with her. We also eat treats, and we enjoy them. We don’t make foods ‘off limits’ as this can encourage binging and secret eating. We don’t hide our bodies, we never want the girls to feel even a modicum of shame. Being happy and healthy is the key.
“Have I gone mad? I’m afraid so.
“You’re entirely Bonkers. But I will tell you a secret,All the best people are.”
– Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland
Maybe we live in a bubble, maybe we are ever so slightly bonkers. Reading this back we can officially say that we have boarded the hippy train of peace and love; but tell you what, it’s a pretty awesome train journey to be taking!