I recently discovered a network of blogs on the theme of living simply and I began to wonder if maybe I needed to refocus on simplifying our lives--less stuff, less TV, less...??? I soon realized we couldn't get any less busy (we rarely go anywhere) or less scheduled (we have no schedule) or less strung-out financially (we live pretty comfortably within our means already). So I patted myself on the back and I thought about our homeschooling and I wondered if we could get more simple.
I headed to a blog called Simple Homeschool. BIG MISTAKE.
The mother writing at Simple Homeschool is living the exact opposite of what I would describe as simple. In fact, I was so appalled at what she was writing that I had to walk away from the computer--as if her ideas were going to hurt me.
In a nutshell: She describes her morning with her 4 or 5 children, how she takes her 7-year-old to another room for a spelling lesson and gives her 5-year-old a time-out for interrupting her and lets her 2-year-old cry by herself. She says she has to 'train' the younger ones. And she says they have to learn to obey her.
Stop right there, thank you very much.
The needs of the youngest or weakest among us always come first.
There is never any guessing in my house about how to look after 4 kids under the age of six. When the needs of the youngest always come first then everyone always knows their place in the family. When the baby needs his diaper changed and someone else is asking for juice and toast, the diaper comes first. When I'm reading a story for the girls and the baby wakes up from a nap, the book is dropped and the baby is picked up. Immediately.
There are two big advantages to establishing this approach.
- I don't ever spend time in my head thinking about what to do next. I don't feel guilty about whether or not Anna got more attention than Holly or Jasmine. I don't debate who to run to when 3 kids are needing attention. My brain stays clear for thinking about other things. Decisions are made in advance of situations.
- If my kids are going to receive any training in this house, then the training is in how to balance their needs against the needs of other people. They are going to grow up knowing that before they act they think about the needs of other people.
The only time I don't use the 'youngest or weakest' criteria to determine whose needs get met first is when two of the older children have competing needs. Then my criteria is also predetermined.
Emotional needs trump physical needs.
So if someone is crying over a wrecked Barbie dress while someone else is
I try not to get terribly critical of other mothers. We are all genuinely trying our best.
But if a mother is going to call her website Simple Homeschool, then she should actually be doing it simply.