Summer Anxiety

Oh, how I love summer.  Well, I used to love summer.  I enjoy(ed) coasting through the days without a schedule, sleeping in(lol-well, at least sleeping past 6:30), and going where-ever the day takes me.  Unfortunately for a person with anxiety, the lack of a schedule and an irregular plan is far from enjoyable.

Every summer, I remember the importance of rhythm.  My children thrive on a rhythm.  They need it.  Without a rhythm, they are lost.  I, on the other hand, like to live life without a plan and as the day takes me.  Do you see the problem here?  The two ways do not mesh AT ALL and the result is stress, frustration, melt downs and all over unhappiness.  You would think that by now, I would have figured this out.  However, I haven’t.  Every summer we experience the above-stress, frustration, melt downs and overall unhappiness-mainly with only one child but the frustration takes over the entire family.

So we head back to the schedule and the rhythm.  I am still trying to figure out how to set a schedule and a rhythm for the summer but I will figure one out soon.  You would think that since we are together all the time during the school year that the summer would go smoothly.  Unfortunately, everyone’s schedule changes.  There are no classes in the summer-only camps.  Horseback riding is sporadic due to camps and vacations.  The gym schedule changes.  And there are kids to play with who are not around during the school year to play with.  Sounds like fun to me, but the changes bring increased anxiety and stress to my youngest.  He tries so hard to take control of his day but he needs a plan and a back up plan.  Until he can do this for himself, I must help with the plan by providing a rhythm.

Are you able to relax during the summer or are do you need to keep a rhythm?

Anger and Communication

How do you approach anger?  How do you communicate with others?

From my previous posts, you know that I recently finished the book, Discpline without Distress.  Dealing with anger and communication come up throughout the book.  I do not plan on going into more detail on the book.  However, I bring the book up again because it relates very nicely with the lessons my oldest is learning.

Sims is taking an Outdoor Leadership class through Latta Plantation Nature Center.  Last week, the class reviewed the different communication styles including aggressive, assertive, passive and passive aggressive.   Obviously, I was not a part of the class, but Sims and I did discuss the different communication styles.  The styles were discussed in the book I read as well, so it was fun to have a discussion about each communication style.  It is times like this that I realize how much my “little boy” is growing up!

So what are these communication styles and what styles do you typically use?

Aggressive– Do you push your opinion on others?  Do you use force to get your way?  Do you make excuses?  Are most problems someone else’s fault and not your fault?  Do you use harsh language or violence when things do not go your way? Do you feel the need to control others?

Assertive-Are you comfortable asking for what you want/need?  Do you take the time to be respectful to yourself and to others-even when angry?  Are you able to stop and take a breath and think before you act?  Are you able to accept that you have weakness but also aware of your strengths? And of others?  DO you realize that you can actually only control yourself?

Passive-Do you hold your feelings in?  Do you avoid all conflict?  Do you apologize for things that you have no control over and/or was not your fault?  Do you take the blame for things that you know are not your fault?

Passive-aggressive– Do you apologize but then resent the fact that you apologized?  Do you use sarcasm to deal with issues?  Do you avoid a conflict but not in a quiet way (such as muttering under your breath, slamming a door)?  Do you feel like a martyr when conflict arises?  Do you avoid a conflict or addressing a person but continue to complain about the issue?

I found through much contemplation that I use all of these methods of communication.  When I am tired or hungry, I am aggressive.  I snap and then I begin to yell.  Thankfully, this is not too often (at least that is what the kids said when we were discussing these methods).  I tend to be more assertive with the kids. I am able to get my point across most of the time using my words and remaining calm.  I am not sure when I am passive, but I am sure that I am at some point.  Now comes the doozy.  Passive aggressive!  Oh yes, I am a user of sarcasm.  I am trying desperately to decrease my sarcasm.  I mainly use it with adults as my kids do not understand it so they take it very personally.  Definitely not my finest trait and one that I am honestly working on.  Obviously, I am a work in progress!

Peace Education

“Peace education is the process of acquiring the values, the knowledge and developing the attitudes, skills, and behaviors to live in harmony with oneself, with others, and with the natural environment.” Wikipedia

Peace education occurs daily in our household.  For the most part, everyone gets along.  However, let’s face it-we are together ALL THE TIME!  On a daily basis, we try to use our words to maintain peace within the household.  Everyone is aware that when the “rules” of the house are followed, peace is maintained.  It is those times when someone feels that someone else has performed an injustice to the household, another person or the world that the harmony quickly disappears.

When the kiddos went to Montessori school, they were taught to have a peace conference.  The child who feels hurt or who is upset gets the peace rose and hands it to the other person or persons.  They then go to a neutral spot and have a peace conference.  This is a discussion in which each side may speak how they feel and what they think happened.  (I find this to be an awesome activity-if only everyone in the world could do this!)

Unfortunately, I think at home we get into a rut of having them speak at each other instead of with each other.  I noticed this recently.  I had the kids stop speaking at each other, turn towards each other and to speak in a normal tone WITH the other person.  The funny thing was that they both immediately started giggling.  Argument over.  🙂

Unfortunately, I have one kiddo who is in a constant battle with the world.  He struggles to find happiness in the world.  So how do you teach peace education to someone who’s instict is violence and negativity?  In my heart, I know that he does not want to feel this way.  Most of the time, his outward expressions are happy and loving but they can change very quickly.

He has taught me more about peace education than any book or experience so far.  I must model how to react to situations (such as when you drop an entire container of yogurt on the floor and you want to scream, but you don’t).  I must remain calm and not become engaged when he wants to argue and speak negatively about the world.  Is this difficult?  Absolutely.  My other kids have had to learn this method also.  Amazingly, it works well.

I also use books as much as possible.  Some of my favorites are The Lorax, Giraffe’s Can’t Dance, The Lion and the Mouse, The Goose Girl, Stone Soup, and my newest-Old Turtle and the Broken Truth (All of these titles should be underlined, but I cannot figure out how to do that for some reason).  All three kids enjoyed the Old Turtle and our lessons that followed.

How do you teach your kids about peace?

Week 3 with one new student!

The New Year has started with a bang! We decided to begin homeschooling both Sims and Sawyer this semester. Yes, adding another child makes some things a little trickier and others magical. As far as schooling goes, I am learning a lot. We are continuing with my initial plan for spelling and grammar. I found a terrific history curriculum that goes over basic information on the United States for Sawyer. Then for Sims it goes through US History by using important people starting with Christopher Columbus. This works well because Sims loves to read biographies and non fiction.

As for math and art….I had this grandeous plan that these two subjects would be taken at a place that does some classes for homeschooling kiddos. It sounds like a great place but it did not work for us this year which made me start looking some more. In the end, I have settled on a Montessori math homeschool program. We haven’t gotten it yet but when I told the kids what was included they both got very excited. Art, I am still trying to figure that one out.

Today is Friday. We started off great….at 7 am that is. Today it hit Parks that Sims AND Sawyer are home with me. He decided he did not want to go to school. Normally, I could just bring him home and show him how Sims and Sawyer are actually doing school work while he is at school. However, today was Sims’ first day in biology at Latta Plantation-so I knew it would look like we were having too much fun if he hung with us all day. If he saw that, I would never get him back to Countryside! 🙂 After an hour of meltdown, he came with us to drop off Sims. He sat and watched us do a grammar lesson and walked Sims into a biology classroom. Both things obviously did not impress him because after that he stated that he was ready to go back to school.

I took Sawyer back over to Latta Plantation to wait for Sims’ class to be finished. We went to the equestrian center first and were introduced to their two baby goats (one week old today). Sawyer received a lesson on goats from the lady at the center. Then she fed the horses and hung out at the barn for a bit. When I picked up Sims, he was glowing. THey did insects today. THe class has a teaching portion and then a lab portion. He loved it. He got to feed a bull frog and experiment with crickets. We’ll see how much he retained on Monday when he gives Sawyer a lesson on the butterfly lifecycle! Next we met some friends at the equestrian center and for a hike. At the end of the hike is a beautiful lookout over Mountain Island Lake. The kids sat in silence for 10 minutes to do their nature study there. It was perfect and amazing. Each child had a different experience which was really neat because they were all in the same general area. THey were so quiet we could actually hear the wings of the birds as they flew by.

Of course, after today-Sawyer is sold on homeschooling. Almost one month down. I thought by now I would be pulling my hair out but instead I am loving it. The only problem is trying to figure out when to get everything else done. THe house is a wreck and no laundry has been folded (it is clean at least). Maybe by the summer we will have a system figured out just in time for it to change. I am thinking change will be the only constant for the next few months.