Sometimes life is really simpler than we make it. But also, when we ignore those basic, simple things in life, it can get complicated pretty fast.
Everyone has a new idea, or is busy unearthing and promoting an old idea, and many times all these ideas seem to conflict and tear you apart as you try to emulate Elastigirl and grab onto every great educational epiphany you come across.
Afterall, you want the best for you kids so you need to do everything you can.
But first, you need a plan, Mam. Your plan will help you head in the direction you want the ship to sail.
Nurturing your child’s brain is basic. But we forget.
Science (because we need that to know how to breathe these days) points to four basic daily needs of the brain.
In short, your kids need to move more. I know very few kids who get enough regular intense physical activity on a daily basis. If your kids sweat and get their hearts pounding daily, congratulations, you have mastered this need. If not, meditate on the problem this summer. Be creative. Brainstorm all the ways you can fit movement into your day-to-day. If you know you cannot get your kids moving enough yourself, looks up classes or sports clubs that can get them moving for you. They need the oxygen.
Most of you probably already know a lot about nutrition. You either feed your kids a ton of healthy food or feel constantly guilty, because you know you should be feeding them better. Nutrition is both a daily need and also a big picture. I encourage everyone to count every good thing they are putting into their kid’s bodies, and not feel guilty every time you know there exists something even better you could be feeding them…only you don’t have time to prepare…or it is too expensive for your budget. There is no ultimate wonder diet here, we just need to be sensible and do what we can and let the rest go. (A stressed momma is not good for your kids’ brains.) If you want to improve in this area for next year, keep it simple. Pick one meal in the day that you want to have higher quality food than you currently do. Figure out how to make the time to prepare it and what will realistically fit into your budget. Maybe you can just add berries. Frozen berries, because fresh ones cost an arm and a leg. You can add them to breakfast cereal, oatmeal, smoothies, or just thaw them in the microwave and eat. Good food does not have to be as complicated as we make it.
“Your brain needs information to process in order to continually develop new connections. If the brain isn’t firing, it’s not wiring, and this ages it.”
– Benjamin P. Hardy
This is the part we remember. All the academics, and stories, and art, and every good thing we try to cram into our days. This is good for our kid’s brains, it is right for us to be excited about learning so many new things every year with our kids. My only caution is that we not let this excitement cram out the other basics in our schedule. We need food too, and it is not going to make itself. We need exercise too and doing jumping jacks while you practice spelling words is great, but it is not enough. So we must carve out time for these other basics and hold them in equal esteem with the intellectual and academic portion of our homeschool days.
We love our kids. Of course, but do they know it? Do they feel every day how wide and deep and endless our love for them is? Kids need us to show our love in a lot of different ways and very often. Some expressions of love come naturally to us, but sometimes, if we are out of tune with our kids, we miss the clues and cues our kids are giving us about their love needs. The biggest thing I see that gets homeschool moms out of tune with their own kids, whom they know very well, (from spending 24 hours a day with them), is stress.
This is usually self-produced stress, meaning our lives are not actually in danger, but we have succumbed to entering into the fight or flight response where our higher brain shuts off and we are propelled into survival mode. Why? Usually, because we try to do more than is humanly possible. And because we think we aren’t doing enough for our kids. Often because we refuse to write down all we hope to accomplish into a schedule, thus fueling the erroneous notion that what we have concocted are dreams which fit inside of reality. This is why you really need to take the time to write a schedule, even if you are in love with spontaneity and know you won’t follow it. You need to write it all down and see if it actually fits into a 24 hour day. Because it probably won’t, and when you accept the limitations of time you really get better at picking the best of the best to give your kids…because you don’t have time for anything less. When you cut & drop things, to get your dreams on the same page as reality, make sure you are not dropping the essentials of brain health.
Don’t forget to include yourself in all these plans. You have a brain too, and since you are a grown-up it is your job to take care of your brain.
If you want more tips, ideas, and details about taking care of your brain check out this article by Benjamin Hardy. (I got the idea of breaking brain care into these four ideas from his brilliant post.)