Unschooling is just life
Do not keep up appearances
Obviously, it makes more sense to share the more interesting elements, so we share great walks in nature, historical sites, experiments, music, and adventure. All of the amazing stuff out there. And to be honest, there is a lot of it, and it is frequent. But we have to be aware. We might fall into the trap of trying to be “as good as” the next (unschooling) person.
Unschooling is NOT about how much you can get done or how amazing it all is. Living life as an unschooling family is about living life. If that is a week or even a month of healing wounds, cleaning the attic, working, having pasta for dinner, and watching Netflix, it is still LIFE. And no one should be the judge of that. Well, except yourself. We are not supposed to run after anything, at least not anything someone else defines. We have to install a good filter, so the inspiration from other unschooling families becomes an inspiration and does not transform itself into the monster of trying to keep up.
What do you do with your freedom?
Living life as unschoolers is about living life. As such, it is also about figuring out what that means. One of the most interesting questions, we got over the years was NOT: “so, do you have any friends?” - obviously - it was a person stating this: “So, I see you have created all of this freedom. Now, what do you want to do with it?”
You could say the same thing about life. Or about unschooling.
Unschooling is a very interesting phenomenon if you are new to it, and everybody needs a lot of reorganizing of categories in their mind to take it in: How to live without school, and not copying the system at home. But once you have done that, the more interesting work you will have to do, is to start figuring out what to do with all those hours.
If no one is setting your agenda, then what? Then you have to set it yourself.
Set your own agenda
My goal for my children's home education is not about how many languages they speak, or how much they know about history, math, mythology, art, geography - you name it. It is all about life skills. I want to help them to stay confident with setting their own agenda. I want them to feel their way through life, and to feel proud, happy, and confident with their own choices.
Most people live a life on autopilot. And even though I agree a good morning habit, and a good scoop of ritual in life will enhance happiness and success, I am sure setting your own agenda is one of the most important life hacks there is.
Living a life without school (or office jobs) gives us this opportunity. Of course, we could have let other people steal the agenda, but we have become quite proficient in making our own. This is hard work. It is not done with a top 3 to-do list in the morning.
Core values, goals, and ethics
The very interesting and important work with getting to know our core values, setting goals, and thinking about ethics is an ongoing project. It will never end. In my family, we make plans for the day and for the week, change them ever so often, and thrive in getting a lot of things done. On top of that there are all of the little decisions we have to make along the way - let’s say: do we decide to be half an hour late for our appointment to take a call from someone in the middle of a divorce? We have learned to handle all of these planning situations by matching them to core values, and to ethics. We talk a lot about what is important and what is okay.
And there is no standard answer. We have to keep reflecting and find out who we are by knowing what is important to us. And then go orchestra our life by these standards. Ever-evolving standards. It is interesting, it is great. And it is a lot of work.
If I have any goals for my children's home education it is this: That they grow confident when making their own agenda, they know how to set the scene for a life they want to live, taking into account the complexity of life.
Work with what is
We talk a lot about inner peace, about mindset. As mindset will be the defining element of a good day, and a good life, we work with that. Just observing, not judging, we realize how much power there is in the mind. My children are smart. They keep showing me details I did not see, and together, we work with staying in peace with what is.
This is not the same as accepting suffering and chaos. We work with the balance of accepting what is, identifying what we do not want, and working our way away from it or doing our part to change it. When we accept whatever challenge life offers with peace of mind and appreciation, we lead a happy life where at the same time, we can do our part.
I have a saying: I say,
I am always happy.
If I am not happy,
I am happy to know,
that I am in the process
of learning something new.
We can not control our environment, things do happen. What we can control is our mindset, our choices, and our focus.
Too fluffy or useful? Let me know - as I hardly put any examples - if this ressonates with you? Please comment on the blog post with your thoughts or questions, I appreciate that a lot. It makes it so much more worth it to take time to write when I feel you out there, and most often the most interesting reflections come from your questions.
Do you want to know, what we are doing right now?
Now, about our here and now. Let me share the reality as it looks in week 17, end of April 2022 in the north of Catalunia.
I have been writing a lot of blog posts from Mon la Bassa, Catalunia, Spain. This is what we now call home, here I have an extra kind of peace, and this place puts me in my right place. In the right place, I write blog posts. Blogging, to me, began 10 years ago, when I realized, that I live a “different” life, and that people are genuinely interested in how life looks from our perspective. Before that I just lived as I pleased, not knowing it was “different”. Since then it has become much more different. Now it is obvious.
Anyway. Here and now we are in Catalunia, where we parked our bus 3,5 years ago in the perfect spot always intended for it. We live at an animal sanctuary with the carob trees, the birds, the silence, the 300 animals, and the sunshine. We are within walking distance (if you like walking) from the Mediterranean, we have learned to speak the language, we have amazing friends here, and we enjoy spending time here.
Every time we arrive, we think we are going to have some peace, and in a way we do. But our reality is not slow living. Always something comes up, or we create something.
British friends from France in Spain
We have had the great pleasure of having our British friends from France here the whole week. We are so grateful they carved out the time and took the long journey from Normandie to Catalunia, just to hang out with us. We share meals and conversations, play games and go on walks and bike rides, swim in the ocean, eat ice cream and play Dungeons and Dragons, look after the animals, share knowledge, play music, and just enjoy sharing life for a while. Friendship is the greatest adventure!
I was going to say, it is not easy to find friends, but it is actually not true. Not in our life, at least. They do come to us, the most amazing people, all the time. We do meet them. And we do take the opportunity to spend time with them, we do appreciate it immensely and we will go to great lengths to get these social moments.
Of course, it can be wildly overwhelming to live close together for ten days, but mostly it is a blessing. Within 24 hours the friendship evolves like a “normal” one would take a year to do. It is about sharing everyday life, all elements of life, and being open and honest. We knew this family from before, but this is our first life together
No bull-shit friendships
What could have been harder, and is sometimes complicated, is to find home-educated children on the same age as our children. As we live this “different” lifestyle, our children are not very childish, not very “normal”, and they have a no bull-shit policy. With this particular family, it has been such a blessing, as this family is the same. They are calm, rest in their own energy, are nerdy and passionate, peaceful, and just wonderful. So, we have had the great pleasure of unfolding life with lovely people, and we do look forward to visiting them when we go to France in June.
This week we also had the pleasure of visits from some of our local friends. We had an American family here, where we originally knew the grandparent generation, a wonderful couple we met a year ago because of handpan music (she plays, and so do we). This Saturday they came to see us with their extended family: Their son, daughter-in-law, and 2 grandchildren. Just so lovely to meet great people, such a treat.
We spend a lovely afternoon with the animals at the sanctuary, with music and food, and ended with sunset at the beach at our favorite local restaurant. Such a blessed day.
Sunday we had 2 families coming over to play music and enjoy the animals and the sunshine. Same program, other people. What a blessing.
Our unschooling reality changes all of the time, and this is not a problem. We have no curriculum to take care of, no rehearsing or tests or exams. We just live our life to the best of our ability, enjoying it immensely and doing our best to do our part to make the changes, we would like to see in this world.
I would love to hear from you. Listen to your thoughts and reflections, - or praise :) It is often emotional to share our life like this and we get very happy when we get feedback from you. So please share a comment below 😋 NB! All comments will be posted, but they will first need to be approved to avoid spam, so it might take a day before your comment is live 😋
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Have you read the latest articles by Cecilie Conrad?
Here you can find my latest writing - It is a mix of my blogposts and 2023 journaling. I hope you will enjoy it :)
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🎙️New episode out every Thursday 🎙️
E19 - The Power of Connection in Parenting - A dialogue with Naomi Aldort
E18 - Ask Us Anything: Embracing Radical Parenting & Unschooling: A Journey of Trust & Empowerment
E17 - The Adventure Is the People: An Interview with the caricature artist Samuel KingDavis
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This is absolutely relatable! We don't travel like you (although I would love to some day! Inspiration from your unschooling family 😃).
Beautifully written! Thanks for sharing your thoughts and experiences. Feels good to know there are people with the same mindset.
Best regards, Jaee(from India)
Hi Jaee - Thanks a lot :)
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