#27 - A conversation with Alexandra Kons host of 'Wild Life' - The Unschooling Podcast
🗓️ Recorded June 21th, 2023. 📍Skolstugan, Sweden
Where do you want to listen?
About this Episode
School sucks! And on Wild Life, we talk about why education outside the traditional school system is so beneficial - not only for our kids but also for us as parents.
This is the intro for Alexandra Kons Podcast, ' Wild Life - The Unschooling Podcast'. Which we recently guested.
Alexandra has been so kind to let us share the episode with you all through our podcast. So here it is! Thank you, Alexandra!
And please remember to check out Alexandra’s podcast, where she presents knowledge around the idea of unschooling: what unschooling is, how it works, and what the challenges are.
Join us as we share our unique lifestyle and radical unschooling approach. We've spent the past five years living in a variety of places from vans to vacation houses, and in this episode, we share our parenting philosophy that focuses on respect, love, and personal freedom. We believe in nurturing the individuality of our children, letting them choose their own paths without imposing societal expectations or traditional educational norms.
This episode will challenge your notions of parenting and education as we unpack the process of de-schooling and the importance of self-awareness. It's a fascinating look at how unschooling can be a challenging yet liberating journey to peel away layers of indoctrination and relearn how to be ourselves. We also discuss the challenges and rewards of single parenting and explore the ways we can improve our parenting skills by observing and appreciating our children's interactions with others.
In the final segment, we take a closer look at the 'hell yeah lifestyle', which encourages following what makes your heart beat and being passionate about it. We share how our external relationships changed when we transitioned to a full-time traveling lifestyle. Additionally, we discuss the value of building a sense of self-evaluation and autonomy in our lives and our children's lives, breaking free from systems that rely on external validation and judgment.
Finally, we share our thoughts on the importance of developing positive relationships with others and how investing in these connections can be a catalyst for personal growth.
Listen in as we embark on a journey of self-discovery, authentic living, and radical unschooling.
▬ EPISODE LINKS ▬
▬ WILD LIFE PODCAST ▬
Watch the full interview on YouTube
0:00:00 - Jesper Conrad
Cecilia and I have recently been interviewed for Wildlife on Schooling Podcast, and Alexandra, the host of it, has been so kind to let us share the episode with you all through our own podcast. Thank you, alexandra, and please remember to check out Alexandra's podcast, where she presents knowledge around the idea of on-schooling what on-schooling is, how it works and what the challenges are. You can find her on Wildlife on Schooling Podcast, and I will also add the links in the show notes. I hope you will enjoy this episode.
0:00:36 - Alexandra Kons
Thank you so much for being on my show. Cecilia and Jesper, I'm very happy that you're here with me because, honestly, you have been, let's say, an inspiration, not because I was far away from your lifestyle, but just to see other people are doing it as well, with way more kids and way more pets than I have, and you're still happy in the life and it's just beautiful to see that you're thriving. And thank you so much for being on my show. Yeah, it's fun. Maybe you want to say something about, or maybe you want to tell how you live, because I think you have a quite unique lifestyle that more and more people are looking into and, of course, every family is doing it a bit different. Yeah, maybe you want to say something.
0:01:33 - Cecilie Conrad
0:01:34 - Jesper Conrad
Yeah, I can go first. Well, it's a very difficult question to answer. We just live our life and then we live in different ways on different times, based on what suits us. Out of the window where I'm sitting right now, I can see our Mercedes van, which is a van we have got rebuilt to be able to travel and move around freely. We also have an 11 meter bus, which is now placed in Catalonia, which we have been living in on and off for some time, and right now we are in Sweden in a rented vacation house, and so we make a mix between, you can say, van life and slow traveling, with renting wonderful places, and then we also do a lot of co-living. We love living together with other people.
0:02:29 - Cecilie Conrad
We do a lot of speed traveling.
0:02:31 - Jesper Conrad
And a lot of speed traveling in the van, I think we do that more than slow travel. Oh, yeah, yeah, Slow traveling is kind of the new hope we have been a month in one place.
0:02:41 - Cecilie Conrad
Yeah, yeah, yeah, we have.
0:02:44 - Jesper Conrad
Yeah, so there's.
0:02:45 - Cecilie Conrad
But the headline.
0:02:46 - Jesper Conrad
The headline we are full-time travelers, If no one you know, not everyone on the planet knows.
0:02:52 - Cecilie Conrad
No, no, no, of course not. So we are full-time numeric. We have been that for five years minus 10 days. Yeah, so we should celebrate.
0:03:02 - Jesper Conrad
We should celebrate.
0:03:04 - Cecilie Conrad
Yeah, we have four children, of whom one is an adult living by herself and not by herself, with her boyfriend and Copenhagen. So we travel with three. It's not precise to call them teenagers, is it? No, it is precise to call them teenagers. We can't call them kids anymore. So they are 17, 14 and 11, and we have two dogs, and that's kind of the base of where we are. And then there's the unschooling, which is another core element which we also did before we went full-time traveling. So we've been unschooling for about, I think, maybe 10.
0:03:47 - Jesper Conrad
0:03:48 - Cecilie Conrad
Something like that. Like everyone else, we started. Well, not like everyone else, but like a lot of other unschoolers, we started homeschooling and cheated for a while and then just went all in on the unschooling. So and I think you can be it would be fair to call us radical unschoolers. We are very much not schooling at all.
0:04:15 - Alexandra Kons
That's cool because this is one thing. I've been, of course, listening to your podcast here and there a little bit, and what I really liked was your approach on radical unschooling. And, of course, I've been listening to an episode that was about radical parenting, and I love that because in the end, this just goes back to living how nature wants us to live, or at least this is my point of view, because if we re-wild ourselves, I think what we have to do is radical parenting and radical unschooling. So that's a nice topic I would love to know more about. How does that look in your everyday life? Because I think a lot of people are quite familiar with the terms homeschooling and when it comes to unschooling, it's like oh okay, the freaks are coming and radical unschooling is maybe the next possible state of being weird, and I love it.
0:05:17 - Cecilie Conrad
So let me say we wash our clothes, we brush our teeth, we eat our food from plates, we sit in sofas, we do vacuum cleaning houses. When we live in houses, I think we don't look very much like radical unschoolers. The stereotype and the question how does it look? Is a question we've been answering before and I think for most people it would just look like weekend.
You can't see radical unschooling if you just sit in a corner and watch our life for half a day. It's all about the relation we have with each other and our base philosophy. And so when we do brush our teeth and eat our food from a plate and go for a walk after lunch and cut our fingernails, you can't. You know, it's no different from everyone else's life. But what is different is that we don't believe in ageism, we don't believe in the idea of education, enforced education. We don't believe that we, as parents have the right to steal the hours of our children, which is maybe the very core of how we radically unschool. And we do believe the most important thing is how we have each other, how we have and hold and relate to each other within the family, and the respect and the love is where life goes on, and that is what it's all about. So how does it? I can't answer how it looks, I think. Can you answer how it looks? No?
0:07:17 - Jesper Conrad
no, but one of the other things you sometimes answer is personal freedom, I believe, is where we might be radical, which shouldn't be radical at all that we believe that people should be able to be free and also children should be able to be free. I don't decide over my children's hair or clothes. I don't decide what they learn when they learn, if they learn. And in the same way, freedom should also be available for me, but not on the cost of others. So if I wanted a lot of freedom but it meant that I needed to put my children to school to get even more freedom, then it would be on the cost of their life. I do not like that. So we talk a lot. That's how radical on-schooling looks in our family.
0:08:17 - Cecilie Conrad
That's a good answer. It looks like one very long conversation. We talk so much, very often people talking on top of each other and someone shouting at one point. Can we please speak one at a time? That's what it looks like.
0:08:30 - Jesper Conrad
Yeah. So it's listening to each other, trying to understand each other, understanding each other's feelings, where the different stuff come from. And in our story, which might be important to mention, then on-schooling wasn't a project we decided on. I think so much have happened during the last 10, 15 years that we would have done things differently, but for us, the whole home schooling, on-schooling came from our oldest son who didn't want it to start in school, so it was never a parental choice. It was listening to our child, hearing his view on things. We had a perfectly fine, wonderful, free-spirited school that was so cool, but he wanted a different life and he informed us and we listened to him.
So it came from our children where I believe now that I just heard another podcast with two wonderful women called. They have a podcast called Radical Learning and one of the they interviewed a teen where she said it was her mom project to on-school. It was. She was never asked and in my world that is not on-schooling, that is on-parenting. That is being egoistic. You cannot force at what? Yeah, enforce your view of life down on your children. You can inspire them and guide them, but, yeah. So now I dwell off a little into the unknown.
0:10:09 - Cecilie Conrad
We did, we did the tangent, but that's yeah.
0:10:15 - Alexandra Kons
No, but honestly I feel that this on-parenting thing because for a long time I've been thinking I was influencing my child to not want to go to school because of my impression of school or my experiences or my view on life itself. And I've been with him. We've been living in Berlin for quite some time, so we've been on and off visiting different schools. I think it's been 34 schools and every school of them. It just didn't work out for him and for me as well. Of course, I would just comply If my son would have told me this is the school. I would have said okay, let's stay in Berlin, let's build a life here, blah, blah, blah. But in the end he was always like oh, this looks like slavery, I don't like it, I don't like it here. That looks like slavery. I feel like I don't belong here in these kinds of things. And I've been asking myself for a long time if I'm un-parenting or if I'm just pushing my agenda on him. But in the end, now he is unschooled and he's attending a little unschooling school. He doesn't have to go, of course, but since a couple of weeks he's not going there at all and it's a nice place. There are kids, a lot of freedom, but he chose to just stay at home and do his stuff at home that he's interested in.
And first of all, I was like like my old me would have said, okay, this is neglect, you can't do that. And after so many hours of conversation with him and so much communication about that topic, it was quite clear that he just wants to have his own space, that he doesn't want to spend time with others. He just wants to dedicate his time to whatever he feels like doing now. And in the end I didn't feel like I'm un-parenting him or I'm pushing him or anything like that. It was more like his choice and I needed to make that happen somehow.
So now we're stuck at home like 24 seven with each other, and it's crazy because I think if you have more kids, it's like okay, they have somebody. But I feel sometimes like okay, he's all alone, he's just with me, and I feel like I'm asking him like isn't that boring to spend so much time with your mom? What is it? And he was like no, it's nice actually, and he's used to it. And that made me rethink my own story. How much time did I spend with my parents?
0:12:39 - Jesper Conrad
Not a lot.
0:12:40 - Alexandra Kons
And I didn't like it. On top of that, I didn't like it.
0:12:46 - Jesper Conrad
How old is your son?
0:12:49 - Alexandra Kons
He's 10 now and, yeah, I think he has been in school for his whole life maybe three weeks actively involved in getting to know school how it feels like and these kinds of things. But his decision was quite clear that he's not gonna get involved with any kind of forced education.
0:13:10 - Cecilie Conrad
Your story reminded me of the two things so try to see if I can remember one of them at the time Say one, and then maybe a wife to say something yeah, yeah, which one?
0:13:20 - Jesper Conrad
Well, the very short one, I would say both Life changes. They will grow and they want to get more out of the house and that's perfectly normal. But the other one is sometimes I feel people going down the on schooling road and going into this oh, I should let the child decide. They almost get afraid to understand that. Of course you as a parent, you affect your child by what you feel about life, how you feel about different things.
And in the start I remember listening to my children, sometimes thinking, oh, they're just parroting me, I miss to hear what they actually believe. But in the start it's natural to be in your nest with your family. And then we have a grown up so I can see that they also walk out on their own and they start finding their own feeds and evaluate where they are. And I can also now, without 17 years old, see, okay, he's going in that direction, okay, and listening to him and getting feedback from him where I can improve myself. But in the start of coach, our view on life is instilled upon our children and I'm very happy that it's our view on life and not outsourced to a school where I don't know the parents, I don't know the teachers personally. So if I should choose someone who should instill their view on life on my children, it should be my wife and me, and that's okay.
0:14:56 - Alexandra Kons
True, true. That's a lovely thing to say honestly, because I think a lot of people are outsourcing parenting yeah, the co-parent, and they're used to it. They don't see the difference.
0:15:06 - Cecilie Conrad
It's really scary when you think about it and, in all practicality, the co-parenting with a bunch of complete strangers, which is find it hard to understand, even though I did it myself in the beginning and I must say my husband just said that it came from the children and it should be their choice. I don't think it's a good idea to look back in your life and regret stuff, but when I sometimes do it anyway, this is the one thing I do regret. If I would have made that choice on behalf of all of our children, had I known then what I know today. I don't think that even one day in an institution was worth it for any of my four children, and I think that when you are five years old and living in a context of a society where everyone else aren't school and everyone are so excited about this school thing oh, now you're almost a schoolboy, aren't you excited? You're starting this summer, we're hyping it up as if it's fun, which it is clearly not. Of course, the children think that they should go to school and they should enjoy it and they should feel proud that now they are one year older and now they're old enough to be forced to sit still. I would very much stand in the way of that if I could go back and change my life, because I think it would have been a better life. Of course I can't and of course I embrace the fact that we have to live our life in one continuum where we cannot go back and we learn along the way and we can try to keep up with the need for learning.
And I think that what we have to do as parents is to do what is called de-schooling. With a big fluffy hat, we have to look at what structures in our own belief system are truly ours and when we know that we can parent with confidence, we can know that if I tell my children that is a bad thing, don't do it, then I truly believe it and I truly believe it's a good idea to tell my children this. But if we don't do the de-schooling process and just parent everything we ever learned from our parents and school teachers and magazines and the news and whatever, then it's a very bad thing to influence our children with whatever comes through our distorted minds. So, basically, if we want to be good parents, school or not, we have to get to know who we truly are and peel off those layers of beliefs that are just some random truth. Someone told us a thousand times and now we believe it's true. And now I'll shut up.
0:18:15 - Alexandra Kons
True, that is a nice I don't know. That's a nice topic, to be honest, and I wanted to touch base on that anyway because I think de-schooling for me, this process is still going on. I almost find every day something that is still not me myself this is still from my own experience with school or whatever and I think de-schooling is one of the most important things that parents should go through before getting involved in any kind of educational history with the kids, and I think it's very hard to manage to be de-schooled before hopping into unschooling because most of the times these processes they run parallel and it's happening all on the same time on the same plate and that's what I find hard, because de-schooling no, it's just when I say we try to keep up with the learning, the need for learning.
0:19:13 - Cecilie Conrad
I feel that's just how life is, that we run besides ourselves and try to make sure we have all the needed knowledge and skills to handle whatever situation we are currently in. And I don't think it can be done. I think we can do as best we can, we can work on it and we can know that we will basically always fail a little bit, but maybe less so if we are conscious about it. Sorry.
0:19:49 - Alexandra Kons
I know. No, it's fine. I think awareness is a huge part of that process, because if you're not aware of yourself, your attitude, your actings, then it's quite hard to really reevaluate who you are. What are you representing? And I've been thinking about that a lot lately.
The last maybe two or three years have been quite intense when it comes to my de-schooling, because I thought I already was who I am, but it turned out I was wrong. There are so many more layers that I need to peel off, to get rid of, and it's quite liberating to let go one of these issues at a time. But sometimes I was thinking am I lying to myself? Because this feels so unreal to just be able to say no, that's just not my identity anymore. This part I need to shed, I need to get rid of, and what is left is, of course, the core. That's not going to change.
But I was so indoctrinated and I was so deep in this propaganda machine that I had a hard time and still sometimes have to really let go and not feel guilty of saying, okay, I don't want to do that anymore, I don't want to believe in that anymore, because sometimes there is not much or not so many parents I can compare myself to, and sometimes what helps me at least, is to see okay, how are other unschooling families doing this? When it comes to, let's say, sometimes I feel like I'm too extra mystic with my kid and with my point of view in life, because when I see my family, they are consumed by propaganda, they are living in this bubble of propaganda and I'm living in the other extreme bubble, and it's, I think, quite hard if you're alone I mean you are together, and maybe this has other difficulties to have a partner on your side who is sometimes maybe not on board with what you're thinking, what you're doing, how you're developing yourself. And I think being a single mom is like, okay, I need to sort that out with myself, and only with myself. That makes it easier, on the one hand, but on the other hand, it's like am I going crazy? Is this still normal? Is this still okay? Is there someone who can intervene if I'm overdoing it?
I don't know how does that work out. If you are too, and because I think it's a strong lifestyle you live, it's, I think, impressionate and a lot of work to live it, so differently than the average human being, maybe and I see you too really much bonded, and you really I like to see that you're such a strong, connected family. Yeah, that doesn't make it sometimes harder or what kind of things you think it's easier for you?
0:22:54 - Cecilie Conrad
because you're like too. You know that I used to be a single mom, just so that we can bond. I spent my first five years with the oldest. I'm on my own. So I know, I think I know I have an idea about what kind of life you're living and it truly had its advantages and I don't regret a single day of it. It was fun, Excuse me and then we met and established a larger family.
So what you're talking about, I think, the doubt when you have this, we call it the black days. They are not very different anymore. We're very far down the line. We talk about unschooling when we do our podcast and appear on other podcasts and maybe if we meet someone whom we've never met before and they ask the normal questions and the rest of the time, unschooling is not something we do. It's not even something we don't do. We don't get up in the morning and don't go to school. I mean we just we live like this and we've been living like this for a very long time and it's not a thing anymore. Sometimes it happens still, but it can be years between days of doubt.
0:24:14 - Jesper Conrad
And then we never had doubt on the same day.
0:24:17 - Cecilie Conrad
No, that's the good thing. Then we can keep each other floating. We're kind of beyond doubt, I think, because we're beyond point of no return. It's game over. There's no way we can put our children to school now. We could go back into a home-based life and live in one place. Maybe they would probably accept that, the children but now the youngest is 11 and a half. There is no way. I mean, you can't, no, no, no, there's no way. It's he owns himself. And so I can maybe think sometimes did I screw it all up and did I do something too radical and too crazy? Did we obviously? But then you have to come to peace with your doing your best all of your life, and if that's not the right thing, then it still is the life you lived.
0:25:19 - Jesper Conrad
And then we have four chances. We have four kids If one of them is okay, no, no. We actually can look at our grown-up and see that we as parents and she was partly co-parented with the state but we can see that we as parents have done a quite good job. She seems to function and is happy doing what she's doing. And we can look at our 70 year old boy 17 year old boy no, no, no, not 17 year old boy and see how they interact. And I remember maybe it was even my wonderful wife who said it to me you, when you should judge your own parenting skills, never look at how your children behave with you. Look at how they behave in society, together with other people.
0:26:15 - Cecilie Conrad
And I did not use the word behave. No, no, no, no, no, no no, not behave how they carry themselves how they act.
0:26:23 - Jesper Conrad
And we have just lived this one month in a world schooling pop-up that took place on a castle and it was wonderful to see our children interact with parents and children of different ages. And then you can look at yourself and say, okay, we did, we did, okay, yeah. There's one thing that Cecilia mentioned earlier that made me think, and it's about this parents, people talking with children and saying, oh so what grade are you in? And I've been thinking back and thought about it because I believe it's from somewhere, comes from love. They actually want to interact with the child, saying I see you're there, but then they have no clue what to talk with them about, absolutely not, they're not. They look at it as a child. They're not asking so what are you doing? How's your day? They, they the only you can say. Point they know oh, it's a child, so the child must be in school. Then I can ask so what grade are you in? So it actually comes from a nice place.
But I'm just sad that they don't understand that this is a human being, I can just talk with that human being that they feel so differentiated from the child that they and strange child that haven't met before not strange, but a stranger that they, they, they end up going into these basic but it's kind of the same. When I'm at a party and meet new parents then it's really hard not to fall into the trap of so what are you working with? And it's, it's the same. So I'm just trying to excuse the parents out there and saying maybe we, if we meet children or other parents, you'd start with, not the stupid, annoying questions.
0:28:08 - Alexandra Kons
Yeah, what do, you do, but I see a difference.
0:28:11 - Cecilie Conrad
What do you live for doing?
0:28:13 - Jesper Conrad
0:28:14 - Alexandra Kons
Yeah, true, but I see a difference how communication works between school children and unschooled children, because I rarely come in contact with kids who are in school. But I am in contact, of course, with a lot of unschooled kids and they appear to me as normal human beings. I can just go to them, they just come up to me and they are open minded and I think they don't have this authority issues with grownups, and that makes it so much easier for me to just jump on a conversation with them, because they are full of their ideas and they are always in the middle of doing something, so it's so easy to pick up on that and start a conversation. But what I learned in these couple of days and weeks that we have been in contact with state school is all these kids were super afraid of me when they visited my son at home. It was always like, hmm, okay, how do I talk to them?
They are scared, what can I do to make them feel more comfortable at my place? And I figured out it's not me, obviously. It's how they're being raised and it is quite hard to talk about anything else than school with them because this is their fucking life. It's like eight hours a day and the rest of the day is homework and thinking about the next day. You have to go there again and over, again and again. So I think, yeah, we are, I think, far away from seeing each other as human beings, and it's quite hard to interact with someone who's in this kind of machine and has no life, or by himself or herself. I really see the difference there as well.
0:29:47 - Cecilie Conrad
I think we have to come somehow, try to come from a point of understanding. I think that many children grow up in a reality where the things they are really passionate about, the things that really get them going, the things they like doing, thinking about, interacting with, are things that the adults that usually surround them don't see having any value. So you can have playtime for 10 minutes, because that's a waste of time, and you can have your screen for half an hour, and then I'll shut it off because that too is a waste of time, and you can go hang with your friends until five o'clock, then you have to come home and do your homework, because hanging is a waste of time, and so on and so forth. So many children who will not talk freely with adults are children who are used to being judged and pushed by an agenda that does not match their emotional life. What the parents, the adults around them, find important is what they find inherently boring and, as humans are, they probably in some level trust the adults to be right that this is important. You have to learn math, you have to learn world history, you have to learn to sit still, you have to play the violin, because otherwise you cannot be a successful adult and you will fail in life, which is a real worry for many children.
I've always been good at talking to children. I've talked to a lot of children also a lot of homeschooled and unschooled children who truly have this worry but how can I manage in life now that I'm not doing this thing that all the others are doing? And also a lot of school children who have exactly the same worry and who are surprised if I sit down and play their computer games with them or if I want to do some whatever draw silly drawings or play spike ball or whatever childish activity. So I just find it we can be very harsh and say that they are just manipulated and they're just part of the machine and the school shuts the light off their eyes and all these things. But I think actually probably the children are hiding from the adults and keeping what's precious and they don't want to talk about it because they're not feeling understood, because they are not understood. So if we can come from a point of trust and a point of curiosity, I have a really hard time understanding the gaming, or I had I used to, I've learned. But what if I'm curious and respectful, if my children want to do this several hours a day, it cannot be nothing, because no one wants to sit and look at a wall where the paint is drying. So there must be something in there, and I think many adults they just think they're so right about this judgment and that's okay. I'll babble on a little bit more than I'll shop.
So before we talked about de-schooling and it's a very unschooling discourse word that unschooling parents do so we have to de-school and that makes us better people. But actually throughout the whole of human history, as far as we can read back into it, people want to get to know themselves. It was the slogan of Greek philosophy, as far as I know. And we have to look inside and grow and we have to go through this life and find out what it's about and who we are in this life. So actually everyone has this urge and you don't have to be an unschooling parent to peel off layers. You don't have to be as radical as you and I and you Sorry, I'm not- ignoring you and most of my friends.
You don't have to do this radical thing to become an immensely better parent. Just peel off the layers of knowing better, Just peel off the layers of judgment of what the kids are doing. When you get to interact on a base of trust and curiosity, which is just so much more fun, you can still send your kid off to school in the morning, but what about just respecting their point of view when they come back? And now?
0:34:54 - Alexandra Kons
No, that's actually cool. And I think judgment, I'm judging myself very harshly and I think this is the whole machinery behind all of that judging others, judging yourself and these kind of things. I think judging and expectations, Um uh, crazy. It's a crazy thing.
I went down that expectation rabbit hole with a friend of mine. She has been world schooling her kids for a while, unschooling as well, and now they're in normal state school and still we're talking every time we see each other about expectations, because all these expectations we hold this is really fucking us up. At least, this is true for my part, because I have expectations for myself I don't even know or I didn't even know about and to get rid of that is like this peeling and judgment and all of these things. I think it's connected and I had so many expectations for my kid as well, although I was quite liberated and we spent some time in the jungle to have like a clean slate and to make it easier to just pursue whatever we feel like doing.
And still this judgment thing is crazy, uh, implemented in my life and, uh, I met many other unschooling families or parents that do have the same problem with judgment, where not only judgment by themselves for themselves and what they are doing, but also from outside, like judging this lifestyle and makes it even harder for them to stay true to what they want to do, and it, uh, it's like kind of a red race with yourself, with your thoughts, and you have to be very aware and cautious about what you think, you feel, how we act, what kind of people you let into your life as well.
I think it's a whole combination of uh, like it's hmm, yeah, maybe a clean life style, let's say like that. Obviously it's not the perfect wording for this, but more or less this is how it feels for me like making it as clean as possible. Um, yeah, I think it's a crazy journey to go down that rabbit hole of judgment. Maybe you can tell me more about how you deal with judgment from outside and maybe judgment that you have towards your own family, your own self.
0:37:19 - Cecilie Conrad
You give a fuck. I'm beyond that. They can think whatever they want. Yeah.
0:37:34 - Alexandra Kons
That's beautiful Maybe.
0:37:36 - Cecilie Conrad
I would really like it A really close friend who really used to get it and who suddenly turned on me. But that would be more like the treason within the relation than the actual judgment. I do not give a fuck anymore. No, people think I really don't, and I don't spend a lot of time peeling off layers and judging myself so much as I do and I'll send it to you now the thing that my husband very often say that it's more about finding out what is truly valuable for you and what is you can be really passionate about, what will really get you excited and your day will be all sparkling. And then always go do that and leave whatever is not you behind. It doesn't have to be hard work. To me it's more like I flip it. I'm like, okay, what will make my heart beat, what will make me happy, what is important? I go for that and then I can leave behind all the other stuff in the side of the room, true.
0:38:42 - Jesper Conrad
I call this the hell yeah, lifestyle. Yeah, because if it's not a hell.
0:38:47 - Alexandra Kons
Yeah, you just leave it out.
0:38:49 - Jesper Conrad
Yeah, there is a fun thing we saw in our life a change in the external people we met's reaction to our lifestyle. It changed when we went from living in a normal neighborhood in Copenhagen to where we were unschooling one person at home, one at work, to when we started full-time traveling, so where people thought that the reaction could be so your home schooling? No, I haven't heard about that. And that's, how is that going on? What about the social life? All those?
0:39:27 - Cecilie Conrad
do they have any friends? Do they have any friends?
0:39:30 - Jesper Conrad
All the judgmental questions they changed to a fascination. I was like, oh, you travel full-time. I always dreamt about that. That must be so wonderful for the kids. They can learn everything and the only thing changing is that we don't have a house.
0:39:46 - Cecilie Conrad
We don't have a house. We're basically homeless.
0:39:49 - Jesper Conrad
Yeah, that helped.
0:39:50 - Cecilie Conrad
That helped in people's understanding because yeah, but I think also, what happened at the same time in our life was that we were very far down the road we got very clear on what we wanted to do and not do and we started not really giving a fuck. Yeah, we was like okay, if you don't like it, don't like it, no, no.
0:40:15 - Jesper Conrad
And if we look at our friends, there are some long-term friends or it's people in these realms we are in talking about now, some kind of world schooling, unschooling. And then we have friends that are transformational leaders working with themselves, or sometimes the development, like Chris and Janet, and it's because what I see with the people we meet is the constant loss to figure out who you are as a person, getting more clear on where you are, what your values are, and that is the change that Cecilia mentioned that happened in us. I worked on a project called the Passion Test back then with a woman called Janet Edward, and she helped me get clear on my passions, what was important for me in life. And then Cecilia and I changed it, went ahead and worked a lot of looking at our values as a family, and on top is freedom.
0:41:14 - Cecilie Conrad
No, first is love.
0:41:16 - Jesper Conrad
Yeah, first is love, but on top among the top five is the personal freedom. And now, if we ever end out with just look at ourself and ask yourself but how does it fit into our values, what we believe in? And then things become pretty easy. And it's also I mean, we don't meet people who if I ever meet someone who is kind of judgmental about homeschooling, who actually wants to talk about it and not just say their name, but then they are starting a dialogue where they meet someone who have been thinking about this stuff for more than 10 years and they've been wondering about it for half an hour.
0:42:03 - Cecilie Conrad
It's not a fair dialogue. Most of the time these days I get up and leave. I don't really I don't even want to engage with it because, basically, if someone is coming at us trying to discuss the lifestyle from a judgmental point of view, that we're in the wrong, they do it because seeing us is provocative. It inserts the idea that you can do something else. And if you've done something specific for a very long time, overcoming fears and discomfort, and you've been forcing your children and you've been working too hard and you've let go of important relations or passions or dreams in order to do what you genuinely think is right, obviously, and then along comes this butterfly flying, changing the perspective, and suddenly you get the idea that you could have done something else.
And I think the judgmental, somewhat aggressive conversation is a defense just to protect your own in a life from crashing, which I respect, and I think it's just a better idea. I just say I'll just go get a cup of coffee and then I'll never come back. It's kind of the same thing when people say that's amazing, I always dreamt of that, but obviously it's impossible for my family. And I'm like, yeah, you're probably right. I mean, if that's the mindset, it is impossible, true so, and I'm not going. In the beginning, we would go into these conversations, but now I'm like it's waste of my time, it's waste of your time. No one's gaining from this.
0:43:46 - Jesper Conrad
So why don't we just have?
0:43:47 - Cecilie Conrad
that coffee or talk about something else. That person could have read a book I've never heard about, or whatever. Yeah.
0:43:55 - Jesper Conrad
Yeah, so we don't mess with it, yeah that's a nice approach. But yeah, and I will let you ask a question in a second.
0:44:06 - Cecilie Conrad
Well, we are starting now we get to talk yeah.
0:44:11 - Jesper Conrad
No, that's one of the subjects Cecilia and I have been talking a lot about, which is taking responsibility, and I also sometimes see it when I talk with some of our friends who are more down the conspiracy line than I am. I'm like, but you are externalizing the problems, trying to find someone who is responsible for where you are in life and however your life is at this point. Take the responsibility home. Take the responsibility home for your child's life, but also for yourself. Stop blaming society or the government or whatever it is you making your choices.
0:44:56 - Cecilie Conrad
There's a very fine line, I think. One thing is to understand why we are where we are and what processes in our personal timeline, in our cultural timeline and in our societal context that is affecting us here now. To be where we are and who we are, obviously that's a very good thing to understand. But to blame our misfortune or our failure on these structures, that's just a waste of time and that's throwing away a responsibility that you can take home, because obviously there are lots of things affecting us and we all have limitations and obstacles. But if we decide to focus on what we can change and where we can act and decide on what is important, which is very hard work I think lots of people never do it and I don't exactly enjoy doing it myself.
I think these are the five things, which means the 25,000 other very interesting things. I have to let go of them, because these are the five things and I'll do those five things. They are important to me and I'll do what I can for that. Then it doesn't matter if my mother died five years ago, when I miss her, you know I can't blame anything on that. I'll just have to work with what I've got. True, so true, so we shouldn't be blind. That's why you can't look at it. No, no, no, no, no, no.
0:46:25 - Jesper Conrad
But when you open your eyes and see, okay, I'm here in my life right now and these are the things that led to it, then it's now you take responsibility and change it. But it is hard work and I actually sometimes, when I'm getting into feeling the turmoil, then I sometimes say out loud to Cecilia oh, I just want to go back to a full-time day job where I don't have any responsibility for choice, taking a choice in my life.
Just get up in the morning Get up and I just go and so you can go to the office, yeah, and when I come home, I've been a good boy. I mean I can be proud.
0:47:03 - Cecilie Conrad
You brought back some money for it.
0:47:04 - Jesper Conrad
Now I need to take a stand on evaluating my life. Almost every day have I lived a good day? And it's hard to take responsibility also.
0:47:15 - Cecilie Conrad
0:47:16 - Alexandra Kons
It is. I pretty much know that feeling because almost every night I sit down with myself and have a short talk with myself about okay, what did I do good, what went wrong Very wrong is maybe the wrong word but what could I have done better? Or how do I want to live and what kind of lifestyle do I want to approach? And where does that differ from how I acted today or react at most of the time? And I realized that for a lot of people, their work is done for the day when they finish work, and for me, the work begins when the day is over, because reconsidering or reevaluating your own actions and I think it has a lot to do with what you're thinking actually is hard work and it's super interesting, but it is hard work.
And I don't blame people for not doing it, because not everyone is built for it, maybe, and not everyone has the capacity to do it. Or I think it takes a lot of courage to look at yourself and to take that responsibility home, as you said, and I think that is what I try to teach my kid as well, and I think your kids maybe do, because they are led by example. They have this inner conversation with themselves, maybe as well, because they see it in my kid. He's not like, oh my God, I did something wrong. Not that, obviously not, but it's more or less like okay, how am I thinking about things that feel not okay In my life because it's not fitting in what I want to pursue?
And he has so great results I mean way better than me, definitely because he's younger, he is way more efficient in these kind of things and he's like he's having his own conversation about his own life, I guess, and I think that's quite beautiful and this kind of responsibility. Of course he has it every day for himself or his learnings, for whatever he's doing, how he's filling his time, and I see that it's so beautiful because I meet people who are way older than me, who never learned it and who never had the chance, maybe to really see the beautiful part of taking on that responsibility. Maybe it's even part of being in this propaganda machine and doctoration machine for so long that you just shut down and you're not doing it because it was beaten out of you, maybe, but I think it's part of getting or maybe creating a more human lifestyle. Even I don't know if I'm taking this too far, but I see that as so important.
0:50:10 - Cecilie Conrad
I'm just thinking Sorry, I didn't want to interrupt you. The children are part of, and so are the adults, because they are just older children. They're part of a system where they get used to other people telling them what to do and also judging it. So you expect someone else to tell you whether you did good or not and learning to decide for yourself whether what you do is what you want to do and whether it makes you feel good or not and whether it makes other people around you feel good or not. And what is more important, that's just a muscle that is, for many people, never trained. And again I want to say we should approach this with love and respect and just be kind in the relation with people who are not used to having this power over their own life.
We don't do structured self-evaluation in the evening in our family, by no means at all, ever, because we go to bed two hours after we are exhausted and we fall asleep immediately. That's how it works in our family. What we do that could be parallel to what you're doing is whenever we change scenery, which we do quite often I would love to be able to say a number maybe 20 times a year we move from one situation to another, plus the road trips where we move almost daily. We sit in the van and we talk. We talk about what happened, we talk about the people we met, we talk about the culture we met. We talk about the decisions we made. We talk about the things we did and the things we didn't do, how we will approach the next thing. As we're moving from one setting to another, we always except for road trips we know where we're going.
We know next stop is living with this family or going to visit this capital area or mountain or whatever we discuss. What's the importance of that? Why are we doing it? Who wants what? Will everyone feel they have their needs met by this project that we are doing? Next? Is there anything we should do on the way we talk about that, the car is driving for many hours. It's not structured. We don't do structure a lot. We brush our teeth twice a day. That's kind of it. We do keep track of our money. That's the other structure. For the rest of it it's not structured. It just happens because we all have this need. We also like hiking and we go for long walks.
That's another time where we tend to have long conversations but, that's more like one on one, because you don't walk like five, six people in one room. We do that in a much softer way.
0:53:18 - Jesper Conrad
We had a podcast interview on our podcast. For the people listening it's called Self-Directed Go check it out. We had a talk with a woman called Darcy Navès, who is very interesting. I'm still walking around thinking about the stuff. She worked on a project called Evolvnes. It's about another saying it takes a village.
She pulled down 12 or many, many points of what does it take to give a good childhood and how can you live. One of the things that really blew my mind is that I've been thinking about why are we living one family next to each other? We don't know each other. We live inside these small bubbles, trying to parent alone or single, instead of going towards the hey man, I just need to move out into a community or live in an eco village, because that is not for us. What I'm looking at is but then how can I find my Evolvnes or my Evolv family?
For us it's for example, we've just lived for a week together with family in a vacation house. Here we are moving. When we drive from where we are in Sweden, we drive to my wife's sister and stay some days with them. Then we stay some days with other friends. We try to say more actively. I'm starting to say, can we co-live with other people for a period, to get involved, to get a mirror to who we are as a person, how we parent, but also to just have more hands.
0:54:59 - Cecilie Conrad
It is a really wonderful freedom and other hands and other hands and other vibes. I think that we don't need hands. Our kids are not small anymore. I mean 10 years ago it was hard work, but now they are.
0:55:12 - Jesper Conrad
But, for example, you as a single mom. I'm like man. It's a hard job being a parent and then being a single parent. It is just almost too much. Unique someone to reflect together with, and all that, and I know so. Cecilia was a single mom when I met her and it is both a gift, but it's also a lot of, lot of work that I think we can be more active in. Instead of going looking for an eco-villager, intentional community can say where can I get part of that? Because for my, I still love living, just our family. I love the small bubble.
0:55:54 - Cecilie Conrad
We all love it, but it happens rarely. But when we are just the five of us, we really do enjoy it.
0:56:00 - Jesper Conrad
We love our bubble, but again, you know, how can we draw stuff into our bubble, how can we get this evolve? Next kind of thing, and I think that is worth to think about. True, that's a nice thing.
0:56:19 - Alexandra Kons
Definitely. Yeah, I really felt that because I've been traveling with my kid for quite some time to just get rid of this German necessity to go to school and I didn't know where to go. So I was like, okay, let's see the world. We love traveling and on the way I've met so many nice people and this kind of self-reflecting opportunities that were eye-opening, and I love that. This vibes, especially when it's like a nice family, a nice person, like a nice human being and a nice surrounding the vibes that come back. I learned so much about life, about myself, about my family, about everything. I never regretted going like on a world trip, although I was so broke I don't know how I did it, but it was so healing.
And I think if more families had back that feeling of loving vibrations, without feeling the need to shield yourself, to guard yourself of any kind of judgment or anything like that, this open-minded conversation or approach or contact with other families or other people I think it is a necessity.
We need to have to evolve and what I do most of the time is evolving with myself and having these conversations with myself, and then when I step out of my bubble and I try to just spend time with people who are really giving me back no negative vibes or anything like that, but positive vibes only.
Of course, feedback is something we all need, but in a certain kind of way, of course, and I think I neglected that part for a couple of years in my life and I couldn't have done it differently that time, and I'm quite happy I've been on my own and to need to have a look at myself. And then now, in the contact with other families, it's so lovely to see that I can give so much of my energy to them, of my thoughts and of my point of views and the same for them, just mirroring back. And it's such a nice exchange that I was thinking basically, yeah, we need that. Like really we as human beings need that, and our kids as well. And what I saw, like your journey you are traveling a lot and you're in contact with so many different people. I think it's a great value for your kids and yourself, of course as well, to be in contact and exchange with other people, and not only the two people who are living side on side with you and some kind of boring street somewhere in some city.
0:59:06 - Jesper Conrad
One of the things when I look at our life before and now is back when I went to work. The lack of time is. What I can see now is a big change in my personal life. Now I have time, I have time to go deep into stuff I find interesting. I actually have time to visit people on a Tuesday evening and even sleep over, as we have a van and can just park outside. We have time to invest time in other people, and I actually loved our life a lot back when we lived in Denmark as well, but there was so little time to invest in other people than just ourselves, so it became very, not lonely, but it became a very strong small bubble we lived in what, what Me for me?
1:00:08 - Cecilie Conrad
then sometimes I went to work, I came home, and then the house was full of people and you would complain about it because you were tired. Yeah, yeah, yeah.
1:00:17 - Jesper Conrad
So yeah, then mental time, that's the best word for it.
1:00:21 - Cecilie Conrad
So I think maybe what you're talking about is that one of the freedom fights we've done for our life is to free up our hours. So we did not make a structure where we dedicate a certain amount of hours a week to things, to recurring things that we couldn't get out of. And obviously, when we sold the house, that helped a lot because it changed our base economy, and then we could get to this point where we can decide how do we want to fill our hours, and if we want to spend time with people, we can decide to do that, and if we want to spend time just the five of us, we can decide to do that. If we want to go all in on surfing, we can say, okay, let's go somewhere surf friendly and stay there for two months and learn that. So I think that's the mental time that you're talking about. We didn't live like that.
1:01:18 - Jesper Conrad
That's not true, no, no, no, but it's the mental time on trauma. I didn't have the bandwidth.
1:01:22 - Cecilie Conrad
You didn't have any, I didn't have the bandwidth to but you didn't have any time that you decided over because you went to work in the.
You went. You got up in the morning, you had to do stuff you have to do before you go. Then you went and you came back and then the rest of the day until very late was our house full of people, and then those people went home. It was still our house full of all of our children and they, as they were not schooled, we went to bed very late and sometimes after him, and you didn't have a moment where you could stop to think. What do I want to do?
1:01:56 - Jesper Conrad
That's right. It's a better way of putting it, that's how it was. Yeah, it's a better way of putting it, but I think that's the freedom I sometimes lack when we meet normal people because they need to go to work. They have made a schedule for themselves where they need to do different stuff after work at certain time, and I really enjoy that part of our life.
1:02:22 - Cecilie Conrad
1:02:23 - Jesper Conrad
The freedom, the mental bandwidth that we are able to move in together with people and just hang out with them, get to know them.
1:02:36 - Cecilie Conrad
Yeah, nice, nice.
1:02:38 - Alexandra Kons
Nice. Thank you so much. We are almost at the end of this episode and I need to say I learned a lot from you guys. It was a very nice talk. Thank you so, so much.
1:02:50 - Cecilie Conrad
It was nice to get to talk for once instead of asking the questions.
WE HOPE YOU ENJOYED THIS EPISODE
Have you heard the latest podcast episodes?
🎙️New episode out every Thursday 🎙️
#35 Jen Keefe | Unschooling and Mental Health: A Parent's Perspective
Da Ladies #3 - Navigating Social Challenges in the Unschooling Journey
#34 Erika Davis-Pitre | Homeschooling as an Answer to Race-Based Educational Inequalities
Where are we now?
Want to stay up to date with our travels and podcast? Then sign up for our weekly newsletter