Can Moms of Small Children Still Follow Their Dreams?

Can moms of small children still follow their dreams?

I often hear from fellow mothers of small children that they are overwhelmed and stressed out. I nod my head in agreement, I feel ya. We are doing a lot, every day, and without much time to ourselves. Many days, we are lucky to be able to pee alone. So, it would be outrageous to suggest that we can follow our dreams, right? Right? Wrong!

We do not have to put our passions on the back-burner. We do not have to sacrifice our time with our small children either. Finding that balance is key, and it IS possible!

I am 29 years old, and I have been slowly taking college classes for a decade. I didn’t begin college in earnest until two years ago, but it has been a long journey. I have four children, ages 6 years old thru 10 months. I also choose to homeschool them, so I do not have a break during school hours. I am following my dreams of becoming a nurse, midwife, and doula professional.

If I were younger and childless, I would have gone to college full time years ago. I would have been done much faster. Instead, I have taken only two classes each semester and I took one semester off because of the birth of my fourth child. I could have gone back to school, but I wanted to spend time with him and help our family adjust to the newest member. I will enter nursing school in exactly 17 months. I’ll take night classes, so I can homeschool during the day. My husband will work during the day and watch the kids at night.

Will it be easy? No. Will I ever sleep? Unlikely. Are my dreams worth it? Abso-freaking-lutely!

I have had to evaluate for myself, what is most important to me? For me, being home often with my children and homeschooling is not negotiable. It is extremely important to me. In the past, I focused solely on being a stay at home mom, and my career and passions took a backseat. Now, I am learning how to navigate both. It is important to me that I further my education, pursue my passions for women’s health and birth, and have my own career and business. It matters to me as a woman to do all those things.

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I have learned to have my heart at home and follow my heart for my own dreams. It can be done. I also have another dream; that mothers would come together in encouragement and support for one another. It truly does take a village.

Yes, we are exhausted. Yes, it is at times daunting and difficult. But yes, we can follow our dreams while nurturing our small children. I look forward to the incredible things we will do for the world, through work and through raising our children.

What is your dream?

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Our first month homeschooling kindergarten!

Soooo…our first homeschool year has begun this month. My oldest child is 5 years old, so she is officially a kindergartner. I also have my nearly 4-year-old daughter doing preschool and a 2-year-old. All of this while 9 months pregnant! I am less than 2 weeks from my “due date” and I have been experiencing a lot of prodromal labor (i.e very slow going early labor). Yet, here we are starting our “official” schooling journey.

This has been a learning experience for me too. I have not been as organized as I imagined I would be. We are basically unschooling, along with a general schedule and a list of the subjects we will cover each week. That said, I am really pleasantly surprised by how much my children have been learning in this more casual style of school. The girls are all very young yet, so I consider imaginative play and a lot of outdoor exploration to be just as important as workbooks and more traditional schoolwork.

Both my 5 year old and my preschooler have been doing math randomly, every day, without any prompting on my part. They will frequently take objects from the kitchen table, or toys from their bins, and then proudly explain to me how many they have left when some are taken away and how many more they have when some are added. I went over more traditional math lessons with them a few times, covering basic subtraction and addition, but now they are taking those lessons and using them during the day by themselves!

Another example is learning shapes. This is more of a review for my kindergartner, but I also added 3D shapes for her such as a cylinder and cube. We did some fun coloring workbook pages with shapes, read a book about shapes, and then we did some slightly complex puzzles with shapes. They had to find shapes that would fit into a pattern on a card they were given, for example they may have a butterfly shape and then need to find which shapes are needed to complete the picture. After we did this, they both come up to me constantly excited to show me a shape they found (my kindergartner told me the farmhouse had a cylinder, my preschooler told me the refrigerator was a rectangle, etc).

They are truly taking in whatever lessons we have and applying it during everyday life.
We take weekly trips to the library and bring back a haul of books. Reading is a big part of what we do, and that has always been the case. I started reading to my oldest when was 6 months old! I showed her baby picture books, and she has always loved reading. My middle child is extremely energy, so it took longer for her to be able to sit through books. I am happy to say that she is usually very good about sitting for reading now, especially when she can pick books out at the library herself that interest her.

We are also going over Spanish, which has been the hardest for me to teach. My husband is bilingual; his parents are from Colombia. He didn’t speak Spanish to them enough, and he was gone for some long periods due to illness. I am sad that they aren’t learning as native speakers, but they are all still so young that it is very possible for them to become fluent if we work on it now. I am teaching it to them through books, and making their own books with words and pictures. We are also using song and memory cards. When this baby is born my husband has promised to speak exclusively in Spanish to the baby, I think this will help our other children as well because they will hear the words on a daily basis in regular language. My mother in law will be coming to stay with us shortly after the baby is born, so she can also help with Spanish while she is here.

Our local homeschooling group (a loosely joined together county wide group) as been wonderful. Some of the mothers really do a lot to put together great activities for the children, such as a nature walk and nature craft that we just love! Even better, the state park this occurs at is only 10 minutes away! We just started this back up because the classes ended over the summer, due to the oppressive heat. They girls made beautiful nature looms, and my younger two children had a blast playing with moss. They also get the chance to run and play outside with other children, getting exercise and making friends.

In addition to this, all three girls are in dance class (yes even my 2 year old!). They love dance! We also took a trip to the museum of natural history last month, and we plan on taking big field trips at least every 3 months. This keeps things new and creative, while learning in new environments. I already have tickets for my oldest two children and I to attend our first children’s targeted ballet (Beauty and the Beast). The library often has activities they can do for free, and we have a YMCA membership which will be super important during the cold months when outside physical activity is more limited (although we WILL be in the snow).

So, this is just the beginning of our homeschooling adventure. It is not easy to be home all week with all the children, but I could never see myself sending them away for school 5 days a week for the majority of the day. It would be so different. We are forming strong bonds as a family, and I want the ability to keep our lives flexible and adapt to each of their needs. There is so much positive in this, it is worth the hard work! (Even 9 months pregnant)

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Peace and blessings to you all.

Flying Handmade Kites- Homeschooling

One of the best decisions I have made after deciding to homeschool our children was to join a local Facebook homeschooling group. We have already had so much fun doing outdoor activities with other families, and really look forward to more cooperative learning. Last week the husband and I took the girls to a near by state park and created kites with other homeschoolers.

First the children played inside, chasing each other and playing hide and seek. Then, we gathered them onto mini carpets in front of our guide while she read aloud to them two books about the wind.20160624_11063220160624_121943

Next, we learned how to determine how strong the wind is (gentle breeze was ours for the day) by watching the leaves of the trees and the clouds. This park is one of the highest points of NJ and the building we were in has large windows to see far across the sky. Our guide told us that she often sees storms coming in before they reach the area.

After this, we all came together and cut, taped, colored, and tied our handmade kites. My oldest daughter and another little girl her age took coloring their kites very seriously!

Then, the main event; kite flying!

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It was such a joy to see my girls flying their own kites. They would run and when it lifted up into the air they were just jubilant! I took turns with my husband helping our littlest one (2 years old) fly her kite, and that was also really sweet.

I have to say, when you decide to homeschool it can feel like a very scary task. How can I manage it? Will I be good enough for my children? Luckily, we are spending this summer getting our feet wet and it feels like a perfect fit for family. My husband recently said, “we aren’t trying to homeschool, we ARE homeschooling already!” And he is absolutely right.

Yes, we haven’t started full courses of phonics and math yet; but we are reading tons of library books and playing phonics games. And you know what? Making and flying a kite is learning too. They are always learning! We have always been their teachers, and this will only be a continuation of what has already been true.

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I look forward to many homeschool adventures to come!

Shalom friends!

Homeschooling Nature Walk&Crafts

Today the girls and I (and hubby) went for a walk at a local state park with some other homeschooling families. Our oldest is 5, so we are new to officially homeschooling but I sure like what I see so far!

We decided to homeschool for a lot of reasons, but one of them was the desire to spend more time with our children and give them a flexible personalized education.  I loved watching them run and play outside with other children. I love that they are with children of a range of ages, giving them the ability to play well with children a little older or younger (as well as have conversations with adults). They were able to use their bodies and senses to learn and exercise but all of it was fun for them, so it doesn’t feel like a chore.

The mother who started the event had two creative ideas for the nature walk crafts. The children (and some big kids/adults hehe) made nature bracelets. We wrapped duct tape sticky side up around their wrists and the children added flowers and clovers and leaves to them as they walked the trails. Then, after our hike we came to a picnic area and created big nature collages with the ferns, flowers, leaves, moss, etc that was collected along the way.

I am looking forward to what homeschooling has to offer us as a family, and what kind of relationships my husband and I and our children will develop along the way. Bring it on!

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