We are one week in, and I’m already losing it. The oldest came out with “I’m bored” on Day 2, and the youngest… well, he feeds off everyone around him. I’m already rationalizing with myself that this is why I went back to work; but when that work is school-based, we end up having the same time off. And I do not have the personal energy or temperament to constantly be entertaining and stimulating my children with novelty. My passion project (also known as the unpaid side-hustle) is based in child-led play and its importance, so I spend a lot of time feeling like a hypocrite. And my youngest, he takes to independent, self-directed play so easily, which is something I took for granted going into parenthood. My oldest, however, is a much needier. He needs more complex contraptions to manipulate, role-based play holds little to no interest for him (unless he gets to be a teacher), and he doesn’t like to play alone, but doesn’t like to play with his younger brother because the 4-year-old is completely on track, while the 6-year-old is pretty far ahead,. He misses school, and thrives on structure and rules. Its like living with a little old man.
Ultimately, it is up to me as the parent to meet their needs. So I put together these little workbook binders that we spend about an hour a day, a few days a week working on. My youngest needs to work on letter recognition and holding his pencil properly, while the oldest needs math challenges and reading maintenance. In my work, emotional awareness is something we work with kids to develop, and it is never too early to start! I made some two-sided worksheets for the boys to fill out each day, and bought some big workbooks by grade at our local drug store for $10 each. I always go up to the grade they are entering, because I want them to learn new things, not rehash old material (and get bored). If you are interested in our work pages, feel free to download them: DailyCheckIn.
While my husband and I aren’t bringing our boys up in a particular religion or belief right now, I do work to instill the core values of my practice within them, so that when we do present them with the spiritual framework, that foundation is already set. Enjoyment, respect, and stewardship of nature is one of those values, and we try to spend a good amount of time out in nature that isn’t our backyard or at activities learning about the natural world. Recently, we visited a planetarium show at our local nature center, and ended up hiking around for a couple hours after. I feel like a lot of times we, or at least I, get so caught up in mimicking the structure of Christian training and trying to adapt all of that into my practice, that I lose sight of imminence that is my beliefs. Our Gods and spirits aren’t removed from us, whether by time or space, but they are right there around us, especially the spirits of place. For our kids to experience them, they just need to go out and seek, with respect and a desire to learn. Coming from that perspective, Pagan parenting becomes a natural and smooth process.
I am someone that needs structure, but struggles with imposing and maintaining it for myself. But this is something that my, and to an extent all, children need, so it is a skill I’m working to develop.