Parenting, yurt life

The Endorphin Experiment (Week 2) – My Body is A Wonderland

30 June, 2016

Harrhahahaha. John Mayer, aye? I’m pretty sure he wasn’t singing that song to someone in order to celebrate their radical self love, but hey!

It’s the theme of this week’s Endorphin Experiment.

My body is AWESOME. Every single cell is capable of producing endorphins. My body is not in battle with my heart/soul/mind. I think I’ve spent so much of my life carrying around this subtle belief in the sinfulness of flesh and pleasure. Over the last few years I guess I have been exploring this idea that if my body is so capable of dishing up delights like babies and endorphins and laughter and orgasms and sneezes, perhaps it is not a bad, rascal of a thing? Perhaps my body is absolutely awesome.


The older I get the more at home in my body I become. The more I am able to see the beauty in all its visceral twinges and desires and rustlings. My body produces feelgood chemicals. That is a window on God, right there.

There is a bit in The Endorphin Effect (William Bloom) where he speaks about being in a room full of meditative gurus. They are all up to their necks in Eastern spirituality and meditation and mindfulness, and he had just finished leading them in an intense session full of almost ecstatic body-mind connection. He asks them where they most feel that same sense of flow or bliss in their everyday lives. He was fully expecting them to say “in my daily yoga practice” and other intense spiritual practices, but instead they listed things like “stroking my cat” “riding my bike” “gardening”… It shocked him. And ended up being the thing that led him on a journey towards the biochemical experience of endorphins.

His work in life now is to help people access that experience of endorphins whenever they need it, not when they happen to be relaxed enough to feel it.

I feel like we can be so detached from these visceral pleasures. We are ashamed of them perhaps.But if we can tune into them, obey our senses, there is something really powerful there…. it reminded me of the start of Wild Geese by Mary Oliver.

“You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.”

Focusing our lives on being good does sometimes lead to more goodness in the world (Exhibit A – my Mama), and then sometimes it leads to piousness and burntoutness… I wonder if Mary Oliver and William Bloom are getting at the same thing – inner well being is a better key for unlocking the health and happiness of the world. (Or maybe I am putting a very bland interpretation on it, because of my need to put everything into my “we can build a fairer, kinder world!” narrative!!)

Bloom says “Real pleasure and happiness possess a relaxed flow that is generous to life and the surrounding community.”
Endorphin Experiment

We all have the endorphin maker! We are like giant Soda Stream Machines, fully able to inject that fizz at the touch of a button.

But the reason it comes upon us so stealthily and leaves so abruptly, (you know; you walk up a mountain at dawn and it’s like WHAM ENDORPHIN CENTRAL and then that feeling slips away and we are left with just a bleary eyed selfie of a foggy morning) and why it isn’t a common part of every day life (hands up who has experience bliss in the last 48 hours?) is because we carry around so much tension in our bodies that, biochemically, the endorphins get stuck. They can’t proceed on their buzz-giving sojourn. The physical pleasure of gardening or stroking the cat relaxes the body enough that the endorphins can be sent out. But we need to get rid of the body’s constant tension in order to let them really flow.

This week I am attempting to, whenever I gather that I am holding myself tensely, to just breath, to let my body relax in to itself. I have found myself constantly, body-rigidly returning to the state of the world… I wrote myself a Mindful post-Brexit Strategy to help with that. And it has really helped.

Week Two’s Exercise
I wrote lists last week of things I love, things that naturally release endorphins within me. Over the last week I have been shoehorning them into my life.

One of them was “dancing” – especially having a rinse out to some heavy, ear popping, bassy beats.

My dancing is kinda like… if you can imagine Napolean Dynamite, with both a little bit more emphasis on “interpretive dance” and also a great, unfounded, belief in my ability to “pop”…

So in no way does the release of endorphins have to do with skill level.

In order to go out dancing I had my first night away from the children, while Tim took them up to visit family. They had a great time, and we all know I did. But the whole day I was carrying this quiet, deep down sense of “this isn’t what good mothers do”… I felt kinda selfish, even though I had comprehensively justified the importance of this in my mind. Perhaps that is wholly natural for the first night away from your kids ever.

I had a great time, but I’ve been figuring out how I can get more of my List into my life WITH children. The list of things I want to do more of, things that flood my body with endorphins – sing, skate, dance.

They are all so bodily.

I feel like I’m just realising now how much a puritanical spirituality has made me reject these urges over the years.

I keep seeing skate parks and think this is totally something me and the girls could do together. I must order new bearings for my board. DONE. Just did it! See how this experiment is just SO WORKING. The Endorphin Experiment
I have been on a skateboard once in the last ten years…. WISH ME LUCK

Although… the “letting the feelgoods flood my system” when feeling stressed isn’t getting easier with practice… if anything it is losing its novel effect and I am carrying on without trying to get any better at the whole kinsthetic experience of endorphins. (This was Week 1’s endorphin exercise)

My mind is just a busy, busy, busy bee. I close my eyes to think about that peaceful, uninhibited memory on the mountain and WHOOOOSH I get “Must change the milk in the kefir/when is Brook’s birthday/must google how hard it is to own a horse/it’s so cute how Juno still says Yipstick instead of Lipstick I should write that down/why are my toes numb/is it bad that the girls never really eat breakfast?”

Really need to get better at that. Really hoping this experiment will help me with it.

So yep, there is week two. Some of you mentioned you might be getting on this endorphin boosting life too – tell me, how are you finding it?


A mindful post-Brexit strategy

27 June, 2016

What a few days. I have often felt tearful after an election. I feel like I am always backing the losers. I should be used to this stomach churning powerlessness. But it’s never been this intense. There has always been the distant hope of another chance, in four years time. There’s always been a story of a climate change fighting underdog winning an electorate, to balance out the UKIP success.

I’ve never seen such a blanket of despair settle over my friends. I had to sign out of Facebook as the collective raging misery was not a comfort but a sinkhole.

People are joking about moving out here but the political situation in NZ is also bereft. (NZ is becoming scarily, increasingly right wing, media is 100% owned, there is a gaping lack of coherent criticism of government, and progressives are opting out of the system.) 

How to navigate the post-Brexit world mindfully? What are the important things people who care can do now?


Look after yourself friends; you are precious. You are precious to the world, to your family, and your friends. You are valued and needed and you need to make a space to be kind to yourself. Your emotions have taken a battering. You feel betrayed and disconnected, you feel angry and sad.

Right now, this moment, you need to check yourself into your own well-being spa. People who believe in, and are working towards, a fair, just, kind world need to keep their brave hearts strong and whole. 

  • Spend time with friends. Laugh, dance, try and do harmonies to Green Day. Whatever it is you do together.
  • Write a letter to yourself, validating all the feelings you have. Tell yourself it is okay to feel this sad. Tell yourself it isn’t absurd to feel all this.
  • Drink and eat well. A lack of water actually makes you more meloncholic. Keep hydrated and eat comforting food full of goodness.
  • Rest. Don’t stay up all night reading social media and getting angry, that is not for you.
  • Write a list of the things you love to do and make a plan to do more of them. (I have just begun an unapoligetecally indulgent Endorphin Experiment as the world really needs happier people.)
  • Watch all the Carpool Karaokes you can find. Endorphins etc. James Corden is good for your self care.


The key here is to spend some time thinking about what we can influence and doing it, and thinking about what we can’t influence and accepting it. It sounds awful, to simply accept something so abysmal but it is possible. It is the way it is now. It has happened. You can’t actually change the results. When you feel the fact of that rushing up on you, try and still your mind. Don’t deny that rush of depressed  energy in your heart, just take a moment with it. I have been trying to say “There is only now” as a bit of a mantra to get me back into the now, rather than letting anguish take over.

Accepting the new now leads you on to something really important, as Eckhart Tolle says;

“With the simple act of surrender to the inevitability of the present moment, another energy comes.” 

(Eckhart Tolle is a really, REALLY good one to read, about accepting pain. If you can come to terms with the slightly strange language. I review his book The Power of Now here.)

The “other energy” that comes after acceptance could be all sorts of things. It might look like a perspective change, a tiny, quiet hopefulness, a sense of action, a decision to take a political role, it might be inspiration about how you can use your unique talent to alleviate poverty in your community.

Empathy for Leavers

Not all Leavers are right wing dicks. Some are. But lots are poor. Some wanted change. All were lied to. Some did it because they saw a new financial opportunity for the things they care about – social infrastructure, the NHS. Like I say, all were lied to.

Many were feeling disempowered and marginalised, and now they are discovering they still are. The only thing that could possibly change that at all is empathetic listening, or at the very least trying to see the best intentions of Leavers. Non Violent Communication has a lot to offer here; Leavers would have voted out of a desire to have their basic needs met. It is the ultimate human motivation and almost every action of ours eventually comes back to it. Can you still be angry with someone who voted because they wanted a secure roof over their head for their family?

(Forgive me, Non Violent Communication World, but I still feel perfectly okay about people directing anger towards Bojo.)

(These Ten Gentle Nudges from Craftivist Collective might help you keep your activism kind and empathetic!)

Neighbour Love

Something good can come out of this. We can steel ourselves more than ever for love. Those tiny little everyday things are so, so, so radical. Our weapons in the face of hate peddlers are smiling on the street at strangers, helping families up the stairs at the station with buggies and luggage, taking the bin out for our elderly neighbour, having an actual conversation at the til when we buy our paper from the corner shop, making friends with people who are not like us, inviting people new in the area over for tea, giving someone a seat at the bus stop, giving cans to the food bank. These are not pathetic, lowly actions. They are the antidote to the racist graffiti and anonymous shouted slurs and odious, divisive politics.

Hope Not Hate

Shivers, Hope Not Hate’s Campaign “Still Believe in Each Other” is a bit of a beacon right now.

Nick of Hope Not Hate says “One thing is sure. We cannot allow the toxic Referendum debate to spill over into local communities. Speaking to those from eastern and central Europe, and indeed other immigrants, over recent days it is clear that many are worried. They are uncertain about their future and concerned about a racist backlash”

Join Still Believe here.A post-Brexit strategy 

(Thanks to the Craftivist- Collective for the creative responses to our political dystopia.)

I keep selling up thinking about Jo Cox and this post-Brexit world. What would she want? She would want us believing we have more in common than ever before.

Raising a Hopeful, Justice Loving Generation

This is a long game. I’m not offering party political advice. But I do believe in everyday politics and I do believe that raising children respectfully and kindly is a political decision. The long game is about raising generations of children who will be inclusive, because they were not marginialised as kids, who will advocate for the voiceless, because they had their voice heard when they were small, who will love radically, because they experienced unconditional love in the home, who will value the dispossessed, the marginalised, the powerless, because they were once empowered by those who held more power.

Parenting = world change

Some stuff here on Empathetic parenting and how to raise a (world changing) rebel. I discuss prejudice against children in this post on adultism and you can check out all my posts on parenting this progressive way here.


We’ve been spending a bit of time lately with a hardcore activist, one with a wise, kind soul; he has been fighting mining for several decades and has been through the wringer. It has been inspiring talking with him about how to deal with the weariness and desparation felt when you feel powerless in the face of f*ckwittery politics. Something he said stayed with me, about how if you can remain composed whilst in the very depths, something beautiful can make an appearance.

“Composure in the depths ushers in a composition”

We don’t know what it sounds like yet but one day we will hear the melody and recognise where it came from.

Love and solidarity to you.


Parenting, yurt life

The Endorphin Experiment (Week 1)

23 June, 2016

Yesterday morning after a night of insomnia, Ramona woke me up by stroking her finger from my forehead to the tip of my nose. I growled and turned my back on her. And then, coming to my senses more, awoken perhaps by the silence of her woundedness, but still with my eyes closed, I rolled back and whispered “Do it again, Ramona.” She did it again and this time I smiled and opened my eyes. She was smiling too and we stared into each others eyes until our smiles became laughs and we began to laugh so hard that we crunched our knees into our bellies and fell in towards each other, noses touching, breath swapping.

Our bodies were flooded with endorphins. We got out of bed, high as kites. Like, physiologically, truly high. Experiencing an effect similar to teens smoking in the bushes. It was the optimal way to wake. So much better than my grumpy normal.

That was the first day of my Endorphin Experiment.

I have been totally pulled in by William Bloom’s book The Endorphin Effect. It puts words (and science, and spirituality) to feelings that I’ve held to for a couple of years. It provides answers to why I think certain parenting practices are important, and to why certain things lead to well being, and it gives real grunt to the idea of mindfulness.

I feel like I have discovered something immensely simple that could have a huge impact on my family well being. 

I have become a bit of an endorphin evangelical over the last couple of weeks. So I thought I would make a bit of a experiment out of it! The whole give up shampoo thing began as a super casual experiment for this blog, and since became something really significant about my life, so (y’know, no pressure) I’ve decided to try it again. This time, instead of going for 100% natural hair care, I am going to practice flooding my body with 100% natural feelgood; endorphins.

I know that it sounds quite self indulgent. But I completely believe that if every person was happier, the whole world would be more peaceful. If we could tap more frequently into the contentment that our endorphins bring us, our decisions will be kinder, more generous, wiser even.

I am particularly interested in this idea as a parent. I am on a mission to not impact my kids with my stress and anger and inner turmoil. I am considering the possibility that our endorphins are intrinsically linked to our ability to parent well.

Eeep, I am beginning to sound a bit scary. A bit TOO into it.  Well look, it might all end up being a load of crap. That’s an experiment for you though isn’t it?

Week One Task

This week’s task was to make a list of all the things that make me happy. People, memories, activities, whatever. And then I had to find a way to bring them more into my life.

One of the ways of using this list is to tap into those things when feeling stressed. It suggests putting photos of events and people around and then turning to them to help you through a bad mood. Or feeling the negativity and then deciding to delve into a memory of when I was super calm and happy, and then try and hold onto that feeling and let it move through my body in a physical way.

I wrote out a few memories but the one I have found most powerful is one from a few years ago. Tim and I went snowboarding in France and would get up the mountain early and enjoy the slopes by ourselves, the sun yet to take its fierce position in the sky. My memory is of gliding free as a bird across untouched snow, a completely uninhibited whoop roaring unbidden from my mouth.

I am working on really letting that mountain memory flood my body, I think it takes some practice! 

I tried using a memory of Juno meeting me at the library after a day away from each other, what it felt like her to shower my face with delicate kisses, my eyelids, my hairline, my nose. At the time is was the most beautiful feeling but that memory didn’t serve the purpose for this task, it is too hard for me to seperate that feeling of happiness with the priviledge/ weight of responsibility as a mother. 

A few times this week I have felt a bubble of anxiety in my chest as I contemplate all the things I have to do, workwise, and around the home/farm. It is such a physical feeling, my heart thumping against my chest wall. Taking a few moments and remembering that feeling of freedom on the mountain has definitely prevented that bubble from taking over and becoming as big as it usually does. But I haven’t quite yet managed to physically feel the endorphins move around my body as Bloom suggests I might.
Over the next few weeks I am going to be trying out a few of the activities in the book, including this one, something I’ve always felt to be true, but am now dedicating myself to:

DO MORE OF WHAT MAKES YOU HAPPY! Will keep you posted!Do more of what makes you happy.



Parenting: All behaviour is communication

16 June, 2016

We went round to our friend’s house for dinner on Saturday. I had baked a chocolate cake using sweet potato instead of flour and it was looking SO AMAZING! I had decorated it with tiny delicate mandarin slices. I am not a baker in anyway, everything I’ve ever tried to bake has come out as kind of pancake. I was feeling sublimely chuffed.

So, get this.

When I hopped out of the car at the gate, our neighbours were there moving their bull into a paddock. (Hehe. Our friends these days.) I was out of the car for about three minutes.

When I got back in again Ramona, 5, had hopped in the front seat and WAS EATING THE CAKE!




Okay, let’s cut a long story short.

I went apeshit.

Inside and out.

And I stewed for about 12 hours.

I was feeling like super UGH about it. About her eating it (are we bringing up a child with no respect??!!!) and about my reaction (I had a right to let her know I was upset, but I didn’t have to say I’M NOT SPEAKING TO YOU! In a sulk. I actually said that. ugh.) 

 I had a chat with a friend. And reflected for a day.

And then we took a course of action.

And do you know what it was?

 It was to seek out a way for Ramona to make more friends.

Because, deep down, I was aware that for a few weeks Ramona has been expressing a need to me. A need to connect with people her age, in the way she loves, in an equal manner (we have plenty of friends but not many that Ramona finds a sort of equilibrium with, do you know what I mean?)

And I honestly think that eating my chocolate cake was the culmination of her expressing that need.

Every behaviour, every misbehaviour, is communication from our children.

We get a chance to meet the need they are expressing, or punish them for expressing that need in a way that we didn’t like.

What is especially funny (erm, or not) is that the VERY DAY of CakeGate I had just published a brand new post all about not exploding and being empathetic with our kids over on and had recorded a vlog about why we don’t punish, and why we aim for peaceful communicaiton with our kids.


It didn’t occur to me that Ramona would eat that cake. We do generally have a fairly mutually respectful relationship. My mettle was tested and I failed initially. My meltdown wasn’t helped by Ramona piping up “You are mad now mummy but tomorrow morning you will say you are sorry!”

But then I didn’t fail! Ramona asked something of us with that behaviour, we took some time instead of acting punitively and then we stepped up.

We went along to an unschooling meet up in another town the next day, and another the next day, where there were no less than FIVE FEISTY FEMALE FIVE YEAR OLDS!!! And Ramona has been a ball of wonder and non-cake-eating delight since.

Argh. So there you go. Learning. ALWAYS LEARNING.

We went ahead and ate the cake. I didn’t mention it to my friends, I just recalled the story my mum told me of when my Nana was hosting a party and the cat got on the table moments before the guests arrived and ate half the cake. My Nana just picked out the worst bits and put a bit more cream on top. I did a Nana and budged my choccy cake all into the centre a bit. (*waves to friends* sorry guys, it was yum though aye?!)


From the courthouse to Brazil

9 June, 2016

This is a bit of a “here, there, and everywhere” sort of post.

Brazil! And Portugal! And other (?) Portugese speaking places!
Most excitingly, Happy Hair has now been translated into Portugese WHOOP! This is epically exciting – we are a third of the way through the world’s Top Ten most spoken languages! I am massively grateful to Marcelle de Costa Santos (er, like most Brazillian name everrrrr) for so passionately stepping up to the project and getting it done so well and so quickly. If you are a Portugese speaking reader head to Amazon to get your copy and please help me spread the word using this promotional link. (Love you forevs) Buy Happy Hair in English, in Spanish and, as of today, Portugese.

The Courthouse
The next exciting thing is that I AM NOT IN PRISON! (Got arrested etc) I don’t know yet if they are actually going to give me diversion (it is a little bit like dropping the charges apart from it comes with an enormous fee) – I’ve been in the dock twice already for sentencing and am back in court on 22nd. And meanwhile I have to have an interview with the police in order to “show great remorse.” I guess they keep giving you various appointments so you think “man, being a crim is a bit of a faff, isn’t it?”
I have been doing a lot of writing for Parent.Co – a website I am absolutely loving. You might have seen this one, as it spread like wildfire. (5 Phrases that help Protect Your Child From Abuse) Here’s the other stuff I’ve been writing for them.

The Tube
I’ve been plodding away on the Youtube for a while now but I have decided I am going to put more effort in! So if you’ve seen my channel and so far thought YAWNBURGERS please give me another chance! Harhahahaha.

Here’s one from today. It’s about housework and me being a lazy feminist minger. And proud of it.

I’m sure you’ve already found me on Facebook, but if not NOW IS THE TIME. I’m keeping up with it all a bit more and I quite like it – I can put photos like this up and not have to worry that it doesn’t fit with Instagrams fancy, boring, minimalist style guide. ha.
Lulastic blog
Ramona and Juno were silent for quite some time – turned out Ramona was giving Juno a new look. this is “a butterfly with a beard”

Happy Hair for you!
We began with tresses, so let’s finish with them. It is fun having a whole site dedicated to No Poo. It is frivolous and earth loving all at the same time. My latest post there has a bunch of photos that I reckon will totally convince people that giving up shampoo gives you beautiful hair.

So, me hearties. How are you doing?


Unschooling: 7 things you need to know about enrolling in the School of Awesome

31 May, 2016

We have just returned from one of New Zealand’s brilliant unschooling camps. One of the conversations we had there was about how, as soon as your kid hits five, everyone asks them “What school do you go to?” It’s nice, you know, people just want to strike up a conversation with kids and this is the go to. Ramona is the kind of staunch kid who just puffs out her chest and says “I learn my own self!” but we were having a little laugh about the fun your kids could have with this, if you were to rename your home…

“What school do you go to, dear?”

“The School of Rainbow Laughter!”

“Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry!”

or just:

“The School of Awesome”


(Guess you had to be there.)

I have only ever done a few personal sharing posts on unschooling, describing the very beginnings of our unschool journey and that sort of thing. And have never specifically said “Why not consider unschooling?” to readers. It seemed to me like a fairly extreme thing to do, something I just knew wasn’t for everyone.

But this current climate of diabolical education policy, appalling testing, and a real dis-ease with the schooling system is begging for an alternative. Millions of parents sense that kids should all get the chance to just be kids, and some of the best, passionate teachers are throwing in the towel. It might be time to ask:

Why not consider unschooling?

The more you do it, the less extreme it is. The more people you know doing it the more you think “why isn’t everyone doing this!”

I honestly think that unschooling could be for far more people than just the radical few. And I think that if more people were to do it then small, informal unschooling collectives could be formed, where neighbourhood families could get together and foster an awesome creative environment together.
Unschooling - 7 things you need to know
Here’s a few things you need to know about unschooling.

You set?

What is unschooling?

So I guess the first thing you need to know is what unschooling is. HA. It is not gonna be this basic all the way though, promise. In fact, I’m not even gonna count this as one of the things. This is just a little bonus.

I made this video at the recent unschooling retreat and I think it pretty much covers it all! Unschooling is about freedom, about enjoying life with our kids, about stepping back, about learning in nature, learning without the confines of structure, without a curriculum, learning anywhere, anyhow, anytime. It is about supporting our children to follow their passions, delving into curiosity, about having fun, about everyone living the life they love.
I talk more about what unschooling is for us here.

But, like, who are these people that do this crazy unschooling biz?

More like, who is NOT unschooling? ha! Oh, like, millions of people. Oh yeah. Okay Whatevs. Look, my point is that the unschooling paradigm is one that floats across all sectors of society. Turn up at an unschooling camp and you will find wealthy ones, feminists, hippies, doctors, families on the bones of their bums, entrepreneurs, lawyers, lefties, farmers.

Diverse experiences and perspectives on unschooling can be found at Radical Selfie and the Mahogony Way and Living Outside the Box 

Unschooling Curriculum is all around you.

It’s scrawled in graffiti on the walls of the city, it sounds like birdsong floating on the breeze, it’s in code in the Minecraft app…

Unschooling families don’t use curriculums but instead are directed by our child’s interest and inspired by the world around us. We see the spark of of curiosity in our child and then open all the doors and say “Peek in here and see if you like it!” Ramona has loved horses for years so over the last few months she has begun taking lessons in natural horsepersonship. We read all the books we can, and if she so wanted could potentially use her love of horses to incorporate history (how have horses been used in the past?), cultural studies (where have horses come from? How are horses valued in different societies?) plus the sciences (let’s check out the inner workings of a horse and watch some vet videos) – this way not only is our kid learning a WHOLE heap of stuff but it all comes from a place of fascination so it is fun and it is sticking and it provides a whole platform for leaping off into other interests.

Also, some days, you just laze around in the sun, learning about being present and falling in love with nature. (Which is worth an equal amount to all that brain stuff, when it comes to a life of happiness.)

Easy like Sunday mornings…. every morning.

My goodness gracious. Here is something I never banked on. Mornings are quite nice! We just hang around in our pyjamas eating breakfast one, two and three, with cups of tea dotted inbetween. Playing games and sitting around and with nothing to go to until 10:30 or until the mood takes us.

For a while last year Ramona went to Kindy and I got a brief chomp at the School Run three times a week. While I was in it I didn’t resent it, it just became the new normal. But since we have moved and we have found other ways of Ramona getting all her extrovert, social party animal needs met, I have realised how much that frantic rush around packing lunches and spare clothes and cramming everyone in the car to get to a certain place before nine o clock, how much it Wore. Me. Down.

Sometimes we go a whole day and we are still in our pyjamas and we have had the absolute best day ever. It is like Sunday Mornings all day every day.

More time with your kids when they are “at their best”

This is entirely anecdotal, but something I notice on Social Media is that unschooling parents generally have a lot of fun with their kids, while nonunschooling (??!) parents write things like “Staring Down The Barrel Of Six Weeks of Summer Holidays” alot.

Now, I don’t think unschooling parents are better people. No way. They loose their shiz too. And have anxiety and get bored and all that. But I do think they know how to enjoy their kids more.

And I think a lot of that is to do with spending a lot of time with their kids and seeing them in all their awesomeness. Whereas a lot of families get an hour of pre-9am stress together and then get their kid spat back at them after a long, arduous day at school when their kid is hungry and tired and fed up with following someone elses rules and has tomorrow’s homework hanging over them. Moreoever there isn’t enough time in the day for the kid to indulge their passions and hobbies so they seem a bit, well, lifeless. No one can enjoy each other’s company under those conditions.

So then summer hols come round and parents think “Ugh. I don’t really wanna hang out with my kid who is grumpier and more boring than me.”

Highly self-motivated and self directed adults

One of the things that first got me onto unschooling was wanting my children to be far less externally motivated than my husband and I! Very early on in our parenting journey I became aware that our kids have these deep down primal urges and that quite a lot of their development came down to giving them chance to follow up those urges.

I don’t really care about success, I just care about happiness and I feel like happiness lies in following your heart. Peter Gray and Gina Riley surveyed adults who were unschooled as children and seventy percent of them said that being unschooled led them to become highly self motivated and self directed adults. This is pretty much the main thing I would like to see in my kids. It is a really interesting piece of research, read it here. 

Unschooling is about support

One of the myths I want to address is that unschooling leaves kids floundering.  I have heard it said that unschooling, because of the value of freedom, is about letting your kids go feral/ get away with anything. I would say nope, nope, not at all. Unschooling IS about freedom, about granting autonomy over life and learning, but is about doing this in a spirit of support and connection.  This point is dear to me because I think one of the best things for our parent child relationship is maintaining our connection. Over on Rethinking Parenting Emma describes this as a partnership paradigm:
“An unschooling parent grows to know their child and has a relationship based on trust and understanding their child’s individual needs and personal preferences.

The relationship between parent and child has been described as like a dance:

“Unschooling is more like a dance between partners who are so perfectly in synch with each other that it is hard to tell who is leading. The partners are sensitive to each others’ little indications, little movements, slight shifts and they respond. Sometimes one leads and sometimes the other”. Pam Sorooshian” “

Unschooled children will be the ones with a deep connection with their parents, the ones who are resilient and emotionally healthy because of this robust attachment.

And, yeah, feral isn’t quite the word but they might be wearing pyjamas at the museum.

Whole Life Unschooling or Radical Unschooling will hunt you down

Radical unschooling or whole life unschooling is often where unschoolers end up. It is the realisation that freedom over learning processes is just the START of things! And that actually we can grant freedom over all those things that we are scared of. We can do this because we are connected and we are in a supportive, creative environment.

It took me a long time to become radicalised in my unschooling. I was so indoctrinated into control style parenting that I hung on tightly to some of those boundaries.

But eventually my desire to uphold child rights in the home, my ambitions to respect my children and my attempts to unschool them (and myself) all ganged up together and beat the control paradigm out of me! And when I pulled myself out of those badlands I discovered I was on my way to being a radical unschooler. (Or just an unschooler. Depending on where you are at.)

Ha. Every day is a learning journey though, every day I try to be better and fail and then discover the next day I am actually a little better at being a mama than the day before. (Read here for a day in the life of a family tackling adultism for a glimpse at that!)

Unschooling made me see that I often acted out of fear. It is unschooling that made me embrace technology, celebrate the things my daughters love and say yes a whole lot more.

*Please note: easing slowly into unschooling is a GREAT IDEA. Wise. Letting go of control, stopping our teaching habits, giving freedom over things you’ve been afraid of, all these things need to be done gradually so we don’t leave our children (and ourselves) in the lurch. If you are currently not unschooling and think you might please read this about gradual change and start by saying yes a little more.*

Unschooling Reading

There are so many resources out there to help us think outside the box about how children learn, and about life with children. I’d love to point you in the direction of some people I have found inspiring….
Rethinking Parenting Fairly new blog with lots of food for thought on unschooling life
Sophie Christophy Another quite new blog covering unschooling in the context of the patriarchy – and other goodness!
Our Muddy Boots– I love this radical, free family life blog.
Sandra Dodd– one of the very first people who ever put into words my instinct for unschooling
Joyfully rejoicing– be challenged and get excited about all the potential! – short snippets of inspo

Unschooling Books I have enjoyed:

Natural Born Learners by Beatrice Ekwa Ekoko – my favourite book. Little essays by unschooly peeps, covering the whole miltary-industrial complex our school system has roots in, to the everyday life of unschoolers.
Winning Parent, Winning Child by Jan Fortune – a nice little book to download, very practical.
How Children Learn by John Holt (anything by John Holt. He is often deemed the founder of unschooling and he has written a lot of books advocating for children.)
Free to Learn by Peter Gray. TOO GOOD.

Unschooling on Youtube

There is absolutely loads of amazing Unschooling resources on youtube. Use my Unschooling playlist as a spring board – filled with unschooled kids and Professors and inspiration:

Do you unschool? What is one thing you think people need to know? And, if you don’t unschool, do you have a question you’ve wanted answering? I have in mind to do an Unschooling FAQ…