About a month into the coronavirus lockdowns, several of my friends were actively freaking out online as they struggled to work from home while also making sure their kids were getting an education. Many schools hadn’t even decided on an online format at that point, and parents were rightfully concerned. As I kept seeing the social media posts of parents on the verge of a mental breakdown, I put my years of homeschooling experience to use and made this simple suggestion:
Let them build a blanket fort.
If there is anything I’ve learned about my children being taught at home, it is this: If momma is stressed, children pick up on it and often become stressed themselves, and no one can retain information in that environment. While we’ve tried different tactics over the years, a tried and true one is to take a few hours (or even a day) off, and an easy distraction that gets them to still use their brain is building a fort.
Well, several people supported my idea, most didn’t respond, and a couple … well, a couple acted like I had suggested they sacrifice their children to pagan gods. Okay, maybe not that bad, but they were extremely rude, saying I didn’t know what it was like to work from home (umm, I have my own business as well as leadership roles in several nonprofits) and that I had never had to juggle my job with teaching. (Been doing that for years, thanks.) I didn’t respond in kind, though, because I knew these women were reacting from a place of fear. They weren’t really angry with me; they were mad and feeling helpless. Still, they could have done better.
And I’m not going to lie – their ugliness hurt. Especially when about 6 weeks later, IKEA came out with instructions on how to build a fort in your home, and those same women were all over it. One even posted gleeful photos of how great the idea had been for her family. And that’s when it hit me: women should be even more supportive of other women now more than ever, but you’ll always run into the naysayers. So here’s how to deal with it.
1. You don’t have to answer every question. This was a hard one for me. If they ask the question on social media, they want an answer, right? Turns out, most of the time, no. They are asking to have their own viewpoint validated. So if you know your well-meaning advice is going to be attacked, save yourself the heartache and scroll on by.
2. Surround yourself with people who respect you, even if your views are different from theirs. We are fairly good at doing this in person, but most of us stink at it on social media … and that’s where people love to tear us down. You don’t need a huge inner circle (in fact, mine is fairly small), but having people you can share anything with, even if you disagree, will keep your emotional and mental health in a good state.
3. Let it out. It’s okay to have a cry or get mad over being treated unfairly, as long as you work through that and find a positive solution. I find it helps to have my husband or a trusted friend as a sounding board. And getting upset doesn’t mean you are weak; in fact, it shows you truly care versus the person who felt the need to be a keyboard warrior. Those failings are on them, not you.
If all else fails, I’m here for you. I know that hurt. I’ll be supportive, but I’ll also be honest with you. And I can give you some killer ideas for your next blanket fort.
If you want to join a like-minded, supportive community, we would love to have you join us at Old Souls with New Ways.
Years ago, when we first made the decision to homeschool, one of the first things we did was to plant a butterfly garden. The kids had so much fun choosing plants and seeds, and I let them plant without any particular plan in mind. Every year we add a few more plants, but this year we are really upping our game, hopeful for a bustling butterfly location. Since so many people are becoming aware of the importance in supporting pollinator populations, I thought some simple tips would help you get started.
1. Know your growing zone. If you’ve never gardened before, a simple online search will tell you what the zone is for where you live. Fortunately, many butterfly-friendly plants are hardy across several zones, so you’ll have plenty from which to choose. It is a suggestion because you don’t want to invest your time and energy into a gorgeous plant that really only likes to grow in Florida if you live in Maine.
2. Decide your feelings about native versus non-native plants. Some people have VERY strong opinions on this subject, so be forewarned before you engage in online conversation on this topic. There are many wildflowers and local options if you want to stick with those. My personal thought (which counts for nothing, so feel free to ignore it) is that weather can often cause butterflies to be off course of their usual areas, so I plant a variety of host and nectar plants.
3. Choose both host and nectar plants, as well as some resting spots. What the heck does that mean, you ask? Host plants provide places for butterflies to lay their eggs, and some also give the caterpillars food to eat as they grow. Nectar plants provide the nutrition to the butterflies once they undergo metamorphosis. Resting spots, such as rocks or a small birdbath, provide downtime from flapping those beautiful wings.
Need help deciding? There are so many plants from which to choose, so here are a few of my favorites. I love mixing in herbs with flowers!
Host plants: parsley, dill, fennel, Baptisia
Nectar plants: butterfly bush, purple coneflower, bee balm, black-eyed Susan, sedum, zinnias, yarrow, verbena, lantana, salvia, cleome, common sage
Both: butterfly weed, aster, Angelica, perennial snapdragons, daisies
If you want a more organized butterfly garden, you can find lots of free plans online. For a free printable garden journal, you can find a great one here.
Happy planting! Please send me photos of your wonderful creations!
I had a reason to have a good laugh at myself yesterday, and it really felt wonderful.
For years, I was that person who needed to be in control. In fact, I would often let that keep me from even trying things if I believed I couldn’t get it perfect. Not a fun way to live, right?
That started to change when we added Child #3 to the mix. Her sparkly personality meant I needed to find a way to be more “Fun Mama” than a perfect one. And, no, that doesn’t mean throwing all rules and expectations out the window. I didn’t want to raise tyrants, but I did want to make sure I was soaking up joy with them whenever I could; after all, how many mothers of older kids have told you not to blink, they aren’t little forever?!
Another factor that helped me loosen up was our decision to homeschool. The irony was it was my extensive research that showed me I was going to have to prioritize what I wanted our learning experience to look like. I made a conscious decision (and verified my hubby was on board) that with the focus being on the kids’ education, the house wasn’t going to perfectly clean. This gave us so much freedom to focus on what we loved rather than feeling constantly guilty about the kitchen floor not being mopped regularly. (Not all family members agreed with our decision, but that’s a subject for another day.)
Enter the disaster I made in my kitchen and the laughter that ensued. You see, I had promised my friends that I would make a video of our family’s favorite lemonade recipe. Well, I only had enough ingredients for one take, so when something went wrong, I had to roll with the show. Take and look and see the hilarity that followed.
I didn’t realize how much I needed to laugh at myself under all the current craziness we are experiencing. I hope it at least brought a small to your face. And I have a new favorite saying: What big mess did you make today?
- Juice from 6 lemons and 1 lime (feel free to add more if you want a stronger citrus taste!)
- ½ cup local raw honey (make sure you use local if you want help with your sneezes)
- 1-2 drops Lavender Vitality
- 8-10 cups ice water, or different amount to taste
Combine lemon and lime juice, honey, and Lavender Vitality in large glass pitcher. Stir well. (If your honey is particularly thick, you may want to heat in a gentle warm water bath before adding to juice.) Add water, stirring again. Taste and enjoy!
Want to stay up to date on other things that bring a smile to my face? You can find me here.