If you are a mother and/or home educator, you know that February seems to be the worst. I wake up in the mornings and think, “I don’t wanna…” We are winter-weary, sickness-saturated, and vision has vanished. We have lost our way.
Often we throw up our hands and want to quit, hire a full-time nanny (yeah, right) or we double-down and plod through the prescribed curriculum or schedule with ruthless determination. It’s a big jumble of fight or flight, frustration, and low-level despair. Our rhythms are broken.
When my mothering or education plan is stale, fruitless or uninspiring, I try to step back to simple.
For me, stepping back to simple means stepping back to tending the basics.
What are the basics?
Our whole selves: bodies, souls, and spirits.
It’s time to tend the February rhythms so that they honor the whole person in simple, gentle, nourishing and life-giving ways.
Warm drink + tasty food.
With a warm drink, in a rocking chair and family and friends around, I am working on finding peace and joy in the moments we have been given. It doesn’t have to all make sense. I don’t have all the answers. ~ Taya Kyle
By now, we are sick of the usual fare and find ourselves repeating the same rote food menus. This is the perfect time of year to reboot your hot drink and comfort food arsenal and offer a new round of delicious, warming meals. Only a few minutes perusing your cookbooks or Pinterest for a new stew or beverage can break up the mundane.
Consider purchasing a new herbal tea this week and a fresh pastry from the local grocery bakery. Or bake some muffins for an afternoon treat. Read your children some poetry or a short read-aloud.
The hearts of my children warm towards connection and learning when their bodies are soothed with warm drinks and nourishing simple foods. Break up your normal routine but adding some new food + drink this month.
Good books + Captivating Curriculum.
“I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading! How much sooner one tires of any thing than of a book! — When I have a house of my own, I shall be miserable if I have not an excellent library.” ~ Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice
My boys who are 10 and 13 are thoroughly enjoying reading and listening to The Chronicles of Prydain series by Lloyd Alexander. We found the books plus the audio versions through our local library. The Magnus Chase series by Rick Riordan is another current favorite.
Having a new, enthralling series to read makes the long winter days bearable and stirs up the imagination, challenges their thinking, and expands their vocabulary.
For the little guys, keep the picture books fresh according to the current holiday and season of the year. Now that Valentine’s is over, it’s time to start pulling early Spring books on planting seeds and baby animals! I look on Pinterest for children’s book ideas and immediately go to my library website and reserve them. They text me when my books on hold are ready!
What do I mean by captivating curriculum?
Collect a body of books and materials that captivate the children’s interests. This is a great time of year to lay aside your plans for 1-4 weeks to do an interest-led unit study. If learning is dull and is causing friction in your relationships, stop and listen. Listen to your child. What are they interested in? What would they like to learn about? At the minimum, spend a week together pursuing their ideas. This will breathe fresh air into your relationships and into their motivation.
Outside + Lenten Practices.
“Earth and sky, woods and fields, lakes and rivers, the mountain and the sea, are excellent schoolmasters, and teach of us more than we can ever learn from books.” ~ John Lubbock
No matter the season, we cannot underestimate the power of getting our children and ourselves outside for our mental and emotional health. Buy a local park or State Park pass, keep quilts and ENO hammocks in the trunk, and as we get closer to Spring, explore anything involving water. When I get boys near lakes, oceans, rivers, and creeks, their spirits come alive. My boys are required to spend at least as much time outside as they do on screens. Their behavior improves and sibling fighting lessens.
In 2013 I wrote a post on my first blog about our journey towards Lent and some ideas of how to lean into that season with your children. Honoring the liturgical calendar is a wonderful way to breathe new life into a stale daily rhythm and to kindle our spirits with gratitude for the Lord’s journey to the cross. A bowl of flour and a candle can be the means to a meaningful Lent.
When schooling or a schedule becomes a taskmaster, slow beauty is the first to go. When we feel the pressure to academically perform or keep our schedules full, there is little time for lingering over books, eating a warm, delicious lunch or time for following the ants down the sidewalk.
February time is lingering time. It’s the calm before the busy Spring storms. Let us take advantage of this month to nourish the bodies, souls, and spirits of our children and ourselves in simple + nourishing + meaningful ways. Warming foods, good books, and fresh air are some of our greatest Winter resources.
Share with me your current favorite hot drink, soup, book series or hometown place you are visiting! How are you holistically nurturing your family this month?