Bed Sharing, Why Can’t Frozen Sheets Come in King Size?

Here’s something you never consider when navigating all the myriad and complex parenting decision you must make on a daily basis. We have made many parenting choices that fall outside the mainstream. Two of them, in combination, have served to deprive my kids of cute bed sheets. No, really!

First, we have more than the expected 2.3 kids. We are a large family and that was on purpose. Yes, we know what causes that and we planned it that way! Second, we believe in sleep sharing. Over the years that has taken many forms. My first child was 11 years old before he got a sibling. As an infant he slept with me in the adult bed and as an older child he came in and out of the bed as he desired. Bedroom doors were always left open at night. 

Then came child number two, but her older brother was pretty much sleeping on his own by then, no problem. Child three showed up while child two was still in the family bed. By child four we knew something had to change! For many months, my poor husband would end up kicked out of the bed by wiggly children and move to his recliner in the living room. Not ideal. By the time number five arrived we had gotten creative. Two queen sized beds shoved side by side worked to accommodate everyone nicely and we did this for several years.

As they have gotten older, they don’t always want to sleep with mom and dad, but still don’t want to sleep alone. Even the 17 year old says it’s harder to fall asleep and she doesn’t sleep as well when the 11 year old isn’t in the room with her. They have a loft bed that no one uses, they sleep together in the queen bed under the loft. 

My nine year old sprawls out and likes the bed to himself, but only if it’s the full sized bed that has been moved into his brothers room so he is still near others. The bunk beds in his room sit unused. In the seven year old’s room are the full sized bed used by his brother and the queen sized bed he sleeps in with his two year old sister (and most nights me as well). The two year old doesn’t even have her own bed. We know it won’t get used yet. We have time. We have never used a crib and by number three stopped putting one up. 

I know not everyone agrees with sleep sharing but there is ample research to support it as a healthy habit that builds emotionally well adjusted children. Regardless, it works for us. My only complaint is that in our quest for comfortable sleep that accommodates multiple people, all of my children have large, adult sized beds. Which is fine, except when they want Dora or Thomas sheets for their beds. They just don’t make those cute kid sheets in larger sizes. Trust me, I’ve looked!

Don’t get me wrong, the loft bed has Dora and the bunk beds have Mario and How to Train Your Dragon, respectively. But the beds they actually sleep in? Not so much. It’s not a big deal, just another reminder that we function outside the expected, outside the mainstream. Because apparently not one marketeer anywhere ever thought, Hey, we should totally make some king sized Frozen sheets! Because I gotta tell you, I would totally buy those! 

Good books for Toddlers and Preschoolers: Review for Go Away, Big Green Monster!

Great book for empowering children to cope with their fears

My pick of the day is “Go Away, Big Green Monster!” by Ed Emberley. This book delights toddlers and preschoolers alike with It’s rich colors and unique style. It is a fabulously empowering experience that teaches children that they have power over their fears. It’s also great for teaching colors and body parts as it uses repetition to reinforce those concepts. It’s sure to get a giggle and a “read it again!” from the two year old set. With a creative use of colors and cutouts, this book will quickly become a favorite!  Those giggles at the end are the child’s delight in discovering they have the power to direct their monsters to go away and stay away. 

Night Owl Homeschooling

One of the many reasons I love homeschooling is that it lets my family work on our own night owl schedule. I am most productive during the late evening hours.

I worked today (my husband was home with the kids) and my kids spent most of their waking, daylight hours outside playing. But here we are, at eleven o’clock at night, everyone happily engrossed in their various projects, self included. I’ve been working on planning for the last couple of hours and as I look up and around, there’s a child drawing math problems on the dry erase board, there’s an art project going on at the dining room table, a documentary playing on TV and an impromptu mythology lesson in the kitchen. The house is calm, peaceful and full of activity.

Everyone will wind down and head to their various bedrooms soon enough. The 11 year old has already read a bedtime to story to the 7 year old, just because she wanted to share the story about the legend of the bluebonnet. Even the two year old is happily creating worlds with littlest pet shops and la la loopsys in the family room.

Having watched them earlier count by tens, correctly identify cardinal ordinal relationships, work math problems for fun, and read aloud to each other, I am once again reassured that they are, in fact, learning. That this is working and most importantly, my kids are happy and enjoy learning.

 

My Moment of Clarity: An Unschooling Mom’s Epiphany

This happened several years ago when my oldest child was attending public school. I was already homeschooling my younger kids, reading a lot and learning a lot about unschooling. My then 17 year old was still attending public school, by his own choice. But we had issues. He was absent/tardy a lot and so we had to go to court. Let me clarify, I’m talking a few minutes late a few times, adding up to less than an hour of missed school. Then there were a few times he missed completely. I was livid at the $300 fine. Missing six days within six months really doesn’t seem like a lot to me. Especially when I consider that we easily have more than one day a month (we as in me and the little ones) that we don’t do much because we don’t feel like it. They don’t or I don’t. Lazy days, down days that everyone has, sick days, just too overwhelmed with other stuff days. Plus I feel like I’m a competent parent and I know when my kid is sick enough (or tired or grieving etc) to be home but not sick enough to need a doctor. Heck, most companies give you personal days because they recognize that even when you are healthy, you sometimes need a mental health day. (when his great grandmother died they actually told me I had to send a copy of the obituary).

Back to the point: I was livid. They didn’t bother with why or individual circumstances everyone there got lectured and fined. I had just been reading about how the public school system creates all these jobs, like the text book industry and teachers colleges and administration, etc and thought wow yeah, since all but one of the cases before the court that day were truancy you can add that judge, bailiff and the whole office staff to the list. Fining kids for being late or absent is a money making proposition.

Plus there was a teen mom with a newborn there who was also lectured and told to go back to school. Really? Because I think the baby needs her more right now and she can learn whatever she wants later on. She can go back to school later, earn her diploma online, be home schooled. You don’t even need a high school diploma to get into community college. I was outraged at what I felt were very skewed priorities. I know education is important but as far as development goes, those first few years are crucial. What was the rush to get that mom to put her baby in childcare?

I went on a rant about how outrageous it is that the state has more rights over my child than I do! I tried to pick him up early one day and a teacher refused to release him. Who else has the right to take and keep my child against my wishes? It seems crazy when you stop and consider it. My mom agreed at first then talked to my step dad about it then called me back with this take on it: hey, this is part of life, they are preparing him for the real world. everyone has to get up and go to work whether they like it or not. We hate our jobs but we get up and go to them every day and have for thirty years. Its called life. He has to get use to it.

I thought about it for a minute. That sounded so….familiar and like what everyone says and I’ve always heard and believed and… …and…and WRONG!

Wrong as in, it just washed over me, its OK for them to exert pointless control to turn him into a conforming robot because they have to in order to prepare him for a life of misery? Because that’s our idea of adult responsibility?

Then it hit me, so many people believe this and believe it strongly, but is it ok ? Is it right? Is it what i want for my kids? To sit down and shut up and be subordinate to some jerk of a boss who is a jerk just because they can be? NO….I want them to quit any job like that and find a better one, to follow their dreams, if that means being an entrepreneur instead of a wage slave or a starving artist or whatever it means, but no, I am certainly NOT preparing him for a life of drudgery spent in the service of a job he hates. NO NO NO, I don’t want that AT ALL……………

I’ve been an unschooler from that moment on, because it’s not just an educational philosophy, it has changed my outlook on EVERYTHING!

Having a Large Family

Want or have a large family? Worried about or tired of hearing people say you are overpopulating the earth?

First thing you should consider is that there are manybenefits to having a large family. From conflict resolution to recycling, having a large family provides many benefits to both the children and the environment. That’s right, the environment. Many large families have smaller carbon footprints than smaller ones. How is that possible? Well, first of all, there are many things that large families have found they can live without. From making thier own clothes or usign cloth diapers, many large families are very eco concious.

There are many items that you only need one of, regardless of number of children, luxury items like TV’s and video game consols are shared items. Cloths and toys get handed down and reused. Rooms can be shared. The assumption that you must need individual rooms, computers, etc for each child is an idea based on a materialistic culture. Children from large families have an advantage of learning wants from needs early, of sharing, of cooperation. Not that only children or smaller families can’t have these things, by any means. It’s simply that children in large families learn these lessons early through necessity.

Having a large family forces the parents to engage the children in all household duties. In smaller families, it sometimes seems easier and quicker for a parent to just do the clean up, for the sake of saving time and sanity. The larger the family, however, the less this strategy works. Most parents find that engaging the entire family in household duties considerably lightens the load on any one person and contributes to the child’s sense of responsibility.

The second thing to consider is this. In the U.S. we are currently experinacing declining birth rates. If you consider the world at large, there is an actual population decline. Yes, that’s right, a decline. While sustainability is definately an issue to consider, any given family that has more than two children are not really contributing to over population.

Large families today often face discrimination and hostility. Look at one of the most famous large families in America, The Duggars. The are often attacked and criticized as a drain on society even though the family is not on welfare and they live debt free. How many people can say that?

Big families seem to be making a comeback and there are now many websites and blogs dedicated to advice, support and witty remarks to give back to those with negative comments. You can even buy a t-shirt.

In the end, the decision belongs to the parents and no one else.Image

Abortion Protesters are Bullies

There may not be a more divisive issue today in American than abortion. And look, I’m not advising anyone to have one. I realize I’m about to offend a lot of people but here’s the thing. When I see the protesters outside our local Planned Parenthood clinic in instills in me a rage I can barely explain. I want nothing more than to pull my car over, get out, grab one of them by their smug faces and start punching. I say this as a pacifist for the love of God! It’s an emotion I don’t feel often or readily. It’s an emotion reserved for the greatest of injustices, the most heinous of offenses. So why do these peaceful protesters inspire such feelings in me? Because they are not, in fact, peaceful.

Bear with me a second. There are many ways to hurt another person. You don’t have to lift a finger to wound someone deeply. In fact, I would go so far as to argue that physical pain heals faster and easier than emotional. These protesters who claim to be out there in the name of God are doing horrible things to other people. Yes, they are. They are inflicting deep and vicious psychological wounds on their victims. Whoever said “sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me” was wrong. While there may be woman who take abortion lightly (and I’ve never met one), most are at the lowest point in their lives right then, having been through emotional hell already. Making a decision to end a life growing inside you is not easy, not by a long shot. Imagine for a moment what reasons she must have. I get a feeling that those protesters assume her reasons are that she’s a selfish immoral slut. Those are the kinds of things they say to these women.

First of all, the majority of women going into Planned Parenthood aren’t there for an abortion. They are there for low cost gynecological care and/or birth control. No young woman should end up with cervical cancer due to lack of testing because she was afraid of the bullies in the parking lot. That’s right, I said it. Bullies.

They are attacking vulnerable young women, slinging callous barbs that will take a lifetime to heal, if they ever do. Calling them baby killers and telling them they will burn in Hell. Even if you are an ardent pro-lifer and believe this is murder and a sin, ask yourself this simple question. Is this helping? Has one woman ever responded positively to this? Are they saving anyone? Are they helping anyone?

No one is going to listen to the stranger who is calling them names and bullying them. No one is going to listen to a stranger they have never met after days or weeks of soul searching and sleepless nights filled with tears. The only thing they are going to take away with them from this encounter are the psychic wounds inflicted at the hands of the bullies.

If someone truly cares about those unborn children and those mothers then sitting on comfy lawn chairs in the parking lot on nice, sunny days yelling hateful taunts at vulnerable women needs to stop. Activism and volunteerism needs to start. And yes, I said those unborn children and their mothers. Babies do not exist in a vacuum. You cannot help an infant if you do not help it’s mother.

Teenage girls need mentors and safe places to go after school, adults that they trust and programs that build self esteem in order to decrease the number of unwanted pregnancies in the first place. Expectant mothers in poverty need access to health care, inexperienced mothers need parenting mentors, poor families need help supporting their families. Women in crisis need access to qualify mental health services. Remove the barriers to having a baby and the abortion rate will drop.

It’s time to stop pretending that the issues of abortion, access to healthcare, quality education and  poverty aren’t linked. Stop insisting women produce babies that society has no intention of providing healthcare for. So many people demonize abortion on one hand and then demonize any programs designed to help these very people on the other. We don’t get to have it both ways. If we want to see abortion decrease, then the underlying social issues must be addressed. The hypocrisy of denying birth control to women then demonizing them for abortion has to stop.

I would encourage any abortion clinic protester to spend some time working with at risk women. Or women who have been abused. Or women who have already lost one child to a genetic disorder. Or women who have had an abortion and regret it. Understand the very complicated issues at play and then perhaps volunteer at a crisis pregnancy center. Do some good in the world, put some positive vibes into it. Be the kind of person that a woman in crisis might listen to.

 

 

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