On the Christian Unschooling Facebook group we get weekly requests for unschooling podcasts, especially ones from a Christian perspective. My team has been trying for ages to find time and energy to get together and make a proper podcast. We ideally would like to make a group one using our admin team. But it just hasn’t happened. We all are working or going to school and there is no way we can fit a regular (or even irregular) meeting time in our already busy schedules.
Enter the (Christian) Unschool Carpool podcast. I drive to the university 35 minutes away several time a day. Sometimes I have my charge in the car (5 yr old A, who is lovely and sweet and super fun and loves my cell phone full of games for her to play.) But the rest of the time I am on my own. This means lots and lots of audio books…. BUT it also means I have plenty of time to record in a relatively quiet (aside from traffic noises) environment. It also means no script. Which means I ramble. Because that is what I do. I would do it even if I HAD a script. But since I am driving the same long straight road day in and day out I have this nice long boring stretch of road where I can drive and talk at my phone about the questions people have asked about unschooling, radical unschooling, Christian unschooling, and all the other stuff people ask over and over again.
Obviously this is not nearly as interesting as a conversational podcast (which I did record with the kids on an hour drive to Pittsburgh and which was very, very fun) but it is a start. And if it works then my co-admins can answer the same questions and then, when we find time, we can record some together. At least we hope so.
This first podcast is available as both an mp3 and as an ogg (and I will also try to upload it to my youtube channel for people who prefer that but for right now we will try it this way.) Eventually I will upload it somewhere that works for rss but this is a start. It isn’t perfect. I don’t have time for a lot of editing and I am just learning to use the audio editor so please forgive the weird cuts (I pause a lot when I am talking on a good day and while recording… I pause more so I was playing with removing them) and the sounds of traffic.
This podcast is the first, obviously and therefore basically an intro. A “how we ended up unschooling in the first place, and how we ended up becoming radical unschoolers” type story. It is a story of us, as a family, and how we got where we are. How God brought us here, because He most certainly did. (Did I mention rambling? Yeah.)
I mentioned this on twitter but I guess I should mention it here as well. Mrs. R, the 97 yr old woman I was caretaker to for 4 and a half years, passed Monday while a fellow caretaker/friend and I sat with her. Funeral was today, viewings were yesterday. She is greatly missed. She was a wonderful, feisty woman, and a huge encouragement to me. I (as well as most of the other caretakers) am at peace and have closure as we knew it was coming and I was there when it happened.
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However, this means I am without a steady full time job. I am currently focused on getting my art, illustration, and web design business’ really set up and moving forward as real jobs instead of just side gigs. I sold a painting today, I have 4 illustration projects in the works, including 4 book cover jobs, and several other projects on the back burner. So while I am not working full time I am working full time, but freelance. We are currently okay and are hoping that between me pushing forward with the work I have now and coming up and several website projects, some sewing and herbal remedy stuff I have on the side, combined with some extra freelance work Shamus is taking on and his Patreon (https://www.patreon.com/shamusyoung) we MIGHT be able to make this work. We are hopeful and nervous.
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If you are interested in my art, I just updated my site (http://www.tinybookdragonart.com/) with pricing explanations as well as purchasing options as well as keeping up to date on my Facebook , Etsy, my Amazon page, Instagram, etc) so you can buy my stuff. Once I get Seriously Simple back up and running I will link to that. I will probably be selling the geeky skirts through the Nine Tailed Bunny page but possibly will keep them on my art Etsy. I haven’t decided yet. And once I update my illustration and webdesign pages I will share those as well.
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I do NOT expect friends to purchase my stuff to help us. However if you know someone who needs book covers, illustration, logos, or art I would love if you passed my site along. That is how I have gotten several of my illustration jobs. Someone knew someone who needed something I do. (And prayer always welcome. This is scary and big and new and well, we are taking turns panicking. :D)
After years of trying to get back on track (and pay off our debt) this is apparently the year of fixing. Fixing the car, fixing our health, replacing things that can’t be fixed, just plain getting things back in order.
Shamus has gotten a benign cyst that I was sure was a unicorn horn starting on his forehead.
Rachel has been diagnosed with moderate hearing loss . She has cheap over-the-counter hearing aids that rub but which help enough that she willing wears them anyway. Our goal is to be able to get her a pair of digital ones (including bluetooth for music, phone, computer) BEFORE she moves out in the next year.
New glasses for Es and I – much needed, including reading glasses for me. This would make me feel old except that I have needed reading glasses off and on since I was 18.
Replaced dead Wii with Wii U.
New sewing machine to replace multiple dead or nearly dead old ones.
Full glaucoma workup for both Shamus and Es because apparently there is weird eye stuff running in that side of the family.
Get Rach in to doctor for proper inhaler script, permission to get hearing aids (because the FDA is weird), and get her driver’s permit physical.
Get car doors fixed- our car has issues. Every door has something wrong with it, 2 don’t open at all, one only opens from out outside, one only opens from inside and one works but has a broken bit so you have to open it just so.
Get Rach decent digital hearing aids that suit her needs. Preferably ones with bluetooth that can be adjusted from her phone and can be used with bluetooth so she can easily do what she does, like talk on Skype, listen to music, watch movies.
Get a good printer for printing art so the girls and I can, you know, print our art.
I am sure there is more that I have forgotten.
Lots of general stuff going on:
Rach graduating and moving out (soon).
Rach working on independent study of art and possibly video game design and programming.
Me working on the book illustrations, working full time, and working on several websites.
Es working as content manager for a website.
Es designing and creating a video game.
Es writing a webcomic.
Issac doing his thing (mostly video games, Lego, and hanging out online with friends while growing and eating and growing some more.
Shamus writing, writing, writing, working on Good Robot, writing some more, doing Spoiler Warning and the podcast and writing some more.
Since my kids are at the stage where they are less interested in me sharing their exploits and photos I have less to write about from the unschooling side of things. Well, I have stuff to say but that is mostly in answer to questions, which I usually answer elsewhere (though if you ask me a question I may respond here.) Meanwhile, outside of work, Seriously Simple body butter making, website stuff, and occasionally in this season, drawing, I have been watching a lot of kdrama and anime, and playing video games. Because of my work situation I have a lot of downtime and now that I own a 2ds (thanks to Mr. Shamey-pants) I have spent a lot of time playing.
Child of Light (On the PS4 though we also own it on pc. ). Hands down favorite at the moment. This is my current all time favorite game despite some silliness it is aesthetically pleasing to play, and the battles are just enough strategy to suit my current level of concentration. Think this one will get it’s own post.
Life is Strange (pc): Working through this one with Es. This is the sort of game we both love, but we both also prefer to play this sort of game with someone else. So it is slow going since we are both busy. That said; aesthetically pleasing, fascinating story, fun to play, interesting concept.
Animal Crossing: New Leaf (3ds). Adorable and fun. Though the game is currently missing so I haven’t had a chance to play more.
Harvest Moon: A New Beginning (3ds)- At first I was enamoured of the gradual introduction to more stuff to do and love the foraging. Then I got stressed at home because of a lot of stuff going on and realized the list of “have to do’s” was too much and I had to stop gameplay. So right now it is in hiatus and I am not sure when I will go back to it.
Tales of Symphonia: Wii edition. I adored the original Tales of Symphonia game. Adored it. Beautiful. A joy to play. Not too much battle stuff if you didn’t want it and more if you did. I had to stop playing because the only nunchuck I could track down was wonky and made walking nigh impossible so I am not sure how much issue is the game and how much was my broken nunchuk. However- the translation and dialogue had serious pacing issues, and the story so far sucks. I really, really don’t like the protagonist (reminds me of a cowering version of Titus’ whininess in Final Fantasy), I hate how everyone treats him, and well, I only got through the first 30 minutes, most of which was really slow dialogue.
Harvest Moon: Tale of Two Towns (3ds)– I have heard amazing things about this one. Most people I have encountered who have played the series say this is their favorite aside from Magical Melody. Magical Melody and Tree of TRanquility were my favorites so it will be interesting to give this one a go.
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We moved in the fall (that is a huge story that eventually I will tell, when I have time, and words). Es started volunteering at the library. Rach got a job, then lost it due to age restrictions (company policy vs store policy.)
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The kids are all teens now, and wonderful, awesome, brilliant, fun to be around, and all busy with their own stuff. I don’t post things about them unless they give permission (never have) and now they are older and more private about their stuff and well, I have less to share. We have several new projects we are working on as a family.
Life as we know it is swirling and changing and adapting. I go from times when the kids want all my attention and it is a swirl of activity to times where no one is around– all asleep, or busy with their personal projects, or talking to friends.
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My own projects go in spurts. In this season they often get set aside to talk out personal issues with the kids, discuss how somethign works or why, or how people work or think or why people can be dumb sometimes.
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Our big current project – the kids and I (I’ll let Shamus share his own as he sees fit) is body butters. (For sale here: https://www.etsy.com/shop/SeriouslySimpleStuff) They are fun to make and pretty and the kids love them as much as I do.
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And there is more happening but I will leave it for now. Life is beautiful, and fun, and wonderful. We have a new warm, safe place to live that is everything we could have asked for, if we had thought to do so. This season with teens is absolutely awesome.
My kids are older now and our typical days change based on what projects they are doing, what they are interested in, what their current goals are, and what my husband and I are doing (I work full time outside the home for this season, he writes and programs- freelance). I think today went something like this:
I got up at around 9am, hubby was still asleep, Rachel (16) still asleep, Issac (12) got up at about 4:55am, Es (14) got up at 6 or so. Rach got up around 12? Shamus got up around 11am? I take my supplements, have my tea, have my breakfast, sit at the computer and look over Facebook- check admin stuff that needs done for the Facebook group. Younger two have been up watching “Malcom in the Middle” (in between projects, though middle daughter is currently working on a Minecraft texture pack). The tv show has been watched several times through recently, lots of questions answered about the time period, various topics that come up, the humor. Es watches a lot of shows to learn more about pacing and humor as she writes and wants to write better humor and wants to pace her animations and comics better.
Issac did the dishes (he is saving up for a harddrive and all in family get paid for their work by the hour). Es decided at the last minute to come with me to take my grandmother shopping (every Tuesday) but decided to do a social experiment and dressed up in a steam punk style outfit and brought a card and crayon to make notes about reactions. She wants to write a tumblr post documenting her social experiment- how many people react, how they react by demographic. Shamus wakes just before we leave- he is writing today. Rachel wakes as we leave. She is working on a Minecraft world she and her best friend are designing and needs to work on the texturepack.
On the way to my grandmothers Es and I discuss prophecy vs demonic possession, staying close to God during times of extreme spiritual stuff, what the Bible says about fortune telling and prophecy. We stop when Grandma gets in the car. Es explains her project to Grandma. While Grandma and I get groceries, Es goes off around the store to see and document reactions. She then comes back to us, helps a bit, then goes pick up some things she just remembered she wanted.
We go to Subway because Grandma is hungry. We discuss expanding Esther’s social experiment and what she would need in order to do that as well as other people’s experiences with colored hair, dreads, piercings and peoples reactions.
We take Grandma home, put away her groceries. We stop by my dad’s place to take some pictures and visit a bit. Talk about the old butternut tree that fell down which my dad is turning into a coffee table (and teaching himself all the steps- lots of new stuff happening there- made a new type of joint today and spent months planing the wood and making the boards). Es talks to him a bit about her experiment.
We stop at the thrift shop to look a t the formal wear for ideas for other skirts and outfits. Found a pair of shoes, a Doctor Who scarf, and a silk skirt that will be awesome. Get home. Issac is putting together a new puzzle we had just gotten. He is in a “bored” stage- his friends (who he talks to on Skype) have all been busy, he wants to have a new hard drive so he can do more, and the weather is cold and supposed to warm up so he doesn’t want to go outside till it does. So he is watching tv, putting together the puzzle and complaining about being bored. Es realizes she is hungry and tired so makes herself some cream cheese pancakes and sits down to watch. Rach makes herself some regular pancakes. She has been working on the Minecraft world while we were gone and has just gotten working on the texture pack. Hubby is taking a nap.
I realize that I messed up about a birthday party Es was supposed to go to (her first one that was just her going for her friend and I messed up.) We shop on Amazon instead, she writes her a note on the gift, and we make plans to get together soon.
In an hour I leave for work (12 hr shift over night) but in the meantime I am back on the computer trying to problem solve and come up with solutions for running a huge facebook group while lacking the proper tools to do it.
We get the “my kids are doing nothing but play video games/watch tv/look at a screen and I can’t stand it, what should I do?” question about once every week or so on our (now huge) Christian unschooling Facebook group. It has become the norm. We are all kind of tired of it. Really. For many reasons. Mostly because we hear the fear, we know the paradigm shift hasn’t occurred yet, and we know it will be a fight to get there, and that part is exhausting. The following is a recent response that I wrote while super-short on sleep 😀 but which ended up covering all the basics in one place.
To pull from something my dear friend Pam often points out; how much time is “nothing other than game on their PC/ds/Wii”. Do they get up to get a drink? Go to the bathroom? Eat something? Sleep? If they are doing those things then clarify. They are doing something other than just playing games. They are probably getting up. They may even jump around, do other things. They may spend a few minutes getting something, look something up, they may even go play with something else for a while, go outside, play together beside the tv, they are very likely doing something else too. We need to see those things and recognize that no, the child is not spending “all their time”, they are spending more time than we feel comfortable with.When we start out with a generalization, it is really hard to get from the viewpoint of seeing it in a negative light to seeing “screens” as many different types of learning and internal things going on and the screen itself as just the media they are getting those things.
My husband spends the majority of his day in front of a screen. Working, playing, socializing. He does many different things and yes, he has always preferred doing things in front of a computer screen to elsewhere- there are just so many more things to do, it is a vast world full of many, many types of media in one place- no huge mess to clean up when he wants to play a game, he can write quickly and efficiently, read quickly and move between many different things to read, watch a movie, change the movie, and so on. It is an amazing, miraculous thing that allows us to communicate with our friends across the world (he collaborates with people all across the US weekly on huge projects), work anywhere (he works with people from all across the globe) and so on. It is amazing that this technology is available in our lifetimes and our children get to learn the language of it now, easily, without fear. Our kids are going to live in a world where much of their time is going to be in front of the computer. Some people won’t, but the vast majority will. They will use it for work, for play, for socialization, and as unschoolers we have the freedom to let them learn it right now, first hand, and be proficient at it. This is a huge boon compared to kids who are stuck in a classroom unable to look things up as they are interested. Our kids will be well prepared for the future, right now.
“Technology is here to stay. So why would I choose to keep my kids illiterate in the language that they may need for the future? A half an hour a day does not give kids time to explore the land scape.” ~Aza Donnelly
That said, if you are still really uncomfortable with how much time they are spending, then you get off the computer (you are here, reading this, communicating with others, online) and do really cool things out where they will see. Things that they will love. You make things available that go with what they love on their games (you will probably have to get online to research those things). You find things that associate with what they are doing so there is a connection- if they are into a game that has an associated tv show or other media then there are probably lots of products out there related to it- pick up a book connected with it, or some figurines, or whatever. If there is a website that has info about the game they are playing (hints, a walkthrough, a wiki- my kids learned to navigate the internet and read because they loved looking up info for their games) put it on your screen and show it to them. If the fact that they would be reading it on a screen bothers you, then you can often buy a gamers guide but they do get expensive. Offer to help them create a database of the characters and their skills, or print up ones you find online for quick reference. Pick up a gaming magazine for kids, or a book about the collectibles or whatever. Find ways you can connect with the kids where they are, ask them about the games, the shows, whatever. Bring them healthy finger foods if you are worried about what they are eating or that they aren’t eating enough. Ask them about the game, what they are playing, the plot, the people in the games. Let them know you are thinking about them and want to encourage their interests. Find some aspect you can understand and join them where they are.
This will help you connect with them and really get a feel for what they are getting out of all the things they do on that form of media, and maybe even why. And as they feel you are really trying and aren’t going to “take it away” and that you aren’t frowning about it at them, they will loosen their hold on it a bit and gradually they will start joining you in the cool things you are doing (not all), they will start looking at the books, playing with the associated toys or crafts, and so on. (Many of us have minecraft posters on the wall, or Pokemon, or Skylanders, or Terraria, and books, and action figures, stuffies, houses full of geek references.) Meeting them where they are will help you feel connection with them again (which is usually where the parents panic when they start feeling the kids are doing “nothing but screen things”.) It takes time for both sides, but it is like learning another language and our kids get to do it first-hand and be prepared for this changing world where screens are an everyday all the time part of our lives.
I am having a hard time posting this. It feels pointless and kind of more personal than I usually get here. Plus I try to avoid talking about other people outside of my immediate family because well, this stuff is their business not mine but here I kind of do, in a round about way, and it feels weird. But I am going to post it anyway, because, there it is.
I turn 40 this year (not until August but I am pondering right now). I have multiple other friends who are also turning 40 (which is very funny for a girl who never had friends her own age to suddenly have friends her own age). There has been much chatter among us about bucket lists, things we wish we had done, things we want to do. So of course that got me pondering my own stuff.
The thing is I am happy in my life. There isn’t anything awesome I have always wanted to do. There isn’t anything I haven’t already gone and done if I wanted to. There isn’t any class I would like to take, thing I would like to learn. There aren’t any new hairstyles, clothing styles, tattoo, piercings, what-have-you that I want to try that I haven’t already. (Nope, not interested in tattoos though I enjoy seeing them on others, I have all the piercings I want and don’t even use those, I love seeing other people with dreads but just thinking about having them makes my head itchy and gives me a headache, and I already dress and wear my hair exactly how I like it.) The only thing I plan to do, I hope to do, is pay off my college loan and travel more in the future but I want to pay off that pesky loan first, which I am working on. Otherwise I am happy with my life. I like where I am, who I am, what I am. So, thinking about turning 40 and where I am and where I am going I am also pondering where I have been and I realize that sometimes I forget.
Sometimes I forget where I came from. I forget the experiences that brought me to where I am now.
A lot of it I choose to forget.
Fourteen year old me was a naive idiot who was also slightly boy crazy and a stalker. She was best friends with a cheerleader and a book geek who was smarter than me, way smarter (she is now a college professor) and was always fighting with one of them. She had several friends that were boys (the only ones she could talk to- was afraid of talking to anyone else and didn’t realize till years later that they had crushes on her. She began her battle with Rheumatoid arthritis, crawling to the shower every morning hoping that by the end she would be able to stand up and then walk.
Sixteen year old me thought being skinny was more important than life and battled anorexia and bulimia. She dated a sweet guy, cheated on him with another guy who was less sweet, then dumped him right before prom (which is where Shamus and I got started).
Seventeen year old me thought it romantic to say I didn’t want to get married because I hoped I would die in an auto accident before I was 21. She fought depression, chopped off all her hair, quit wearing makeup, decided she had had way too much of trying to be like anyone else. She was the girl who thought she was crazy. Really. Till she got a hold of Myer’s Briggs/Kersey Temperament sorter and realized no, just had a unique personality, only 1% of the population. She years later would find out that her brother’s female friends looked up to her and thought she was the coolest thing since sliced bread.
Eighteen through 21 year old me was in college, hung out in the library stacks or in the art department, had a series of good friends ranging from an older student who was lovely, sweet and said hi to me everyday until I finally responded then invited me to hang out with her almost daily- I would love to see what she is up to now…but I can only remember her first name because I suck and had a horrible memory back then, a gay drug dealer who was the sweetest guy I ever met, a guy who had a wall of porn on the back of his door who offered to beat up any guy who treated me wrong but was definitely not interested in me as a girl, a girl who was so extroverted that she couldn’t stand to be alone, ever, a 50 year old hippy dude who probably hung around me because he assumed from the way I dressed and behaved (ditz anyone?) I could probably get him some weed, a fun-loving art chick who did her best to sleep around with every guy she could because she was getting married soon and didn’t want to cheat on him (he reminded me of the jerk fiance from The Wedding Singer), a wonderful British black chick who happened to be an orphan and hated being called African American because “I am BRITISH and I am BLACK.” Managed to destroy that friendship in one night when I went on an anti-abortion tirade only to find out she had had 2 and had never told anyone.
I dated a series of guys including a D&D geek who also larped (boy do I wish I hadn’t dated him and had just gone along for a game – because awesome), 2 guys that were 9 years older than me- 1 a Star Trek geek geologist and 1 an art geek who had a hippy bus and smoked weed, and Shamus, who I dated off and on because I was an idiot and didn’t know how awesome I had it with him. I also got hit on by a lesbian (didn’t know it. My friends had to take me aside and explain things to me later that night), hung around a lot of people who smoked pot and drank and never once tried either and generally didn’t realize they even did, went to my one and only party and thought it remarkably dumb- probably because I didn’t drink or smoke, had ramen for the first time ever, took a bus for the first time, spent 3 months in Poland, lost my passport, all my money, and my id in one go by leaving it in a cab in Poland, had a creepy stalker that I had to call the police about, worked as nanny for 6 kids, learned to metal smith, discovered that I don’t enjoy pottery making, found out that that problem with the weird missing chemical that meant cold medicines didn’t work also meant wonderful drugs like Xanax don’t work, discovered that I knew more than my professors in the classes I was interested in- that was super disappointing – pay for a class then be asked to help teach it- um, no, and spent a lot of time with my nose in a book unrelated to my actual studies.
I hate thinking about it because I hate thinking about how foolish I was. Really. I hate who I was. That girl was whiny, a compulsive liar, went through a huge bought of depression including lists of how to commit suicide (never tried any- I am a wimp), had no problem cheating on her boyfriend, was scared to talk to people (unless they talked to her first, then couldn’t shut up), and had a huge case of “poor me”. There is a reason I try to forget her.
Sometimes we forget on purpose. But in the process we forget part of what made us who we are now. I hate lying passionately because I used to lie constantly. I hate hanging around whiny complainers because that is what I used to be. But the people? I wonder about them. Where are they now. Who are they now? They are probably all out there somewhere and I wonder. I don’t really want to hang out with any of them, except maybe cheerful neighbor girl and awesome British art chick, but the rest, nah. But I wonder.
I also forget the other people. I have had a lot of friends who, when we quit seeing eye to eye, when they found out that even though we agree on these things we really disagree on that thing drifted off or just plain left, some I just drifted away from as our lives took us different directions, some just put up with me until they couldn’t any more, some were genuine friends until we couldn’t be for one reason or another… all those people. I wonder about them. Some were more mature than I was, just couldn’t get through to me and finally realized I just wasn’t ready for what they were advising me and moved out of the way. I wonder how many I drove crazy with my whining and complaining (didn’t stop that till my late 20’s- blech. I feel bad for anyone who was near me during that time because I was high maintenance.)
Sometimes I forget about all of them, because I am busy trying to forget who I was. I don’t want to remember. I don’t want to think of the people I hurt with my words, with my actions, with my behaviors, with my constant complaining about my life and my husband. And I did. It was horrible. It nearly destroyed my marriage. I know now but I didn’t then. And in forgetting I forget how I got here. What changed and how and what God did and how amazing it was.
Sometimes I forget how He removed my fear. I forget how He very clearly and deliberately removed my lying. My worry. My complaining. I think that last took the longest, because not only did I have to change my behavior but I also had to heal the relationships my complaining had damaged. I had to learn to encourage, to be gentle, to be kind. I had to learn to love. It was hard. I didn’t love His people. I couldn’t stand them. I hated people and all their quirks and how they called me weird all the time. How they looked down on my point of view, discounted it because I didn’t see the world they did. I hated it. I hated them.
Sometimes I forget all that and start to slide back into that place. I start whining about things, complaining, getting irritated at this or that, or realizing I have been cranky instead of compassionate. I don’t have it all together but I do have to guard against falling back into the old habits He eradicated, and to do that I have to remember.
Sometimes I forget that I spent years praying that God would give me love for his people. Praying for peace. And wisdom. And discernment. Because I didn’t have those things. I just had fear and worry and whining and complaining and foolishness, even after He removed the lying. And slowly. Surely. He removed them. One by one. He removed that stuff and I go and forget.
Nowadays sometimes I forget that everyone is dealing with things I may know little to nothing about. Things that aren’t even on my radar but have been in the past. I am surprised when someone talks about gambling, or going to a bar, or watching a ball game, or some problem at church, or their flavor of politics because those things usually don’t come up. Those things aren’t a part of our lives so I don’t think about them. And sometimes I forget they exist.
Sometimes I forget that I used to force my opinion on other people. That I used to argue everything, and could easily slide from one side to the other while they weren’t looking. I was good at that. I was sneaky. Nowadays I prefer to do things differently. I don’t talk my anarcho-capitalist-libertarian views with my anarcho-communist friends, or my extreme liberal friends, or my greenie friends or my republican friends, unless someone else brings it up. I don’t talk anti-vaccine or alternative medicine stuff with my traditional medicine pro-vaccine friends. I don’t talk about unschooling to my teacher friends. I don’t talk about Christianity with my atheist gaming geek or artist friends. At least I don’t do it deliberately- if you follow me on Facebook then you likely get an eyeful of things you don’t like though I don’t usually share the obnoxious stuff I agree with. I am sure many people I know choose to hide me from their feed, I hope so if it irritates them. I know I do all the time. The stuff that takes something I see as truth and shoves it in your face in a snarky way- I may like it but I choose not to share. As much because I hate when people I disagree with share snarky stuff and because that stuff tends to lead to arguments but also because I prefer showing instead of telling, especially snarky telling. So I try to live my life out in the open. I don’t always manage it but I try. That way people who disagree with us can see that stuff and ignore it, or if they see it, that it blesses us, they can ask me about it (and they do. I spend a lot of my days nowadays answering questions.) But it is amazing to remember how I got here. Why we believe the way we do about all the things that mainstream thinkers call us weird about (or whichever catch their eye). And I still get that. Being called weird when I share my views, having my ideas pushed aside because they are too far out of the box. Sometimes getting poo-pooed and called weird hurts just like it did when I was a kid. But then I remember that, well, for me, the box is still there. I just don’t bother climbing in. I prefer to stay outside and see all the cool stuff out here. I just need to make sure I don’t forget. Forget what it was like. Forget where I come from. Forget how things used to be. Forget why they changed.
So I guess my goal for the coming year is to not forget. To remember. To remember where I came from. Who I was and how I got here. To deliberately remember that I am still becoming, that I am not finished yet, but that I have come a long way.
I have been leery of writing about this since we have only really had a one week trial, well, a little over a week. But so far it is working. It is interesting to see what aspects are and what aspects aren’t. Also, Rachel is still out of town so that will change the dynamic when she returns but here goes.
You may remember, if you have read this site for anytime at all, that roughly 2 years ago we quit chores. No more chores. We were done. After that there were some whinyposts as I dealt with my own baggage regarding chores.
A lot has changed since then. I now work full time. The family is here all day without me, making messes without me here to clean up as I go. When Shamus isn’t working a lot he will do dishes or clean the bathroom and the kids pitch in occasionally but they are all busy with their own stuff and a clean house isn’t a huge priority to them. We still do Saturday Sabbath which is wonderful, and the house stays relatively clean because we don’t have a lot of “stuff” and we do have a pretty good system in place for that. The problem is that I work Sundays. Twelve hour Sundays. And Monday I like to rest and get caught up on computer stuff I missed out on at work. So coming home to a mess- dishes in the living room, dishes in the sink, random stuff on the table. Not huge messes but not neat, not calm, not clean, was getting frustrating. Working 36 hrs a week and then taking Grandma shopping each week and doing our own family shopping…well, I was getting cranky and exhausted. I was burning out. It isn’t that the family wasn’t getting anything done. They were but I was picking up the slack anytime it didn’t get done (I have higher standards of cleanliness than everyone else, except Issac- but he keeps his room and desk clean and doesn’t notice the rest), and most days it came down to me.
We needed a solution. There were certain things we knew from past experience it had to be:
It had to be elegant. Simple. Easy to implement. None of us have the energy or time to fuss with details. I hate lists and schedules. So does the rest of the family. So no lists, no schedules. No “standards”.
It had to be something we could all do- no “kids get paid for jobs that parents do for free” (leading to cranky parents when kids choose not to help).
It had to benefit everyone and everyone had to agree it was fair.
It had to allow for various quality of work and reward accordingly.
It had to be easy to figure out and make sure people got paid and work with when we couldn’t pay due to no money.
It was tricky to come up with something that would work for that list, but suddenly it all fell into place. We would pay per hour. That was it. For any work done to benefit the family that member would get paid. Each member has their own rate based on experience, quality of work, time taken to do work. After a lot of talking it out we came up with the kids starting at $5 per hour and myself and Shamus getting $10 per hour- I am faster and more experienced but not as meticulous, he is slower but super high quality work when he does it. Issac is like Shamus. Takes forever to do a load of dishes but every dish is perfectly clean, dry, and put away neatly. Es is more like me, hurried but doesn’t take long. We used “doing a load of dishes” as our measurement with the goal of “each family member earning roughly $2.50 for a whole load of dishes. That is the job that needs done most often. That is the job that is most easily measured because we know how each person does the job. Each kid can up the quality/speed of their work and get paid more per hour. That is the only time they need to show us their work. They need to prove they have consistently upped the quality of their work in order to get a raise. Otherwise we have a sheet of notepaper on the wall and everyone just notes an estimate of time spent. 5 minutes sweeping the floor? Mark 5 min. on the sheet. An hour cleaning a room, or doing laundry, or shopping for groceries? Mark an hour. Whatever.
Yes, it takes trust, and we trust the kids and they trust us. It is up to them if they write something down or not. If they want to do something out of love then awesome. If they want to put down the time spent helping me take Grandma shopping then great. If they can’t remember exactly what time they started something and estimate, it is fine. No stress.
So how has the first week gone?
Esther worked 4.5 hours. She helped with several projects she would never have helped with in the past. She worked harder in hopes of working her way up to $6 an hour. She also spent quite a bit of time figuring out the math behind how much she needed to save up for a game she wanted and helped her brother do the same. She worked till she had enough to buy the new game she wanted and stopped unless I asked for help for something, but it was still wonderful having a sparkling clean kitchen when I got home from work. She also learned a lot about how her sister and I, and pretty much every other person who has cleaned something only to have to do it again the next day, feel about cleaning the kitchen- “It is really frustrating, I worked so hard to get it really clean yesterday and already it is messy again and we have to do it all over again.”
Issac worked 2.5 hours and 10 minutes or something like that. Enough to buy a game he wanted and get his Roblox Builder’s Club for the month. He is talking about working a little each day so he can save up for a new computer but hasn’t gotten to the point of doing just yet.
Shamus worked 1.5 hours but spent a lot of the time I was home and awake writing.
I worked 9.5 hours. That included some projects I had been putting off so isn’t really my norm. It was so much easier to do that knowing I was going to get some reimbursement for my time, that my time was important. I love serving my family, I have been doing it for 17 years now but it was nice to feel valuable, and also to feel like I wasn’t just spending money that needed to go to other things. The money I spend is “mine”. I can use it to buy people things but there is no guilt and no stress. (I recognize that I am working for my money “twice”. So is Shamus. It is more a system for divvying up money that lets everyone help out and feel valued. I am thinking in general I will end up closer to 4 hours a week, maybe 5, which is much more reasonable financially.
In general the house is staying cleaner- everyone knows how it feels to clean and have it messed up again and forming habits of cleaning up after themselves. The kids now have a real means of earning money towards bigger things, it is no longer in our hands, it is in theirs. Everyone is happy because we all have an easy way to get spending money. If we don’t have the money at the time then it will be “saved” until we do. I plan to finance my traveling out of that, as well as games clothes, treats, etc for all. This means we will likely, in the long run, spend less as a family than we normally do when money isn’t tight.
It will be interesting to see if this is something we can continue or if we find it is just too expensive or if it just falls to the way side. For now it is really working and we all are pretty happy with the results.
I neglected to add that I post jobs that need done to the door frame using mini post-it notes, which get tossed when a job is done (or for recurring jobs they get put in a pile). And for Sabbath prep I move the notes to the table so all can see what needs done an grab what they want to do.
It occurred to me that it is likely that, in the future, we could hire people for a set time for more regular job and have everyone sign up. For instance, “I would like to hire someone to do this job each day and whoever wants it can do it each day or once a week or whatever. ” Or we can do a scheduled time each day more like a regular job. The possibilities are endless. We could also offer an extra $1 an hour for certain jobs. For now we are keeping it simple and we will add to it as it is needed or as we figure out what works.
This has all already lead to a conversation about how Issac would like to save us money by not charging. I pointed out that even better he could do more jobs and even if we are paying him, by not paying me he will be saving our family $5 an hour. He thought that was pretty cool.
Happy anniversary to us. 17 years of…maybe not bliss- had to make it through the first half when we were both still dumb but now? I get to be married to a super genius who is hilarious and awesome and brilliant and wonderful. What more could I ask. Happy anniversary Mr. Super Genius Awesome-pants.