Replacing the daily grind with a daily rhythm

The other day I shared my tips for creating a peaceful atmosphere in the home. One idea I kept returning to was the idea of rhythm. Sounds simple enough, right? Just find your rhythm. But what is it and how do you get it?

Put simply, rhythm is the flow of your days, your week and your year. It’s not as rigid as a schedule,  nor as chaotic as flying by the seat of your pants. It’s the steady in and out breath of homelife, held together by purpose and predictability.

Children in particular tend to thrive on knowing what comes next. As an adult I still find I feel calmer if I know both what needs to be done, and that I will have enough time in my day to do it. This is the purpose of rhythm.

Rhythm allows a sense of calm to settle on us and our homes.

Finding rhythm in the home comes naturally for some, but if this is new to you, or even if you just need a hand to tweak your exisiting rhythm, these ideas can get you started.

1. Make a list

Grab a pen and paper and settle yourself down in a quiet, sunny spot where you can think. Start jotting down what you need to do each day. For me this looks like chores, formal lesson time for my son, feeding animals, putting the wee one down for her nap, preparing meals, spending too much time on Instagram… :-p

2. Find the touchstones

Your touchstones are the moments that happen at roughly the same time every day; day in and day out. Waking up, eating meals together, bedtimes. If these are all over the place, making these moments predictable is where you need to start.

Create a bedtime ritual and set a rough time for meals. If there is predictability in these moments, your whole day will run smoother. Build your rhythm around these touchstones.

Build your day around meals and bedtimes. Create rituals for these everyday happenings. These are the touchstones which will hold your daily rhythm together.

3. Breathe in and breathe out

Look at the activities you listed in step one. Split them in to two groups. One group is your outwardly focussed activities, the second for inwardly focused activities. Another way to look at this in the context of running a home could be energetic activities compared to peaceful activities. You want to alternate between these throughout the day.

Follow a breathing in activity with a breathing out activity . You’re not looking to schedule in times, just to create an order for events to occur in. This will give your day flow. Write down your order of events in respect to your touchstone moments.

Alternate breathing in actions with breathing out actions to give your days a sense of flow.

And you’ve done it!

Everyday doesn’t need to look the same. You may find you need to change the middle of each day depending on what you have on. Just try to keep those touchstone moments in place and try to maintain the balance of in and out breath to the day.

Here’s a look at our daily rhythm.

This is our rhythm Monday to Wednesday (days we hold Main Lessons)

Tip!
Creating rituals around activities can help to anchor them in your day and make the mundane a little more special. Perhaps a little verse when you serve lunch, or a particular apron you like to wear to do the housework?

Our weeks and years have a ryhthm of their own too.  I’ll be chatting about those another time ๐Ÿ™‚

Kirstee xx

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A recipe for fun: MUD KITCHENS!ย 

There are some beautiful, fancy mud kitchens turning up on Pinterest. Looking at them you could almost be forgiven for thinking a mud kitchen is just too expensive or too much hard work. But out here in the real world, mud kitchens are just good, clean fun. Well, not clean exactly ๐Ÿ˜€

So what do you really need to make a truly awesome mud kitchen? It really only takes THREE things…

1. Mud

Dirt + water = mud. It’s free. It’s fun. I’m sure you have some lying around. If not, pick up a cheap bag of garden soil from Bunnings and dump it in your designated spot. That brings us to number…

2. A place to get muddy

Choose your spot wisely. Near a hose is good. Near the clothesline you hang your white linen on? Not so much. You only need enough room for a kid, the mud and…


3. Junk from the kitchen

Think old pots and pans with scorched bottoms,  rusted patty cake tins, that old broken wooden spoon you didn’t want to just throw away. If you can put mud in it or stir mud with it, it is perfect!


And that’s it. No pinterest required. Have fun!

Planning a Main Lesson Block

The winter break is coming to an end and I am busy planning our next Main Lesson Block.

“What’s that?”, I hear you ask.

Well, every 3-6 weeks we choose a core academic area to focus on and plan our formal lesson time around this theme. It’s an immersive learning technique employed by Waldorf educators the world round. The idea is that a topic is explored in depth using all of the lively arts to bring the topic alive for the child/ren. (Waldorf schools then have 2 more lesson blocks per day, but we do things a little differently in our home environment. Back to the planning…)

Before the winter holidays we enjoyed a block on science,  exploring sunbeams, air and the water cycle. Here’s a snapshot of some of Nikolai’s work on the watercycle.

Wet on wet watercolour painting from our Story of a Water Droplet’s Journey

Chalk drawing of Water Cycle

When we start back next week we’ll be tackling grammar through the medium of Animal Tales and Fables. And believe it or not, Nikolai is excited about this introduction to grammar! I kid you not. That’s the magic of this approach.

So how do we go about planning a Main Lesson Block?

Choose a core learning area

First off you need to decide if you want to tackle maths, language arts, science, geography, history, etc. We did a science block last time so will go with a language arts block this time.

Choose a skill to focus on

In the realm of language arts we could choose to focus on handwriting, phonics, sentence structure…we are going with grammar, and more specifically with parts of speech.

If you were working on a maths block perhaps you would choose working with the four basic processes, times tables, fractions or measurement. Science could be the elements, weather, habitats, etc.

For those of you who would like a little direction on what to choose when, ACARA  (the people in charge of the Australian Curriculum) have approved a Steiner Curriculum Framework which outlines which topics to address each year. 

You could also go direct to the source and read Steiner’s lectures or utilise a resource such as Alan Whitehead’s ‘Spiritual Syllabus’ which lays out the progression of topics for you. Or go ahead and choose your own adventure if you feel so inclined! 


Choose your teacher resources

Where will you as the parent get your information from? Will you draw it from a purchased curriculum or piece it together from other resources?  For our grammar block I will be using Doroth Harrer’s English Manual as my primary resource. 


Choose your stories

New information is brought to the child in the form of a story.  Each 3 day cycle has its own story, often told cumulatively. Simply calculating how many 3 day cycles you have in your block will let you know how many stories you will need to bring to your child. This is a short block for us so I will only need 3 stories. I have decided I would like to use my own version of the grammar fairy story in Dorothy Harrer’s book to introduce our topic, so that makes 4 stories in total. 

This time round I have scoured our local libraries and found a book of Australian animal fables, a pictire book of Russian trickster tales and a few other gems to draw from.

Traditionally in Steiner/Waldorf education, certain types of stories are presented to the child each year to meet them at their stage of development physically, mentally and spiritually. In first grade that is fairy tales, third is creation stories (often Old Testament stories, but it doesn’t have to be), fourth would be Norse myths. We are in the middle of second grade so stories of saints and heroes, animal fables and trickster tales are traditional. As I mentioned above, we will be using animal stories and fables this block.

Next I need to either choose stories or write them myself to convey the information I want to impart to the child. If I want to use someone else’s story, well of course I need to find it. Libraries, google, purchased curriculums; all of these are good places to look for the tales I need. In either case, the stories are usually told and not read. I do, however, like to leave complementary books lying around to be explored or to call upon to support a lesson.


Choose your activities

I mentioned above that learning is brought to life through the application of the lively arts, one of which is the Literary Arts, i.e. the story we are using as a basis for our topical learning. Accompanying activities to strengthen understanding came from the remaining arts; Dramatic Arts, Visual Arts, Movement Arts and Music Arts. 

Will I have my child/ren retell the story, role play it, mold beeswax figures to use as table puppets to reimagine the tale?

Warming beeswax to model pictures we could see in the sky when learning about clouds

Will we write summaries or lists in our books,  draw pictures or make beautiful wet on wet watercolour paintings?

Is there a song or verse we could memorise and perform?

A few activities we will use in our grammar block include writing colour-coded lists of nouns and verbs from our stories into our Main Lesson Books, performing our stories using clapping or stomping to denote nouns and verbs (in essence acting out the grammer using movement), taking a bushwalk to name plants and animals and brainstorming verbs and adjectives to describe what we see. 


Plan out daily lessons

Once I have an idea of what I want to bring the lesson, and an understanding of why and how I will do this, now I can map out what our individual weeks and days will look at. Typically a three day rhythym is used where each day builds on the last with ‘sleeping on it’ an important part of processing the information.

For example:

Day 1- bring the story. Sleep on it ๐Ÿ˜‰

Day 2- review the story (or review then build on it if using a cumulative tale). Follow up with a complementary art/craft activity

Day 3- review the story and write summary or perform a retelling

Begin again with next story.

The key is to ensure you are balancing inward and outward activities, utilising all of the lively arts in your lessons (perhaps some are used in a circle time warm up if they don’t fit your Main Lesson plans?) and address the head, heart and hands. Because that really is the point of holistic education, to educate the WHOLE CHILD, not just impart knowledge we deem important.

Take away message?

1. Know what you want to teach and why

2. Create balance and rhythm in your lessons

3. Teach to the whole child

And that’s it. It seems a lot but gets easier as you go along. Most important of all? Have fun!

How to homeschool SUCCESSFULLY

This winter holidays marks one year of homeschooling for us. We have had so much fun, tried so many new things and I’ve learnt a thing or two as a homeschool mama along the way. 

1. Prioritise your child over your philosophy 
There are some inspired ideas out there in the homeschool world. I was blown away by the number of different home education models there were to choose from. You’ve got Charlotte Mason, Montessori, Steiner/Waldorf, Classical, Unschooling and Natural Learning, Eclectic, Reggio and other Enquiry-Based models, Project-Based Learning, Unit Studies…and seriously, that list is not even complete! And they all sound amazing. 
You can fall in love with a method on paper and discover it just does not work for your kid. Or for you! Maybe you like one aspect and not another. But guess what? You CAN change models.  You can pick and mix like this is the lolly counter at the cinema.


Don’t let yourself become so married to a philosophy that you struggle through when it isn’t making your child happy,  or you dread the thought of delivering another day’s lessons. Change tracks. Even if it’s mid-term and you’ve just had your yearly plan approved by the power’s that be. Take the week off, regroup and come back with something new. 
I also think it’s really important not to let ourselves be talked into a method by its champions. Some bloggers and ‘experts’ have a way of making you think their way is not just the best way, but the only way. It’s very easy to let yourself be sucked in by their…let’s say enthusiasm. 


No one knows you and your child like you do. If you love what you are doing, go with it. If a particular method just doesn’t speak to you, forget about it. If you want to swap and swap back, or take a little of this and a little of that, do it!

2. Don’t underestimate the importance of community

There will probably come a time (or two) when you think, ‘I can’t take another day of this. I want to give up’. I know some truly AH-MAZING women who are rockin’ this homeschool biz like it’s nobody’s business. They inspire me on  daily basis. And even they have admitted to their moments. 
Some days (weeks…dare I say months???) it can all feel too hard and the pull of public school can be pretty powerful. Do NOT underestimate the power of your homeschooling community to see you through.


These parents will get you. They will be there to share war stories, to inspire you, to give you suggestions, to bounce ideas off. They will be your shoulder to cry on and your biggest cheer squad. These wise women will celebrate your triumphs right there alongside you.


I couldn’t imagine how I would have made it through the last year without the friendships I have made within the homeschool community. If you get nothing else accomplished in your homeschool year, make sure you find yourself (and your children) a community to be part of. 
3. Believe in yourself

Believe in yourself but don’t take yourself too seriously. Society wants us all to be pretty much the same. It’s comfortable for everyone that way.Homeschooling is just a little different and doing something different takes guts. You need to believe in what you are doing and in your ability to do it. 
That doesn’t mean you need to be perfect. Perfection doesn’t exist. Everyone makes mistakes,  has a few terrible ideas and their fair share of grumpy days. It makes us human. 
Laugh at yourself. Like yourself. Care for yourself. Your children are watching and learning from you. Teach them that confidence and self-belief come from within. Teach them to try new things, to learn from mistakes, to fall down then get right back up and keep going. Teach them self-respect by respecting yourself. Teach them to fight for what they believe in. 
Not everyone is going to agree with your decision to homeschool, or with the unique way you decide to go about it. That’s ok. So long as you believe in yourself and in the choice you have made for your family. You’ve got this mama!

Changing the feel of your home

“Your home is always so peaceful and calm”.

I laughed when he said it because the kids had been screaming ten minutes before The Mister and His Mate walked in. But when I stopped laughing for a moment and looked around my home, soaking up the feel of it, I realised he was right. Somehow over the last year these four walls had become a haven of calm in a never-endingly busy world (tantrums notwithstanding). How had this happened?

The changes happened so slowly, so organically, that it felt like they happened all on their own. I wondered, was it the renovations? I suppose that helped. There is a lot more natural light now. I certainly don’t miss the carpet. Or that wall we apparently  didn’t need ๐Ÿ˜‰

But it was more than that. Simpler than that. It was a changing of the culture of our home that has brought this feeling of calm, of quiet purpose, of peace. And as luck would have it, they were changes anyone can make regardless of budget or whether you are owning or renting. No renos required.

5 Ways to Create a Peaceful Home

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1. No t.v.

Ok so we have a tv. We even watch it *gasp*. We just don’t watch a lot of it and we very rarely watch it during the day anymore. Actually we rarely watch tv at all on weekdays. Movie night has become something to look forward to.

This is the number one change we have made that completely altered the feel of our home. It’s astonishing how noisy it feels even having it on quietly in the background now. It puts me on edge. We do often have calming music on low instead but it is always something relaxing and unobtrusive.

2. Clean and uncluttered

It’s amazing how much STUFF we can accumulate over the years. Pointless, expensive, takes-up-too-much-space stuff. Trust me- you will feel better and your home will feel calmer if you declutter. One of my favourite things about my home is the feeling of space and airiness. That all comes down to less stuff.

Jumping off the consumer bandwagon isn’t just good for the sense of calm it can bring to your home. It will save you $$$. It will also minimise your carbon footprint because less stuff equals less landfill, and less resources used in manufacturing things we really don’t need.

As for caring for your home, a daily rhythm will help you stay on top of chores without it feeling overwhelming. My home always starts to feel chaotic if I’ve strayed from our rhythm for more than a day.

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Rhonda’s book is a must read

Rhonda Hetzel of ‘Down to Earth’ fame talks about the acceptance of housework as an everyday part of life being a mindset change, and that was a light bulb moment for me. Instead of wasting our energy resenting the time and effort it takes, we can instead incorporate housework into our daily rhythm. We can take pleasure in a job well done and enjoy the resulting peace in our home.

A rhythm to our days, our weeks, the seasons, brings a sense of peace and purposefulness all of its own.

3. Organised homeschool materials

This one has taken a bit of trial and error to find what works for us, and will certainly look different depending on the style of homeschool you subscribe to. For us moving our formal activities into the kitchen, into the heart of our home, has meant that mama gets more done in a day. And that certainly helps.

It has also necessitated a change in the way we organise our materials. A pretty basket is the lynch pin of our system. I’ll chat more about the specifics of our bags and baskets another day, but the important part to note is that having a system keeps us neat and tidy, and most of all, organised. Chaos feels…well, chaotic. Organisation feels calm.

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Our homeschool basket keeps all of our materials on hand and tidy

No matter what materials you use, how many materials you have, or where in the home you ‘school’, make sure there is ‘a place for everything, and everything in its place’. Baskets are invaluable. Remember that ๐Ÿ˜‰

For those who don’t homeschool,  the same principle applies to books and toys. Reduce the volume,  organise what you have and display attractively. You’ll see more use, more respect for belongings, and won’t feel overwhelmed by ‘kid things’ taking over your home.

4. Smells of beeswax, cut flowers and homecooking

Forgetting how delicious a made-from-scratch dinner smells, what is just as important is what our home DOESN’T smell like. It doesn’t smell like harsh cleaning chemicals or synthetic fragrances. We make most of our own cleaning products now. It’s cheaper and the smell isn’t stuck in your nostrils for days.

Our children draw with beeswax crayons, and warm beeswax on the windowsill and in their soft hands to model with (think playdough for big kids, but better). We burn beeswax candles instead of turning on lights in the evening.

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Beeswax candles smell amazing and contain no nasty petrochemicals

Bunches of cut flowers from the Farmer’s Market fill vases on the kitchen bench. Herbs hang to dry in the sunroom windows. Fresh air streams in through gauzy curtains and wide open windows. The home smells fresh and alive.

5. A sense of quiet purpose

Maybe I should have put this one straight after ‘No T.V.’ because this is what has filled the space. Before, there never seemed to be enough time. Time to relax or time for hobbies. Often there didn’t even seem enough time for chores.

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Baking days are a set part of our rhythm

While the chores are still there, there is now a whole lot of time that we didn’t have before. Those hours we spent watching T.V. are now spent playing games, gardening, reading, baking together, preserving food and taking up crafts. The home hums along to the steady ryhthm of these activities. The dishes in the morning, the knitting in the evening.

And that’s the key, I think. The rhythm of the home.

Homesteading and homeschooling together have given us new rhythms and a new raison d’รชtre.

Have you found your rhythm?

When public school is the way to go

You believe wholeheartedly in the need for holisitic education. You passionately want it for your children. Yet for one reason or another you may choose to send your child to a mainstream school.

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Choose your own path

If your family is like mine,ย the travel time and the dollars involved both put alternative schooling (like Steiner Education) out of reach. That often leads to family choosing to homeschool which has been our path for the last year. But what if you don’t choose to homeschool?

Maybe you have to work so homeschooling isn’t an option. Maybe your local primary school has some fabulous programs you want to take advantage of for your child. Perhaps you gave homeschooling a go and then your little one asked to go to school like all of her friends who live on your block.

Or you were losing your mummy marbles. Or your child has special needs you find it hard to accommodate at home, on your own,ย  on a fulltime basis. Or you plain didn’t enjoy it. Maybe you just don’t want to fulltime homeschool.

And that’s ok. Really. I promise you, it is. If you have weighed up all of your options, listed your pros and cons, and have still come to the conclusion that public school is the way forward…it will be ok. Don’t let mummy guilt (or really, the internet) get you down. Your choice is valid. It is ok. More than ok.

You don’t even need to give up your dreams of providing an holistic education for your children. Honestly! Because there is this cool concept you may not have come across yet. Afterschooling.

Yep, afterschooling. For some this means sneaking in the academics they are worried their child is missing out on, but in the context of holistic education afterschooling is a conscious striving for balance in your child’s life.

Remember the head, heart and hands concept we talked about? School will take care of the head. It’s actually pretty notorious for it ๐Ÿ˜‰ Many people (myself included) feel mainstream schooling focuses too much on the head aspect. So outside the hours of 9-3, Monday through Friday, you can bring the focus to the heart and the hands.

How do you do that? By consciously focusing on the 3Rs of reverence, respect and ryhthm. By consciously choosing to forgo the cult of busy and the standard slew of extra curricular activities. By consciously including stories, handcrafts and the arts in your daily life. By consciously eschewing consumerism and instead focusing on imagination, freeplay and time in nature.

Rather than sign up for Saturday sport, perhaps you could spend the time hiking as a family. Instead of listening to the news on the radio for the drive home,  you could choose to listen to classical music or ‘Sparkle Stories’. Perhaps you could leave off the tv and work together on a sewing project or play a co-operative boardgame.

A candle and a verse when you serve breakfast. A family tradition of rolling beeswax candles and having a bonfire to mark the Winter Solstice. Meals prepared together with food collected from your garden. Baking bread together. Evenings spent listening to mama tell stories. A nature table given pride of place in the living room.

We each have to make the best choices we can for our families given our own unique set of circumstances. The trick is to make these choices work for us, rather than feel like the choices are being done to us.  Learning doesn’t just happen in schools, so holistic education doesn’t just have to happen in an alternative school or homeschool either.

You have the power to offer your child all of the benefits of an holistic education. School gets him for 30 hours a week. You get him for the other 138 hours. Make the time count.

Have you tried mainstream school with a holistic afterschooling twist?

The Holistic Homeschool

This article is Part Two of a series on holisitic homeschooling.

I know, I know. I promised this post moons ago. I’ve been busy writing an article for the next issue of Mulberry Magazine (due out very soon) and writing/procrastinating/agonising over my plan and report for the Home Education Unit. Not to mention the general business of running our micro homestead. But here it is. Finally ๐Ÿ˜‰

The holistic homeschool. What is it? What does it look like? What is the point?

In Part One of this series I talked about holisitic education and how it differs from traditional education. The topic is HUGE but at it’s core we can boil holisitic education down to a few points: rhythm, balance, relationships, a transdisciplinary approach. A holisitic homeschool takes these values and ideas and applies them to the home and to home education.

Here’s how it works at our house โ˜บ

Our home hums along to a gentle rhythm. This makes sure our day-to-day life flows gently and with purpose. Children thrive on knowing what comes next and what to expect. And to be perfectly honest, so do I. When your home is also a homestead, daily rhythm becomes imperative. Those animals aren’t going to feed themselves unfortunately. At least the bread rises all on its own ๐Ÿ˜‰

Aside from a daily rhythm which includes our everyday chores, our meals, our lesson time, play time, self-directed learning time, etc., we also have a weekly rhythm. This helps us balance our lessons to ensure we are addressing all learning areas across the week, sharing our time between home and community, between lessons and play, between inside and outside.

Overlaid with this we have our yearly rhythm. This includes family celebrations, festivals, seasonal planting/harvesting/preserving and celebrating the cycle of seasons. We endeavour to live seasonally, with respect for nature and our place within the environment.

Each of these rhythms seeks to bring balance to our lives and our learning, to foster an understanding of and respect for the environment and to help us become productive members our chosen communities.

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One of our old rhythm charts


TIP! Writing out your rhythm on a chart serves as a helpful visual reminder to the whole family.

While we are focusing on bringing our lives into a harmonious balance, we are also seeking to balance our learning. Unlike traditional schooling, book learning isn’t deemed to be more important than learning (both through and about) art, music, handwork, yardwork, or even the learning that comes through being bored and at a loose end. It’s amazing the things you learn when you’ve got nothing but time and imagination!

Aside from the intrinsic value of each of the areas mentioned, we also believe that utilising these as tools is helpful in learning the more traditional subject areas. We discover science through story telling, maths through the art of form drawing, English comprehension through drawing and modelling. And this is just to name a few!

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A story began this science lesson outside with friends. We learn handwork with the help of songs. Drawing helps with comprehension of stories. Story and manipulatives assisted this maths lesson.

A balanced approach to learning has us overlapping between the subject areas. As holisitic homeschoolers we aren’t into learning subjects as separate entities, studied individually. We try to incorporate head, heart and hands learning- to bring story, song and art- to all areas.

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Art, song and story make it into all of our learning

We’re also not very interested in sitting still in one spot for our lessons. We learn in the garden, on our nature walks, at our co-op, and on family outings. We learn in the kitchen, in the playground, on our blackboard and in our books. It happens on our couch and on the floor. Learning happens in all sorts of places with all sorts of people. It happens as part of our daily life. It happens just as often while jumping around as it does sitting still. Actually with my kids it very rarely involves sitting still for long ๐Ÿ˜€

On a very practical note, we have tried curriculum and no curriculum, very structured and rather unstructured curriculum. We’ve gone DIY and we’ve gone open and go curriculum. For us, a Waldorf-inspired approach works best and we have found Kristie’s curriculum at BEarth Institute to be the right fit for us (nope, not being paid to say that and that is NOT an affiliate link. I just love the curriculum and wanted to share it with you all).

While we dedicate LOADS of time to pursuing personal interests, to freeplay and to just doing our own thing, we discovered unschooling just wasn’t for us. We prefer the structure, the rhythm, the balance, the parent/teacher-child relationship that comes with a holisitic model of homeschooling. We enjoy the magic, the art and the story of the Waldorf approach (even if the anthroposophy isn’t for us).

I’d love to hear what model of homeschooling you have adopted or are drawn to and why ๐Ÿ™‚

Happy Homeschooling xx

101 ways to HOMESTEAD in the SUBURBS

Homesteading in the ‘burbs is all about becoming as self-sufficient as you can on a small parcel of land. We may not have rolling green hills for a herd of cattle, or acres of land for planting, but there is still a lot we can do with what we have.

Bloom where you are planted!

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Bonus idea! Grow sunflowers to supplement your chook feed

Not everyone is going to be able to do all of these. Not everyone is going to want to! And that’s ok.ย  I certainly haven’t managed them all and some that I try…well, I’m just not very good at *blush*

Don’t look at this as a to-do list. Rather, these are just some ideas to get you going. Most importantly,ย  remember homesteading is a mindset and should ultimately be about making your life better.

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Baking muesli bars...not one of my better skills ๐Ÿ˜‰

Get grubby and try these ideas in the garden ๐Ÿ™‚

1. dig a vegetable garden
2. grow edible vines for shade
3. rotate your crops
4. save your seed
5. swap produce with neighbours
6. plant fruit trees
7. fill pots with herbs and edible flowers
8. make weed tea
9. make homemade garden fertilisers
10. make your own mulch
11. DIY potting mix
12. lettuce, tomatoes and strawberries make fabulous pot plants if you are short on space in the ground
13. forage for edible weeds
14. try companion planting
15. explore permaculture
16. make dyes from the plants you grow and forage
17. discover what your weeds are telling you about your soilย 
18. compost your scraps

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Don’t forget the animals!

19. create an insect hotel
20. keep bees
21. keep chickens for eggs
22. consider keeping chickens for meat as well
23. learn to despatch your own chooks
24. keep dairy goats if you have the room
25. pigeons and rabbits are good for meat if you are allowed to keep them in your area. Check your local council regulations and remember rabbits are NOT allowed in Queensland
26. try your hand at aquaponics
27. grow cereal crops and greens in your chook runย 
28. feed table scraps to your chickens (not too much, mind you)

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Backyard chickens make productive pets

It’s not just about what food you can produce yourself. What you do with it counts too!

29. bake bread
30. cook meals from scratch LIKE A GRANDMA!
31. preserve the harvest
32. make your own condiments
33. learn to properly store food
34. meal plan
35. eat in season
36. bulk buy pantry staples
37. churn your own butter
38. if you buy a snack in a packet, learn to bake it yourself
39. dry your own herbs to use in cooking
40. use leftovers to create a new meal

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Nothing beats the taste and smell of freshly baked bread

Remember homesteading is not all about food…

41. carve your own wooden spoons
42. take up knitting
43. then take up crocheting
44. make your own household cleaners
45. make your own air freshener
46. grow flowers to brighten the home. This is your sanctuary!
47. learn to make home remedies from the herb garden
48. learn to sew your own clothes
49. knit a dishcloth
50. sew a tablecloth
51. mend clothes
52. darn socks
53. repair broken shoes
54. learn to sew a button on

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Knitting dishcloths is an easy beginner project

What about pets?

55. make your own pet food
56. compost pet poo
57. if you have a big block on the edge of town, why not keep sheep to provide your own wool (they can also provide meat, milk and mow the grass for you!)
58. learn to spin
59. learn to felt wool for making your own toys, clothes and bags

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We feed her and she catches mice trying to steal chook food. Win win. Plus she is adorable and weird

And don’t forget the kids ๐Ÿ™‚

60. homeschool
61. make toys for your munchkins instead of buying them
62. have your children make gifts for family and friends
63. knit your own baby blankets and booties
64. involve your kids in caring for the home and garden

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Happy homeschool days

But take care of yourself…

65. make your own deoderant
66. make your own soap
67. go one better and make your own cosmetics
68. sew your own menstrual pads

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Reading and crafting make me happy

Homesteading involves the whole home and everyone in it

69. create a chore routine
70. DIY renovations
71. create your own artwork to decorate your home
72. weave a rug for the living room
73. sew curtains
74. make yourown beeswax polish for furniture
75. use solar power
76. make your own laundry powder or detergent
77. ditch the dryer and line dry
78. make your own soy or beeswax
candles
79. sew a quilt to keep you warmย  instead of turning on heaters
80. collect and store rainwater
81. utilise your greywater
82. composting toilets and ‘humanure’ are allowed by some councils
83. learn to take care of your own basic car maintenance
84. take up woodworking
85. learn to use handtools
86. sharpen your own gardening tools
87. learn the basics of plumbing
88. do odd jobs yourself instead of calling a handyman

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Learning to renovate is fun and saves money!

Self-sufficiency also means relying less on banks and bosses!

89. make a plan and work towards getting out of debt. It may take a long time, but keep going in the right direction
90. learn to budget
91. save for a rainy day
92. start a home-based business, maybe taking advantage of some of your developing craft skills!
93. stockpile basic food in case of job loss or natural disaster

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Free fun helps the budget

Remember becoming more self-sufficient doesn’t mean doing everything yourself. Learn to rely on your community instead of on corporations.

94. shop at farmers markets
95. buy from the farm door
96. meet your neighbours and help them out when you can. They’ll hopefully return the favour
97. join community organisations
98. share what you know with others then share your mistakes with them too! We can learn from each other ๐Ÿ™‚
99. organise a seed swap
100. barter
101. exchange

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I dried a bootload of rosemary a friend was giving away

There you have it! 101 ideas for homesteading in the suburbs. I’ll bet you can think of a few more and I’d love to hear them so please share your ideas below.

Happy homesteading xx

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Homesteading- what is it?

You’ve heard me talk about it. Suburban homesteading. But what is it?

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If you get up in the morning and put on gumboots instead of slippers, you might just be a homesteader.

If you ready your kids for school and find yourselves sitting around the kitchen table ready to start your lessons, you might just be a homesteader.

If it’s time to put dinner on and you send the kids outside to collect what you need from the garden, you might just be a homesteader.

If the change in seasons means something to you beyond a change in wardrobe…
If a hole in a sweater means work not shopping…
If you keep animals but not just pets…
YOU MIGHT JUST BE A HOMESTEADER.

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Homesteading- it’s a bit of a buzzword. You’ve probably heard it more than once, even sussed out that it refers to living a more self-sufficient lifestyle. I’d wager you could even list off a half dozen or so activities you think it includes. And you wouldn’t be alone if you’re still a little…vague about the idea.

And that’s because homesteading is more than a location. More than a set of actions. It’s a lifestyle, but more importantly it’s a mindset. And that’s why homesteading can happen on a farm or in your suburban home. And it’s why anyone can do it!

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To be a homesteader all you need is the drive to become a more self-sufficient. That’s it! If you want to live more naturally, be less reliant on shops, save yourself some money, and become a maker not a buyer, then you’re set to be a homesteader!

And because this is a mindset change,ย  these pearls of wisdom may come in handy ๐Ÿ˜‰

“Use it up, wear it out. Make do or do without”

And

“It’s not about where your home is, it’s about where your head is”  ~Rhonda Hetzel

So- are you a homesteader?

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An Holistic Approach to Education

This is Part One of a series of posts discussing holistic homeschooling.

Let me start by saying that this post feels a good deal heavier than what I normally write. I promise to return to my regular back to basics style next post. But quite a few people have expressed an interest in the approach to education we take in our home, especially as we have moved on from unschooling– at my son’s own instigation I should add. I felt that I couldn’t adequately explain our approach without a little background knowledge so please bear with me. (I promise not to hold it against you if you skip this post and come back next week ;-))

So here goes…

Traditional education- at least in the sense that it exists in the modern Western world- is focused on academics. What can we learn? How can we test it?ย  Someone, somewhere sat down and decided that one particular body of information was so vitally important that it was to be institutionally imparted to each person. Occasionally another someone shakes it up a little but the gist remains the same. This is regardless of the individual’s unique personality, interests, goals, background,ย  community and values.

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We each have our own unique view of the world and our place within it

And a lot of this information really is important and useful. I don’t know about you,ย  but I do find a use for reading, writing, algebra, geometry and so on in most days. If not most days, at least most weeks. So a focus on the 3Rs is important.

But it is not the only learning of value. What about the 3Hs – head, heart and hands? This is where holistic education differs from traditional education. As Satish Kumar points out in this video, we are not just a vessel for our minds. We are also our emotions, our actions and perhaps most importantly,ย  we are our relationships.

We are the relationship between our mind, our emotions, our body, and our spirit. That fundamental ‘thing’ that makes us ourselves, whether we attach a religious meaning to it or not. We are the relationship between ourselves and our families, our homes and our communities. We exist as the relationship between ourselves and our food, our clothes, our pets, our world.

Holistic education seeks to develop each aspect of the child, as well as their relationships with the world around them. It isn’t enough to teach them the biology of how a plant grows. They need to experience it and learn with their hands and their hearts as well.

Along with recognising the relationship between people and the environment, we also need to recognise the relationships between subjects. Maths doesn’t exist in a vacuum. It is intrinsically linked to science for example. It is a part of our everyday lives. The same holds true for the other subjects, so it doesn’t make sense to treat them as stand alone entities. Bringing learning to our children should take a transdisciplinary approach. Forget half an hour of English followed by an hour of maths drill and problems. This reductionist approach removes meaning from learning and learning becomes a chore rather than a joy.

This isn’t some wishy-washy hippy approach to education, although given what I just wrote you could be forgiven for at first thinking that ๐Ÿ˜‰ Instead , holistic education is a realisation that we aren’t just educating our children to pass a test.

We are educating our children to be their best selves. We want them to enter adulthood with an understanding of themselves and their relationship to the world around them. We want them to be confident in their interactions, mindful of their impact, passionate for their future. We want children who are well-rounded individuals capable of great compassion and thoughtful influence. We want them to be not only capable of making a living, but of really living. We want our children to be able to take care of themselves and of others. We want more for them than just proficiency in the 3Rs.

Holistic education, with its focus on the WHOLE CHILD, provides such an education. This education may take the form of Montessori Education, Waldorf Method or Reggio Emilia Approach. Perhaps it’s enquiry-based learning or project-based learningย  It may be a combination of approaches, or look entirely different. Especially in the homeschool there is a lot of room for individuality in this approach.

Regardless of the method it is implemented by, holistic education is always โ€œa philosophy of education based on the premise that each person find identity, meaning, and purpose in life through connections to the community, to the natural world, and to humanitarian values such as compassion and peace.ย  Holistic education aims to call forth from people an intrinsic reverence for life and a passionate love of learning.โ€ย  (Ron Miller). In a nutshell,ย  we are talking about a whole child, systems approach compared to the reductionist, compartmentalist vision of the world we are usually exposed to.

This is a big topic and I’ve only scratched the surface here. For more info, I suggest reading these pages and definitely check out the video I linked to above.
An intro to the theory
What is holistic education
Methods for implementing holistic education

In Part Two of this series, I will give you a look into the practical side of holistic education, and show you how it is evolving in our home.

See you soon x