A few weeks ago this room was packed to the roof, it was the storage space for our life as our entire home was packed in here while we travelled throughout the magical land of Oz. After living in a van for almost 15 months, arriving home to all our stuff shocked us.
Why do we have so much stuff?
Why do we trade moments of our life to work and then spend the resources we are paid on accumulating more stuff? Why do we allow that stuff, which demands our time, energy and moments, to govern such a large portion of our lives?
Surely there is more to life than things and stuff?
In arriving home there have been so many questions to live alongside for each of us. So much change. We love being home. There is no where we would rather live yet reentering environments like our school and community have been both comforting and shocking. So much has changed, yet so much hasn’t.
In our home we have family meetings on Sunday nights. This is our time to connect, check in with each other and reset our direction. It is in these meetings that we adjust the sails on our families ship and check that we are still heading in the direction we aspire to. These meetings are a safe place for each of us bring our requests, a place to breathe air into all the seems unfair or out of balance, a place to question and dream forward together and celebrate all that already exists. We even do a meal plan together so everyone gets to have input into our weekly menu.
Some might say we have too many guidelines in our home. And maybe we do. We have set bedtimes for reading and rest. We pack lunches the night before school. We don’t have screen time during the week however our eldest gets one hour each day on the weekend to use as she chooses (and let me clarify that all the content on our eldest daughters device is approved and discussed within the broader context of all her parents and step parents. We are each in alignment with the appropriate nature of the apps and games she chooses). She manages her own time usage. Sometimes she saves her screen time to be used on a different day. Our youngest rarely has any screen time. And while we do our best each moment to listen to and honour our children, there are still very clear decisions that we make as the adults in our environment. Natural consequences play out in most areas of life and at times I am a part of those natural consequences. My children are heard, respected, acknowledged and honoured to the best of my ability each moment. They are also given much choice and freedom however they are only given the final say on age appropriate choices. We are each bound by societal rules, the legal system, our boss or work environments, it would be contradictory to allow my children to have choice on everything. As humans we simply don’t. At best we each have the opportunity to choose how we live with the restrictions and rules life dictates. Our only choice may be the thoughts, definitions and meanings we place on the circumstances we find ourselves in. It is important to me that I allow my children to discover this for themselves.That even in choice-less situations they have the ability to choose how they navigate the position they find themselves in.
There is so much pressure for parents to conform to some modern shiny spiritual version of parenting in this current world. Freedom and choice at times are almost worshipped. Im certain part of this is due to our own hurts and pain. It may be that somehow all the times we didn’t feel heard or acknowledged or valued may have somehow got mixed up with our needs for choice and freedom, so we compensate by giving loads of choice and freedom when maybe what is underneath is a need for empathy, to feel heard, to be acknowledged, respected or valued. For me its possible to offer the gifts of empathy, understanding, to deeply listen and acknowledge, to value, consider and respect without necessarily having to offer freedom and choice at the same time.
And while choice is important, choice does not always bring happiness. In fact if you do the research, too much choice actually results in the opposite of happiness, you only need look at this modern world to gain a little insight into this. As a society we have more ‘choice’ than ever before and alongside that depression and suicide rates are continually climbing.
I am often asked how I know I am doing the right thing by having super clear boundaries with my children. The short answer is, I don’t. Yet the solace that guides me is the continual practice of living questions. Its the open ended nature of not needing a definitive lasting answer, yet rather an open continual reflection and questioning process is the best way i have found to support my children. And this is how i show up with my best each moment.
For us there is an especially important question we visit most days in our family….
What is most important to each of us, both as individuals and as a collective?
How can we support each other to live in alignment with this?
And how closely are all our little daily choices aligned with what we value most?
In our family, for the most part, we all agree that the hoards of stuff we have distracts us from what is most important….. precious moments connecting deeply with ourselves and others. In our family meetings we have clarified that our intentions are to have fun, play, respect our differences and share our kindness and gifts with each other and the world. We also agree that it is a really tricky dance to balance this ‘conventional life’ society asks us to live alongside the precious priorities our family shares together.
We don’t always get it right. We are all learning every single day and there are many days our juggling results in a grand mess. Despite our frequent failures we choose to celebrate that we even remember to have family meetings, listen to each other, reflect, discuss, connect, share and learn together. I figure that while ever we are still asking each other questions, truly listening to ourselves and each other and taking the time to connect each day, all will be well.
So where ever you find yourself in this rich dance of juggling and balancing life, I pray that you receive the support you need to keep learning and growing together. I pray we keep being kind to ourselves, even when it isn’t pretty and that we hold precious the courage it takes to birth change into our own lives and therefore across the planet.
It seems in our current world climate it is more crucial now than ever before to keep asking hard questions and to continue to aspire for that which seems out of our current reach.
All love and kindness, KMF (The fragile woman who people often assume is somehow invincible or doesn’t have challenges who is currently living the richness and showing up vulnerable yet kind to herself with a big messy insurmountable mess and sharing anyway! DEEP BREATH! And now to keep unpacking…..)