I've had a tough time this last few weeks. In particular making decisions about where my own children go when I'm busy working on my business ambitions.
In the mist of decision making I remembered I defined my values. I realised that my values were useful in supporting my decision-making. So I wanted to write down how they have and are helping me. And also to share some of the things I've seen on Instagram that have influenced my thoughts.
1. The first value I defined is 'Respect Childhood'.
Well this couldn't be more important in determining what my kids do when I'm working. This value really means allow children to be what they are at this moment in time. Without worrying about their next step or someone else's version of what they should be doing. Children learn by copying the world around them. Cassia is constantly asking to bake cakes. Harry is picking up words so quickly as he hears them. Children are a reflection of the environments we put them in and the people they spend time with. I need to respect their time as children and go with their flow.
2. My second value is 'Process not product'.
This often comes up at forest school and various groups we go to. There is often a pressure for children to leave a session with something to take home which is perfect. I never make samples of any crafts or activities we do at forest school. I don't want to lead children and parents into thinking there is only one possible outcome from a particular process. Also once you have seen a finished product it's hard to think how could it be different? All the tool and craft work we do at forest school is about children enjoying a process. Whether it is hammering, cutting, painting or even mixing in the mud. At forest school this week I reassured a parent as her son was engrossed in using the loppers to cut wood and not interested in making the wood into an instrument. This is totally FINE! And this was important for his childhood development at this particular time. Imagine you were sewing and someone kept taking the needle and thread off you to thread the needle so that you could 'get on with sewing' when you wanted to learn to thread the needle yourself. Totally frustrating. We have to let children be and this will give them the time to learn at their own pace. It will result in them learning real lifelong pathways that they can use for the rest of their lives.
The picture below is of the little boy @Muddyfootprints_forestschol who just wanted to jump in the mud. And why not?
3. The next one is 'Kindness Is Key'.
This couldn't be more important for me this week. I know my kids. If I get cross, even for a short moment, it upsets them, blocks them from being able to engage in what they were doing. Some call it tantrums, or melt downs. What it is really is a break down in relationship and a resulting emotional response which inhibits brain pathway creation. Blimey. Really this is about always being kind. And demonstrating forgiveness as we all loose it sometimes.
In choosing who my children spend time with when I'm not there kindness is top of my list. Yes I want them outdoors and in a lovely environment. But if the people aren't kind. If they don't talk in a respectful way to everyone. If they don't engage and build relationships with the children then it's not the right place for a child.
I saved the picture below on Instagram about acts of kindness. I see it as more than this and being kind in every interaction.
4. 'Share Our Journey' is all about the process of writing down how I feel along my journey and sharing it with others. This is a reminder to share. It's tempting to knuckle down and get on. But this is about bringing my friends and followers along with me. Helping to promote conversation and engagement. It's just so nice to hear what people think. It's nice to know others are going through the same things. It's also wonderful to see photos and videos of other children living their outdoor childhoods. And hearing how parents are making this happen. If I didn't share my journey with those around me near or far I don't think it would be as much fun. Without friendships, teams, companions I would be pretty lonely. I follow @thebucketlistfamily and love the way they share their journey as a family travelling with 3 children.
5. My fifth and final value is 'Give Nature A Chance'.
I see our natural world as totally incredible. In places us humans are giving it a very hard time. The single use plastics issue is really getting to me at the moment. It feels like we are creating such a massive problem for nature which is avoidable. We are really not giving nature a chance. I asked at our local leisure centre if they could leave a jug of water on the side for people to use and the response from the cafe was 'well then we wouldn't sell any bottles of water'!! This is what we are up against in places and it's got to change.
I can't stop thinking about the poor crab in this photo from @1dropintheocean.
I'm fascinated with the coastal environment. I've booked to extend my Forest School qualification so that I can teach Coastal Schools and will be going over to Wales to Ogmore-by-Sea Beach with the fantastic Emma from Beach Academy Wales at the end of June. I can't wait. I am so excited about being able to work with children in a new environment and give them the freedom to play, explore and learn on the beach.
So my values really are useful in helping me make decision. Not just business decisions, but the important stuff that us parents are constantly thinking about. I was able to pull my thoughts together and decide which childcare setting is best for my children.
Have you ever sat down and defined your own personal values? Do you find it helps you make decisions?
If you would like to share your thoughts join my free Facebook group with other parents trying to get their kids outside more and loving the natural world around them.
Thanks and speak soon,