Wednesday, 11 September 2013

'Goodnight, John Boy' or 'The Kids are NOT in bed'

[caption id="attachment_535" align="aligncenter" width="600"]girlsandlamb Photo: Jo Hanlon Moores[/caption]

It was always Neil's observation that my favourite bloggers, commentators, Plain Livers and Simple Livers and advocates of all things good, kind of disappeared once their kids reached double figures. Age I mean, not numbers. Although, a good few christian home edders do have large families, and still having a toddler or three even though you now have a couple of teenagers may actually make you the exception that proves the rule.

It does seem to be borne out by the evidence - Scott Savage folded 'Plain' for the last time and headed back into the real world of librarianship.  Tommy Waller lifted his family out of Amish simplicity in Tennessee and off to head up Ha Yovel and great work though that is and God's work no doubt, nevertheless that was the end of an inspiring era.

I recently treated myself to Simple Mom's sensible 'One Bite at a Time' and a worthwhile read it is too, but found myself running up against the notion that I can work up my family's Purpose Statement with my spouse possibly in those quiet evening hours -  you heard me hours! - after the children are in bed.

Parents of sleeping tots, I urge you, do all that you can to make the best use of those hours right now!

However. My wonderful daughters - above, shown lamb rescuing in a sweet and candid picture by Jo of the art of wildness - who by the way is their much loved cousin so may be a tad biased behind the shutter there - are now teenagers, and not only are they not in bed, they are 50% of the purpose in the statement.

I can't say we've got it totally right. I raised my little girls in long frocks and boots, with hairy ponies and gymkhanas, all Little House on the Prairie and Pullein Thompson with a dash of Swallows and Amazons.

They were home schooled, christian schooled, and now state schooled, and they have voices of their own, so I won't attempt to speak for them.

However, here's my shortlist for making it through to the teenage years and, I hope there will be others who will pitch in with their tips too.

  • Always engage.  They will grow into their own passions. Let them grow and co-exist. Sheepdogs wouldn't be my first choice of farm life option, but Sasha is mad on sheep and dogs and she's a bigger part of the 'farm' because of that.

  • Change. We always listen for God's leading.  Homeschoolers got sharp with us for going into christian school, and christian schoolers got sharp with us for going into state school. We went where God led. He doesn't keep people in one place, often.

  • Always tell your truth. There are times when I'm not sure they are very interested in my more with less, simple living,  Plain kind of Christianity.  They're more Phatfish kind of girls. But it won't stop me speaking my truth. That truth abides. And Harrie still calls herself a farm girl first and foremost!

  • Be incredibly grateful for the groundwork. I now work from home a lot of the time, and they are SO practical.  They cook meals, bake bread, pack lunches, take care of livestock, milk goats, and do so, so much more - I probably don't appreciate them enough. Thanks guys.

  • Move forward. We are now trying to embrace austerity principles and get ourselves out of debt, and on solid financial ground for the first time in ... erm ... ever. It's not easy. The temptation is to keep that quiet and wait til they're in bed. But, hey. They aren't.

I really would appreciate input from all of you with older children/teens/young adults.

Have you kept the simple living alive into the second generation?


  1. Interesting stuff. My girls are now 14 and 11 and Megan (dd2) has just started High School, though of all my children she is the most inclined to the outdoor life and the pony stuff. Catie's very interested in cooking and will make dinner a couple of times a week without batting an eyelid. Would your girls like to write a blogpost of their own, about how they see it?

  2. Totally thought you meant the goats.

  3. Hi Jan
    They are twitter girls, to be honest, though a sheep blog is in the beta phase !

    Jo - well, why wouldn't you? This is why I usually don't refer to my children as kids. I have kids an they are a nightmare. So quoting Simple Mom on this one probably wasn't sensible ! Lovely photo, ta very much x

  4. My eldest cannot be parted from his smartphone and is hoping for a motorbike for Christmas. My youngest talks Minecraft code, which I don't understand. It's perhaps not what I was hoping for.

    But the eldest can milk a goat and bake bread and the youngest can forage a wild salad and pluck a chicken. Last autumn they presented me with pancakes they'd made using foraged sweet chestnuts which they roasted and ground into flour in my coffee grinder, and flavoured with windfall apples.

    They're self sufficient and practical, and I'm unbelievably proud of them.

  5. That's so cool, Andrea. Loving the sound of the foraged pancakes. What wonderful memories they've gathered.