Natural living is expensive, how do we afford to live this way?

22 Jul

 

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Our family live a frugal lifestyle in Brighton, as close to nature as possible. Since our appearance on itv this morning where we discussed our “off-grid” parenting style we have received many queries asking how we manage to sustain ourselves financially.

We both get paid, working part-time. I write for parenting sites such as mom.me in my little spare time that I have in between full-time child care and home education. Matt is a freelance yoga instructor and health coach. It is important to us at we both have equal opportunity to raise the children and give them quality time.

We also rely partly on some benefits including housing benefit, child benefit and child tax credit. We do not use the tax payers money for the education system or medical system when it comes to our kids. We do pay reduced council tax and use libraries, museums and parks. The majority of our money goes on the basics like food, amenities and public transport, where required.

We don’t have a TV but do have computers. We get by shopping a lot at budget stores out of necessity but this does not imply that we agree with their ethics as businesses. Much of our furniture, the kids toys and clothes are either free cycled or second hand or gifted from their nan. We don’t take holidays, nor have a car. We live in a modest one bed flat with a garden in a location where we have good access to everything we need. We regularly forage wild food and also grow some of our own food in the garden. We home cook a lot and rarely eat out. We are in debt like much of the country including student loans and overdraft and do our best to pay back what we can afford.

We are living in a country with an unfair family taxation system that does not support home education or recognise those providing care for the family, including home educators.
I would like to take the opportunity to promote a cause close to my heart, http://www.mothersathomematter.co.uk

At the end of the day, we as humans have created a system where we are the only species who pay for our basic survival requirements and we all need money to live. We don’t have inheritance, trust funds and savings to draw upon so we have started a crowdfunding campaign through http://www.fundmytravel.com to help us become self-sufficient and in return we intend to build a business which shares advice and knowledge to help others do the same. We hope everyone who desires to make their lives better can find the courage to reach out and improve their situation also in whatever way they can.

What is “off-grid” parenting?

18 Jul

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Off-grid parenting is a term used to describe a style of parenting which seeks to adopt a natural, self-sustainable, unconventional and intuitive approach to all aspects of child rearing. Off-grid parents usually step outside the system when it comes to their children’s medical care and education and opt for alternative health care, alternative education such as unschooling and adopt alternative child rearing praices. Off-grid parents usually arrange their work schedule to ensure they can spend maximum quality time with their children. Off-grid parents don’t vaccinate or medicate their children using artificially produced drugs and medicines but may use fasting, food, herbs and other alternative forms of medicine. Off-grid mums oftern choose to manage their pregnancy independently of a doctor and usually birth outside of the conventional hospital system. Conventional parenting practices such as baby sleep training  and cry-it-out method as well as punitive discipline are shunned in favour of attachment parenting and child-led methods such as co-sleeping, on-demand, full-term breastfeeding and  positive discipline. Off-grid parents do not adhere to a ‘one diet fits all’ philosophy but do seek to eat whole, natural and ethically produced foods to maintain good health.

 

Coming soon…off-grid parenting documentary, watch this space!

Documentary

Forget Brexit: Ten reasons why British mums want to exit the UK.

5 Jul

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With the latest EU referendum edging on a leave vote for the UK to exit the European Union, here’s ten reasons why British mums are in despair at the thought of raising a family in not-so-Great Britain:

1. Stay-at-home mums in the UK are now being denied any state pension if they haven’t worked at least ten years and a reduced pension if they haven’t worked at least 35 years in the work force. This kind of system that does not recognise the value of carers, encouraging parents to have fewer children, with smaller age gaps between siblings which can be restrictive and stressful for the whole family unit.

2. Due to mothers at home not being recognised as contributing to society, Britain has an unfair family taxation system which penalises those who earn only one family income.

3. Single mums reliant on benefits are now being forced back into work as soon as their child reaches three years old, before they are lawfully expected to be in full-time education. These moms are supposed to do the work of two parents plus that of the bread winner, an unfair expectation.

4. Government will not provide help with childcare unless it is an Ofsted recognised educational setting. This setup fails to recognise that not all kids are suited to such environments and need home-based parental or relation care.

5. UK kids rank amongst the unhappiest in the world and are the unhappiest in Europe. The Children’s Society report, which looked at 15 diverse countries, ranked England 14th for life satisfaction of its young people, ahead of South Korea.

6. Brexit has won the EU referendum and with Britain coming out of Europe this means the citizens are likely to become isolated from other cultures as freedom of movement of the people is compromised, with an increase in racism and xenophobia. Britain leaving the EU means our kids may have restricted freedoms when it comes to travelling, working and living abroad.

7. The government wants to institutionalise our kids younger and younger, robbing them of their right to a playful childhood. The education system is failing more and more children, especially boys and those with special educational needs. As a result more and more families are turning to home education but this option is made tough for many as home educated kids are not financially supported in any way, even though these parents still have to contribute into the tax system.

8. The United Nations has recognised that the UK Government is not putting children at the heart of its policies or as Native Americans put it, ‘at the centre of the fire’. Children are seen as an economic inconvenience in society.

9. Austerity measures have created a huge increase in children living in poverty, 1 in 4 British children are now living in poverty according to the child poverty action group. This is an unacceptable standard for a so-called ‘developed’ country.

10. According to a survey by ‘dirt is good’ campaign by Persil, 3/4 of all children in the UK are now spending less time outdoors than the average prison inmate (At least one hour). This is likely due to lack of green spaces, extortionate rents; contributing towards a lack of garden space and increased sardine-style living conditions. In 2013 the RSPB published a three-year study, which concluded that four out of five children in the UK were not adequately “connected to nature”.

So while the political world gets anxious about the state of immigration, British mums turn their thoughts to the option of emigration. We are asking ourselves how can mums like us stay in this situation and do we want our children to be raised in a society that is more distracted by worldly capitalist gains than the welfare of future generations? Maybe it’s change that’s needed, change of awareness, perception and policies that promote family values and community growth.

Model Graciousness

28 Dec

Visible Child

stubbornchildThere’s a parenting question that comes up perhaps more frequently than any other. We seem to be able to wrap our heads around how to respectfully set limits, offer choices, acknowledge their feelings, understand the differences between natural and logical consequences, even calmly support them through tantrums. But when push comes to shove, there is one thing that stumps us:

“What do I do when they simply refuse to do what I am asking them to do?”

I would reword the question, actually.  Don’t get me wrong, I hear you.  You’re asking what to do when your kids refuse to pick up their toys, put their clothes on, brush their teeth, clean up a mess they made.  I know.  i would still reword it.  I hear the words that you are asking.  And after they go through the filter that is oh-so-handily inside my ears, the question…

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Secrets to a successful all-natural birth

13 Sep

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21st April 2015: after a 4 hour labour my second child arrived as an unassisted-lotus born baby.

No drugs, no medical intervention and no disturbances.

“You were lucky” people said first time round when I birthed in this manner,…..

“it was bound to be easier for your second baby” people commented when they were unaware that my first child was also an unassisted-lotus birth.

Truth is that neither luck nor amount of birth experience have anything to do with birthing totally naturally.

The secrets lie in the power of your strength of mind alongside a few other factors which only you can control:

  1. Unwavering faith and belief in your body’s capability to birth unimpeded, as nature designed it to be.
  2. Absolute and genuine support, trust and positivity from all those who you choose to involve with during your pregnancy and birth period.
  3. To switch from the rational frontal part of your brain (and the noise from anyone elses’) to your limbic, mammalian brain in order to enter into the birth zone where you will draw from intuition and wisdom stored in the DNA from generations of natural birthing women.
  4. An ability to completely surrender to the inevitable and intense sensations: relinquishing control, letting go and relaxing into the experience. This can be learnt through hypno-birthing.

“But it’s ok for you” I hear you cry….”you had no birth complications.’ Well no I did not have a breach baby, or multiples, or a particularly ‘large’ baby or the cord wrapped around the neck or Shoulder Dystocia or Placenta Previa.

Guess what though, I did my research and came across at least one women for each of these categories who still managed a natural birth in spite of these complications. In the process I found out all sorts of interesting information that’s not so widespread amongst the birth fear-mongerers. For example, the placenta continues to deliver oxygen to the baby for a whole 5 minutes after the birth leaving plenty of time to unwrap a nuchal cord without causing danger of suffocation. Furthermore I learnt that a lot of the problems that arise during the average medicalised birth are actually caused by the initial medical interventions and disturbances of the natural birth process. By forcing the birth process in a time pressured manner, the artificial induction of a birth can create stronger and more painful contractions amongst other interferences in the delicate hormonal balance.

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If you allow your body to naturally secrete the hormones in each stage of birth as it was designed to without the interference of man-made drugs then the female body will not risk putting the baby’s life at risk by rushing the delivery. Relax in a safe space and calm environment and your body will dilate as it needs to. Move and position yourself according to your body’s own signals and push only when your body tells you to and the baby will respond accordingly by moving into the correct position that it needs to take in order to arrive safely.

It really is that simple. SIMPLE but not easy. Natural birthing takes courage, the kind of courage you are going to need to get through parenthood and build a strong relationship with your children so don’t bail out on them now!

It all starts here with a peaceful, non-violent birth. Birth DOES matter as it sets the foundations of the baby’s trust in the world around them and colours all future experiences and interactions into childhood and beyond.

Ten reasons why we are ditching the school system

6 Sep

IMG_4004“Education is what remains after everything he learnt at school is forgotten.” (Albert Einstein)
It always puzzles me why so many parents put their kids into the system that they themselves admit was unfulfilling and a waste of time. Nevertheless, even us as anti-school parents were tempted by the allure of the ‘free’ term time babysitter when baby number two arrived and life became more full on. On asking if my reception aged child would be interested I received a clear and definite “no”.

Sensible choice seeing as how he enjoys to learn and discover at his own pace, in natural environments and in an autonomous fashion. Below are ten reasons why we all decided together that school, at least for the early formative years, is a bad idea:

1. Conformity is valued over individuality, affectively turning children into a uniformed, flock of sheep. Peer pressure creates insecure children who strive to be ‘normal’ and fit in.

2. The system gears you up for a lifetime of obedient compliance in the robotic, work trade. A successful entrepreneur is our goal which doesn’t fit with values and aims of most school systems.

3. If you want a true critical thinking child then school is possibly the worst idea as it merely teaches children to be critical of those who think. I remember getting the best grades when I simply rote learnt someone else’s opinions and regurgitated them.

4. Children learn best whilst they are moving and physically interacting. Classrooms are the anti-thesis to this with long hours spent at desks, sitting on chairs.

5. Everyone learns best when they are passionate about the topic. School forces you to learn a whole range of uninteresting subjects at a superficial level. Learning is adult-led, rather than child-led. Consequently the child learns to become a Jack of all trades and master of none. Not good for creating an entrepreneur and certainly not good for creating a love of learning.

6. Bullying occurs often due to forced association rather than true socialisation. i.e a bunch of kids, the same age are imposed on each other rather than naturally mixing with people of all ages, voluntarily in groups based on shared interests.

7. Standardised testing and lack of outdoor unstructured play time creates anxiety and psychological health issues as well as destroying self-esteem. Furthermore, schools drive for competition encourages anti-social behaviour such as cheating. Co-operation and natural altruistic helping behaviour are de-valued in a competitive system.

8. Government are implementing free wifi into schools which may have adverse health effects (particularly for females). Furthermore, standard fluorescent lighting can also have negative health effects for many children include headaches and dizziness.

9. Phonics is all wrong: When we first learn to speak we pick it up from the ‘whole’ conversation/context, not from breaking exposure up into small increments of sounds. Reading and writing are best learnt in the same way. Furthermore most children, boys especially, are not ready to pick up these skills until closer to 7/8 years when they will likely pick it up much quicker.

10. Ancient and wise civilisations such as the Spartans kept their young enjoying a free range childhood with the mother or primary caregiver up until 7 years old as they understood that any formal instruction before such an age was futile. If you investigate you will find that many countries in Europe and Asia have also adopted a later school starting age of around 6/7 years.

So there you have it, my child has chosen to select his own friends from all age groups and not be told when he is and isn’t allowed to converse with them. He is taught how to think, not what to think and encouraged to be curious no matter who/what it questions or contradicts. He is learning from everyday living and experiences. This is not a luxurious choice we have made but one of sacrifice and hard work with little spare time or money left over. There is after all no distinction between play, learning and living.

Ten Common Toddler Parenting Myths You Likely Believe (and Why you Shouldn’t!).

26 Jan Featured Image -- 1674

Toddler myths busted by a gentle parenting guru….

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