I’ve pledged to refuse single use plastics for the month of July, read how week 1 went here. Needless to say, there is room for improvement. If you’re interested in challenging yourself to go plastic free you can join in on the Plastic Free July website and get loads of tips and ideas there. You can also take a fun plastic usage quiz.

Plastic Free July

Week 2 has definitely been more of a challenge to keep up with. I still need to buy reusable straws and a coffee cup but have definitely cut down on my cling film usage, opting instead for reusable containers for left over’s in the fridge.

I’m still surprised daily how much throw away plastic is produced. Buying a quick lunch in a supermarket is a struggle. My favourite supermarket sushi comes in a little plastic box and even the sandwiches packets have that piece of plastic film over the front.  I am making more thoughtful choices though when buying from supermarkets which can only be a good thing. I have not used the little plastic bags for fruit and veg for years now, they’re fine in the trolley and fridge in all their naked glory (just give them a good wash before eating) but there are things that seem unavoidable. All kinds of bread come packaged in plastic, even the freshly baked loaves. Yoghurts for the kids are pretty much a non-negotiable unfortunately, and I haven’t got as far as ‘going naked’ for the bin so I am still using the bin liners.

I am on the look-out for any local farmers markets where I can buy fresh berries and fruit in paper bags or cardboard punnets instead of plastic. If you are local and know of one do let me know in the comments below.

This week I have succeeded in:

  1. Opting out of plastic bags for my home shopping delivery and recycling the ones they sent for the meat.
  2. Remembering my reusable bags when out shopping in town.
  3. Choosing to use Tupperware to store food instead of cling film

Next week I plan to:

  1. Buy and use reusable straws.
  2. Buy and use a reusable coffee cup.
  3. Plan lunches ahead so as not to buy lunch on the go from a supermarket.

Do you think you could live plastic free? Join in with the Plastic Free July challenge for the rest of the month and let me know how you get on.

Plastic Free July

 

 

 

Plastic free July

Single use plastics have a huge environmental impact. Things like straws, plastic bags and water bottles take hundreds of years to biodegrade and are ending up in our oceans the world over and being found in the stomach of every type of marine animal from fish to birds. More than this there is now known swathes of ocean where cubic metres of micro plastic particles are gathered floating around the ocean, dispersing toxic chemical into the environment. That last bit really shocked me but if you want a real shocking fact how about the estimate that up to 50% of our oceans could contain plastic by 2020? Or that by 2050 there could be more plastic in our oceans than fish.

Plastic Waste

Alternatives

Plastic free July is an idea that started in Australia in 2011 and has grown to 1 million people taking part worldwide last year. The idea is to dedicate one month to refusing to use single use plastics. There are some really simple things you can do to get started like take a drink of water out with you in a reusable bottle instead of buying bottled water and using reusable shopping bags. There’s absolutely loads of ideas on the Plastic Free July website.

Epic Fail

I’m joining in with thousands of others across the globe for 2017 plastic free July. Week one quite frankly I’ve used quite a bit of plastic! Which might normally be considered a bit of an epic fail but it’s not. Here’s why; signing up for the challenge has made me really mindful of every time I’ve used a single use plastic. It’s actually quite surprising how easily it sneaks into your everyday. The main culprit for me at the moment is cling film. I use a lot of it for picnics and wrapping up left over’s for the fridge. I’m will look into getting some glass or stainless steel lidded containers and for now I am using all my lidded Tupperware.

Things I already do

I already do a few things like using reusable nappies (not as much as I used to now), I always take out a bottle of water with us when we go out anywhere in a plastic reusable bottle because that’s what I have. I’m still using oat milk from our allergy days and that is packaged in waxed cardboard not plastic. And I recently switched from single use sanitary products to a Mooncup on the recommendation of a friend and although it took a while to get used to, it. Is. Awesome.

Things to Change

Some things I will be looking to change for week 2 of the challenge are:

  1. Buy a metal reusable straw and picnic cutlery.
  2. Look at alternative food storage options.
  3. Buy a plastic free reusable coffee cup.

Come and join the movement ! It’s so simple and easy to do. You can register on the website for a weekly tips email and join the facebook group.

Every piece of plastic that has ever been made still exists. That’s enough to make anyone want to ditch the straws at least! Let me know if you are doing the challenge too and we can go along together, or if you try not to use single use plastics generally anyway in the comments below. I love reading comments. Thanks! 🙂

There are lots of reasons to choose to educate at home. School is becoming a more and more pressured experience for children; socially due to class group numbers and also academically due to testing. Teachers are being continually stretched and change is needed. Schools are doing the best they can with the limited resources assigned to them. Above and beyond all this nobody knows your child better than you, and you are able to provide an education that suits your child individually. Imagine having the time to invest in their interests, listen to their thoughts, and answer their questions. Imagine them feeling able to openly share their opinion without fear of the embarrassment of being wrong or having to vie for a place among 29 other voices.

Home Ed and Regulations

U.K. law is that every child deserves an education but you can decide how that education is delivered and therefore you can choose to educate your child at home. I received a letter from my LEA explaining this is more detail. It says: ‘There are no set guidelines as to what subjects a pupil who is electively home educated should be taught…home educating parents may wish to provide an education…either in a formal and structured manner…or in an informal manner which is responsive to the developing needs of the child.’ Which I found very useful actually and it goes on to list quite a few things I will not be required to do such as follow the national curriculum, mark work or make extensive lesson plans. Fundamentally it suggests that the parent knows their child best, and so can choose how to educate.

Home Education

Concerns

But I’m not a trained teacher I hear you cry. This is often a top concern for many parents considering home education. Rest assured there are many different ways to learn and you don’t have to be a trained teacher to facilitate your child’s learning. In fact, you have been doing it all their lives already! One of the first activities often set to 1st year uni students is finding their own personal learning style. Answer a few questions on a psychometric test to find out if you learn better through watching somebody do something, by writing about the process of how to do something, by doing the new skill yourself or a mixture of these. There are personality tests which can give you an idea of a person’s dominating characteristics (leader, creative, for example) which in turn can help decipher how that person may best learn a new skill or new information. Why wait until university to invidualise your child’s learning? As a parent you do not need quizzes or personality testing to understand how your child learns best you probably already know and if you don’t it won’t take long for you to notice it. From that point you can really encourage your child and bring them on.

Music Education

Ways to Learn

Learning is much easier when it’s about something that interests you, or that you have a reason to learn. Turn to YouTube for a video on how to fix a blocked shower drain and I bet you learn how to unblock it quite quickly. The same logic applies to maths or any other subject. If you have a reason to learn something, it’s amazing how easy it is to learn. The same for learning style, you may find it easier to follow a hair tutorial on YouTube than to try to follow it from a wordy text for example.

Children are amazing at learning. They really have it down to a fine art. They are made to learn, and you are equipped to educate them.

Read more here about how we Took the Plunge into Home Ed

(The terms ‘your child’ and ‘home educating parents’ are used, I would just like to say that I am referring to anyone who wishes to home educate, carer, auntie, grandparent or otherwise.)

Today we went foraging with our local home ed group. I’ve never been foraging before, apart from for blackberries as a kid but they always just sat on the side in a bowl once I got them home anyway. In Wales there are plenty of wide open green public spaces to go tromping about and there are lots of signposted walking trails too. The plants we were foraging for today are hardy and grow anywhere; you can go foraging anywhere there is a bit of greenery.

I’ve heard of foraging as it seems to be becoming a popular thing to do but it never really took my fancy. This activity was kindly planned and facilitated for free by one of the families who are in the home ed group so it was a great opportunity to learn something new. The kids got to playing straight away and we got loads of fresh air.

hiking

We walked a route that was right behind where we used to live. It’s a housing estate that backs onto a green belt, so the countryside kind of pops up on you. The walk took us through a new local cemetery which has a natural burials meadow with no markings for the remains on the side we walked through and then onto woodland where we sat together on some logs to share nettle soup.

nettle soup

The nettle soup (the frobscottle) was delicious.

All along the way we stopped and tried lots of different plants and the dad who was leading collected loads up to have a salad with the soup he had kindly made and brought to share. I was really surprised at the variety of flavours. I kind of expected varying degrees of the taste of grass but all the ones I tried were so different and really flavoursome. I tried ramsons which tasted unmistakeably of garlic, then goose grass which has a hazelnut taste at the end. Bittercress which tasted exactly like ‘normal’ cress,  and sorrel which tasted really zingy like crab apples. None of it would be out of place on a garden salad in a posh restaurant for either looks or flavour. It was great to see how easy it is to find edible plants and the best part was all the kids thought it was great and were trying them and getting really involved too.

view

We passed a pond and saw some frog spawn which I was just as made up with as the kids, even though my inner health and safety regulator comes out in hives when I see children near open water. It was fine, nobody fell in! We clambered over styles which is always fun and splodged in mud, pushed through bushes, and sat on logs. Beg grabbed my hand and asked me to admire the view with her at the top, and we filled our lungs and hair with the wind and I felt thankful to God for our freedom and the green green grass of home. It was such a great day and has helped me to positively reaffirm my home schooling decision.

nettle soup

I would fully recommend trying foraging for yourself. I’m positive you will be surprised at the different tastes. You can make nettle and ramson leaf soup in the same way you would make any soup, just wash them and fry them until soft and add in some vegetables of your choice and blend down. Nettles are apparently full of vitamins and can be used to treat painful muscles and joints. I’m off to find an elderflower cordial recipe on pinterest ready for spring. If you’re into plant-based eating, you may get some inspiration from my Vegan Supper Club post.

Check out my pinterest boards here: The Hippy Christian Mum Pinterest

Enjoy! Have you tried foraging? What did you make?

This month has seen us take our first tentative steps on our personal home ed journey. I wanted to home educate my daughter from the very beginning, I just never had the courage to go against the norm. I feel like a home-ed fraud though as Beg is very likely returning to school at the start of the next academic year.  As per usual I’m not quite either here or there.

Way back when Beg was still a toddler pointing at everything and waving at everyone she passed I knew I wanted to home educate her. We had such a strong connection and I could see her learning all the time. Her brain whirring constantly and effortlessly due to a primal need to find out about her life and environment. It was amazing, it was fun and it was a journey I wanted to take alongside her.

Societal Pressure

The time came when our education system said she should begin attending some kind of formal learning. In the UK this is age 4 but now there is also ‘rising 3’s’. I agonised over the decision of which nursery to send her to. It never once felt right in my gut. I am a stay at home mum so I did not need childcare, I was happy and she was too and we were enjoying being together. People were always amazed at how articulate and sociable she was. I just wondered what the point of nursery was. Still, I felt the pressure to send her but at the beginning I resisted. I was asked by everyone and anyone why she wasn’t in nursery as often as a newlywed couple are asked when babies are on the way. This only made me feel I was doing something wrong by not sending her. “You know it’s free, right?”

Nursery

I started to feel like she would be joining a reception class group as the only child who didn’t know anyone else and that maybe I was doing her a disservice in this way. I signed her into the nursery that fed into the same primary school I went to, to join in the last half term. She did hand print butterflies and enjoyed playing with their toys but on the flip side she complained of other children following her into the toilet and she didn’t enjoy the hustle and bustle of a busy classroom. I dropped her off with the friendly lady who had worked there since I attended the school and went away for 2 hours to pretend I had other things to do than mother my own child. Always the first parent at pick up I would wait anxiously with my stomach in knots outside the door and try to catch a peek through the poster covered window of what her new busy nursery class was like. None of it ever really sat right with me. She was just too little.

First Day of School

Rich felt the same way I did, but we did our best to be normal. We both took her to school on her first day. I thought she would be OK as it was the next classroom along from the nursery and she had been fine going in there. I was so wrong. She cried, a lot. The teacher literally pried her out of my arms and she screamed. She cuddled the teacher who instructed us to quickly leave. In her experience, she said, that was the easiest way for children who were upset to settle in on their first day. I left my daughter crying on that strangers lap and turned my back and walked away from her. I have never, in my whole life, done anything that felt so wrong and followed through. Every step my whole being told me to go back and get her. But I didn’t. I can still feel the bile rising from my stomach when I think about it. They called me an hour later and told me she was fine. She wasn’t fine, she may have been at that snapshot of time but for many reasons things at that school were not OK and we changed schools 6 weeks later.

study

New School

Thankfully her new school was a completely different experience. We met the head teacher who talked enthusiastically to Beg. She introduced us to her new class teacher and gradually the knots in my stomach began to undo at every school pick up. I got chatting to some of the other school mums at the school gates which was nice and Beg excelled in her school work, the bright little being that she is. Still my original idea of home education would pop up, with even more conviction after school holidays. Going back after the 6 week summer break was always the hardest. Rich and I would discuss it over and again and ultimately he would convince me that she was doing so well in school. Which she was, however, her being happy at school was another thing. She still complained most days about the volume level of 60+ kids on the yard at break times, avoiding going into the middle of the yard for fear of being run down. She talked about boyfriends (aged 6) and competing for awards like star of the week ‘have I been good enough though mummy?’ She regularly came out of school with a headache and every school trip the coach travelling made her feel sick. If there was a school trip I would have to drive extra slowly on the way home and plan a quiet, restful evening so she could re-coup.

Wobbles

There is a new school opening on our estate this coming September. There are not yet enough children living here to fill classes so there will be mixed year groups (that’s what I call proper socialisation!) Rich and I agreed it would be an ideal trial period from Mar – Sep for home education. I have had a wobbly first two weeks, and I have wondered if I have made the right decision. I question my motives (individual approach, freedom to learn about things she is interested in etc.) and if nothing else I think it is a healthy transition between the two schools.

Leaving School

We went to say goodbye to her class and she got a bit sad and said she would miss her friends. I asked her if she liked home school and she said no, I asked her if she would like to go back to school and she said definitely not. So it’s a mixed bag so far for both of us at two weeks in and although it looks likely that she will be re-starting school in the next academic year, we are going to have lots of fun in the meantime. We have already re-connected so much and I am fully relishing being the one to see the spark in her eye when she gets an idea.

Music-theory

Music Lessons

Pancake Day

Big loves to my friends (and mum) who have been so excited for us and supportive about our decision. Means the world. xxx