Life is hard at times. You can have all the technical skills in the world, be incredibly smart, make lots of money and still be miserable. Learning to find happiness in life is a skill that is not normally taught in school. But if we ourselves can learn how to tap into the life giving source that can lead to happiness, understanding, and peace than we can teach it to our kids. Although this isn’t under the core curriculum of traditional academics, it’s a skill, a way of life that should be taught to all human beings and you can incorporate into your homeschooling days.
Are you happy? Can you find happiness in tough situations or at least not fall apart when things get hard? Is being able to find happiness a non-academic skill we can teach our children? As mentioned many times this book the first and most important thing to a rich homeschool life is taking care of yourself. You are the hub of the wheel and if you aren’t taking care of yourself, homeschooling your children may quickly fall apart.
Once you have fully taken care of yourself then you are full to take care of the rest of the people in your life that are depending on you for their education. At its very core, we can be on our way to finding happiness when we take care of our basic needs. Sleep is a huge factor in our road to happiness for ourselves and our children. Be proactive in making sure you and your children get enough rest. This can ensure a good base for making the most out of your days, finding happiness, and thriving in your homeschooling days. I urge you to watch the Ted Talk by Matt Walker “Sleep Is Your Superpower” with your kids. You’ll learn how sleep can impact not only your happiness but your ability to learn, immune system, and memory. You can teach this to your kids by explaining how the brain is a muscle that grows exponentially when you sleep. Also sleep acts as a healer that removes toxins from the brain while you rest.
You can set hard and fast rules regarding sleep. In our house, we have a firm bed time on the weekdays. We limit food intake 2 hours before bedtime as we want our bodies to fully rest and not be busy trying to digest food instead of resting as sleep. Screens go off a half an hour before we hit the bed so we can relax our brain and prepare it for rest. When we can understand and teach our children how they can proactively increase their happiness in life simply by being disciplined about sleep, it sets them up for a lifetime of understanding and happiness.
Another way we can give our kids practical skills in finding happiness in their lives is by teaching them about the food that they eat.. More and more research is being done about how the food we eat affects our mental health. In the book “This Is Your Brain On Food”, nutritional psychiatrist, Dr. Uma Naidoo, explains the science behind how our diet can have a profound impact on mental health conditions ranging from ADHD to depression, anxiety, sleep disorders, OCD, dementia and beyond.
There are many schools of thought as to what diet is best whether it’s keto, paleo, vegan, gluten free, and the list goes on. What I have come to practice in our own lives is that the more our diet can be made up of whole food, the better off we are.
When I was a kid I was always taught to eat my fruits and vegetables because they’re good for me. That’s it. No further explanation. That certainly was not enough motivation for me to snack on carrots instead of doughnuts. But when we can ourselves understand how we can be in control of our overall happiness with the food that we eat, we can also teach our children this and give them a deep understanding in how they can find happiness throughout these days here on earth.
We can teach happiness by modeling it and being transparent with our own lives. Because let’s face it, the stresses of life will always be there. It might be small stuff like, the baby had a diaper blowout this morning, your teenage son got a flat tire running an errand, or your favorite hoodie just got a bleach stain on it from a laundry mishap. Or it could be really big stuff like your husband just lost his job, the cancer results came back positive, or a close loved one has died. There are certainly no promises that life will be easy. As Holocost survivor Victor Frankl, a man who lost his entire family to the Nazi’s wrote, “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”
Our kids can learn how to choose their own happiness and peace in life even during these difficult times, when we can model it for them. When life gets hard and I get out of sorts I try to be as transparent as I can with my kids. I will tell them I am upset, frustrated, or sad. I communicate that I need some time to myself in silence prayer, solo bike riding, or drinking a cup of coffee. They can see how you are taking care of yourself and will have a great framework of reference for their own lives when difficult things arise. I challenge you to sit down with your kids and come up with a list of things that they can do to seek peace and happiness in difficult times. The list in our household has the following
1. List 3 things that you are thankful for
3. Be present in this moment, not in the past or the future
4.Go Outside and get fresh air
5. Be silent for 5 minutes
This week I challenge you to sit down with your kids and brainstorm your own list. I bet you will be amazed at what your kids come up with.