How We Balance, Home Educating With Sucessfully Freelancing.

How to step outside the rat race and live a life less ordinary in just a few steps.

Just over a decade ago myself and my husband made some big changes in our lives, we left safe, comfortable jobs, he was in sales, I worked in retail, running a deli. We retrained in completely different areas and began new careers at the same time as beginning home education.

Life beforehand had been a mad rush every weekday to get out the door on time, Sul rushed to be able to drop our eldest off at school each day before his long commute across London to work, not returning until well after our children, then aged 7 and 2 had fallen asleep. Family life was strained and we struggled to make ends meet, we hadn’t had a holiday together for years.

The change came shortly after September 2001. We made some major life differences in our lives after the tragic events of 9/11. Like a lot of people, we began to value our loved ones, time together and to reassess.

It ended up with us changing our lives for the better. Sul used his illustration and art background to begin building websites, doing graphic design, print layouts and video introductions. Every evening after work he’d work into the night to get good enough to secure a paying client big enough to quit the day job.

I trained as a professional Birth Partner/Doula and became an apprentice, I worked with numerous families across London and was privileged to help many mothers birth their babies, an absolutely amazing job. Constantly learning and training, every year I added new skills to my repertoire. Exhausting and ridiculous hours took their toll, though. I missed anniversaries, Birthdays and celebrations to attend mothers. I finally hung up my Doula bag for good in January 2014.

Our children are now nearly all grown up, they’ve each gone into an industry they enjoy. Home education and the freedom of working freelance has given us time to nurture their individual talents and for their confidence to grow.

Together we’ve enjoyed a holiday almost every year, sometimes more, trips up and down the country to museums and historical places of interest. Summer holidays that go on over 3 months and long winter evenings together.

It’s been wonderful and I’d like to share with you all how we’ve managed it, answering common questions along the way and letting you into our secrets, tips and tricks from:

  • Mistakes we made in business and how to avoid them
  • How to successfully time manage to ensure you make the most of every day.
  • How to de-register your child from UK school and where to begin with Home Education.

All this and more will be answered in detail in the following posts throughout January 2017.

Change is good 🙂

Mother on Mother Hate

She’s Mary a working single Mum, gets up at 6 am to shower, eat, wash and dress her kids and drop them at the child minders before heading into the city to work, calls during her lunch break to say Hi and then rushes back to pick them up in the evenings.Mary feels perpetually guilty, she follows Mums on Instagram and sees all the wonderful home cooked dishes she should be preparing lovingly instead of the frozen pizza she planned to shove in the oven. She works 20 hours a week finishing at 2pm so that she can pick up her children from school. Some of her colleagues think she doesn’t put in the effort they do and should take the job more seriously, they talk about this after she’s rushed out of the office.
Her neighbour Karen thinks its awful that she worked through the week that her son had Chicken Pox, she often mentions to friends at the school gates how terrible this is and likes to repeat the phrase “I’d never leave my baby with anyone, especially when he’s not well”
Mary is barely making ends meet, she’s studying for an Open university Degree in the evenings and at weekends which costs her time and money.
Her neighbour Karen has a husband who has a successful business and her Mum lives round the corner, she likes to drop her kids off with her mum some weekends so that she can go to the gym.
Mary’s Mum doesn’t live close and wouldn’t have patience with her children. Mary often feels like she’s letting everyone down, if she works more hours to please her boss and colleagues she’ll miss the school play or not have time to read a bedtime story. If she doesn’t take the over time offered she wont be able to buy presents for birthdays or take her children on the camping trip she’s promised.
If she quits work and claims benefits she’ll be intentionally unemployed and could potentially lose her home and custody of her children.

Ask yourself, are you a Mary or a Karen? Do you know a Mary that could use a hand?

Can I get a Whoop Whoop?

Life Changes

Over the past 2 years, my life has changed dramatically from what it was, I was a stay at home Mum, home educating three of my children whilst working occasionally as a Doula.I love my profession and had the privilege to attend births of many women across London.

Fairly comfortable and had my weekly routines which involved shopping for groceries and visiting friends.I was also suffering from anxiety,  depression, palpitations and about 30 lbs overweight. I was frustrated with myself and often took this out on my long suffering husband.

Since then a lot has changed, my husband’s company went through major problems when his main client pulled out of a massive job at the last minute, leaving us with serious financial problems. All part and parcel of being self-employed, some might say but it meant we then had to rely heavily on benefits to pay our way which is soul destroying.

Long story short we pretty much lost all our material possessions and home. The anxiety got so bad I began to feel as though I was losing my mind, maybe even having a breakdown. I began to run to get out of the house, away from the bills and reminders that no matter how many jobs I’d applied for that week I’d not got a reply. I ran for 30 seconds at a time then walked for 2 mins. My life was a whirlwind my anchor was my religion, my husband and my running.

I threw myself into making life fun for my children, trips to museums and long walks, parks and art in the garden, bonfires and sparklers to shelter them from our stress.

I’m pretty sure my kids would say they were well aware that we were under pressure, but I hope they didn’t feel it.

We moved out of the town we’d lived in all our lives, wow what a relief! We had a great summer in a small town in Essex where we all made some awesome friendships.

Moved again to another town and began all over again, we literally started here with nothing, we got jobs quickly (Thank God) much easier to find employment here than in London where we were before.Working minimum wage jobs at our age was hard but we determined to be independant, never again do I want to have to ask the government for help, they royally let us down before.
I kept praying and running, now I was up to running for 5 mins after some great advice from my brother, “run slower than you walk, to begin with, running uses different muscles and you need to train them”

The running kept me sane, along with prayer, people don’t like to talk about religion these days especially how it feels to turn to God and beg for help, for assistance and being grateful for everything.

These days I juggle work, home ed, running and lately the gym as well, I’ve never been so fit or content. Sometimes we have to be put through a mangle for the negative stuff to be squeezed out of us, we appear leaner and with less baggage, looking on the bright side.

 

 

Giving Kids Choices in Education and Life

One of the wonderful things about home education is the flexibility and freedom but how much freedom do you allow your children?
I’m not talking about the totally autonomous v the home school debate I mean day to day things.

My children are mostly what I think of as “free range ” it they run about wildly and occationally sit and get some written work done. This post is inspired by an event this morning, my youngest son was due to go to a Beavers meeting where they are going to learn and Islamic song (nasheed) to sing to the public next weekend. He hates performing in public unless its something physical like skateboarding or climbing. He was very upset at the thought of singing in front of anyone and no amount of reassurance was going to persuade him otherwise. I even found the song on youtube to show him but he sobbed with big tears. My heart broke and I relented, hes now painting a canvas in the shed as its raining and is happy again.
It did make me think that many years ago I might have forced one of my children to do something they told me they hated with the idea that “facing your fears” or”live outside your comfort zone” would somehow build character.

I then began to reflect on my own childhood and how many times I was pressured into something I hated, I hated gym and dance class, I was and still am chubby and uncoordinated. Thank God I found types of exercise I enjoy and am good at. I wish I could go back and save my younger self the humiliation of gym class.

So how far do we take it as parents? My second son has a fear of heights (something he may get from me too ) so when we go on holiday and the others are all climbing like monkeys up the climbing wall/cliff/actual wall. He sits it out with me and nope its not a big deal. He is cautious and thats fine, he tries new activities all the time so I’m not worried that he wont ever learn new skills and I’m happy that its not a big deal.

Time tables are another thing we like, my husband swears by having some structure for the boys, they do thrive on having a list of tasks to do before they can do what they want to.
I know of a wonderful home educated boy who at the age of 11 when presented with the entire year 7 curriculum and told “when you get this done you can pursue your own interests this year” he began waking up at 6 am everyday and working solidly through until after two weeks he’d covered 9 months of work and he spent the rest of the year painting and drawing which was what he loved. I don’t think anyone can argue with that logic !

I am of the opinion that never being forced miserably into an activity by a well meaning adult will make my children more confident and happier people.

Ramadan Food ( Contains Pictures of Yummy Food, Read after Iftar !)

Its Ramadan Allhumdulilah (praise God)!
Of course there is never a better way to get people to become obsessed with food than to have them fast!
The long hours of this years fast in the northern hemisphere means we are also constantly thinking about what delicious juices to drink once the sun dips.
Fasting for 18 hours+ means we have to carefully plan what we will eat in the two meals at sunset and before the dawn, a window of time so small that these meals have to be light and balanced or else we’ll really feel the consequences.

The meals also have to be quick and easy to prepare, Ramadan is precious and we are busy with worship night and day, spending hours in the kitchen shouldn’t factor into our holy month.

Iftars (evening meal at sunset)
After the traditional dates and water I usually put a bowl of fresh fruit salad or water melon on the table that everyone can dive into before the Maghrib prayer, I usually have a big tub of fruit salad in the fridge in Ramadan and everyday add to it or re do it, sometimes just slices of apple with lime juice and a sprinkle of sugar or honey.

You can add cinnamon or even a peanut butter dip but keep it light.

After the prayer we sit down to a meal, usually meat and rice or couscous and salad, we avoid dry or oily foods like chips or processed salty foods like sausage or frozen samosas. (I said it, we don’t eat samosas in Ramadan in our house!!)

We rarely have soup, traditionally most muslims breakfast on a rich soup, well in the culture I was raised in anyway, but my family are not keen so Harira or Choba doesn’t feature very often on our table which is a shame because I love it !

I love making a big chopped salad that goes with everything, just chop, a cucumber, two large bell peppers, a few spring onions and tomatoes and toss in olive oil and apple cider vinegar, add salt to help the juices come out and that will keep in the fridge for a few days.

You can add olives, celery, grapes, fresh chilli or avocados, all are delicious.

Drinks
Nothing beats cold water at iftar Try adding fresh lime to your water and leaving it to steep for an hour before you breakfast its the most refreshing drink ever!

Juice cocktails,
try mixing coconut water with fresh pineapple juice and lime
orange juice with cranberry
mango with fizzy water
or whatever takes your fancy, but avoid sugary processed drinks like coke or pepsi which will dehydrate you and irritate your bladder and kidneys.

Suhur

We keep it simple at Suhur,
eggs in a wholemeal english muffin
yoghurt with fruit and linseed
wrap with tuna and some of the chop salad I mentioned.
Lots of water.

Questions About Ramadan You Never Dared to Ask a Muslim..


Ramadan is on the doorstep, its quite exciting, we’ve been making decorations and stocking up on dates!
Ramadan is the month in the Islamic calendar when we fast between dawn and sunset, no food , water, sex, arguing or smoking. Needless to say its great for strengthening our will power !

1 Isn’t going without food and water for so long bad for you?

In a word, No.
There have been numerous studies regarding the benefits of fasting, recently the 2/5 diet where one fasts two days a week has brought media attention to the health benefits of fasting. Fasting gives a much needed rest to our digestive system during which time the body repairs and detoxes, there are many jokes about the breath of a fasting person as the body sends toxins to the lungs to be expelled. Obviously if a person is old,ill, pregnant, breastfeeding or a child under the age of puberty then fasting would probably be harmful. These people are exempt from fasting Ramadan.
Fasting is great mental training, we often drift through the day, fasting gives your brain focus, helps us over come bad habits and reduce addiction to caffeine and cigarettes.

2 Don’t you feel hungry?
Yes we do feel hungry but to be honest after a few days of fasting the body adapts pretty quickly and the hunger goes away during the fasting hours, the thirst is more difficult to ignore. We hydrate massivly i the night hours, sipping water constantly and trying to get a lot of foods that release water in the gut into our diet. The good thing about being truly thirsty and hungry is how much it makes us grateful for our blessings, how long has it been since you’ve been without food and drink for more than 10 hours during the day? If you work as a nurse, midwife or doctor you’ll know the feeling well but most of us rarely go more than 5 hours without something.

3 What about sex?
Sex and sexual contact during the hours of the fast is forbidden and would nullify the fast. However in the night time its allowed between married couples of course 😛
The days are so long here in the summer that its likely most couples don’t have much time for it in Ramadan.

4 What do you do all night in Ramadan?
Well Ramadan is really all about the nights, each night is precious to us and we use the time wisely,(or we should do) we eat and drink, feed the poor and needy. We go to the mosque for a long prayer every night or as often as we can, we read Quran a lot and reflect on it, we also have massive charity collections with telethons going on every night to raise money for the needy throughout the world. In the Uk the night s are very short so we don’t sleep at all, many of us fit a workout or brisk walk into the night hours to get our hearts pumping.

5 Do you lose weight?
yes and no! Some of us drop the pounds with ease, some give into temptation when we break the fast and actually find the pounds creep on during this time, our metabolism slows incredibly and with little physical activity in
the day time its easy to get lazy. Eating a well balanced diet in Ramadan is essential to prevent the sluggish feeling and sleepiness.

Teaching Children to Respect One Another

As a parent of four boys with nearly 20 years parenting experience I’d like to share something. Teaching our children to value themselves and respect one another is so important and yet so difficult.

Siblings fight, bicker and wrestle, whichever gender, I was raised with two of my brothers and we had little respect for one another, we fought like wolves, violently sometimes but we love each other deeply as adults. My husband and his sister fought until they often drew blood, little respect going on there too.

So in our home we have tried develop an environment where violence towards your siblings is completely unacceptable. We are don’t smack our children though I confess to threatening to do so sometimes.

We want them to respect each others space, knock before entering a room even if you know the only person in there is your little brother, doesn’t he deserve privacy too?

We don’t allow the excuse “we were only playing” to cover bullying or disrespect.

No name calling or taunting, words can hurt deeply and for longer then a punch.

A joke is not a joke if one of you is the butt of it, thats just bullying.

Never put yourself down, no one is stupid or ugly.

This is a daily struggle to enforce, please dont think that our home is a utopia of positive thinking with well adjusted level headed kids and calm insightful parents, haha!!

However we’re trying.

How do you teach your children to respect themselves and others?

Having listed these rules I realise we do indeed follow them, not with 100% success but we’re trying.

Dad Questionnaire

Ask your child these questions without prompting them.
When you repost say your child’s age.
– Kamal – 14 years old


1. What is something dad always says to you?
Do you want a coffee?
2. What makes dad happy?
Coffee , Watching films , MEATTT!!!
3. What makes Dad sad?
When we jack the laptop charger
4. How does Dad make you laugh?  

When i was 8 he pushed me over and said ‘HAH your infinity now’ goooood times ∞

5. What was Dad like as a child?
Reckless , adventurous and mischievous
6. How old is Dad?
1000000 …. 38
7. How tall is Dad?
 5’11
8. What is his favourite thing to do?
DIY init HAH!! going on trips and holidays all together
9. What does Dad do when you’re not around?
Workalings …. i think :O
10. If your Dad becomes famous what will it be for?
Teaching , or owning a successful company
11. What is your Dad really good at?
Coding , teaching , Being a good dad , leading ,
12. What is your Dad not really good at?
 DIY
13. What does your Dad do for a job?
User Interface Designer … Web developer and designer 😉
14. What is your Dad favourite food?
MEATT!!
15. What makes you proud of your Dad?
How hard he trys to keep us all happy no matter how hard everything seems 🙂
16. If Dad was a character who would she be?
Henry Morgan from Forever hahahaha
17. What do you and Dad do together?
   Go coffee shops , code , watch tv together and go cinema 😀

A day in the life of a home educating family ..or what we do all day.

This morning started late, we tend to rise early for the dawn prayer, fajr which we pray before sunrise, in the Uk this means getting up at about 4 am in the summer, we wash and perform the prayer and then usually sleep for a few more hours.

Everyone slowly got up between 9 and 10 am today, Mr I stuck into our bed for a cuddle and a story before breakfast. We like the slow starts and generally avoid being rigid about what time they all wake up, some people work better at night.

Work began, Sul is working on a project for a client so he was busy all day with headphones on and the boys are trying not to disturb him, he’s working on the dinning table so can look up to chat and take phone calls. I juggled house work with getting the kids all started on something, Mr K started a project on human geography and how changing environments affect peoples lives. This involved some discussion and then he got down to research and make his own notes, Mr A was finishing off typing up a piece of writing he’d been working on for a few weeks.When he finished, Sul went through it with him, praising and giving hints for adjustments.
Mr I spent most of the morning avoiding doing some spellings in his workbook, he managed to drag it out for three hours and anytime I’d leave the room he’d be off to the bathroom, to get a banana, to get some water, to build lego in his room…arrggh. In the end he finally finished a page of suffixes and moved on to writing a story about how much he loves holidays, now he was on a role and asked to do some work on the computer, he did a few activities on Time 4 Learning, a subscription we have for him.

Mr K moved on to maths and spent time doing long multiplication to revise times tables, while Mr A spent 45 mins looking for an art pad (he has 4 or 5 art pads!) to draw a design for a canvas that will go on his bedroom wall, an hour later he’s found it, he also fit in a cardio workout he followed on youtube into that time.
Now everyones getting hungry, while everyone was busy earlier our shopping order arrived so I put a chicken in the oven and made a salad to go with it.

Having done a days work the younger boys are now chilling out playing mine craft, Mr K is upstairs probably watching youtube videos, Sul is still working hard on his project and I’m about to serve dinner, which will mean kicking him off the dinning table.
I managed to get three loads of laundry done, clean the floors, wash up, put some sales up on ebay and do a bit of yoga today.

Theres a lot of silliness and distracting one another that goes on that I haven’t detailed, some days they bicker and fight and it seems like nothing happening. Today was a good day!
We’ll drag the boys out for a walk into town later to pick up some new glasses for Mr A from Spec Savers and possibly do a bit for window shopping if the stores are still open.

Its an unusually windy and wet day today, so no trip to the park or out door sports.

Your Mum, Questionnaire….


Ask your child these questions without prompting them.
When you repost say your child’s age.
Kamal is 14
1. What is something mum always says to you?
looong pause while hes thinking….
2. What makes mum happy?
Me in general.
3. What makes mum sad?
when i dont listen to you.
4. How does mum make you laugh?
Jokes
5. What was mum like as a child?
Highly responsible and mature.
6. How old is mum?
38..37 your’e 38 this year
7. How tall is mum?
2’5″ or 2’4″
8. What is her favourite thing to do?
Family walks or when we all help to bake
9. What does mum do when you’re not around?
Watch films and go to pizza express, i hold no grudges.
10. If your mum becomes famous what will it be for?
TV show or a book about home education or doularing.
11. What is your mum really good at?
cooking, looking after us, teaching us , trips and creative stuff, presents (with a little prompting from his dad!) and obviously youre good at your job as well.
12. What is your mum not really good at?
nothin….. gasp emoticon
13. What does your mum do for a job?
Doodaling …. i mean doularing
14. What is your mums favourite food?
Mash Potato , fruit and salads
15. What makes you proud of your mum?
That shes brought us up all really well and shes very good at what she does grin emoticon
16. If mum was a character who would she be?
Jane Austin init
17. What do you and mum do together?
Have coffee and pastries

Ask your child these questions without prompting them.
When you repost say your child’s age.
Abdullah is 11(he is also the best!)
1. What is something mum always says to you?
come on

2. What makes mum happy?
if you give her some thing out of love
3. What makes mum sad?
if she wants to do something but she dose it all by her self
4. How does mum make you laugh?
telling me funny stories
5. What was mum like as a child?
very quiet i guess
6. How old is mum?
37
7. How tall is mum?
5 foot something
8. What is her favourite thing to do?
go on nice walks

9. What does mum do when you’re not around?
clean cook relax that sort of thing
10. If your mum becomes famous what will it be for?
helping others
11. What is your mum really good at?
art, cooking(very nice food):} doularing, writing
12. What is your mum not really good at?
parkour climbing
13. What does your mum do for a job?
doula some times
14. What is your mums favourite food?
Moroccan food
15. What makes you proud of your mum?
caring for people
16. If mum was a character who would she be?
Ron’s mum from harry potter

17. What do you and mum do together?
watch tv go on walks
18. How are you and mum the same?
we do the same looks i have body language
19. How are you and mum different
Im a boy she is a lady
20. How do you know mum loves you?
because she says thats all i need to know
21. What does mum like most about dad?
his looks his personality etcs…
22. Where is mums favourite place to visit?
Tenby
23. How old was your mum when you were born?
26

Ask your child these questions without prompting them.
When you repost say your child’s age.
Ibraheem is 7
1. What is something mum always says to you?
I love You.

2. What makes mum happy?
When I give you a flower.
3. What makes mum sad?
when i be naughty
4. How does mum make you laugh?
when I do silly faces and jokes
5. What was mum like as a child?
You had light hair, i remember from the picture.
6. How old is mum?
37
7. How tall is mum?
not really tall.
8. What is her favourite thing to do?
exercise

9. What does mum do when you’re not around?
Read quran
10. If your mum becomes famous what will it be for?
doing work, important stuff.
11. What is your mum really good at?
cooking
12. What is your mum not really good at?
playing games, i mean xbox games, i have to teach you.
13. What does your mum do for a job?
get paid, shrugs, helps someone with a baby,
14. What is your mums favourite food?
chilli and rice, you do like spicy stuff dont you!
15. What makes you proud of your mum?
That cake made me happy.
16. If mum was a character who would she be?
a wizard

17. What do you and mum do together?
work, you’re always teaching me, sitting in bed having huggies
18. How are you and mum the same?
i came out of your tummy,
19. How are you and mum different
your face is different, we’re not twins, (shouting)
20. How do you know mum loves you?
coz you’re my mum, you make me do work.
21. What does mum like most about dad?
hes handsome (mashallah)
22. Where is mums favourite place to visit?
errr i dunno, wait….the forest

23. How old was your mum when you were born?
29