"Although I speak from my own experience, I feel that no one has the right to impose his or her beliefs on another person. I will not propose to you that my way is best. The decision is up to you. If you find some point which may be suitable for you, then you can carry out experiments for yourself. If you find that it is off no use, then you can discard it." Dalai Lama...

Thursday, 11 September 2008

Controls and trust.....

I have been neglecting this poor old blog.
I keep meaning to post but things have changed around here.We are having to find a new flow to our evenings.

I have always sat down to write at night but Milly has taken to staying up much later .She has been up til 11.00 or 12.00 quite a few nights which in itself is not such a problem but she has been saying she is tired and wanting to go to bed around 8.30 or so and one of us goes through our usual bedtime routine of reading and cuddles and we leave her when her breathing settles and she is nearly asleep, so all in all around an hour or more is taken up.Then for whatever reason most nights over the last few weeks she has not been able to go to sleep so has come down again within a short time, overtired and hyper, saying she is wanting to stay up.I know she is having to go through this period of testing and finding her own limits and that is ok however, I find it easier to concentrate when it is quiet and with a lively 9 year old bouncing around there is not much quiet happening ;-)
By the time she is settled I have no energy to do anything apart from actually join her in bed!!
I know we will find a rhythm that suits us all but it will take a while for that to happen.Emily doesn't like to go to bed and be left after reading, she needs one of us to be there while she settles and this can take some time.She also dosen't want to be left downstairs on her own so if she has decided to stay up she will go up with whichever of us is up latest.I think the major stumbling block is my illness,keeping going too late means frayed nerves and temper.Some nights have been awful and I have felt it would be easier to go back to bedtimes!!Then I get up the next morning and in the light of day I think of what our goals are and it all seems to make sense again.
I am confident we will find a way, just need to be creative;-)

Writing in the morning is the other option but as yet inspiration has not struck that early so I continue to visit others while sipping my cuppa;-) As we adjust and find ways to accommodate all our needs blogging has had to take a back seat.

Tonight seems like a good opportunity to get something down,I have not been able to get to sleep so I came down to get a drink and felt the urge to post.(edited to add,this has taken me over a week to finish in the end!!)
We are coasting along at a leisurely pace,finding ourselves further down the radical unschooling path and hitting a few potholes along the way!! Over the last few months I have been thinking before answering a request and saying yes more, to all sorts of things ,Milly is in seventh heaven,I on the other hand am finding it all rather difficult :-(
Even though it has been a very well researched and conscious decision to go down this path I still lurch from excitement at the freedom and change that is happening to feeling completely out of control!!

The later bedtimes and her growing freedom to decide when she goes to bed have been difficult and finding a way to do it without me getting too tired and unwell is not easy but it is a doddle compared to letting go of food controls,I never expected it to be so hard!!
I have always felt we had a fairly liberal attitude to food and eating,never had a problem where food was eaten and have never forced her to eat food she doesn't like.Prior to her going to school she had a drawer in the kitchen that was always stocked full of sweets/crisps but she rarely chose them.She has always had a great appetite and prior to school would eat anything we put out.

At school she was "encouraged" to eat her sandwiches first from her packed lunch box,before eating the other things in it. At home we had always given her a plate with sandwiches ,fruit, yogurt, cake etc and she ate whatever took her fancy first but 99% of the time she cleared her plate.Later when she had school dinners (her choice) there was more involvement from the older children who became head of the table and dished food out and used coercive techniques including threatening to tell the teacher to get the younger kids to eat up the things they didn't like(found this out after she had left and have since heard similar stories from friends still at school)

I have to admit to getting really nervous as her favoured foods became more and more restricted as she progressed in school.I believe she felt out of control and food was something she could have control over at home.She became very picky and fussy about the food she ate and the way it was on the plate,certain things were not to touch or be on a separate plate.

I recently started reassessing the controls we had on food.I realised just how little choice Emily has had when it came to the seemingly "forbidden" unhealthy options.I never bought fizzy drinks for home although she could have them when we ate out and I had begun to cut back on sweets and chocolates when I went shopping.This came about because since leaving school, whatever was in the drawer was being eaten so quickly.Emily was getting less exercise as well, since she chose to give up dance and gymnastics classes and I was scared of her putting on weight and being unfit.I had also began to put restrictions on how much she could have which only served to make them more appealing.I have never been happy restricting food,it made each day a battle ground as she was requesting the "forbidden" treats and I was sticking to the rules I had laid down .I am so conscious of how easy it is to get a really bad relationship with food that haunts you for the rest of your life.It all felt wrong,it was causing a problem that I don't believe has to exist.

I read a lot on Sandra Dodds site and the RUN site along with articles on other peoples blogs and it all made complete sense. Abundance was mentioned a number of times, help them to feel that everything they could want would always be available.Within our budget I began to stock up the drawer with all the things I knew she liked and never said no to her requests.She has been eating lots and lots of chocolate,crisps,cola.I knew this was going to be a long haul and she would have to go through the initial binging to come out the other side believing that she had free choice and that the restrictions were not going to be put back in place,but it is so hard.I have been offering snacks regularly of the fruits and foods I know she enjoys and she has been eating a lot of fruit as well as all the chocs etc.On a good day I have been feeling confident in the process and not questioning her choices.On a bad day I have probably lengthened the process by my negative comments:-(

I have read a lot about letting go of food controls and am trusting that the experience of so many others who have been through it will happen here as well.One thing that I am trying to keep in my mind is the process we went through when we started saying yes more to TV watching.Initially it seemed she watched continuously, but gradually she began to chose to do other things.She knows she has free choice and so it is easy to turn and do something else when you know you have control and can watch whenever you want.More importantly I think it was my attitude change that was the big factor,I stopped thinking of the TV as being a bad thing,I sat with her while she watched.I talked to her about the shows she enjoyed and really made her feel it was OK to be watching what she wanted.

She has periods of time when she watches TV a lot especially if she is tired and has had a lot going on.A while ago when she had missed a programme she liked,I mentioned BBCi but she wasn't interested,this last week has seen a huge increase in her TV watching and BBCi has been used for hours at a time.Even though we have had so much evidence of her dipping in and out of Tv I can't say I haven't had a twinge or two about the amount of time spent on it recently!! I have offered lot's of outings but she is just wanting to stay in,a lot of the things I have offered to do as alternatives at home have been turned down.Tickle fights and offering to play role playing games with her have been winners,but as soon as we have finished she is back to the TV.Just to put that in perspective the previous 2 weeks she had watched hardly any TV as she began writing a book(I was typing it up on the PC)she has got 18 pages done.She was also drawing pages and pages with pictures of all the characters and it took up all her time.Lately she has taken to recording it on a dictating machine my Mum got her.I am going to have a great deal of typing to do, she has hours and hours on the machine!!

We want Emily to be in control of what and when she eats and to enable her to grow up with a healthy attitude to food and to be able to make her own choices.I know it is my thinking that has to change and I need to let go of all my hang ups and allow her to find her way.She's a clever cookie and I need to trust her.....


Sam said...

We have been through similar times with my eldest and sleeping. He also needed someone to stay with him until he fell asleep, and I was struggling to cope when he would later follow me downstairs. I think we are coming out on the otherside of this now, and he is much more able to get to sleep by himself.
I admire your efforts on the food front. I am controlling, in the sense that I don't buy the junk food if possible - mainly because I would eat it. With my lack of control, it is difficult to imagine being able to walk away.
Best of luck :-)

Michelle said...

I am v controlling and limit tv viewing. Largely because the noise of the kids tv progs irritates me. But she wanted a muffin for breakfast and I said yes and gave it to her and she didn't eat it anyway!

I also don't buy junk food as Marcus and I are also hopeless at not eating it.

K said...

I went through late bedtime issues with my daughter recently, so can identify with that. We seem to have reached a point now where we can both allow for each other's needs, lots of give and take on both sides, and good communication (long may it last!!).
Very interested to hear about your approach to food. I've studied nutrition and have always insisted on eating 'well', but I also worry about not allowing my daughter to develop her own eating patterns as I know this can be damaging. Maybe I'm coming too much from the scientific perspective and neglecting the psychological aspect. X

Lisa G said...

Nice to see you back!!!

Lynn said...

HI guys thanks for your comments.

When I first started looking into autonomous education and came accross unschooling websites I began to see how there could be autonomy accross the board and not just in the "educational" aspects.

We are changing habits and really looking at all areas to understand why we do things.It is a long and sometimes painful process but I do think that for us as a family it will work,eventually ;-)
I never intend to preach and hope it didn't come accross that way,I am just try to chronicle what we are going through,the good the bad and the ugly:-))

Grit said...

what a thought provoking and interesting post, thank you!

your post has made me reflect! i do get fed up when bedtimes are 11pm here (i want to go to bed and i cannot if i do not know they are settled!) and at the same time, like you, want the children to find their own rhythms in regard to sleep. practically though, walking up at 9am means we miss activities i want us to go to. so the bed/sleep/wake system has to work for me too, that's what i tell them!

thankfully we have never had a problem regarding food; all ours will try just about most things, and i can get spinach down their necks if i am smart... and as the words are leaving my fingertips i have a sixth sense that squirrel will wake up tomorrow morning and declare that from now on she will only eat marmalade.