Design Your Life – What Nature Mums Is All About
You may not have heard of the words ‘Design Your Life’ before. You may just be going about, living your life, just doing the day to day things that don’t seem to be getting you anywhere. You may be stuck in a cycle of getting up, doing the school run (which has become even more stressful after 6 months off school), going to work or getting all your to-do list checked off, picking the kids up, dinner, bath and bed, and wondering when will this ever change? Or maybe you haven’t even thought about changing it… The thought may have never crossed your mind.
What would you say if I said that by this time next year, things could be super different for you, you could be happier, less stressed, earning more, happier kids and more time to do the things you love?
Well, over the coming weeks and months, I am going to be taking you on a step-by-step journey to take back that control, start living a more natural and freer life (and by that, I don’t mean tree hugging, but a natural life that is the way you want to live it) and to live it to your design, not someone else’s.
How it all started for me
This concept of living life by design started when I was looking back on my school experience. I was to be the first in my family (apart from my mum’s cousins in Austria and my step-siblings) to go to university. It was an exciting thing for everyone. And when I didn’t get in to my course because of a mess up with one of my exams, I took a place on any course I could find, wasted a year of my life, developing a deep depression, because I had to not let my family down.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I love my family. And it was expected of me to go to uni. They didn’t pressure me at all, they supported me. The pressure came from within me, because I didn’t want to let them down, because I loved them.
After a year, I left, got a job, got another A Level at the local college by studying in the evenings (where I learned I could study and complete a qualification in 6 months if I focused on it). The A Level was German (my mum and gran are from Austria, I felt it was expected of me to study that and make them proud). I got into the local university (after promising my Grandad before he died that I would definitely go back), studied there for 4 years, went into an entry level marketing research job, and I was completely and utterly miserable. I flitted, after leaving there, from temp job to temp job (and in between studying and qualifying as a Montessori teacher, working in a nursery, which wasn’t my thing, I wanted to work in schools).
One temp job took me to Surrey, where I met my husband Martin, and then once we were married, temp jobs brought me back to the coast, where we now live. I hated working for other people, but it was the expected thing for me to do.
The last straw for me was when I was in labour in the hospital after a planned induction, having learned our twin boys had passed away in the 2nd trimester. After I had had the scan confirming they had died, I called my work and told them that for the next 2 days I wouldn’t be in, as I had to be induced and give birth to my sons. Their response was not a sympathetic one, and they made sure to tell me that I had to ensure I called them by 8.30am each day I was off so they knew I wasn’t going to be in. Even though I told them the next 2 days were a no-go for me, because I was waiting to go into labour having taken the medication to get things moving.
I called in the next day. The following day by 8am I was in full-blown labour, and it wasn’t on my mind to call in to work. They knew anyway I wasn’t going to be in and why. When I returned home from the hospital later that day, there was a hand-delivered letter waiting for me on the doormat, terminating my employment (yes I know it was illegal, and had it been for any other reason, I would have taken it further, but I was bruised for a long time and didn’t).
So, why am I telling you all this? I spent my life doing the things that were expected of me. School, uni, work, marriage (ok I wanted that one), kids. And I had had enough. I hated the office politics and pettiness, and the rules that were not realistic for a lot of people. I hated how I was not a person to my employers. I was disposable and unimportant.
I remember when Martin had been told off because he was only 5 minutes early for his shift, not 15, despite being ready to start work at 9am, not getting paid to be there earlier, and HR confirming he was only contracted to be there from 9am ready to work. He caught the earlier bus the next day, which left 30 minutes earlier, and because everyone wanted to get on that bus, it actually arrived later, and he was late for work. So, of course, his work reprimanded him again – 2 warnings.
What is wrong with these people, seriously?!
How I took back control and designed my life
So, and this has taken me a while, I decided to make choices that I wanted to make over my and our life. I decided I would take back that control, and live life how I wanted to.
I looked at our finances, and our work. I knew I never wanted to work for anyone ever again. I came from a family of entrepreneurs, we had some business skills, so we set up our own business, and it was one that we could do any time, from anywhere in the world. We now are multi-stream entrepreneurs with 6-figure businesses in different sectors, and that suits us just fine. Most of them have massive residual income streams, so we can earn while we eat, sleep and play too.
We looked at the school system, and decided that we didn’t want to put our daughter, and then our son, through that. They loved the outdoors, nature, moving around. They were free spirits, who knew their own mind. And I know I am sounding hippy – and we are definitely not hippies – but it made me think of a lot of things. Things like ‘how useful was that degree I finally got?’ It was in International Marketing Management, so there were useful things in there, but, and this wasn’t that long ago, doing an online survey was deemed too ambitious for an undergraduate assignment! Now, anyone can do one on Google forms, or Survey Monkey or more! Now, social media and digital methods dominate pretty much every industry, whereas I finished my degree in the pre-Facebook era, which wasn’t really that long ago.
I also have an issue with a standardised curriculum to be taught to every child everywhere. I do understand the theory of making everyone equal and to have the same chances, but by trying to do that, it does, in my opinion, a huge disservice to the majority of students, who need to be valued for who they are, and their time spent investing in the things that make them unique, that they excel in, rather than trying to make everyone well rounded. If Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps had been told to practice his tennis skills over and over rather than focus on his swimming, he would not have become an Olympic champion. We need to help kids see their unique strengths and make them stronger, give them a competitive edge and unique position in life, not make them all like everyone else.
The things I learned at school and university did not give me an appreciation and a love of the world I live in, our rich history (we studied Victorians, Incas, King Henry VIII, the Slave Trade and WW2 but there are SO many more things out there we didn’t learn). I learned about climate change, but I had no idea where countries were in the world, or the amazing cultures in them, or the issues they faced. I learned about sin, cosin, tan stuff in maths, but I didn’t learn how to budget. I read a lot of books by dead authors, but I had no inspiration for reading anything outside of things I had to read. I remember some cool science lessons, but most of them were mainly theory. I learned the parts of a flower, but never took a flower apart to actually identify them.
And having helped my cousin’s daughter and my nephew through the national school system I knew I didn’t like it, that it killed creativity, that if you were anything other than the box they could tick off, then you were a failure, not an individual. My Montessori training helped me to see how teachers could, without the constraints of a national curriculum and with a shift in outlook as to how children and teens can work when you give them freedom within limits and choice over their education, guide their students to amazing levels in learning and understanding that really prepared them for life beyond the classroom.
You can design your life too
Today, we live in a time where anything is possible. You can create an income for yourself working from home, or a cafe, or a tent in a field, or a different country doing what you want, with an ongoing residual income if you want. If you want to.
You can choose how, what, when and where your children learn, and you have more control over that if you home educate, which you can. You can wake up when you want to and sleep when you want to. You can travel and go places you have always dreamed of going to (well, it is easier when there isn’t a global pandemic I suppose). You can go do yoga or swim when you want. You can feel better and happier (everyone has different things that hold them back, but most of us can take control of our health instead of relying on doctors to do it for us) and we can really feel a lot better than we imagined. You can take control. You can design your life on your terms.
So, why Nature Mums?
It began in my Montessori training when I learned about the natural path of development every child goes along. Nature drives animals, including us, to develop skills at set times in our lives. It dictates the sleeping pattern of a baby developing outside the womb for the first few years, and the sleeping pattern of a teen entering into that other change of puberty. It also dictates the sleeping pattern of women as they go through the menopause. Nature drives so much of what we do and how we develop.
Nature also holds many of the answers to a lot of our problems. It provides us with herbs, plants, essential oils, chemistry that we can use to support our health and the health of our families. You can go to a forest and do some forest bathing to lower your blood pressure, destress, breathe better and have improved cardiovascular function. It also helps to regulate your sleep patterns if they are out of whack.
I also believe that there are rhythms we should honour in our lives, in our days, from month to month and year to year, and I also believe that our children benefit from being with their families, for that family to be the foundation that strengthens them so they can go out and make their mark in the world.
Education happens naturally throughout life, and while I regard our home education as semi-structured, my children spend many hours without that structure, and that is often where a lot of the magic happens.
We are not designed to work 40-hour weeks in an office in front of a computer all day long, just as children are not designed to sit still for hours, either in a classroom or in front of a TV or games console.
We all need to work, and I do believe that there is a time and a place for TV and games consoles. I am not a warrior for their abolition, but I feel that we all need a return to nature, a more natural way of life, to help us find our peace, happiness and fulfillment, and I do believe everyone can do this by living their life by design.
I am passionate about education, about self-reliance so that you rely on yourself and not on others or the state. I am passionate about people knowing how they can work from home on their own terms and live a happier life earning more money than they would in a job, if that is what they want to do, if they want to have more time to do the things they want to do.
I also believe that there are many, many of us who would love to give back to the community or to a cause that is dear to our hearts, if only we had the time, or if only we didn’t have to always be living pay cheque to pay cheque ourselves.
The COVID effect
During 2020, I have seen so many people disempowered because their income was taken away, they couldn’t find the food they needed (or couldn’t afford it), they wanted to help others but couldn’t, and also even something as trivial as toilet paper became an essential item on everyone’s shopping list!
I have seen a lot of parents saying they are surprised at the gaps in their child’s education, and that their child thrived being taught at home. I have also seen parents say that their normally anxious child or teen returned to their normal happy self out of the school environment.
So, what can you do? Take back your power!
It is time for you to take back your power. If you work a job, it is not enough now to only have one income stream. If you create an additional income stream, or income streams plural, you create a financial situation where you can survive, no matter what comes your way.
If you are concerned for your health (and I believe that everyone can make improvements), now is the time to take back your power, reduce the toxins in your home and body that are making you have less energy (along with a whole host of other things). It is time to look at your gut health, your nutrition, your energy levels. It is time to get in control of that anxiety that holds you back every day.
If your child thrived at home and you want to home educate them, then home educate them. Maybe right now isn’t possible, but design your life so that you can make it happen.
It is time to get prepared for whatever comes your way, and in the process, free yourself, free your time and free your potential.
Design your life, and let me show you how.