Wild + Free conferences are truly like none other and spark so much beauty through the amazing musicians and the passionate speakers.
My desire is that every woman who attended the conference or follows Wild + Free mamas on Instagram will gain a clear vision for what their family's Wild + Free looks like. It is so easy to get caught up in what we think it should look like because we look around at all the amazing things these other mamas are doing, but it is vital that we live our own Wild + Free. Our Wild + Free looks very different from other families, but that is the beauty in living your own life. It is then that you can enjoy the beauty that others bring without comparison and live your life to the fullest.
For example, our Wild + Free doesn't find us on a farm, or camping, and we rarely make handicrafts. As lovely as all of those things are they aren't a part of our life at this season. Our Wild + Free includes our love of flying and traveling; taking to the open skies. We also love all things local so we frequent the Farmer's Market and recently moved downtown so we can enjoy walking to the local coffee shop and juice bar more frequently (probably too frequently. :)) We love music and art and make space for each of us to pursue our passions. Our Wild + Free is unique to us and tells the story of our dreams and lives and I hope that as you read this you will be inspired to live your Wild + Free.
To give you a glimpse into the conference and to hopefully inspire you to create your own Wild + Free, I want to share with you my conference experience this year!
The Hunts created a high energy start to the conference. If you haven't checked them out, please do so right now!! The band is made up of a sweet homeschooling family with 7 kids. The oldest girls are married and both have babies who made a sweet appearance on stage. ;)
Sarah Mackenzie was up next. I love Sarah and I'm sure we would be friends in real life. I love her presentations because she brings us back to the heart of why we homeschool and what the end goal is. It is so easy to let academics get in the way of relationship, but when you ask adult homeschooled children what they remember most about their homeschooling experience, it is always about the special moments and the relationships!
Sarah had us ask ourselves what words/phrases we want our children to use when describing their homeschool experience twenty years down the road? Adventurous, fun, delightful, playful, and engaging were just a few of the beautiful words that were expressed by moms in the audience.
She also asked what words/phrases we want our children to use when describing you as a homeschool mom? Ouch
The answers from the audience were beautiful and as you can imagine included things like loving, caring, fun, lighthearted, etc.
Sarah brought the conversation together by reminding us that our answers to these questions should be what guides our days and routines.
(On a side note this way of thinking has transformed our days!! I am a natural task master but I have spent the last couple of years learning to let go and this year has been filled with such freedom and joy. The spark is back in homeschooling.)
Finally, Sarah talked about enjoying our kids' company on purpose, enjoying their presence, and having "just because days". Just because days are days when you take off a day once a quarter or so and you surprise your kids by doing something fun. Something that makes their eyes light up and has nothing to do with learning and everything to do with enjoying being with them. Schedule these into your calendar!!
And I'll leave you with this from Sarah… just as you are, you are exactly the right person for this job!
Next up, Sally Clarkson spoke. It was such a treat to have Sally Clarkson at the conference. Her sweet spirit combined with her wisdom from years well traveled are such a blessing to the fears that can reside in my heart.
Sally just finished a beautiful book, The Life Giving Table and with that fresh on her heart, she spoke about TABLE.
Talking - what words am I bringing to my children? What do I want to pass on? What is my vision? Fill their treasure chest of ideals and ideas because they will treasure something.
Accepting the limitations of your puzzle, of life, and decide to like it.
Be authentic - live with integrity.
Loving well - all good relationship starts with influence and accepting others for who they are.
Engage in the fullness of life. Encourage them forward. Endeavor to live by faith in what might be. (Start by saying, I know some day you will become…) EAT! Because our kids are always eating!! ENJOY LIFE!
A couple of quotes that I loved:
"The mom's heart is the child's classroom"
"Be the person you want your children to be… (what I wrote down for our family - readers, loving, entrepreneurs, travelers, curious)
"Your story becomes your platform for influence"
Rachel Kovac (Breakout session)
For the first breakout session, I listened to Rachel Kovac. She talked about how discipline = freedom and the importance of developing discipline for what we want to do. She encouraged us to evaluate how we are spending our time. To notice the things that are stressful as well as the things that bring us joy. She encouraged us to adjust our day accordingly and fill our day with more joyful moments.
A few key takeaways:
*Don't multi-task, it is energy zapping.
*Rituals and routines make up our family culture.
*What makes a successful day for your family?
*What does a dream day look like?
*What time of day seems to disappear without much return? (This year I have felt like time is flying by with not much to show for it, so this is something that really spoke to me. I have a lot of time disappearing and I want to make the most of my time.)
*Activities need to be balanced with in growth and out growth. (ie. Head in the morning (learning), heart midday (cuddle time, reading), and hands afternoon - (play))
*Rachel and her family walk most days after breakfast and once chores are done. I thought this was such a lovely way to start the day. I do this with my little guy, but would love to add family walks into our routine. Maybe after dinner though. :) These walks lead to experiencing weather, seasons, nature and lends to meaningful conversations.
Jodi's talk was a sharp change of pace, but I am so grateful that she breeched an oftentimes tough topic because it so important, especially in our current culture. She talked about how important it is to build a sexual culture within our family that is healthy. We live in an over-sexed culture and most families have a very low sex culture. Our kids need to learn about body parts, sex, pornography, etc. from us at an early age. If these conversations are a normal part of our lives, they will be getting their first introduction from us which is so important because a child's view of sex is molded by their 1st experience. Research shows that kids raised in open families are less likely to have sex as teens and look at pornography. If we are talking with our children before these changes happen they aren't embarrassed or shamed, rather it leads to a free laid back situation. She talked about protecting our kids and giving them the tools to respond when they are exposed to pornography, because it isn't a matter of if, but when. Some action steps include having internet security, low-tech availability, an open door policy when with friends, and friends not bringing devices into the home.
Jodi recommended some great books to help integrate this into our school days:
The Story of Me
I said NO!
Before I Was Born
Good Pictures Bad Pictures
It's So Amazing
Rea is an amazing storyteller and was able to transport me with her through each story that she told. She shared her main points through storytelling which I can't recapture here, but the short version is that we want to teach our children three things: Wonder, Imagination, and Empathy. These are all found in the pages of great literature and throughout nature. Literature builds a strong moral compass and teaches us empathy.
All of us have dreams and we should all try to live our dreams. Youth has the capacity to see beauty and that makes this season a great time to speak vision to our children." Nobody cares how much you know, until they know how much you care." Theodore Roosevelt
So much heart and vision in her message.
I didn't know who Leah Boden was before the conference but after hearing her speak I wondered how that was possible and where she has been my whole life!!
Not only was her accent gorgeous, her heart for mamas and homeschooling was so beautiful. I can't wait for the recordings to come out so I can listen again. She left me feeling like I just had coffee with a good friend and my heart was full. I didn't take notes because it was the sort of encouragement that you just sit and receive from so I encourage you to go listen to her presentation! I did write down this: frequently ask the question, "tell me about that…" This one little phrase opens the door for narration all throughout the day and in many different contexts. This phrase draws out our children and shows them that we care.
That's it! Once again it was an amazing weekend to be encouraged and strengthened. I'm thankful for the wonderful speakers and all the mamas that are choosing to give their children a childhood of adventure, great literature, nature, and the space to chart their own course.
You don't need to do more or be more. You are enough and and can create a life you love,
Hey, I'm Julie. I love books, coffee shops, traveling, and exploring. Homeschooling Mama to 4, wife of 15 years. Enjoying the journey and learning to add a bit more of summer into my everyday life.