What Are You Doing This Summer? A Non-Month!
Posted by Poonam Singh on Apr 14, 2019
Here is more about the non-month....
Last year a dear friend of mine on her own journey of self-transformation visited a school in India where she learned about the idea of a non-month from a school leader. I was intrigued!!!! Apparently the school leader was curious to learn what would happen if they took structure away entirely from the students. She wanted to engage in this inquiry because she felt that maybe the inner light was gradually dimming in some of her students during the school year. I recall one point that stuck to me about disengagement could be an overt rebellion but could also be a gradual dimming. What would happen if teachers and directors observed children in their natural environment all day without structure or control? What would children do? What would adults observe about themselves and about teaching and learning?
I was so inspired by what I heard, not knowing of course the details of this experiment (and hopefully one day can learn more from the origen of the non-month from this school directly!)
But in the mean time I decided to try out my own version of a non-month experiment last summer. I was excited about the idea of having one month during the year where I release control and structure and see what is gained observing my children in a free environment. I can then integrate the lessons I learn in myself for the rest of the year, and maybe serve as some sort of reset for me and my kiddos.
I was actually kind of afraid when I started. Could my kids and I really do this? !! Would the kids just fight all day? Would they drive me nuts? Could I actually let go and trust? Could I actually not look at my phone so much?
Well in all honesty I don't remember much of what happened! I didn't write much down, but I do remember that it was an amazing summer. I did feel my mind racing less. I remember lots of days at the beach. My kids who usually fight for my attention didn't do that. I remember playing with my kids and talking to my parents a lot. I remember appreciating them so much because they are kind of non-month parents all the time. A weird thing happened with time where it neither felt rushed or too slow. I felt enormously lucky to have this time and wondered if I would get it again (because you just never know what happens in life), and here I am again. I go into this summer with a bit more intention and readiness.
So here are my guidelines for my next version of my non-month:
1. No technology. We get enough during the year. Let's do a bit of tech detox. That includes me too.
2. No toys in the traditional sense. Again we have more then enough during the year. What happens if you can only play with whatever you find around the house?
3. Be ok not having a plan. This is a bit terrifying for a parent. Let's see what emerges. Be ok with the "I'm bored," comment. Practical note for parents: There is a groan period when kids adjust to the new schedule! Stick with it!
4. Observe the children and learn from them. Learn how they play. Learn how they are anchored in their hearts and in the present. Take their lead on what they want to do and where they want to go. Hopefully lots more trips to libraries, beaches, and parks.
5. Lots of time cooking and thinking about food. Cooking is a natural past time. It set a natural rhythm to the day.
6. Time with grand parents and aunts and uncles, and others. This intergenerational element is critical to not overwhelm a single or even two parents who might be managing kids, as I think it's important to acknowledge how much work parenting really is and how important it is for the parent to feel well rested too. I felt supported by my mom and dad.
7. Journal. I didn't do this last year and I hope to write more about what I am learning about my children, myself, and the learning and growing process on a daily basis.
I'm excited to try this out again this year! It won't be perfect and that's ok. I look forward to sharing anything I learn, and going deeper within myself. If anyone else does any version of the non-month, please reach out! I hope we may share stories.
Thank you for allowing me to share my intentions here! This space allows me to nurture that intention within me. And happy spring and happy summer!!!!
P.s. One spontaneous thing that happened last summer was an epic night of poetry writing around motherhood ! That began a year of poetry writing which I have yet to share with anyone but I treasure it deeply.