Time and Money:
How much time does it take? How much does unschooling cost?

pages 6 and 7 of The Big Book of Unschooling (2009 edition)
online chat, August 3, 2011

Colleen: Hi!

Sandra Dodd: Good, big group!

Chris Sanders: Hi -- I'm finishing up my lunch so fingers are busy with food

Marta BP: :)

Rebecca Allen joined the chat 15 days ago

Jill Parmer: Yay, Rebecca made it. Addi and I are eating homemade chapatis and with your honey. omg Heavenly!

Sandra Dodd: Hi, Rebecca!

Colleen: Our local news in NH has an article online today about unschooling (and about Sudbury Valley) - the title is "Unschoolers Learn What They Want, Whenever" and subtitle is "Method led students to become Mathematicians, Geologist, Jam Makers" - interesting ;)

BeaMantovani joined the chat 15 days ago

BeaMantovani: hi

BeaMantovani: that article is more about sudbury than it is about unschooling!

cindy joined the chat 15 days ago

Rebecca Allen: Oh, wow. That sounds delicious, Jill! Hi everyone!

Jill Parmer: "Method led" There's another phrase to confuse what unschooling is.

Colleen: I also think it's interesting that the article implies you're a success if you have a Career with a Title - how about "unschooling leads to children enjoying life and learning" :)

Sandra Dodd: we're not here to have fun, some people will say.

Sandra Dodd: Many people HAVE said.

Sandra Dodd: Vale of tears and all that.

Sandra Dodd: Suffering is virtue.

Colleen: yep - poor people they are, missing all the fun they could be having!!

Sandra Dodd: Suffering through school leads to virtue (and in the secular religion of capitalism, virtue=money)

Sandra Dodd: Today we're talking about two short sections in The Big Book of Unschooling. Page 6, "How Much Time does it Take?"

Sandra Dodd: and page 7, "How much does unschooling cost?"

Sandra Dodd: And that ties in to fun and money, definitely. :-)

Colleen: :)

Marta BP: :)

Sandra Dodd: Erin's gone, so when #10 person enters, let's go.

Sandra Dodd: Jill, do you want to discuss them in series or wadded together?

Sandra Dodd: "Time is money" could combine them. Connections! :-)

Marta BP: great topics for me since we're trying to decide if we can manage me not having to work ;) so we can unschool dd

reneecabatic joined the chat 15 days ago

Jill Parmer: Oh my brain usually goes to series.

Jill Parmer: How about time first.

Sandra Dodd: So time first. How much time?

Chris Sanders: The amount of my time (focused attention) needed has fluctuated over the years.

Sandra Dodd: When I had three little kids I hardly had time to take a shower, but this summer I went to the UK for eight weeks.

Sandra Dodd: So it's not a constant.

Colleen: for us it's all day and night - there are no school bells ringing to mark time to start and finish - for us unschooling is a way of life and of being so it doesn't start and stop

Rebecca Allen: All the time. When I'm not with Quinn, I put thought into who I'm leaving her with and how they will interact.

Sandra Dodd: Sometimes one of them still needs a few hours to express something, or get helped with something, even though they're grown.

Jill Parmer: After I started learning about unschooling and paying attention to what people were saying. The idea that hanging with my kids was fun, and not as hard as what other moms were saying....you need time to yourself.

Sandra Dodd: I think that in a way the messages from jobs get mixed up with mothering. People feel like they need breaks, an uninterrupted lunch hour, overtime. :-)

Chris Sanders: Zoe had a long run of wanting to spend a lot of her time playing online games and skypeing with friends and she didn't want or need my focused attention as much -- but now she's moved out of that and we're spending a lot more time together talking, doing things together, going places

Sandra Dodd: Holly and I have spent a lot of time together this week, and she's 19.

Jill Parmer: I found I enjoyed my family way more that my set weekly meeting with a friend that I had going on for years.

reneecabatic: it takes more time than I Thought it would take....Some other Moms raise chickens, have businesses, read books---I do not, yet....:)

Sandra Dodd: I found myself impatient with my non-parenting friends, first pass; later I was impatient with my non-unschooling friends.

reneecabatic: it's worth it though because I have amazing relationships with my kids, not with chickens or books (yet :)

Sandra Dodd: Because I was comparing the enjoyment of that time to what I could or would be doing with my kids. Not always.

Chris Sanders: Still, when my kids aren't wanting my focused attention, I find I still spend time thinking, reading, researching about unschooling, learning and their particular interests -- I consider it my COntinuing Education for my job ;-)

Rebecca Allen: I hear you there, Renee. I thought I would be able to remodel my home as a stay at home mom. Now that Quinn is 6, I do have time to garden (some) and other things.

Jill Parmer: yes, same here, Chris.

Sandra Dodd: When Keith was working in Minneapolis, I used to crave adult conversation, and would have friends over more.

Jill Parmer: I used to do in home daycare. I pretty much liked hanging with the kids more than the parents. I was usually ready for the parents to leave when they were dropping off or picking up.

Sandra Dodd: Another factor I think surprises some people is the idea of just being in the same place, without planned, direct, focussed interaction.

Chris Sanders: The kids' dad works out of our home, and has a pretty flexible schedule so that has allowed me to be able to go and do some things I might not otherwise have done -- like work part-time away from home, meet friends for coffee etc.

reneecabatic: Jill--I want to talk with you more about that--I'll e-mail you ok?

Rebecca Allen: Did anyone hear a piece on NPR yesterday about economics and parenting? Trying to find it with no luck, yet.

Jill Parmer: Sounds good, Renee.

Chris Sanders: He is also a dream unschooling dad as far as I'm concerned.

Sandra Dodd: Holly was talking about a family she knows well. They live in a smaller town south of here, and though the mom and daughters came to the Live and Learn conference when it was in Albuquerque, they don't hang out with other unschoolers (except Holly) or "do unschooling things" (socially) or even talk about being unschoolers, but

Sandra Dodd: Holly said they do it really well.

Sandra Dodd: They watch a lot of movies together, and the older girl's computer is in the TV room, so

Jill Parmer: I really like that kind of time , Sandra. I love the flow of happenings and conversations.

Sandra Dodd: part of what they're doing is just having close proiximity and shared experiences.

Colleen: lately I wonder if unschooling needs a subtitle - and the one that comes to my mind is "Just Be" - just be there with your kids, be there for their questions and stories and for their play and their quiet times - be you, and let them be them!

Sandra Dodd: the reason it came up was that the younger daughter, who is only fourteen, recognized a tattoo a guy had as "Large Marge."

reneecabatic: I think about how my sister asks me what can she do to be close to Xander or XuMei and I say...Spend time with them. that's all but it is too much for her living in D.C.

Sandra Dodd: holly was impressed. :-)

Sandra Dodd: Colleen, the problem with that is that some parents interpret that to just be uninvolved and "hands-off" and passive.

Chris Sanders: googling "Large Marge" now...

Jill Parmer: She can play online video games with them!

Rebecca Allen: We don't go out and "do" things as much as some other families, but we are together at home. We are usually in the same room or outside together.

Colleen: Sandra - true - that is not unschooling, for sure, being hands-off

Sandra Dodd: It's a PeeWee's Big Adventure character, Chris. :-) A ghost story within a crazy other story.

reneecabatic: ah! Jill- good idea - I need to find one that they both can enjoy. She gets vertigo when gaming...

Sandra Dodd: And Holly's friend is pretty young to know that movie, but her family watches movies together!

Rebecca Allen: Skyping. Skypeing? is a good way to connect with relatives too. Quinn really likes showing my parents her costumes, artwork, new toys, new moves, etc. that way.

Jill Parmer: But part of that for you and Quinn, Rebecca, is that Quinn is not a go out and do things kinda kid. She's VERY busy with all that you have at home.

Jill Parmer: Check out Toontown , Renee.

Jill Parmer: very simple, cartoony.

Chris Sanders: Thanks Sandra -- I was trying to figure if it was Pee Wee or Simpsons

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reneecabatic: cool-thanks

Rebecca Allen: Yes, and so are we. I think that goes along with what Sandra said about "the idea of just being in the same place, without planned, direct, focussed interaction."

Sandra Dodd: When I was younger I didn't appreciate the huge value of being silent in the presence of friends--of just being there, looking around, sitting next to each other, walking without talking.

Sandra Dodd: I filled silence up with noise too much, when I was a teen, and in my 20's.

Sandra Dodd: Maybe it was because I didn't feel the conversations at my house were good quality and I wanted that from other people.

Sandra Dodd: I still talk a lot.

Sandra Dodd: But I'm good at just being there with my family.

Jill Parmer: We have been doing lots of home repair, and clean up. Addi (17) and Luke (13) have been helping. In a fun way, and going to the hardware store, 2 of us or all 4, and talking and laughing about things. It was amazing for me to watch.

Sandra Dodd: Maybe once in a half hour one of them will want something, and it's good when I'm there.

Sandra Dodd: Jill are you "making them" help? Was there a commitment or requirement?

Jill Parmer: No, we're not makeing them help. It was steve and I working together, and the kids coming along to join in, as they wanted.

Rebecca Allen: My mom seemed to have an image of us all doing things together as a family that entailed us all doing the same thing, watching television or playing a game. That works well when everyone wants to do the one thing. Otherwise, it would have been better for us to be in the same room each doing our own things.

Jill Parmer: Sometimes, that was Addi in playing a video game, and then bringing out a lemonade to us.

Laura Zurro: I have a question related to younger kids (4-5ish). How did you handle times where you really didn't have a lot of time (temporary transiational) ie if you were in teh middle of moving, or had to do extra work temporarily that might have drawn time away from the kids for a week or two week time frame

Jill Parmer: Or Addi and I putting in new windows and glazing them.

Laura Zurro: I'm asking because STephane is away again working and it's just me and Caitlyn and I'm trying to do stuff with her, pack the house for the move, and still take care of five pets too :)

Jill Parmer: Sometimes we asked, and usually they said yes. They also said they were done, when they were.

Laura Zurro: feel like she's getting tons of TV time but I know it's just temporary.

Jill Parmer: But the hanging out and chatting, was fun. So there was a flow, and gentle way about how we all worked together.

Colleen: Laura we moved when our son was 2 and again when he was 3 - he "helped" me pack boxes (he unpacked more than he packed LOL) - he played with his toys and chatted with me and told me stories while I packed - sometimes he played his Leapster or watched TV - he was with me and if he needed something I was there, and we made it fun (giving him his own boxes to play with etc.)

Chris Sanders: Laura -- I try to pare down to the bare minimum of what must be done -- eat more conveniently if just for a short time, utilize offers of help from family and friends (can they come in and take care of the animals, walk them, tidy up or entertain Caitlyn?)

Rebecca Allen: If I'm trying to get my own things done, then taking short breaks often to give my daughter my full attention works well for both of us. Like 5 minutes out of every 15 maybe.

JennyC joined the chat 15 days ago

reneecabatic: That's how things happen here too-Chris or I will set about to clean or organize something and pretty soon one or both Xander or XuMei wants in... As they get older their help is more...."helpful"!

Jill Parmer: Rebecca, I don't mind it at all when we are doing separate things near by each other. The conversation flows around all of us.

Rebecca Allen: Hi Jenny!

Chris Sanders: A good span of focused attention can gain you more contented child time than lots of brief, distracted bits of attention

Laura Zurro: Okay so I'm mostly on the right track, I've given her time on teh computer to play her games as much as possible as well

reneecabatic: I recall moving when they were 5 and they would unpack a box for every 2 I packed! it was slow going.....:-) but Chris said it-"try to pare down to the bare minimum of what must be done -- eat more conveniently if just for a short time, utilize offers of help from family and friends "

JennyC: Hi Rebecca and all, I was reading back!

Sandra Dodd: When I had deadlines or projects, I would try to bring something new and exciting into the house, or set them up with fun projects that could last half an hour or so.

Sandra Dodd: Preparing things in advance gave me more time overall than just hoping they wouldn't care.

Sandra Dodd: Sometimes it was renting a movie and making some cool kid food.

Rebecca Allen: Yes, Chris! I'll add that I can do the 5 out of 15 minutes after giving a solid chunk of undivided time.

Chris Sanders: Even with Zoe being 13, I still try to plan that there's something interesting for her to do (or someplace to be with a friend) if I'm not going to be available to her for a span of time.

Jill Parmer: I think too, Laura, by being considerate of your daughter and the things she like to do, will show her that she's not being put aside. And she may understand all that you have to do, and be easy about sharing time.

Sandra Dodd: Sometimes I would ask a friend (young adult or other-mom-friend) to take my kids away, and would offer enough money to pay entry and lunch for all of them.

Chris Sanders: Even though she'd be fine -- I don't want her to be bored, lonely or both!

Sandra Dodd: And if the mom has a plan and the child doesn't need it, the plan might keep for another time.

JennyC: Chamille has asked me to make a to do list for everyday stuff and assign names to it. I know our circumstance is different because we have lots of extras. I'm reluctant to do it though

Sandra Dodd: Zoo or Explora or a lunch play place.

Laura Zurro: Sandra - that is what I would find most helpful right now but we're not in the financial spot at the moment. The great thing is where we're moving there will be lots more unschoolers and activities and families to connect with

Sandra Dodd: Jenny, it wouldn't hurt to do it.

Chris Sanders: JennyC - what do you mean, "assign names to it?"

Sandra Dodd: You could keep track of when one person took care of another person's assigned job, in a light way.

reneecabatic: we have a list on the fridge of "things to do" for our friend who is 6--he says he's bored and goes and checks the list and finds something interesting

Chris Sanders: Oh, I get it

Jill Parmer: Jenny, your extras are other people, right? Camille might be wanting to help organize everyone?

Chris Sanders: like chores?

reneecabatic: the list : chalk, draw, hula hoop, lego, watch a movie, play fluxx, dance, eat a snack...and on and on and we add things daily

JennyC: Yes, Jill that is it

Chris Sanders: I thought she was wanting to brainstorm ideas of things to do and keep a list handy for when she's bored

reneecabatic: oh--not the same things at all-- sorry!

JennyC: Chamille helps out all the time of her own accord, easily and happily, but other people don't

Chris Sanders: She's feeling taken advantage of by the "extras?"

Sandra Dodd: OH! You have extra kids living with you.

JennyC: a little bit, yes, I think she is.

Sandra Dodd: Was that Chamille's idea, though or yours?

JennyC: Chamille's idea

Chris Sanders: Does Chamille like to have a certain level of order in the household and feels like it won't happen if she doesn't take care of it herself?

JennyC: she loves having other people staying here. There is a lot of advantage to that. BUT, she sees how much extra work it is with keeping the house tidy and washing dishes and making food and keeping the bathroom clean, etc

Rebecca Allen: Why are you opposed to the list?

Chris Sanders: What would happen if you started to ask for some help from your houseguests -- just intermittently, when it seems like it would be a good time

JennyC: our house is by no means orderly... it's the little things, like when people leave cups with little bits of drink in it and it gets knocked over and spilled onto something of hers... easily avoidable things that someone should have cleaned up

Rebecca Allen: Maybe you could list the tasks, then people could write their name next to tasks they complete.

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JennyC: I do ask for help.. only one of them will eagerly and easily do whatever I ask of him

Sandra Dodd: Holly and I were just talking about Keith, on the side, unrelated, but now it comes to be related. He won't go to church anymore, ever, because his parents made him. His parents made him clean his room and the house, and he hates it.

Sandra Dodd: If these kids are unrecovered from frustrating homes, assigning them chores might not help. On the other hand, they're not your kids, you're not 'unschooling' them, and they're staying at your house (I presume) for free.

JennyC: yes, it's like that Sandra!

Jill Parmer: That is the same with Steve and taking out the trash.

Rebecca Allen: The list might help the other folks see what you would like done in your house. I've learned that not all folks grow up in homes where my usual tasks are usual.

JennyC: one of them is staying for free, the other 2 help with money

Sandra Dodd: Maybe a list without names, for starters?

Sandra Dodd: People could cross off or initial what they've done, and perhaps subtle pressure would cause people to want to help just to get their initials on the page.

Rebecca Allen: That's what I was suggesting, Sandra. No assignments.

Chris Sanders: Hmmm, would a list of tasks that can be done when someone has a few minutes -- be received better than assigning chores?

Sandra Dodd: Maybe.

JennyC: that's a really good idea... a list without names and people can mark it off when they do one

Sandra Dodd: Sorry, Rebecca. :-) I was talking to HOlly and got behind.

JennyC: I saw that Rebecca!

Rebecca Allen: You explained it better, Sandra. :)

Colleen: and then when they mark one off, afterward they could "overhear" you saying to someone how lovely it was to have that thing done, or what a nice job they did (or you could tell them directly, but somehow hearing it about yourself can sometimes be nice :))

Laura Zurro: Sorry everyone gotta run

Sandra Dodd: Bye, Laura.

JennyC: bye Laura!

Laura Zurro: will try to come back later

Jill Parmer: I don't mind messy, Steve doesn't like it. Sometimes he'll ask for a 5 minute, cleanup. It's everyone picking up a few items, putting things away. maybe a quick vacuum of a hairy carpet. It changes the space in just a few minutes.

JennyC: I love that Chamille helps out of her own accord, and I'd worried a tiny bit about making it into something with a list or chore chart

Chris Sanders: ten second tidy -- from Big Comfy Couch

Rebecca Allen: I make lists for my husband and myself. He is happy to help out if I let him know what I have in mind. It took a while for me to get that he can't read my mind!

JennyC: we used to do the 10 min pickup right before John got home from work!

Chris Sanders: I make lists when we're preparing for out of town company -- or hosting a party

Sandra Dodd: Keith keeps a long list of things to do, some of it immediate and some of it potentially years out, all on the same list.

Sandra Dodd: He prints it out every few weeks. It's a fun list to look at.

JennyC: I do that too Sandra

Sandra Dodd: That's another "how much time" kind of question. How much time will it take for a kid to "learn enough"? How much time for Jenny or Keith to finish those lists?

Rebecca Allen: I make those kinds of lists. I have to trim it to short term for Matthew though.

Sandra Dodd: Forever. :-)

Sandra Dodd: So if a peaceful "forever" is an acceptable time limit, that's really good.

JennyC: sometimes forever, yes!

Marta BP: hehe

Rebecca Allen: And there are never too many things to do or learn!

Sandra Dodd: For reasons I do not know, a friend's son who was 15 or 16 killed himself Monday.

Sandra Dodd: I've known the mom since she was a teen.

JennyC: that's awful

reneecabatic: I like to put things on my to do lists that are super easily and accomplishable-- like "wake-up" ha!

Jill Parmer: I keep my to do lists and other notes in spiral notebooks. They are fun to look at years later, when I find them somewhere.

Sandra Dodd: Very schoolish, traditional family but also really attentive and bright and involved. So I'm short-tempered this week when people are talking about things like always or never or forever or hurry up.

Rebecca Allen: Sorry to hear that, Sandra. So sad!

reneecabatic: oh no....so sorry.

Sandra Dodd: Nothing he learned in school is worth a damn right now.

Marta BP: :(

Sandra Dodd: I'm not trying to be a big bummer. Sorry. But if something is worth doing someday, it doesn't have to be done right now, today.

JennyC: the kids living with me right now all grew up in traditional homes full of damage and yucky things. All of them are recovering in some way.

Colleen: :( there are no guarantees in life - we get one go 'round (as far as I know anyway - suppose I could be wrong) - might as well enjoy it and make it what you want since you're probably not going to get a second chance to do it fun next time

Sandra Dodd: When people asked about what Holly didn't know yet, when she was little, I would say that either she was going to live a long time and had plenty of time to learn it later, or she wasn't going to live a long time in which case she didn't need to know it at all.

Sandra Dodd: So my "schedule" even fifteen years ago wasn't in terms of years or months. I had already figured out that in a busy life, everyone was learning.

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Colleen: Robbie told me the other day that when he's 90 he thinks he'll be glad he spent Monday playing in the sprinkler and last week mostly at the beach - I think he's right - much more likely than looking back and thinking "gee I'm glad I could do long division without a calculator!!"

JennyC: My schedule is more relaxed and fun. I'm willing to wait and see. Some people are very impatient about everything, impulsive, wanting to do it now

Sandra Dodd: Maybe when people think of "unschooling time" they think of solid, frenetic, *serious* learning in some large number of hours, with the parent RIGHT THERE, intensely monitoring learning.

Sandra Dodd: Casual and alert are better than intense and hurried.

JennyC: I soooo sooo agree with that!

Sandra Dodd: Colleen, that's really cool.

Sandra Dodd: And true.

Jill Parmer: I certainly hope they are not thinking about a set time, as in Unschooling takes 6 hours/day. and after that, they don't have to pay attention anymore.

Jill Parmer: Ah. I like that "Casual and alert".

Sandra Dodd: That's another good point. Sometimes "how long will it take?" means "How many hours will I have with the total absence of that thing?"

Chris Sanders: It's sad, but I think a lot of people wonder about how much time home/unschooling takes because they don't want to have to spend so much time with their kids.

JennyC: if it's enjoyable, it seems the time would fly by without any thought to "how long?"

Sandra Dodd: Absolutely true, Chris. They want something that's like school, but takes less time.

Sandra Dodd: But they don't expect, in advance, for it to be enjoyable, I think, Jenny.

Chris Sanders: I have a Girls Night Out with my sisters-in-laws tonight and am expecting to hear lots of -- "can't wait until school starts again" chatter

Jill Parmer: Isn't it an oxymoron? to homeschool but not want to spend that much time with your kids??

Sandra Dodd: Can you just drink more, Chris? :-)

Colleen: if unschooling is learning thru living, then life doesn't stop at 3:00, or take a break on Saturdays, or get holidays off - unschooling just is - timeless, maybe, in addition to priceless?

Chris Sanders: I could...

JennyC: I finally found a little work from home job and I find that I work for about 40 min of every hr. That other 20 mins is entirely devoted to doing things with and for my kids as they need it


Sandra Dodd: Let's talk about how much unschooling costs, unless someone wants to say more about the time it takes.


Rebecca Allen: Chris, you could say, "Me too, less crowds at kid places!"

Chris Sanders: True that, Rebecca!

Jill Parmer: You could say, "me either, all the parks and museums are easier to get to and be in" about can't wait for school to start comments. :-P

Sandra Dodd: I think there's a related feeling to this: Isn't it an oxymoron? to homeschool but not want to spend that much time with your kids??

Sandra Dodd: I think people want to provide what school provides, but when they decide not to buy a $500 curriculum, they think they don't have to spend ANY money on it.

Chris Sanders: When I first started embracing unschooling as a lifestyle for my family - I had a higher initial investment than what I continue to have now. But, like time, the amount of money it takes fluctuates

Sandra Dodd: Money to teachers or tuition, they get. Buying a curriculum, they get. Unschooling then, by comparison, sounds "free."

JennyC: the "how much does it cost?" question is something I'm touchy about because we are very very poor and money does buy options and outings

Sandra Dodd: What do you recommend, then, Jenny?

Sandra Dodd: Should we not suggest that people who do have money spend some on their kids' options and outings?

JennyC: I ask myself that everyday!

JennyC: no, people should spend money if they have it!

Sandra Dodd: If we run the discussion in such a way that you feel comfortable, some people who are rich but cheap might think "Well, if it's working for Jenny, I don't have to spend anything." :-)

JennyC: it's my own issue... it hasn't always been like this and it won't always be like this, but for right now it is

JennyC: no, I don't care about my comfort in talking about it... I fully recognize it as my own discomfort.

Colleen: if you have money, money can make providing an enriched and enriching environment easier - but with Freecycle, swap groups, etc. it's nice to see less money needing to be spent to have lots of cool things for kids to play with and explore.

Rebecca Allen: Jenny, your family has the cost of you not working full time out of the home so that you can be available to them. That applies to most unschooling families, no matter what the income.

Colleen: outings - yep without money that's a tough one

Sandra Dodd: It's going to be hard for me to discuss this now, Jenny, since you jumped in and said it would be uncomfortable for you. Maybe you should lead the discussion a bit.

BeaMantovani: My husband's family has told us repeatedly that we have too many toys. (I've heard that from at least one other friend too.) I want to reply (but never have) that I didn't think it was a competition to see how little you can get by spending for your kids

Sandra Dodd: I'm going to check the mailbox.

JennyC: Sandra, I don't want to give that impression at all! When Chamille was young we did all kinds of outings and spent money to do things. That greatly increased my ability to see unschooling flourish

Chris Sanders: Many years ago, at a La Leche League meeting, one of the attendees, a young, working mother, got very incensed when we discussed the advantage of breastfeeding - that it was cheaper than bottle feeding. At the time, I couldn't understand why she was so adamant that we should not promote the cost savings as an advantage of breastfeeding. But now, I think I get what she was trying to say -- whether or not it saves money, breastfeeding (and unschooling) is better for our children/families. However, I do not think that people should move towards unschooling with the goal of saving money.

Jill Parmer: I've seen people rich in dollars, and people poor in dollars, complain about prices or not being able to afford something.

JennyC: I didn't at all when we started out! We had enough to do fun things and take fun classes and eat out here and there and go and do family things and take vacations

Jill Parmer: If we are going to talk about principles, I think, the idea is that you will spend money for unschooling.

JennyC: that's a really good point Jill

Jill Parmer: But if you didn't unschool, you'd still be spending money.

JennyC: I saw that schools cost money

JennyC: lots of fundraisers and lunch money and school clothes and school supplies

Jill Parmer: Don't be cheap (attitude) with your kids. It goes along with learning about learning, supporting their interests and bringing in interesting things.

Rebecca Allen: Bea, we get that reaction often too. I say that Quinn learns through play.

JennyC: we never did that. Our money was more evenly distributed over the year

Jill Parmer: If school is going to give your kids more opportunites and make you all a nice family, unschooling doesn't seem the right choice.

JennyC: my husband and I have often given each of our kids our last $5 bill

Marta BP: Not sure if it's ok to ask you guys right now but I'm trying to figure out what expenses we'll have through the years so I can decide if I can stay at home or if I'll need to work a bit for the extra money. Could you experienced unschoolers list what I should count on? (if that makes sense; dd is still only 2 yo but I want to plan ahead)

Sandra Dodd: I did that today.

Rebecca Allen: It makes since to me that unschooled homes might have more things in them than homes where kids are in school. It's usually people from schooled homes who comment about how MUCH! stuff Quinn had.

reneecabatic: i know adults who won't spend money on their homeschooling kid's "passing interests"....but It's so obviously just what the parents don't want to spend money on. Arbitrary and de-valueing of th ekids interests.

Sandra Dodd: I gave Holly my only $20 to get groceries, and she asked if she could keep the last $5. I said "okay, but you'll probably only waste it on a yoga class," and she said "Hey, I might go to a show.

BeaMantovani: yes Rebecca, I usually say that we have more toys because they don't go to school/daycare

Sandra Dodd: Marta, "through the years" isn't something to think about right now. You have a two year old. Are you thinking of going to work right now while she's two?

Sandra Dodd: Maybe by the time she's five you'll put her in school.

Colleen: yes my family will say things like "you have toys in every room!!" and I'm like "of course we do" :)

Sandra Dodd: we can't project "the years."

Jill Parmer: Or, Rebecca and Bea, those people comment because they have the belief that you shouldn't spoil a kid with stuff??

JennyC: Our house is like a big toy box for all kinds of ages!

Sandra Dodd: People whose kids are in school figure that they'll see maps and globes at school, they they'll have paper for art at school, etc.

Marta BP: No. I'm thinking of staying with her but that means I'll have to quit the job I have right now (I took a leave of absence and it ends next February).

BeaMantovani: my husband's family definitely thinks Linnea is spoiled, both with too much attention and too many toys.

JennyC: Marta, if you buy a membership to a children's museum and go and play and your child likes it, consider that you may want to continue doing that sort of expense every year, then as you go along you add or subtract accordingly

Colleen: we bought Robbie a playmobil set that was on clearance - there were 2 there and he picked one - the next day we went back for the second because he really wanted both - the cashier said "he must have been a very good boy this week!" as if parents only buy stuff for their kids when they're "good" -

Colleen: I was sad thinking of a line somewhere of the "not good" kids with no toys - eek!

Sandra Dodd: Note: Bea's husband's family is German.

Sandra Dodd: That might be a factor.

Rebecca Allen: Colleen, I hear those kinds of things too. Quinn was pointing out several things she liked, so we talked about getting them another time. A clerk said, "Maybe for your birthday."

Chris Sanders: Marta - at two years old, I think your time and attention is more valuable than things you would need to work to earn money to buy for her

BeaMantovani: Unschooling can be budgeted like everything else, I think. figure out how much you can spend on your current income and spend that much.

Sandra Dodd: That's a good point about memberships to museums and zoos. That was about $180 a year for us, but we just paid for them when they came up, or if they lapsed we would renew the next time we went.

Marta BP: The truth is I'm afraid to quit my job, having everyone around me telling me that there's a major crisis going on and what am I thinking, etc.

Sandra Dodd: Colleen, that is sad, about the cashier and the playmobil.

JennyC: What I've seen of young German families, is that they are inclined to by top of the line baby and toddler gear, not lots of everything, but nice stuff

Sandra Dodd: Marta, are your hours such that she can be with your husband during that time? Some families make it work.

JennyC: a major crisis would be defaulting on all your auto loans and getting shut off notices for your utilities

Sandra Dodd: I stayed with a family in Scotland. The boy was nine years old, and the mom was just going back to work as a general practioner in a clinic. She hadn't worked since he was born.

Marta BP: No, unfortunately.

Colleen: re memberships - a lot of the new "daily deal" type websites have discounted memberships to local museums, play places, etc. - groupon, livingsocial, etc - we got a museum membership for a year for a large % off regualr price this year - can be a nifty way to save some $

Sandra Dodd: Some jobs are easier to return to than others.

JennyC: I'd say, that IF you have enough money to cover general expenses with a little bit left over, with a 2 yr old, consider not going back to work

JennyC: that would be my reasoning

Marta BP: Chris, I'm not thinking about the present moment, I wanted to plan the years to come. For now, we're managing life with just one income. ;)

Sandra Dodd: I think yard sales, garage sales and thrift stores are wonderful for getting clothes, toys, "science" stuff, and to use as museums themselves. :-)

Sandra Dodd: If you can't afford a history museum, go to an antique store.

Marta BP: Thanks Jenny, that helps.

Sandra Dodd: Marta, you have the only income?

Sandra Dodd: Or you're saving what you make?

Colleen: and Freecycle - I do love Freecycle for treasures - we've gotten everything from pool balls to legos to radios to brand-new Crocs, all from Freecycle

Chris Sanders: She's not working now, I think.

JennyC: It sounds like, to me, they are living on one income and making it work, but is concerned that having a one limited income down the road might not work well

Marta BP: No, my husband does. I'm oh a leave of absence at the moment, which means I still have my job when the leave ends, but I'm not getting paid at the moment.

Chris Sanders: We've managed over the years with Rick running his own small business and me taking paying jobs here and there -- freelance bookkeeping, supervising teacher for homeschoolers, and the occasional job away from home.

Sandra Dodd: We didn't plan ahead for my husband to keep getting raises. It's not a guarantee, but once our kids were older and making their own spending money, and eating out with friends a fair amount of time, the everyday home expenses went down noticeably.

Colleen: we have a spreadsheet where we list our monthly and yearly expenses - helps us know where we stand, where we can cut back, etc. - Marta if you like Excel (or similar) that can be a very useful way to track the present and future when it comes to money

Sandra Dodd: I don't like budgets. I like principles instead of rules with money, too.

Marta BP: That's it Jenny!

Sandra Dodd: Sometimes two months could go by and we didn't need to spend anything "on unschooling."

Chris Sanders: Marta - look at what it might cost if you were sending your daughter to school -- book fees, clothing/uniforms, field trips -- just to start, then figure on at least that much. It might go higher as she gets older and gets involved in activities away from home.

Marta BP: I see your point Sandra.

Sandra Dodd: sometimes something big came up, like Holly could go to England and France when she was thirteen, and that would not have been in the budget, but it was an awesome opportunity and made good sense.

JennyC: larger expenses, for our family started when each of our children were about 6 or 7 and became interested in taking classes, like gymnastics or ice skating

Sandra Dodd: If our budget said $50 a month for unschooling, I think I would have looked for something to buy with my "budget"

Rebecca Allen: I think it's also good to think about standard of living, beyond basic living. Many two income families have nicer homes, cars, etc. than single income families. I choose unschooling with Quinn over having a higher standard of living.

Marta BP: Colleen, I've been meaning to do that ;) I've already listed expenses and incomes and that was my next step.

Colleen: we take the same amount of cash out of the bank for spending money each week - some weeks, it needs to be spent on dog food and an oil change for the car - some weeks there's a chunk leftover at the end and we go on an outing or buy a new toy etc. - that works better for us than planning a particular amount for each category of spending

Colleen: Rebecca - yes, we do that too - we live on 2 part-time salaries so my husband and I can both be home most of the time with Robbie - that means smaller house, older cars - but it means happier us :)

JennyC: When Chamille was a bit older, around 9 or so, she wanted to do more things, things we couldn't afford, so we joined girl scouts and did those things for cheaper or free

Marta BP: And that's the choice we're making too Rebecca ;)

JennyC: things like beach cabin camp outs, horse back riding, summer camps

Sandra Dodd: I think I don't like "line item budgets" for unschooling for the same reason I don't like the idea of dividing subject areas up into years, months and weeks. Life is lumpy and people should be able to say yes or no without looking at the curriculum or the budget sometimes.

Marta BP: So we'll have to be creative! :)

Rebecca Allen: I have heard people say they can't afford to homeschool while living in new homes and having new cars. I'm not sure they see the choice.

Sandra Dodd: Yeah. we don't do new furniture or new carpet or new cars.

JennyC: knowing that I wanted to say "yes" to fun outings, forced me to look around for a way to make it happen

Sandra Dodd: People with large incomes can manage to be extremely in debt.

Sandra Dodd: And have zero to set aside for unschooling.

Sandra Dodd: Though if it were private school, they would just add it to their debt. :-/

Colleen: my sister "can't afford" to stay home with her kids, but she pays more for daycare than I do for mortgage - life really is all about choices

Rebecca Allen: I think I got the diea from you, Sandra...we have a loose budget for toys that Quinn picks out and another loose amount for other items that she might not pick out, like art supplies, games, puzzles, maps.

Rebecca Allen: *idea

Sandra Dodd: Maybe my objection is people saying "Okay, then how much do we need to budget?"

Sandra Dodd: It's a question like "How long will it take?"

Sandra Dodd: it needs to be about why, not about what or how much.

Marta BP: I think I understand why you dislike budgets. I wanted to know if we could manage life unschooling on one income and you've already given me the answer to that: it's possible but it will take creativity and flexibility and less "new things" in our lives. ;)

Sandra Dodd: There are financial-ish advantages to having kids home.

Sandra Dodd: They don't get in trouble so much.

Sandra Dodd: You don't need to provide money for things suddenly at the school's whim (PE outfits, school pictures, field trips)

JennyC: oh yes! that's true!

reneecabatic: they like used clothes and toys just as much as new

Rebecca Allen: For us, the "why" is for Quinn to get fun things she enjoys and for us to create a rich learning environment. (Richer than a bunch of stuffed animals.)

Sandra Dodd: Other kids are unlikely to be throwing your kid's sneakers over a power line. :-)

JennyC: or stealing their phones or ipods

Chris Sanders: Often, money spent is spent on things the entire family can enjoy

JennyC: that happens so often in school

Sandra Dodd: -=- I wanted to know if we could manage life unschooling on one income-=- that was the question!? MOST unschooling families have only one income.

JennyC: and sometimes that one income is big and sometimes it is small!

Rebecca Allen: Quinn wears an outfit or two (costumes) for weeks at a time. We save a lot of clothes compared to having a different outfit every day for school.

Sandra Dodd: But it's not just the lack of one income, it's also the lack of needing to spend the money required to produce an income

Sandra Dodd: Clothes, lunches, hair-dresser, fancy shoes, car, transportation, daycare...

Colleen: clothes - that's a good one - Robbie is happy with mostly hand-me-downs and the occasional new piece of clothing and I remember wearing hand-me-downs in school and not being happy at all

JennyC: b-day parties

Colleen: since hand me downs are rarely the current "in" clothes ;)

JennyC: lots and lots of b-day parties for school kids!

JennyC: one really cool thing about not having a large income for clothing, Chamille has found ways to construct her own

Rebecca Allen: Yes, birthday parties! My neighbors feel compelled to invite all of the kids' classmates to parties.

reneecabatic: going swimming at the community pool now- meeting up with unschooler friends! Spending @ $12 for 4 hours of fun! thanks for the chat-I had been missing them!

reneecabatic: bye!

Colleen: guilt spending too - I read once that double income/daycare/school parents tend to buy a lot of "guilt presents" (like toys, fancy meals, etc.) for their kids to "make up" for their time away - that rang true when I thought of families I know

Sandra Dodd: Have fun, `renee!

Sandra Dodd: Another savings, Colleen. :-)

Sandra Dodd: When I was thinking of whether to spend money on kids, when they were little, I would think about how much they might learn, and it was the learning aspect that tipped the balance for me.

Sandra Dodd: So zoos and museums seemed easy "yes" and classes or lessons they really wanted did, too. Among the three of them there was sometimes dance, art, acting, karate, ice skating.

Sandra Dodd: But every one of those might have likely been an expense even if they were in school, and that's important to remember, too.

Rebecca Allen: No school fundraisers! We get to eat the brownies we make! :)

Sandra Dodd: There are expenses just for having a child!!

Marta BP: Great tip Sandra!

Jill Parmer: This could be a personality thing, or maybe because of unschooling, I've seen unschooling kids easy going about things. They don't want things just because everyone else in school/class has "that thing".

JennyC: that's true for us Jill

JennyC: my kids aren't needy for things

JennyC: I keep thinking they might be or should be, since we have so little money, but they just aren't

Colleen: and Rebecca we get to eat the brownies when we want them, not just when the teacher says it's snack time or lunch time or whatever designated eating time :)

Sandra Dodd: Maybe it's the reverse side of the guilt spending, Jill.

Jill Parmer: We have a friend 12, that wants what all his classmates get, he's very needy. And because he wanted a new cell phone, and I'm assuming his mom said no, he threw his cell phone on the sidewalk a few times to break it.

Sandra Dodd: Kids who are needy for parents fell they SHOULD get stuff.

Rebecca Allen: So true, Colleen!

JennyC: omg, Jill, I have seen that more times than I can count!

JennyC: It almost makes Chamille sick to see it. That kids are so clueless about the money that it costs for those items and that they could be so destructive about it to get what they want

JennyC: a LOT of kids steal from their parents too

JennyC: my kids don't ever

Sandra Dodd: Very sad, Jill.

Sandra Dodd: Jenny, my kids are super honest about money, but part of that might be genetic.

Sandra Dodd: Still, genetic or not we didn't do anything to make them feel desperate or needy.

Sandra Dodd: They were calm when we were poor, and so I don't mind spending money on them now that we're not.

JennyC: true, but I also think, being honest and generous creates that atmosphere

Jill Parmer: We have a brick outside wall ready to fall down, (it's a bay window, and doesn't have a foundation under it). Steve and I are doing all of the work to take it down and prepare it for a builder to rebuild. We are saving gobs and gobs of money to do that. So I figure that would have been part of an income I might have had. :-)

Rebecca Allen: Time to be more present with Quinn. Thanks all!

Sandra Dodd: It creates that opportunity, at least. I think some people are genetically or biochemically (fetal alcohol syndrome, for instance) lacking in conscience.

JennyC: Bye Rebecca!

Sandra Dodd: Nice to see you here, rebecca!

Rebecca Allen left the chat 15 days ago

Chris Sanders: bye, Rebecca

Chris Sanders: 'doh

Colleen: Robbie has $65 saved in his money jar right now (his choice to save it) - the other day I was debating (with myself) Chinese for dinner - he said "hey Mom - I'll buy!" - it was so sweet (and yep, we got Chinese - and I bought :)) - but his relationship with money is so casual - it's awesome!

Sandra Dodd: So if money is treated as a resource instead of as power, that probably helps with everything above

Colleen: bye Rebecca!

Sandra Dodd: I've seen that generosity in my kids, too.

Jill Parmer: Yes, Sandra. My kids seem to be ok when we're flush and when we're tighter on money. They see us still helping them, and giving them what we can.

Sandra Dodd: I think it's an investment in more ways than one, to let our kids help decide, and not to tie money to behavior or chores.

JennyC: Chamille will often hold onto that last $5 bill that I gave her and then use it for something necessary for the household, simply because she sees the need

Sandra Dodd: I think when and if I need a nursing home, my kids might be more generous than they would have if we had said "NO, you don't need that" a thousand times.

JennyC: and that makes a difference!

Sandra Dodd: It will (it seems) help them be more generous with others. Holly just left the house with an arrangement of flowers for Will's mom. It's Holly's three-month anniversary with him, and she got flowers. She gave me an arrangement, and Will's mom one, and there's an extra here. She said "that can be for Ashlee (Marty's girlfriend), or me, or Dad if he wants it."

Marta BP: Did you manage to save any money through the years, just in case a job was lost or for your golden years?

JennyC: So, even if you don't have money to buy something, you can still say, "oh that looks really cool, let's save up for it"

Sandra Dodd: I mean she bought flowers not "got flowers."

Jill Parmer: Luke gave away a really cool firetruck electric kids car to the neighbor. The parents felt it was SO generous of him, they asked us what to pay him. Steve told them, he gave it freely. They gave Luke $75.

Chris Sanders: nice!

Sandra Dodd: Keith bought savings bonds to be cashed out tax-free for college, and our kids aren't using them.

Chris Sanders: I meant to say "nice" about Holly's flowers. Giving cash to the neighbor's kid is a little strange.

JennyC: we did, Marta, we used all of it when my husband lost his job and we had no income

Chris Sanders: We're working on it Marta - slowly

Chris Sanders: I'm going to go. THanks for the chat, Sandra!

Marta BP: Ok. We already have some money saved so if it happens we're ok for a year or so...

Chris Sanders left the chat 15 days ago

Jill Parmer: Why Chris? They thought is was generous, to buy that toy would have cost them lots more than that. It was sweet all the way around.

JennyC: that makes a big difference! Putting money in savings for just in case, or having life insurance

JennyC: that is sweet Jill!

Jill Parmer: Thanks for the chat, all.

Colleen: our savings we also look at the chance to continue our lifestyle even if one of our part-time jobs disappears - having savings to fall back on, however little or much, helps a lot with peace of mind

Sandra Dodd: Thanks, all, for being here. It's the hour. Next week page 8, cautions. How can unschooling be screwed up? What can people misunderstand or do badly?

JennyC: it was nice. I'm sorry I premised it with my discomfort!

Marta BP: Thank you so much!

Marta BP: Bye!

Sandra Dodd: I didn't know how to recover, Jenny. :-) But it worked out.

Colleen: thanks for the great chat today all!

Sandra Dodd: And I hope things will happen that keep you guys in a better flow before long.

JennyC: that was a foot in mouth thing....

Sandra Dodd: Thanks for being here, Colleen.

JennyC: I have a good business idea that I'm going to try

Sandra Dodd: It was just awkward, Jenny, because it sounded like "Don't talk about money."

Sandra Dodd: :-)

Colleen: :)

JennyC: it's okay!!! really! I'm very easy going!

JennyC: I came prepared to talk about it

JennyC: but I almost started crying, but again, that's my own issue! thanks for being kind and patient!

Sandra Dodd: yeeks... Don't come if it's going to make you cry. You could miss one and do happy things.

JennyC: I'm going to go and work now! I will see you all next week!

Marta BP: See you next week!

JennyC: I didn't think I would be so emotional

Sandra Dodd: Me too! Bye, all.

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