A Day in the Life

A Day in the Life

I thought it would be nice to start a little series to share what it is like for us to live an unschooling lifestyle. Everyday is very different, here is what today (26 January 2020) looked like for us.

It was a Sunday so the start of the work week, usually this is a day that I leave open as we can sometimes get busy at the weekend. So our day started slow, other than the excitement of a new football kit, which had to be put on in full right away! Little T managed a few short games of Angry Birds with Mr T before he went to work. (This little guy has always been an early riser which has had its challenges but recently we have following less of a bedtime routine and just getting to bed when he is tired and this is shifting his wake ups to slightly later. Which is nice, but actually a slight negative when it means less time to see daddy before he goes to work.) Once daddy is gone there is a bit of quiet morning job time which is me unloading the dishwasher and he is fiddling with LEGO or other small toys. Today I prepared some oatmeal for him. Having finished eating only half of the bowl he proclaims that we forgot morning movie time! We retreated to the tv room and watched a LEGO Justice League movie. Depending on what he chooses I may watch with him or get on with some of my own work, today I was feeling a bit unwell, so I sat close, read a few emails and then watched with him. 


(Having a morning movie is a new thing for us, he really enjoys tv whilst I struggle with helping him regulate the amount he watches, we use Netflix and the unlimited options make it hard for him to stop. I find saying we can watch one movie does the trick, he gets to watch something and I have a limit that I can hold.)

Our next movement would be to get outside for some training, though from end of movie to out the door was probably over an hour. We sat down and I ate and he had more of his breakfast whilst perusing over a Where’s Wally book, I spilled something in the kitchen that needed to be vacuumed which led to sword vs Darth Hoover (the loving name of our vacuum) and whilst I got myself ready in the bathroom he messed around with water beads and chatted with me. We were both completely dressed, water bottles filled, destination decided and ready to walk out the door and he says, can you just read this book before we go out? And we sit on the couch and read the book. 

Today we were off out on our scooters, using the outdoors to further our ongoing goodies and baddies role play. We each have an imaginary team (any character we see in tv or movies) that we call out to battle each other or who may come along on adventures with us. Today he needed to collect a new baddie on a faraway island, which also was the same location of a favourite eatery. We scootered there and he was hungry so we went in for eggs, bread and olives. During the course of our visit there, we spent a lot of time drawing on the kids menu, tea was spilled and cleaned up, we chatted about artificial coloring in foods and what makes something ‘real’ food.

Heading home we stopped at a playground on the way. Here we continued our role play and also interacted with another family who arrived, including their Husky which Little T was enamored with! We could have stayed longer but I was feeling under dressed for the blustery weather so we continued towards home for a quick stop in our local supermarket. He helped push the trolley around and decided he wanted to use his pocket money to buy some sweets to share with Daddy this evening as I was going out and they were having a boys night in, this always includes a discussion of how he will have to pay me when he gets home, which he sometimes resists but always goes through with it. Here we continued our conversation about food dyes and artificial flavours as we chose some fresh juice to use to make our own jelly (jello).

Arriving home he instantly strips down to just his underwear, that is just how he is most comfortable and spends most of his time at home. We had found a balloon whilst we were out which lead to a long game of keep it alive. He repaid me the money for the sweets (he actually gave me one Dirham extra, more on that later) and I gave him his weekly pocket money (a new thing for us). He has a money box divided into three: Spend, Save and Share. So we divide his money between and counted to see how much he had. He is currently saving for a LEGO Star Wars Death Star, which I am afraid will take a very long time but it is what he says every time. He has started asking me what I am saving for. We would like to visit Thailand again this summer as we loved it last year so I tell him we are working hard to save our pennies to go on this holiday. We decided to make a jar to collect coins to save for our holiday, we got into his sticker drawer to cover the jar with Thailand themed stickers, mostly leaves, a sun and of course a pirate. The extra Dirham he gave me starts the savings. 

We went into the kitchen and made jelly together. I was then hungry for lunch, whilst I prepared my lunch he says, I’ve got a crazy idea, and takes the empty 5 gallon jug and fills it with a bit of water, first tries to drink directly from it and then tries to use it to fill a glass, both ideas create quite a mess. I offer him the tools needed to clean up the water and he says I’m not doing it, he walks away and I continue my own work, and it isn’t long before he is back in and mops up the water and returns the big jug to where it was.


Then I sat down to eat and he sat next to me working on a dry erase number writing book that I had left open on the table before we went out on our scooters. (He recently started enjoying a Water Wow! Book of numbers and has been using it in the car, so I thought if I left this out be may also be interested. In the car I hear him whispering to himself, “The perfect 7!” so I know he is wanting to form the numbers.) While I eat he traces over a few numbers and does some of the activities when I read them to him, also a lot of scribbling. We also have a quick video chat with Daddy, as he wants to tell him about the sweets. I see he is getting fed up with the writing so I suggest calling his grandparents. He has a good long video chat with them whilst rolling around on me, moving around from different toys and finally sits down for a little snack. We finish the video call and he gets a book for me to read to him whilst he eats. 

Before we know it Mr T is home and it is a rare occasion that I am rushing out to attend a workshop on fermented foods. We exchange a quick chat and kisses as I grab my things and head out the door. Only for me to realize as I drive away that I left my ingredients in the fridge, I call and ask them to bring them down to the car. My parting view of Little T is him running through reception wearing his shirt as shorts as he was in a rush and there were no shorts nearby. It gave me such a giggle. 

As far as I know those two had a lovely time together. Eating eggy bread and sausage, playing Angry Birds and cuddling up with some tv to fall asleep to. 

This was really one of the most beautiful days. Things don’t always go so smoothly, but I thought it was a good day to start with and a great example of the many learning opportunities that are presented just through simple daily life. 

-Mrs T



A long overdue update! Looking back through the blog we haven’t posted regularly since 2017, when we first moved to Doha. We ended up completing the two year contract and moving on from Doha to Abu Dhabi. It surely wasn’t in our long term plan but Doha just wasn’t working out on enough levels. Mr T secured a job at Cranleigh Abu Dhabi and we began our transition to move. At just over 4, Little T was not keen on the idea, and spent many days telling us he hated “Abi Dhabi.” We kept things quiet in the summer with a few weeks in Doha, a lovely month in Phuket, a few more days in Doha before starting fresh in Abu Dhabi. 

The transition has been easier than expected and we absolutely love it here, even Little T. Upon arriving it just made us realise that Doha is a young city and actually much smaller than we originally thought. Abu Dhabi is big! We have found it very family friendly and are lucky to live in a beautiful community. We really do hope to stick here for awhile, we are definitely tired of packing up all our stuff.

We have also firmly rooted ourselves as an unschooling (home educating but without any formal curriculum) family, I will continue to stay at home with Little T and we will both be learning together as we live. Over the last few years I have been reading and listening to lots of podcasts and this lifestyle really feels the best for us. It allows us to slow down and really embrace and notice the learning that we experience everyday. I’m sure I will have much more to write about this as we go. 

For now we are just enjoying the beautiful winter weather here in the Middle East, spending long days at the park and chilly evenings cozied up together with a movie. 

-Mrs T

Slowing down

Slowing down

One of the biggest changes I have made in my life since becoming a parent is slowing down. I have vivid memories of always driving too fast in my late teens/early twenties because I was so busy! Often working several jobs, going to school and balancing time with family members and friends, at the time I felt happy and it was probably what I needed then, I am so glad I don’t feel that way anymore. 

Living overseas has really helped in this area of our life. Even our first two years of parents when we lived in the UK, I felt like I had to do, do, do. It feels quite natural slow down here in a new city, we know less people so there are fewer obligations. I guess I could be running around like crazy trying to meet people and make friends, but now I trust that it will happen when it is time. I make an effort but also relish in our slow, slow days. 

This is an aspect of unschooling that I really love, allowing time for children to move at their own pace, which is often much slower than ours. Every time we leave the house I am grateful I am not on a time constraint to get Little T to school on time or myself to work. It is not always enjoyable to wait for him but I am glad I have the opportunity to do so. 

Waiting can reveal such wonderful things. We recently visited the Abu Dhabi Children’s Library, an amazing place which deserves a post all of its own. On our last visit I noticed that Little T waited patiently as I gave my details and held up his hand to receive the wristband children are required to wear to visit. This is a big change to our prior 4 or 5 visits. Before he refused to interact with the staff at this check in and would not consider wearing the band. Observing this I made accommodations for him, for the first visit I held the band and stayed with him at all times. On future visits, he began to allow the band on the back of his shirt, and then this time it was his choice to allow the staff member to put the band on him. It really does seem like a tiny thing, but I noticed it and I am sure he did as well. He was given the space to make decisions for himself and to come around to it in his own time. By respecting his opinion I was putting our relationship first, which is what is most important for us.