Written by Melissa Camara Wilkins
The smell of freshly sharpened pencils is the scent of possibility. I stand by that. A sheaf of blank paper, piles of sticky notes: these are the things dreams are made of. Doesn’t everyone love school supplies? (Please say yes.)
I am keeping an eye out for new markers, but in the meantime the supply I’m really stocking up on is permission slips.
A permission slip, really?
“Permission slips?” you might ask. “Those little papers that say, Yes, my child has permission to ride the bus. Yes, my child has permission to pet the goats. Yes, my child has permission to visit the bakery/factory/power plant for educational purposes? That is not even a school supply.”
Oh, but it is! (And never mind the thing about the goats, that isn’t relevant here.)
A permission slip says, “Hey, this thing that you were not sure was okay? It is okay. It is definitely, totally, completely, okay.”
It isn’t an excuse or a get-out-of-jail-free card. It’s a way of saying, “I’m not going to do things the usual way. Here’s what I have decided to do instead.”
And before we jump into this next season, I think we might need to write some for ourselves.
Give yourself permission.
What do you want to do this year? What do you wish you could try? What could turn out to be okay—what might even be amazing—if you were brave enough to do it? What do you need to write yourself a permission slip for?
Here are a few of mine you might want to borrow.
Permission to try.
You’ll never know if something works until you try. It’s okay to make mistakes, it’s okay to change your mind, it’s okay to do something entirely unexpected for a season. (Or forever, really.)
One of the best-kept secrets of being a grownup is that you don’t have to know what you’re doing all the time. Nobody knows what they’re doing all the time. You have permission to experiment and even to fail and to get back up and try again.
Permission to take care of you.
Are you a parent who needs quiet? Build that into your day. Are you a person who needs adult conversation to feel sane? Build that into your week. Are you a person who needs sleep? (You are a person who needs sleep!) Or exercise, or books, or nature?
I happen to need a steady supply of green smoothies and herbal tea, so I have routines to keep stocked up on both. You can do that. You have permission to plan for own your sanity.
Permission to say “enough.”
You get to say what is enough for today, and for every day.
You can decide when you’ve done enough research into your options. You get to decide how much is enough curriculum. It’s okay to say you’ve spent enough time in discussion with critics (including the ones that live inside your own head).
No one is meant to do it all, and you have permission to say when enough’s enough.
Permission to show up.
You get to show up in your life today as yourself, not as the person you think you’re supposed to be. Not as An Ideal Homeschool Teacher ™ but as you, with your personality and quirks and interests and energy level.
You have permission to be who you were made to be, even if that means your family life looks different than other people expect—or different than you expected when you first started down this road.
Permission to let go.
You don’t have to do things the way you’ve always done things. All things are in the process of being made new—including you. Including your family. Including this year. If something isn’t working, let it go.
Let go of the idea that you’re going to do it all. Let go of other people’s expectations of you or your kids. Let go of your own (unrealistic) expectations for how things should be. Let go of your anxiety about the future, because that worry is not actually holding everything together. It only feels like it is.
You have permission to let it go.
Permission to dream.
What would your ideal day look like? What do you want to move toward? What do you want to be free of? You have permission to imagine what would be best for your family, and to move toward routines or choices or places that fit you all better.
All the permission you need.
I feel like we could go on forever. You have permission to slow down and make things simpler. You have permission to be playful and silly and uncool. You have permission to have fun. Permission to go all in. Permission to wake up. Permission to speak up. Permission to wait. Permission to run. Permission to be creative. Permission to take it easy.
You have all the permission you need, and you don’t need me to give it to you. You just have to give it to yourself.
What are you giving yourself permission for this year?