Interview: Megan Devine
Where do you live and how many kids do you have?
I live with my husband, James, and our four children ranging in ages from three to nine. We maintain a small hobby farm, tending to two hives of bees and a flock of chickens in a rural community on the edge of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in Northeast Minnesota.
I am learning to let go, to trust, and to “control what I can control” as a parent and caregiverWhat do you spend your days doing?
My days are rich and full. Along with raising a family and maintaining a small homestead, I have also established a career as an educator. I currently teach kindergarten. I spend a lot of time helping children in my life grow and learn!
I live in a beautiful place and I try to get outdoors each day for a walk, run, hike, cross-country ski or snowshoe, either by myself or in company of my family. I find balance with creative hobbies. I like to write and take photographs, blog, cook, and dabble with activities like soap-making and fiber art.
What do you like most about your family?
What I like most about our family is the rhythm of our days and our commitment to each other. We are a busy family, especially during the school year when both my husband I are working full time outside of our home, but we are able to maintain balance and connection by making mindful choices on how we use our time. We are active and contributing members of our community. I teach and am involved on on a variety of educational committees and outside of his day-job, my husband is a member of our volunteer fire department and first responders.
We also enjoy spending time together as a family. There have been times that we have made choices to limit extra-curricular or external commitments so that we can sit down and eat dinner together, spend time outdoors together, read together, and even just relax in our home together each day. We make compromises and support each other, we enjoy each other’s company, and we are living a good and productive life.
What parts of parenting come naturally to you and what parts are a struggle?
The part of parenting that comes naturally to me are all of the aspects that require a high level of planning and organization. At school I am creating lesson plans, at home I am making meal plans. I am not saying that it is easy, but I am able to maintain all my responsibilities by thoughtfulness, organization, and planning.
The parts of parenting that are the most challenging for me relate to letting go. We have experienced some traumatic events in our family with young children. We lost a nephew when he was six months old, and two of our children have had intensive care hospital stays as babies. These events weigh heavy on my heart and mind. I often worry about the health and safety of my own children and the children that I care for; probably too much, because so much is out of my control. I am learning to let go, to trust, and to “control what I can control” as a parent and caregiver, but this is my biggest struggle.
What do you need as a parent?
I need quiet time. I try to carve out some time for quiet every day by waking up early, before anyone else in my house is awake so I can have some time for myself. I often use this time for praying, meditating, yoga or writing. Even if I get just a small dose of solitude, it helps me to approach the day more peaceful and grounded.
How does where you live affect your parenting?
We live in a small, rural community on the edge of the wilderness. My husband and I live here intentionally because of our connection and interests with the outdoors. When we were first married we bought a plot of land, and have since then built a home together, developed a homestead, and are now raising four children. The unique thing about where we live is that our homestead is bordered by hundreds of acres of undeveloped land. We are living in a place where our children can have free range to play and explore the outdoors. Because we live where we do, we spend less of an effort enrolling our children in extracurricular or structured activities and encourage them instead to play outside in their free time. We encourage our children to build forts and fairy houses, climb rocks, and play in the dirt.
What are you especially conscious of as a parent?
As a parent I am especially conscious of how quickly childhood can pass. In her book, The Happiness Project, Gretchen Rubin notes, “The days are long, but the years are short.” I find this so true as a parent and we are working to provide our children with an unhurried childhood.
What nurtures and inspires you as a person?
I spend a lot of hours in my day caring for others. I have realized (the hard way) that I need to make time to nurture and take care of myself each day to avoid burnout. When I make time for self-care I am a better parent, a better educator, a better wife, and a better friend.
I have recently been inspired by mindfulness practices and I have been applying mindfulness-based research in my daily life and in my classroom.
What is your favorite time of day?
I am a morning person! I am often awake by 5:30 a.m.
What is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?
I work to live my life with purpose, balance, connection and joy! My hope is to inspire others through my teaching, through my actions, and through my written word to live their best lives.
Is there anything you do that you want to share with our readers?
I invite you to check out my blog www.kidsandeggs.com.