I grew up in the denim jumpers and homemade bread era of homeschooling and wanted nothing more than to be like all the other cool kids who got to eat bologna sandwiches and wear jeans. As a second generation homeschooler, I came to the table with more than my fair share of things I was going to do differently in educating my children.
I wasn’t going to be mean like my mother and have my children crochet daisies while eating bean soup and talking about Uzbekistan. No siree, my kids were going to get dressed every day and sit at reclaimed Anthropologie-esque desks while we did school properly with real home work and tests and grades.
I was going to be Anne Shirley meets Nelson Mandela. Strict but fun. Compassionate but with high standards.
So it was with great chagrin that a few years later I found myself sprawled across the living room floor, surrounded by all the books my toddler had dumped, while my four-year-old sat on my head banging out the ABC’s with wooden spoons and I tried for the hundredth time to explain to my first grader how to regroup tens.
I called my mom sobbing, now totally convinced that she was some sort of magic fairy super mom.
Something had to give. I was losing my mind.
That’s when I discovered this amazing thing called lavender essential oil. I kept the bottle within arms reach and made everyone inhale great gulping breaths of it whenever I sensed a math book was about to be hurled across the room.
It was magic.
Since by then everyone and their mother’s cousin’s sister was using essential oil, I soon started accumulating other oils like a jealous ogre who’d found the fountain of youth, and that’s where it got complicated.
I discovered that while oils like patchouli and vetiver are amazing for kids, they smell so bad that you end up chasing your child around the house like Cinderella’s fairy godmother with a wand of essential oil trying to convince them they really do want to be turned into horses for the ball.
I couldn’t say I blamed them. I once tried a blend of essential oil for ADHD and thought it smelled like the dirty laundry of an old gypsy with body order and bad breath issues. It was months before anyone would let me near them with a bottle of anything.
So when Stephanie from Beeyoutiful told me she was working on some kid-friendly blends that smelled great and still included all the heavy hitters, I begged her to let me be one of her testers.
Ingredients: Essential Oils of Tangerine, Orange, Lemon, Mandarin, Frankincense, Dill, Chamomile, Cedarwood, Manuka, Spearmint, Tea Tree, Myrtle, and Rosewood.
I have yet to find anyone who doesn’t like this blend. If Teddy Bears pooped Skittles, it would smell like Immuni-T. While it’s blended specifically for its immune boosting properties, it also has a fair bit of calming power. I diffuse it sometimes during school and my kids take turns trying to stuff it up their noses as if that might get it into their systems faster.
This morning I was diffusing it for my six-year-old who’s coming down with a cold, and he stopped coughing immediately. I’d forgotten how soothing it was to breathe and how it cuts mucus like dawn dish detergent on a pan full of bacon grease.
The other awesome thing about Immuni-T is that it includes spearmint, a safer alternative for children than peppermint. After a frantic call to Poison Control over eucalyptus oil, I’ve been a lot more careful about learning what is appropriate for which ages, and this blend omits oils that aren’t friendly to small bodies.
We were all skeptical about the dill oil. (I love dill pickles, but wasn’t sure I wanted my house smelling like one.) Thankfully it seems that most people can’t smell the dill, and if anything, it lifts all the other smells up. All in all, it’s so well balanced there isn’t anything that stands out as too strong.
Ingredients: Essential Oils of Frankincense, Juniper Berry, Ginger, Marjoram, Black Pepper, Pine, Cedarwood, Rosalina, Lemon Myrtle.
One of my favorite books as a child was a story about a family of hedgehogs who went looking for a wreath to put on their door. The “wreath” was one of those scratch and sniff stickers, and I spent hours sniffing the wreath.
It didn’t smell exactly like pine, but some sort of odd combination of woodsy scents that my five-year-old self decided must be how all hedgehog homes smelled. I don’t know whatever happened to the book, but scents are such powerful memory associators that as soon as I opened the bottle of Easy Peasy Breathie, I instantly had a family of wreath-hanging hedgehogs in my head.
Consequently, I have a special place in my heart for this blend. When my littlest caught a cold, this was the blend I chose. It was so soothing and warm, and it seemed to help the most.
I put a few drops in hot water so we could breathe in the steam and later put a few drops in the bathtub while I showered so he could breath the steam in the bathroom. It works great, but truthfully I was going to love it no matter what, because who doesn’t love woodsy-smelling hedgehogs?
Ingredients: Essential Oils of Cedarwood, Lavender, Vetiver, Frankincense, Bergamot, Grapefruit, Sandalwood, Rosewood, Lemon Myrtle, Myrtle, Palmarosa, Mandarin.
This is the blend I was most excited to try because I have two kids with ADHD and other learning challenges. They receive therapy for their challenges, and I’ve tried just about everything on the market, and other oil options were not well tolerated by my kids. But this oil blend is the equivalent of sneaking butternut squash into macaroni and cheese, or carrots into spaghetti sauce!
My kids can usually smell vetiver a mile away, but when I offered Bee Focused to my six-year-old, he cautiously sniffed it and then snatched it away and claimed it was all his, as if he was Gollum and the oil was his precious.
Now I preemptively use it before we start anything that I expect to result in hair-pulling frustration and tears. I think it helps both of us.
A little goes a long way with this stuff, and I try to reserve it for brain-intensive activities like school and violin practice so the kids don’t get sick of it, but my oldest actually prefers this blend over the Immuni-T. He says it smells like a treehouse in a lemon tree. (I’m not entirely sure what that means, but apparently it’s a good thing.)
I use it for myself while washing dishes and folding laundry; otherwise I’m likely to end up on my phone researching something like how to turn empty milk cartons into Easter bonnets.
Clearly I have overcome all of my homeschooling woes and am the coolest mom ever. I mean, my kids don’t crochet, and we don’t eat homemade wheat bread while talking about Uzbekistan.
Instead we eat fermented sauerkraut and diffuse essential oils while we talk about Uzbekistan.
Esther Ramsey is a wife and mom who thrives on coffee, fellowship, and creativity, all while chasing down four boys and attempting to homeschool them through their various challenges with a touch of magic, more ingenuity than McGyver, and the application of a few obsessively researched techniques. You can read more from her here and see some of her beautiful photography here.
Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Beeyoutiful.com.