Life right now is rather busy. In fact, I’m trying to remember when my life wasn’t busy. Hey 7-year-olds, cherish your down time! Anyway, right now seems to be a particularly frantic time, with appointments and practices and fires to put out. It’s a wee bit exhausting.
I find myself falling into one of the pitfalls of homeschooling. Many of us say we homeschool so that we can do all those “extras” that kids in public school miss. Lots of reading aloud, tramps through the woods, messy and involved experiments just because a kid asked, “Why does it do that?” We say we have the freedom to spend more time at museums and concerts and plays, we have time to sit and talk over cookies and lemonade. The reality is our schedules can get overloaded, and we can get too caught up with the “must dos” (Math. Always math.) that we rarely get to those extras.
Yesterday was one of those days that made me wonder if I’ll ever catch my breath again. In addition to the Monday of it all, I had a couple of “need to be in two places at one time” situations, and then extra work for a group that kept me up late. And just when I was wearily closing my tabs to shut down my computer and get some sleep, something pops up on my twitter feed that I did not write. Hacked.
Actually, it turned out that I wasn’t hacked, but someone revived my old blog address for spammy purposes and I hadn’t revoked the twitter app that pulled the RSS feed. But at midnight when twitter feed starts spewing spam, the adrenaline gets pumping. So I panic and I wake MTG up to fix it (because that’s the division of labor in our house: he fixes hacks). He very quickly figures it out and we fix it. But now I’m more tired, with added adrenaline, and when my head hits the pillow, I’m dreading the morning.
Tuesdays we have occupational therapy from 9:30 to 12:30, so we do school in the waiting room. Because of the late night for both kids and mom, it wasn’t going well. So I start doing schedule math in my head. “We’ll get home at 1:00, eat lunch. If I read to the kids right after lunch, then we can be done with science around 2:15. I really want to lie down for 20 minutes, but can I fit that in? What about laundry? Are we on the verge of nakedness, or can it wait? Sprite has practice. And we have to watch that video from the library for history.”
On the drive home, I’m juggling these thoughts and wondering how much I can do on the little oomph I have left when I realize I’ve hit the point of diminishing returns. Yes, I’m busy. Yes, my to-do list threatens to strangle me in my sleep. But there are times when doing more produces less. There are times when the effort to catch up it actually harmful. There are times when one must stand athwart the schedule yelling “STOP!”
The younger kids are studying bats in science and I thought (erroneously it turns out) that there was a bat house near a creek about five minutes from our house. I considered cutting out the science reading and taking a quick half hour break to go hunt down the bat house. But then I realized it’s been a long time since I’ve taken the kids to the park, and even longer since we’ve splashed in the creek. These “extras, if the schedule permits” are actually crucial. One of the unfinished series I’ve written was about the excellent book Last Child in the Woods, which is an excellent book that every human should read, preferably stretched out under a tree. In this book, Richard Louv details the abundant evidence that shows how being in nature is critical to how we learn and think and heal and function as healthy human beings. When faced with the overwhelming onslaught of a relentless to-do list, it’s time to take to the woods. Or the urban greenbelt in the process of restoration in our case.
It was a very good call.
The creek was mossy but shallow, and the water was clear. The last day of winter in North Texas topped out at about 71°. We enjoyed overcast skies and an unusually calm day; March in Texas comes in like a lion and just stays that way.
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The younger kids wanted to “take off their feet and get them wet” as Satchmo says. It’s really not as painful as it sounds. Little Miss was content to sit on the bank or walk with Jack.
And me? I was enjoying the air, enjoying my kids, enjoying the beauty of spring in Texas. And decidedly not worrying about the to-do list, at least for a little while.
Yes, I still have an overwhelming amount of work, and I’ll probably pull some long hours trying to meet my deadlines, but I’ve fed my spirit and am energized for the work ahead.
And now we are rested for the battle.
Happy first day of spring! You know, I think I’ll pick up that series on Rediscovering Nature. After I do laundry. And pay bills. And dig up lost library books…