Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Slowing Down

One of the greatest gifts and the hardest thing to adjust to homeschooling is the pace of life. People in my office used to hear me coming by the sound of my hasty footsteps approaching them. I used to drive over the speed limit even if I was going to be early. I love to get things done and I have often stacked a lot on my plate just to savor the goofy happiness of crossing it off my to-do list. Homeschooling has a way of slowing you down and redefining efficiency. It has a way of forcing you into being in the now and being present.

I am always planning things. I've planned pregnancies, fundraising events, social engagements, and now lesson plans. I even plan great vacations and then don't always enjoy them to the fullest because the planning stage is over and I don't know what to do with just relaxing. But I've noticed that homeschooling requires a lot of attention and executing on the plans, with little time for more planning. I have learned pretty quickly that I need to keep the momentum going with the schoolwork, or I lose my kids to chaos and play. I have to give them my complete attention for everything to go smoothly. On days where I succumb to looking up one more book on the library website, or looking through an anthology for just the right story, it does not pay!

I have also come to understand that getting things done is not going to feel like it used to. I used to get through a whole day's worth of work-related tasks, not to mention picking up children in two different schools, cooking dinner, cleaning up (well, sometimes), and getting everyone ready for bed. Now, an errand or two can eat up the entire day and leave me feeling panicked that not enough learning took place. Even on days when we do not leave the house, I have the notion we will get through reading, writing, math, time-telling, calendar work, geography, Spanish, sociology, art, music and cooking with plenty of time for play and lunch. I have yet to have a day where we worked all of that in! However, I have come to the pragmatic realization that, like nutrition, it is what you do over the course of the week that counts. Getting everything done every day is not practical or possible, so I am learning to relax about it and shoot for the larger goal over the course of a week or the month.

Jude, who learned how to ride a bike with no training wheels and no assistance recently, asked if we could ride bikes to the zoo instead of drive as I had planned. It's only about three and a half miles from our house, so I agreed. I knew it would be a slower ride than I am used to, but this was the kind of ride that was actually difficult for me to stay upright due to lack of momentum. A person with 12" bike rims has to pedal a lot more to move than a person on an adult's bike, but we made it to the zoo without any complaints. On our bike ride we noticed tree houses, birdhouses, dogs, gardens, leaves, and puddles. (Here's a tip: although drafting works well for Lance Armstrong, it is not a great idea to draft a four year old!) I would not have noticed any of these had I been driving or riding at my own speedy pace, in a hurry for no reason. Not only did we appreciate all of the sights and sounds along the way, it was so gratifying to see the obvious pride on Jude's face, having completed his first impressive bike ride and keeping up with the rest of us. That was definitely worth being present for!


  1. We are so similar with the need to hurry for no real reason. I grew up in Miami and when I went to college in Virginia I was struck by the fact that I walked faster than everyone else there. I despise being late for things, even something as simple as 5 minutes late to a friend's house for dinner. With Sam's help (and sometimes patience!), I am working to ease up on the pace a bit. I find I enjoy spending time with my kids the most when I am just in the moment with them, as you were on your bike ride. Life truly is about the journey, not the destination!

  2. Hi Tracy,
    I totally agree with you, as you say "Homeschooling has a way of slowing you down and redefining efficiency." I think, teacher's roles automalticaly shift when arriving home, and circumstances we have to "face", efficiently, might be unpredictable. Planning things helps, but time for relaxing is spent in preparing lessons, materials, and so on; even mentally, both male and female teachers. Most women around the world might feel like you rather than men; however, nowadays things are not going to feel like that because as women as men have to share their time between their job and home. Our students and children diserve the best from us!

    Warm regards.

  3. Thanks for inspring and encouraging us to be tolerant with people and ourselves. I've just tweeted and bookmarked your meaningful post.

  4. Thank you for your comments. They made my day!

  5. This is a wonderful post! I can completely relate to you and everything that you said. Learning to slow down is not only healthy for us, but it makes us good role models, too! I'm going to start following your blog. :) --Jennifer