May's guest blogger, Ruth Lera, writes about how she spends her days unschooling her two children.
Photos courtesy of Ruth Lera.
At times, when I can’t even finish an email regarding one of the many volunteer projects I work on due to sibling fighting, or because the dirty dish pile is overflowing again — even though I feel like I scrubbed all morning — or the kids have mentioned that they are bored for umpteenth time I wonder, "Should I send my kids to school?” I fantasize about a time span between 8:30 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. that is all mine. At times you may even see me drooling in envy at the thought of this amount of kid-free time.
Now don’t get me wrong. I love my kids dearly. I actually really love spending time with them. I wouldn’t unschool them if I didn’t. But I also have an addiction and if I had all the time to myself in the middle of the day I could fill it without feeling guilty that I am ignoring the kids.
You see, I am addicted to being busy, getting stuff done and feeling productive. I love the feeling of a completed pot of soup, blog post, garden bed or organizational plan. All day I wander the house looking for another task that can give me a sense of completion. I feel a tingling of excitement just imagining uninterrupted time to get stuff done.
Sometimes I feel like my busyness addiction takes away from my kid's learning experience. But sometimes I can flip the glass over and see it half-full and notice that my own strong internal motivation to be engaged in the world has influenced my kids as they go about their day exploring their interests with me as a support person and as I go about my day fulfilling my own interests — which is keeping busy and getting stuff done at all costs. Yes, I am addicted to busyness, but am I also being a role-model?
Lately something has been happening which has me feeling a quiet joy for our family situation. I have been calling it "ode to the quiet morning." You see, the mornings in our house weren’t always quiet. Although, my daughter has been an independent soul from day one, my son would wake up in the morning when he was little — and before his eyes were barely open — announce “I am bored” and “What are we doing today?” and “Do something with me!” ad nauseum. I definitely asked the universe to bring him a little independence. And it seems it did, or he just grew up.
Now at 10 years old he wakes up and immediately finds a project. I usually have to pull him away from it to get dressed for the day. The last couple of weeks he has been obsessed with making jewelry. He has made earrings by the hundreds and he displays them on a moose antler that he drilled holes into. He invested his own money into the supplies and plans to sell them at a sale I am organizing for a local food co-op.
These days the mornings are filled with independence. Their dad heads out to work on building our new house or he goes to his workshop and works away on one of his projects. I putter at housework and catch up on computer work. My daughter draws pictures, looks at books, builds with Lego or Lincoln Logs, or arranges her dolls while my son, bless his heart, focuses away on jewelry-making or electrical projects or something that involves focus, fine motor skills and lots of brainwork. All this comes with sleeping as long as we need in the morning, a breakfast not rushed, as no one is going anywhere, and time for an impromptu morning snuggle if the moment calls for it.
Yes, I have chosen to share my time with the people I love. Sometimes I love it and sometimes my busyness addiction has me dreaming about the school bus. But when I wake up and fall into our quiet morning routine it is obvious I am not willing to trade our family home life together for all the time in the world to be busy.