Category Archives: Homeschooling

Finding my Groove

Photo by:  tdreyer1What’s the difference between a groove and a rut? Finding your groove is good, being stuck in a rut is bad. They’re both well worn indentations aren’t they? Both restrict you to a specific track. Both define where you are and, more importantly, where you’re not.

Maybe it’s perspective? When we say we’re stuck in a rut we imply that it’s a negative experience. We are doing something so mundane, boring, or undesired that we feel like we are stuck. When we say we’ve found our groove we seem to imply that we have found a way of doing, being and working that leaves us satisfied and fulfilled. Yet the groove we find by nature restricts us from doing things in other ways and in other places. Hmmmm.

These random thoughts come as a result of feeling like I have finally found my groove with homeschooling, keeping my home, working, writing, teaching and speaking. Well at least so far anyway. This past week or so I feel like I have accomplished a lot and knocked off large chunks off my to-do list. I realized that happened because I finally found a routine that works! And a routine, by nature, is a rut (or groove if you prefer). It’s a way of doing things that is predictable. It enables me to get the work done quickly and efficiently. I don’t waste time thinking about what should be done first. It’s just part of the routine.

So you could say my rut has made it easier for me to enjoy my life because it eliminates wasted time, provides predictability to the mundane and necessary, and creates space for me to do all the other things that make life meaningful. Perhaps my rut, er groove is not something that should have been avoided after all.

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There’s Always One

– 1

There’s always one. One unhappy customer. One complaint. One negative comment. One who doesn’t agree with you. One bad day. One bad moment. One.

Even when the rest of the crowd is enthusiastic, complimentary, in agreement, there is one who is unsatisfied, disagrees and is disappointed. Human nature, it seems, is to focus on the one. Cling to the one negative in a sea of positives. Gauge our performance by one who does not share our view.

The entire room can tell you that you look amazing, but one will say something less than positive and your entire opinion of your appearance is defined by that one.

The audience congratulates you on your presentation. Many comment on how they were touched by your words. Some even tell you how you made them think and maybe even convinced them to see it from a different perspective. But there is one who disagrees with you and tells you. Your impression of the evening is set by that one.

Vaguely in the back of my mind a statistic floats about that it takes 10 positive comments to counteract one negative, to set us back at zero. Experience tells me that ratio is too low.

I admit I am surprised by my reaction to one. One who doesn’t even have a vested interest in what I do and why I do it. One who does not have a significant part to play in my life. Their comment does not want to leave my mind. Of all the positive feedback I received that one comment is all I can replay. Negative one.

I determine to redouble my effort to pour positive comments into the lives of my kids. Not empty and hollow quips, but meaningful positives. I determine to catch them doing the right thing and making a big deal out of it. I determine to compliment their efforts, attempts and wins. I want to inoculate them to the power of negative one. Not because I want them to have a swelled head or unrealistic views of themselves, but because I realize that negative one is capable of distorting their view in the opposite direction much more effectively.

Negative one. You may seem powerful. You may shake me but you won’t move me. You don’t deserve center stage. You don’t deserve to determine how I view the world or myself. Your control ends here.

Why I’m not raising Well Behaved Children

© Jkha | Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Images

© Jkha | Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Images

What?! What parent in their right mind would admit to not raising well behaved children? Am I letting them run wild?!

I don’t want to raise well behaved children, I want to raise well prepared adults and I believe there is a profound difference between the two.

Well behaved children (WBC) are raised to be well behaved children. They know who calls the shots, how to avoid getting in trouble (in the teen years this usually means how not to get caught), and how to please the adults who decide all the details of their daily lives. They are rather well behaved. Childhood, however, does not last forever.  Sooner or later those same WBC need to be functioning, well adjusted adults who take responsibility for their own choices and decisions.

WBC may comply outwardly, but outward compliance is no guarantee of inward agreement. Just because a WBC knows how to act to avoid punishment doesn’t mean they understand the why of what they are asked to do and, when they are not supervised, they would probably make a different choice. How many of your peers grew up in strict homes where children were ordered around, rules were made to be obeyed and punishment was swift for every infraction? How many of those same peers, once they left the family home, either were gullible and easily taken advantage of or rebelled against their childhood and went wild in their new-found freedom? Granted not every child, but I bet you can think of several examples of both. How many of them got into financial trouble? How many of them had difficulties on the job? How many of them struggled in relationships? In their marriages? Children grow up. If the only thing parents teach their children is to be well behaved children then they haven’t given them enough.

Before you write me off as a liberal, let-your-children-run-wild, irresponsible parent let me clarify something. I do believe children need structure, discipline, instruction and guidance and I believe the purpose of these is to equip children to be wise, insightful, capable, caring and spiritually grounded adults: to be Well Prepared Adults (WPAs).

WPAs are given tools to make good decisions, to be comfortable in a variety of situations, to be able to relate to and communicate with people from various backgrounds, life stages and economics. They know how to make decisions based on available information, how to take responsibility for their behavior and how to work cooperatively. They have developed their moral character and are better equipped to navigate a world where the rules may not be so clearly defined.

I would rather have a child that doesn’t always live up to someone else’s expectations for their behavior than a child who leaves home unprepared to solve disputes, listen to another’s perspective, and is unable to solve problems. Teaching children these skills means that sometimes things will be messy, limits will be strongly tested and mistakes will be made. No, my children are not allowed to run wild, but we spend more time teaching, training and correcting than we do demanding.

Childhood is short. Adulthood lasts a lot longer. I want to raise capable, mature and wise adults. So here’s to not raising well behaved children!

Teaching an Old-er Dog New Tricks

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I’m a recovering perfectionist. Yes I admit it, I have this internal need for things to be just right. Nothing less will do. And yes, you’ve guessed it, the standard I measure things by is my own. I love clean lines, finished edges, precise angles and uncluttered spaces. I love order and function. And if you know me at all you know that my life looks NOTHING like the precision I crave.

What my life actually looks like is functional but utilized. The desk is covered with bits of paper that I mean to address in an hour, but never get around to. The filing that sits beside the files and not in them. The laundry that is folded, but not put away. The dishwasher that is clean, but still full! The floor is covered with little bits of train tracks and miniature horses. There are about a dozen notebooks lying around my work space and throughout my home. Each one started but not completed. Each one intended to be finished from one end to the other before the next one was begun. There are drawings and charts and graphs scattered throughout.

Don’t get me wrong, the house is not a complete mess but rather very lived in if you will. You see there is another side to me that craves creativity and must create solutions, systems and discover new possibilities and that side of me could care less about order, neatness and precision. That side wants to take bunny trails in every direction. That side wants to pursue a possibility and capture its every nuance. That side can’t see what’s around me until it notices a moodiness and anxiety rising with me that prevents it from focusing on the latest train of thought. When I stop and notice those signals I realize that the perfectionist in me is feeling overwhelmed by the chaos the creative side of me has made. And so the dance continues.

I take time away from creating to reorganize my space, my life and my things. I determine I will stay on top of it this time. I promise my perfectionist self that I will not allow paper to pile up, but will file it immediately. I will not let laundry stay folded in the basket, I’ll put it away as I’m doing it. I promise my perfectionist self I will finally finish the profiles on all my social media accounts and I will plan out and prepare my blog. I do my best for a few days to stay on top of those tasks and then I notice a sadness and lack of energy and I realize I’ve been maintaining everything, but creating nothing. And the cycle begins again.

But I’m learning. I’m learning to identify those signals before they become so loud they drown out everything else. I’m learning not to let the perfectionist side of me dictate long to-do lists that prevent me from accomplishing them. I am learning to actually enjoy my children and not just plan their daily tasks (we home school). I’m also learning to not let the creative side of me get so engrossed in every bunny trail that nothing gets accomplished. In other words I’m learning to be a peace keeper between the two sides of me.

This old-er (not old) dog is learning some new tricks and giving both intense sides of who I am come out and play. I’m trying to give both sides equal billing and you know what, its kinda starting to work!

Am I the only one who feels like I’m at war within myself?