Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Avoid burnout -- spend more time with your kids!

I wrote this post two months ago, and for some reason didn't publish it. But I think the theme is just as appropriate for January, when many of us are holed up snuggling in at home, trying to stay warm and appreciate each other's company after the busy-ness of the holidays.

Last week we had a minor cold that kept us from making big plans or socializing much. Instead, we found we had plenty to keep us busy. Sometimes it's nice -- as much as we love our friends -- to plan a little nothing. Or, rather, a little something with just each other.
"As contrary as it seems at first, the trick to avoiding burnout-- for me-- is more time with my children. It's important that the time isn't all frantic, rushed time. It needs to be focused time, time spent without the distractions of adult conversations and responsibilities. Children are rarely the cause of my burnout; working them in around the adults in my life is the cause of my burnout."
--Elizabeth Foss, Serendipity
Oh, her post is so lovely and true.

You may have noticed that every once in a while I neglect to blog for a week or more. Some weeks are just like that. I can't be everything to everyone, and I'm afraid the blog is often in last place. Except when I need it desperately for my own creative sanity!

I also have to be careful not to overdo our social commitments. As much as we love seeing our friends and doing all the fun things we do together, we have to have enough time to ourselves at home.

Even homeschool park days are too much sometimes. We make this big effort to drag our snacks, our water bottles, the sunscreen, the blanket, the sand toys... for an afternoon at the park, thinking the children will be entertained by the climbing toys, and we'll get to have some adult conversation.

But it doesn't always work out that way. Sometimes the kids want us right by their side, or there's some playground trauma to be attended to. Conversation is interrupted just as it gets going. That was us at our last park day. Forty-five minutes into park day, and Eldest was ready to go home.

So, conversation continues with real life friends near and far... via e-mail and blogging. What would we do without the internet?!

Like I recently wrote to a dear friend of mine... this homeschooling business is a wild, exciting, nerve-wracking journey, and we need each other! Some days I feel like I'm going completely against my introverted nature to be homeschooling. I have to force myself to get out of my head and be present with my kids.

But I'm taking it one day at time, praying more, trying to be prepared for each day, whatever it might bring. I feel, ironically, like the more prepared I am for the road ahead, the more present I can be with the boys in each moment. I want to have a big picture in mind, to make conscious decisions about how we spend our time -- without getting locked into something when I really don't know what the future holds.

Right now I am trying to have a Bible verse on my recently-acquired whiteboard (yes, a whiteboard!) for the boys to find each morning, sometimes related to our plans for the day, sometimes just what I think we need to hear. It helps to keep my mind filled with God's Word, rather than my own.

If you're looking for things to do while stuck inside, check out this great list by Sarah of Small World about Combating January Blahs.


princessmama said...

I too find it difficult at times to get out of my head and be present. Responding intelligently to all the chatter, or even just being attentive and really there can be a challenge. I recently stayed home from a 'worthy' activity just because I knew my kids needed the 'down' time. We have to take things day by day and always be praying for wisdom, and figuring out what works for us individually as families.

Thanks for a great post :)

Ik ben Mirjam said...

Yes, I totally agree.....find it hard sometimes too!

Thanks :)

Maureen said...

Great Post!

ps LOVE your new header photo:)

MamaTea said...

A big thank you to you for posting this...because you saved me a ton of work. I kid you not, the notes to something very similar to this, that I've been pondering the last week, are right in front of me. Thanks for saying it so well. I agree, I agree, I agree!!

Kathy's Red Door Welcome said...

Amen sister...I mean daughter. Very well said!

Cammie said...

Just ran across your blog. Thanks for all the encouragement and ideas!

Julie said...

Your burnout post strikes a chord in me. I feel the same way about too many outside social commitments ...never fails to wear us out. Homeschool coop situations have been a positive experience for our family, but I have had to make efforts to not allow it to become a stressful burden. It is all about balance and individual family needs. We can't run our homeschools to fit other families' needs.

I wrote a post about homeschool stress that addresses some of the ideas you are relating:

...my tips are practical and pretty easy to do, but I love your suggestion..."spend more time with your kids"- it is ironic that such a simple effort can reduce homeschool stress and burnout.

I'm linking to your post.

(20 years of homeschooling- besthomeschoolbuys.com)

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