As I look back on our January blog posts over the years there is almost always on a post on rest, on slowing down, on avoiding the dash… it is a favourite theme of mine. The year that begins, for us, with summer holidays and walks on the beach… with everything in order… new calendars, fresh planners and inspiring holiday reads on getting so many things done. It appears to be so in order, like perfectly stacked coils of rope on the beach, our year appears to be off to a very good start.
Alas, often by this time of year, a week or two back into school, summer breaks are all but forgotten and really all folk can think about is how to get to the next weekend. Resolutions have simply flown out the window and new habits are having a hard time sticking… In fact, with all our rushing about and getting from one activity to the next one and the pressure to get everything done, very often we find ourselves slightly unraveled… and that is before February even begins.
So I am launching my year from a place of rest… In a world where self improvement is a way of life and productivity is measured by busyness I am looking out for ways to slow things down in those crazy places and picking up those important things that we never have time for. It is seems so against the flow, but for us it works. I am not talking about the obvious here… and that is sleep, break those bad habits, be the grown up and send yourself to bed… I am talking about finding rest in the day to day humdrum of life.
Se7en+1 Ways to Raise Your Game by Slowing Down
- A Morning Read: So many good habits are being added to folks’ morning routines that I am not surprised they need another nap before breakfast. The reality is, you just can’t do it all before breakfast. One thing I do know is I hate rising fast… leaping out of bed and dashing is just not for me, and always leaves me floundering my way through breakfast. This year on waking up I have headed straight for the couch and read a chapter or two of my latest book, before starting the day. Any little body that wakes before I am done, gets to do their school reading, and they have discovered they can be done before school. Just that little moment in time has meant that I am ready to face the world… I may be taking longer to launch but I am good and ready when I do. Not to mention, those couple of chapters are adding up to more books read than usual, by far.
- Making Time for Friends: Nothing creates a mini break from the world like spending time with friends. Work stops, coffee brews and it is so good to chat. The days of saying I am too busy with kids to see friends are totally over. Friends sustain us through thick and thin, we live in a world where it is okay to call a friend when we are in trouble. I am thinking, so much, that we need to be present with our friends on the good days as well. I realise that so many of my friends are on the far side of the world… the last couple of months I have popped the kettle on, while they pop the kettle on, and what began as swapping pics of our coffees have become conversations and “catching up for lost time.” I tell you the truth it is a good thing to have friends, and those best friends on the far side of the world… catch up with them, they are best friends for a reason and we need them.
- Stop and Notice What is Getting Done: What can I say, I am a homeschool mom, and I have never met one that doesn’t feel like they are falling behind. In the past I would go into a flurry mid-morning, and create a huge pile of things to still do before lunch time. This year I have been putting all the books we are done with away by tea time. Don’t tell my kids, but it is astonishing what you can get through when you know most of your work for the day is done already.
- Losing the Manic Panic in Monday: I have always saved the fun things for Friday, little rewards like pancakes for breakfast, after a week well done. Well over the years our Mondays fizzled into a day to avoid every single week… the kids get home from evening church late and consequently get to bed much later than usual. Grumpy Mondays… inevitable. Not to mention the piles of dishes and laundry left over from a busy weekend, and yet I still tried to do a full day of school every Monday. Turns out letting everyone sleep until they are done, a late pancake breakfast and redefining a full day of school as “getting a heap of the week’s reading done” gets us off to a much better start.
- Stop Checking on those Chores: My kids have chores, they are their responsibility. How much energy I have wasted over the years asking, “Has the floor has been swept yet?” The floor still gets swept, maybe not in my time, but it is getting done. I have left the chores behind and turned a blind eye, my kids all know how to do a job. Checking that they have done a task, means that I am training them to do a job if someone is watching them… my kids know that we are all in this together and they need to know that if they see their job undone that they need to get on with it. Just taking a breath and looking the other way, doesn’t mean everyone is slacking off, just that is one less responsibility that I have to deal with.
- Just Get Offline Already: Counter productive indeed, especially from someone who works online. Seriously… scrolling down your screen looking for a fab tweet to retweet, or commenting on an Instagram pic while you are actually meant to be doing dinner, just doesn’t work. The secret to getting almost all our school work done, whoever manages it all (!!!), on a given day has just been to switch my phone off and be done with it. I love to school with my kids, I love learning a alongside them… I love being on the internet too… but both at the same time is not multitasking, it is really just failing. There is nothing more frazzling than trying to do schoolwork with a small person and twittering at the same time, it is a recipe for “the furthest thing from rest.” Take a pic of the fun you are having, you can Instagram it later. Save up all your good behaviour points for the people that count, clean the kitchen counters for your family, sort a bookshelf with your kids because it is fun to sort books, go for a walk with your gang because it is good… not because you feel that folk are waiting for your next picture. Your true online friends, like real friends, care far more about you the person, than you the blogger or Instagrammer.
- The Sacred Afternoon Rest: I understand that if you are working in an office this is impossible… but just so you know I don’t work in an office… while I have always encouraged my kids to do their reading after lunch. This past school year I had the not so brilliant idea to sit with a different child each day and catch up on any reading that we hadn’t gotten around to during school time. It turns out that a double page spread read with a mother half dozing can literally take an hour to get through and is dreadfully boring… our afternoon break was taking longer and longer and less and less was getting done. This year, everyone does their own reading – including myself, and should anyone (ahem me) need a quick nap, then they take one. That same reading that was taking all afternoon, is now read in a couple of minutes while that child peels carrots or the rice is boiling during dinner prep. It is amazing how much you can get done when you aren’t actually asleep.
So here’s the thing, I really would like in a practical way, to stay away from crazy unraveling and keep things slightly in order. It is ambitious I know… but I am hoping for more than just to launch this year from a place of rest. A week or two away at a luxury resort is not what I am looking for… just the thought of the re-entry is enough to put me off. I really believe that we have what we have been provided for in every way… including in rest. The world has told us that in order to be productive we need to be busy… I am not for a moment suggesting idleness, but I do think that perhaps in order to be productive we need to get a lot less busy and get a lot more rest… so that we have the energy to conquer the things that really matter.