My calendar was packed. Each person in my family had his or her own color for scheduled commitments, and I’m telling you, my calendar looked like a coloring book. Each square was loaded with colorful scribbles that sent me this way and that way, ferrying children from one activity to the next. At home, I had shelves of books and bins of craft supplies that I’d bought and held onto, thinking that someday we’d read this and create that. It was suffocating and awful, a recipe for disaster once it sent me into a full system meltdown.
My first big clue that something was amiss was when I started dreading a Friday commitment on Mondays. I was hemorrhaging time, energy, and money, and I didn’t know how to stop the bleeding…because everything we were doing was supposedly somehow beneficial for my kids, if not right now, surely down the road.
An article written by Jonathan Milligan, titled “How to Immediately Eliminate Clutter in Your Life”provides a path out of the overwhelm. He’s relatable right from the start, because he places himself in his garage, standing in front of a huge pile of stuff that he had no idea what to do with because he might need it someday.
We’ve all been there. If it’s not the garage, it’s the kitchen…or the schoolroom, for us homeschoolers. His wife was able to break through that paralysis of indecision that kept him rooted there, surrounded by clutter. She said, “I’d really like for us to just eliminate the what-ifs and the one-days.”
I found that to be a very powerful insight. I don’t know about you, but if I eliminated all of the what-ifs and the one-days in my garage, I’d be able to park a vehicle in the garage for the first time in over a decade!
Now, how about this: what would happen in your child’s education if you eliminated everything you were trying to teach and all of the activities you had your child enrolled in because of all of the what-ifs and one-days that were working hard on creating fear, feeding greed, or building ego inside of your own brain?
A great deal of the scope and sequence of a child’s education these days justifies its existence by declaring that one thing builds upon another. Furthermore, since kids need will need to know X, Y, or Z some years down the line, it’s imperative that we begin preparing them for those right now. Children are over-programmed today because we start padding their resumes for college applications when they’re still in grade school. Embracing beliefs like those are creating that fear, greed, and ego that are keeping you enslaved to educational clutter.
The problem is even bigger than the disservice we do our kids by wasting their time by spending all of it supposedly preparing them for something in the future, though. The problem is that technology is evolving at such a rapid pace and knowledge is growing at such exponential rates that it’s impossible to predict the future that we should be preparing our kids for! Game-changers arrive on the scene with alarming or exciting (depending on your perspective) regularity, and this modern idea of a traditional childhood education simply does not keep up with it at all…no matter where the child is getting his or her education.
After my full system meltdown, I decided that I had to eliminate the clutter on my calendar and in my kids’ educations. I hauled it all out and set it all on the chopping block. No sacred cows were spared from scrutiny. Everything had to justify itself. Nothing stayed on my calendar or in my home if it was only there because I was clinging to the what-ifs and the one-days.
In the end, I made a sizable donation to The Goodwill, I bowed out of that standing Friday commitment, and my calendar no longer looks like a toddler armed with a box of markers laid siege to it.
I’m a married, homeschooling mama of three who is passionate about self-directed learning.
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