There are days when being home with the kids is really fun, and then there are days when I feel like kicking through a wall. I love my kids, and I really do enjoy playing with them and spending time with them. But then there are times when I just need some space to recharge, or do creative work, or write, and every ten minutes someone is injured, or needs a snack, or is bored and too lazy to find something to do so they come to me, or spills something, or whatever.
I listened to some lectures by a psychologist recently who argued that if we just decide what it is that we want to do and start doing it, then the universe will bend itself to our will and make it possible. I laughed out loud when I heard this, because my experience has been the exact opposite. As soon as I find something that I really want to do and start doing it, it feels like the universe bends itself against my will. If fire and brimstone were to rain down on me as soon as I touched a keyboard to write something creative, I wouldn’t even flinch in surprise. “Yep, what else ya got?” My kids can do worse damage anyway when left unsupervised.
And then there’s the driving: The free UBER service I offer my kids to all their extracurriculars which happen to be on the farthest end of town from where we live. I try to make it a time to connect with my kids. We talk about the day, or listen to an audiobook together. Right now, we’re listening to Rich Froning’s book “First” about his experience as the World’s Fittest Man in CrossFit. It’s actually a good read if your kids are into sports and fitness, not just CrossFit. So, there’s good connection time, but it’s more time that I’m not able to work on any of my other personal goals, and I find that frustrating. The goal of spending quality time with my kids seems to balloon out of proportion and out of control compared to the rest of my goals.
My goals are, in order of importance:
1) Spend quality time with my family,
2) Be a better homeschool teacher than I was last year,
3) Improve my fitness,
4) Write and publish a novel,
5) Practice music at least twice per week.
Right now, I would say 90% of my time is spent on the first three goals. I actually cut this list in half a few weeks ago when I realized that my list of goals was unrealistically ambitious. I think “learn a programming language” and “learn a foreign language” were also on the list. I tried programming for a few weeks, and I really gave it an effort of a half hour to an hour, but I couldn’t keep up with it. My brain was just too tired to work in the concepts of how functions work. I would literally get headaches, not only from all the interruptions, but just from the process of trying to learn and cognitively map out the logic. It was like the mental equivalent of doing too much physical exertion in an already exhausting day, so I cut it from my list and decided instead to focus on writing and music, my two best forms of therapy.
But finding time when I’m not exhausted after homeschool is often difficult. I tend to be all over the place with my goals, so maybe right now I just need to practice the art of limiting my free time to just one of these two goals, and not worry so much about how successful I am at the content of those goals. By next summer, perhaps it will be a habit, and I’ll have all the extra time when I’m not teaching homeschool to create something of real value.
But first I need to clean up all those flaming balls of brimstone from my lawn.