For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows grace and favor and glory - honor, splendor and heavenly bliss! No good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly.

Psalms 84:11

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Too Much Stimuli

As Americans, it's part of our culture to be busy. It's our national virtue. We work more hours than any other culture in the world. We are taught at a very early age that it's our job to be productive. We fill up most of our life with tasks that need to be accomplished. We give our kids chore charts, we make lists, we carry planners, and when we have conversations with people and they ask what we've been up to lately we lament, "Oh, I've been SO busy!"

But who made us busy? Did we somehow allow everyone around us to decide for us how to spend our time? Maybe sometimes that's the case, but most of us make that decision for ourselves. For most of us, the first question we ask ourselves when we finish a task is "What's next?"

The problem with this culture of busyness is that it doesn't allow for down time. It values a person for how much they can get done in one day instead of how much time we spend with our loved ones or how much time we spend on reflection.

Here at our house, we have been sick for nearly a week. Each family member has taken turns with the stomach flu. It was terrible, except for one thing. We had lots of time. We could easily say no to outside interference, and say yes to doing nothing. It gave me a lot of time to think and read.

I made it through two books about home schooling: Christian Unschooling by Teri J. Brown and School Starts at Home by Cheri Fuller. Both emphasize a need to "unplug" from electronic stimuli AND a strict busy schedule in order for natural learning opportunities to occur. Children have less motivation to turn to reading, pretend play, or educational activities if they are constantly being entertained by television, computers, electronic toys, OR extracurricular activities.

Having grown up in a house with a mother who HATED television, this concept is nothing new to me. But what struck me as "new" while reading these books is that it's not just the kids who can be effected by too much stimulation, I am just as vulnerable. I am just as likely to turn to Facebook or browsing the internet during a down moment rather than doing something that would be more nourishing to my mind and spirit. Instead of writing on my blog, which is an excellent outlet for me because it requires thought and contemplation, I play Sims. Instead of spending time in prayer, or doing personal devotions, I watch TV. Instead of reading a book, I... well, you get the point. I expend so much head space on things that have no value, and avoid the things that do with the thought, "I'll do that when I have more time." When exactly will that happen?

In one part of "Christian Unschooling" a mom struggling with scheduling commented on praying over her day planner. Specifically, she prayed that God would lead them throughout the day and that He would guide her children to whatever He wanted them to learn that day. I thought that was such a beautiful thought, because ultimately we as parent's control only a tiny amount of what our children need to learn. Praying, and recognizing, that God is the one who controls these things helps put our anxieties at ease. It allows us as parents to share the burden of raising our children with God, rather than try to carry that yoke on our own (and it's a very heavy yoke at that!). It's something that I need to do more of. As always: a little more You, and a little less me.


Susan in the Boonies said...

I had the luxury, as a homeschool Mom, of prayerfully considering what I would allow into our schedule. What felt right for us in the early years was choosing one sport or activity per child, based on their gifts, and preferences, to occupy space in our weekly schedule. (You can easily do that when you only have two kids.) (Soccer, ballet, Girl Scouts, etc.) We waited until 9th grade before we involved any other co-op or tutorial into our schedule.

So here's my take: prayerfully consider whatever you might be thinking about considering allowing to make demands on your family's schedule.
And do your best not to judge others who have made a different decision for their family from the decisions you have made.

From year to year, your family's schedule will likely change.

As our kids gain maturity, and discover the gifts and talents they've been given, and as different opportunities present themselves, we get to be the gatekeepers, at least for a little while, of what we let in the door.

Brooke said...

you are so right! my magazine collection keeps growing higher. in those moments where i would have glanced through them and read a few articles, i now find myself on facebook and twitter.

as for Bible study, I have to do it first thing, or sadly it doesn't get done.

SHARM said...

Thank you so much for visiting my blog… and the lovely comments. I love this post… it made me to think in so many ways… About your mom HATE TV. well I have to admit I am not a very big TV person I only watch few things sometimes disturbing news at least I want to say world news because I need be aware of what’s happening around the world. I totally understand what you mean by we as a nation is a very schedule oriented busy people with a agenda… I might post something down the line on this prompt… Enjoy you blog hope you visit my when you get a chance…. Thank you again…

Helene said...

Oh wow, I'm the same way and didn't even realize it until I read this post. I'm always complaining to my husband that I have no time to read the books I want to read or even to work on the book I'm writing, yet here I sit reading blogs and commenting, which I really do enjoying doing. I need to be better about dividing my time up so I can fit everything into the small amount of free time I do have.

Very good food for thought today! Thank you for sharing this! And it was such a pleasure to see a comment from you on my blog!!!

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