Monday, March 21, 2016

Vast Wasteland of Distractions

Do we even realize how much time we spend on electronics? I am seeing a terrible trend, and i am fighting against it in my own life, and it worries me for future generations. I am reminded about something i used to say to my husband in the early years of our marriage: there will always be something interesting on the internet; you have to know when to walk away. And that was before Smart Phones!

Now, we have the internet at our disposal at all times. And there will always be a video clip, an email, a Google search, or whatever, that we can spend our time on. But suppose the following....

Husband A comes home from work. He changes his clothes, goes to hang out with friends, comes home to eat the dinner his wife prepared, then goes to a club to watch a band play with friends. He gets home after the littlest child's bedtime, doesn't tell her "goodnight" or tuck her in, goes to the garage to fiddle with various hobbies, and then goes to bed when he's tired. During this time, his wife and children have taken care of themselves and gone to bed as well.

Does Husband A represent a dedicated spouse? An engaged father?

How about this one:
Husband B comes home from work and goes for a walk with his earbuds in, listening to various podcasts on his smart phone. He comes home, eats the dinner his wife prepared, and goes to sit down somewhere in the house with his phone or tablet. Sometime later, he might change to his desktop computer or play video games online with friends. When he has decided he's tired, he takes his phone to bed and listens to podcasts and watches videos until he's ready for sleep. During this time, his wife and children have taken care of themselves and gone to bed as well.

How do we feel about Husband B?
It is not that different than the Husband who isn't physically present, but it is so much easier to be mentally absent these days!

Here's another scenario:
Mommy A takes her son to the park. While there, she chats with friends or neighbors and her son plays alone. After the park, she takes him to a fast-food restaurant for lunch, where he eats in silence while she chats with some of the other adults around her. Mommy A takes her son home and puts him down for his nap. After his nap, she takes him out for a walk in the wagon, chatting with a neighbor while they walk around the block. When they get back home, she sets him up with some crayons and makes dinner while talking on the phone. During dinner, daddy and son chat about their day and Mommy A watches television. After dinner, Mommy A gives her son a bath and lets him play in the tub while she works on a hobby nearby. After her son's bath, Mommy A puts him to bed and kisses him goodnight, then dashes off to watch another television show.

How well is Mommy A engaging her son? How do we feel about Mommy A?

Imagine all of those friends and neighbors and telephone calls and television shows and hobbies are her smart phone. Not really different.

There will ALWAYS be something interesting on the internet, and we ought to remember that the temptation to tune out will always be there. Will we rise above it, or will it become our master? I don't want my children to grow up and say, "Mommy was always around, but she was always distracted by her smart phone/computer." :(

Friday, March 18, 2016

The Homeschooling Introvert

I am a homeschooling mother.
I am also an introvert.
This was easier to balance when my children were smaller. Naps were relished, early bedtimes eagerly anticipated, and play-dates with friends who had small children a veritable delight of socialization for everyone involved.

However, my children are in high school, middle school, and middle elementary now. And it is much, much harder to find that quiet solitude that once came more naturally. While i was in the trenches of that toddler to preschooler stage, i falsely believed that it was the hardest time for mamas who are introverted. And, may i say, if you don't go on to homeschool your children, this may very well be the case! But as i serve as teacher, lesson planner, curriculum researcher, grade reporter, activities director, and high school adviser, i find my days much fuller and my brain strained at a deeper level than when i was teaching the alphabet, table manners, or colors.

Add to that the nature of the high school activities calendar, and this introvert is a puddle on the floor at the end of each day! My husband dare not ask me anything of any substance during the school week, and i do most of my catching up with family and friends over the telephone while running errands or driving home from some event i've dropped a child off to participate in.

I am an introvert.
I need quiet.
I need stillness.
I need alone time.
And i need it all at least daily.
But, surprisingly, it is not getting easier to meet those needs as my children get older, since the academics get so much more daunting! My poor extended family and friends must think i vanished into thin air... or that i don't care to spend time with them, and that just isn't the case! I really must find the balance.

That being said, i do not look forward to my children leaving home, so i guess that makes me a glutton for punishment! :)