Nourishing Ourselves: Cultivating Good Habits

I’ve spent a decent amount of time musing about and reporting on how we are educating ourselves and these boys. What we really found is that education goes far beyond just learning what you have to know to graduate high school.

Education is really all about choosing carefully what you put into your mind body and spirit. These choices that we make, sometimes hurriedly or out of desperation, have a lasting effect on the health of a whole person. Education is made up of habits. If I have a habit of reading, it’s easy to choose to read. If I have a habit of choosing to wonder at things I don’t understand, I come to understand them. If I have a habit of whining when I don’t understand, I’ll never learn the subject at hand.

I developed a rather useless habit of solitaire last year that led to many wasted hours. I downloaded the game because I needed a problem that I could solve. The world was going crazy, and everything felt hard. I couldn’t solve any of the problems of the world, so I solved card games. Jon plays video games occasionally. The boys constantly ask for more game time. I might as well join them. The outcome of that habit is that I read half the amount of books I usually enjoy in a year. I also wrote almost nothing, aside from what was necessary for HSOK’s social media. There is nothing wrong with those games. But they kept me from both productivity and rest. At first, solving meaningless problems helped me to process the crazy changes that were taking place outside of my home. But then, solving those puzzles seemed just as necessary as solving the actual problems that were mine to deal with. I deleted the Solitaire, FreeCell, and Tri-Peaks apps that I was using at the end of the year, along with Sudoku and Words with Friends.

The right habits to help me deal with things I don’t control are reading Scripture and praying, studying subjects I love and those I need to know, taking long walks, and escaping into good books. Those are things that restore me. I want my children to learn to work hard when it’s time to work and to rest intentionally when it is time to rest. And so, first, I have to learn it. That’s how parenting (and homeschooling) works: everything that the kids need to know, the parents have to understand first.

Jon and I both spent the last year burning the candle at both ends. While we did prioritize sleeping for at least seven hours a night, we haven’t taken any days off in months. We used four of his vacation days between Christmas and New Year’s so that we had an eleven-day weekend with the bank holidays and such. Those days were lovely. We thought we’d be bored after a couple of days of rest, but it turned out that we needed the whole chunk of time to see what changes we need to make.

Believe it or not, we can’t work all day and into the evening every day and maintain our sanity, whether that work is his full-time programming job or my tutoring jig or just homeschooling, parenting, and housework. Working around the clock just doesn’t work, so we are creating a habit of rest that gives us both time to read, write, think, and be.

Books finished this week:

(Some of these were started months ago, so don’t think I read every bit of all of them in a week.)

  • Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate (Fascinating story.)
  • Anxious People by Fredrik Backman (Fantastic! Highly Recommend!)
  • The End of the Affair by Graham Greene (Thought-provoking classic)
  • Switch On Your Brain by Catherine Leaf (Interesting)
  • Practice Perfect by Lemov, Wooley, and Yezzi (I read all of the headings and summaries, but not every word of the book.)

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