Friday, August 13, 2010

Today was a "Good Day"

Wednesday I felt like a successful unschooler. We had one of those magical days full of activity, wonder, social connection and diversity that other unschooling parents post about.

I got up early and saw Jess off to work. After watering the garden I started a blog post and caught up on my e-mails and facebook before the girls were awake. I cheerfully greeted my three girls and our visiting girl. I offered a variety of food with no takers, so I turned the whole kitchen table into a monkey platter. I called the airport and found that the cell phone of visiting girl had been turned in to lost and found, and I arranged for transportation for girls to the airport since the car was at work.

The girls worked on recording a song and planning a music video. They played computer games and watched youtube videos. They walked to the park and our wonderful corner gas station where they bought goodies. They fit in some dramatic play and a visit to the neighbor's chickens. We added another girl to the mix while her mom stayed for coffee and her dad was the taxi to the airport. My youngest passed some time sketching amazing pictures that are now on the refrigerator. More friends came over. We experimented with using coconut oil to help start a fire. Soon there were six girls on the patio making s'mores. Another friend and her young son stopped by. We visited while he explored our house for the first time and I made the dough for our pizza dinner.

Somewhere in all of this we got the hamster out and discovered that she had mites, so the girls treated her while I cleaned out her entire cage. After dinner two of the girls made cookies. My oldest daughter and I went for our nightly walk. Afterward, even though it was very late, my youngest wanted a walk and we ended up seeing the most amazing meteor ever!

Along the way I managed to fit into the day washing 4 loads of laundry, 2 loads of dishes and a sink full of pots and bowls, vacuuming the downstairs, scrubbing the upstairs shower, picking beans and pea pods in the garden, making food as needed, and planning my next crochet project.

It was a very good day.

Upon reflection, I realized that while these are the days we tend to write about because there is a lot going on externally. That doesn't make them more valuable than other days, it just makes them more interesting to other people. Every day is valuable, but some days what is going on is more internal. Resting, recovering, growing, processing, reflecting, and relaxing are all vitally important to our physical and mental well being, not to mention our creative processes. They are also not very impressive to the casual observer.

One of the concepts that can challenge people new to unschooling is that one activity is not more valuable than another. We get sucked into thinking that spending the day reading about American history is more worth while than a day spent playing computer games. We can feel that a day spent writing a story is more worth while than a day spent staring out the window. We may think that spending the day with a group of people is more worth while than a day spent alone in a room. We think that a successful experiment is more worth while than a failure.

The truth is that if every day were as packed full as Wednesday, I would burn out before a week was half over. In a society that focuses on external activities, and fitting as much as possible into the schedule, I find life much more enjoyable, and learning much more possible, when we are free to have days full of nothing as well as days full of everything. A local radio station recently had a "busy mom" contest. As the DJ went on and on about how busy the winner was I realized that I am not a busy mom. The thought made me smile. My schedule does not have to be packed full beyond capacity for my life to be complete. I do not need to be over scheduled to feel successful.

Life is a flow of activity and rest. Busy times and times to reflect. Time to stare out the window and think thoughts, and time to write those thoughts down in a story. Every day is of value, every experience leads to learning, and every moment we are living authentically is worth our while. Every day is a good day.


  1. "One of the concepts that can challenge people new to unschooling is that one activity is not more valuable than another."

    Yep - that's for darn sure - i struggle and struggle with 8+hrs of online gaming and NOT judging it as a waste of his time - but i have no problem seeing 16yr old spend the day reading and feeling just fine w/ that one! ---

    i work and work on this one - and hope and hope it will continue to get easier and more gentle until one day i realize it is simply no longer an issue for me :)

  2. I love this post, Jenna! (I also love the fact that I shared in your day). :) ♥

  3. "Quiet time" is one of my favorite things about unschooling. Rather than spending hours doing repetitive math problems or other homework or keeping on the run with semi-required "activities," the kids (and Ronnie and I) can take time to just sit and think, if we want to. Einstein didn't come up with the idea of general relativity while he was doing makeup homework for the math classes he did so poorly in. He did that while he had time to "just" sit and think.