C is for Children

"The soul is healed by being with children."  Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Fairy_dust_pictures_019I am asked frequently about avoiding burnout and recovery from burnout.  There is a chapter in Real Learning devoted to burnout. I wrote that chapter ten years ago. Still, I have not entirely vanquished burnout. It still lurks here, waiting to sweep me up and envelope me, smothering joy and sapping enthusiasm.  I know myself well enough now to know the signs as it creeps. And, thankfully, I know how to keep it at bay.

As contrary as it seems at first, the trick to avoiding burnout-- for me-- is more time with my children. It's important that the time isn't all frantic, rushed time. It needs to be focused time, time spent without the distractions of adult conversations and responsibilities. Children are rarely the cause of my burnout; working them in around the adults in my life is the cause of my burnout.

And so, the "cure" or the prevention is to spend time with them, unencumbered by the demands of grownups. I cannot be tethered to the telephone or the computer. I need to look them in the eye when they are talking to me and I need to listen with my full attention. And when I do, I find my soul is readily healed by children.

I made a mistake when I started this academic year with few plans. I was pulled away all summer and did not give the proper time and attention to planning for the fall. I was scrambling instead of peaceful when our year began. And, frankly, I was mourning. Michael's departure, however wonderful for all of us, left a big hole in the fabric of our family life. In hindsight,  should have taken a week by myself to pull together plans and to reflect on our new rhythms. Instead, I barreled ahead.

God can take anything and bring a great good out of it if only I allow Him to do so. He took my stacks of books and ideas and He took my frequent and somewhat frantic conversations with caring friends and He returned to me something of beauty. They are lesson plans, yes. But they are so much more. They are an opportunity to begin anew, to see again the joy of childhood through the eyes of my children, to heal my soul.

October_2007_002 Serendipity represents what we are actually doing in the heart of my home. It's blogging from the overflow, the afterglow. It is a record  of our learning but it is not nor will it ever be anything but the bubbling over of the good that exists in my real life with my real children. I won't rob from them to blog for someone else. I will, however, gratefully share from abundance.

The plans are in place now. The schedule is finally tweaked (Download elizabeths_weekly_calendar2.pdf ). I have a vision for our days and weeks and even the whole year. (I've even begun to spin the tales for next year in my head). The rhythm will follow, I am sure, but only if I am committed to being truly present in the lives of my children. They need me. But even more, I need them.