Sunday, September 18, 2011

Busy versus Purposeful

I was going to open this post with an apology for having missed a couple of weeks blogging...and then I noticed that it was a lot more than a couple of weeks!  Time sure does slip past sometimes.  Anyway, since I've just been too busy to keep up with certain things lately, it seemed like a good time to ruminate for a bit on the difference between being busy and being purposeful.

I, for example, know exactly what my purpose in life is.  At this point, after more than twenty-five years homeschooling my kids, my purpose is continue to be an effective mom and a good role model for my grown children, and to help support and encourage younger moms, especially those who have chosen the homeschooling lifestyle.

So what has kept my so busy lately?  Mostly appraisal work.  Over the past two months, besides doing a lot of work in this field, I was studying and taking a test to elevate my appraisal license. Note that none of this has much to do with my expressed "purpose in life".  At some point, you have to start asking yourself what is going on, and whether or not it is time to make a change.

In my case, right now, I need to do a good bit of work in this field of appraisal, because it is the only immediate avenue for me to help out with the finances. I can also see that it has been helping in some measure with my work with homeschoolers, equipping me to help others during this whole real estate/economic problem that we've been experiencing. It has also helped me to move into the world of (semi) high tech, getting more comfortable with computers and other forms of technology.

At the same time, though, if I can't keep it under control, it will obviously take me away from my main purpose.  I'm reaching the age when many people think about retiring. I don't personally believe in retirement, at least for myself, but I do believe in balance, and I keep reminding myself, 1/3, 1/3, 1/3.. One part family/personal, one part homeschooling ministry, one part real estate & finances to pay for the other 2/3.  So this week I'm determined to bring it back into balance, starting with this blog.

This whole concept of balance, and recognizing the difference between staying busy and being purposeful is so applicable to the world of homeschooling and raising children.  It is incredibly easy to be busy as a homeschooler, or, I would imagine, as a mom of public school kids.  However, you have to stay focused on the real purpose of what you are doing.  The purpose of all education should be mainly character training, opening up a world of possibilities to your kids, and helping them develop the basic skills, habits, and attitudes they will need to become lifelong learners and joyful, productive adults.  This main purpose should never be allowed to get buried under mounds of curriculum materials, mindless homework, or blindly following the dicates of anyone outside of your immdiate family.  That is true whether you are a homeschooling mom worrying about staying on "grade level", or "making sure" you have "covered everything" (which you can't do, by the way)...or whether you are a mom of kids in school who is allowing a teacher to dictate the amount of work a child needs to do on a weekend when his help is needed on a family project (which is probably more important, in the long run)...

So please join me this week in thinking through what the real purpose is of whatever you are supposed to be doing...and then trying, as much as possible, to rein in the busyness of life to make sure that you are putting your efforts into those things that are the most important.


  1. I need to hear this regularly. Thanks!

  2. I found you after stumbling upon The Old Homeschool Magazine. We have been struggling with how to go about homeschooling our 5 and 2 year olds and this post as well as your article in the magazine are just what I needed to read! I get so caught up in worrying about what others are doing and my kids 'fitting in' that I forget that the reason we homeschool is because I want to raise our kids and give them the freedom to love learning!

  3. Oh, and I had been searching for another way besides unschooling to describe how we want to homeschool. Relaxed is perfect!!

  4. My hubby and I are at a stage where we're wondering why we have no time to do the things we'd like to do; e.g., camp and travel mostly. We have no goals but we can't figure out what goals to have. "Getting the kids graduated" seems so nebulous. We don't have the kids in many activities, either, which is its own guilt trip. I constantly wrestle with "do we have the right priorities" question, but I can't ever seem to get to the answer.

    So we whine for a bit and keep on going.

    I want to be relaxed but I'm not comfortable with it. I like structure but it ends up seeming like a lot of busy-work.

    I love watching "The Waltons" and how their lives revolved around survival. In the culture today, though, we've moved beyond survival to the ultimate in luxury, "what do I want to do with my life?"

    Any advice on how to get specific with goals, family or individual?

  5. Practice setting small goals..achieving them will help you feel like you can do it, and then the bigger goals might start to come to you. Even if it just "this week I will..." This will only help if you follow through!

    All the goals don't have to be productive ones, either...just the goal of slowing down and enjoying your kids this week, and learning to "act, not react" is a great one to start with! If you can't figure out the bigger picture, take small steps in a good direction and then "follow the thread" to see where it takes you...and stop taking the whole thing so seriously. By the way, graduating from high school is not a goal, it is a given!