Some days, I just feel like I’m wasting time.
Do you ever feel like that?
For me, it’s those moments when I am just sitting, watching my children complete schoolwork or seeing them run around a playground. My mind starts to wander to my (never-ending) to-do list and all the tasks I could be completing. I start to watch the clock hoping for the child to hurry up or the playground trip to end. The laundry, bills, dishes, or an unfinished blog post all seem to call to me.
You know what? Those moments just feel like wasting time. They’re not. Those moments are some of the most important. They are the moments when my children realize how much I value their education. It’s important enough for me just to sit there helping them, focused on them. These moments show my children they are important to me. They are important enough that I let them run around at a playground instead of getting my to-do list done.
Guess what else? There are moments when I actually waste time. I squander the time God has given me with tasks that really do not need the attention I give them.
What is really valuable but feels like wasting time?
Watching a child complete their schoolwork. After I have already taught a new concept, it can really be painful for me to just sit and watch them work. All I want to do sometimes is go start a load of laundry or fiddle on my computer, but it is amazing how much better and faster they are, when I just sit there focused on them. I’m a homeschool mom, and so I need to focus on my children learning even when it isn’t very exciting.
Listening to a book read to me for the 100th time. It’s hard when I can quote the text, but I know they want to show me their reading skills. They need to see me value their reading and share in their joy at accomplishing that task again.
Going to a playground. Watching kids run around feels so wasteful, but the release of pent-up energy and noise works wonders for concentration and sleep. I feel better just taking a few minutes to breathe in some fresh air and maybe feel the sunshine on my face.
I’m sure there are more valuable moments that feel like wasting time. You probably could make your own list.
When do I actually waste time?
Using the computer. We all know how useful a computer can be from shopping to news to communication, but it can definitely lead to a huge waste of time as well. From email and facebook to news and Pinterest, there are endless ways to wasted time on the computer. I eliminated using facebook for most things and mainly use it for our blog. Even with that, it still becomes a big waste of time without very firm self-imposed limitations. (I’m actually thinking about turning off my computer for certain hours of the day, but am still working on this idea.)
Reading a book. I read to learn new things as well as for pleasure. The pleasure reading is the one that really wastes time for me when it keeps me from getting work done. When I am getting close to the end of a story, I have to fight to make myself put the book down.
What about for you? Is it the computer? tv? spending time with friends? shopping?
What am I going to do about this?
My to-do list needs to always include those moments that feel “wasted”. My morning list basically has homeschooling on it, but sometimes in my head, I let other ideas like a load of laundry or some bill paying to creep in. I need to cut out all else to focus on the school work in the morning.
I am going to sit next to my children while they do their school work. They work faster. Much less of their time is wasted, and it helps them to see how much I value what they are doing. I have to teach them how to concentrate. What could be better to teach them than by demonstrating my concentration on their work?
I’m going to set a timer for my own computer time (like email, facebook, pinterest) and see if I can’t gain back some more moments of wasted time. I also was thinking about hiding my current fun book (or kindle) during daylight hours to help me. [Edit from Seth: I think I might assign this to the kids. Each day one of the kids gets to hide Mommy’s Kindle. I think this would be lots or fun… or a total disaster, I’m not sure which.]
This morning, I chose to sit next to a child when they completed their work. This afternoon, I loaded the kids into the van to go to the closest playground.
It is choosing in each moment whether to use my time for my priorities or waste the time God has given me.