Monday, February 29, 2016

Dangers of Coasting Downhill

As you may note from the labels, this is primarily a homeschool post, but it has many applications to real life as well, for those of you who haven't jumped on the homeschooling bandwagon yet (and may not ever).

The last few weeks, I've gotten busy with other things. We started out the "semester" strong after a short Christmas break. We finished up our first set of math books and fine motor skill books. My 5 year old's reading has blossomed without any help from me, and his social skills are improving everyday. I was doing very little planning for our homeschool and the co-op had been planned well in advanced. So, I could finally relax and enjoy the fruits of my labor of an easygoing homeschool lifestyle, right?

Then, the dreaded 3's hit our house a few weeks early. My adorable monster suddenly began demanding MY time and attention during our school day. He suddenly pushed his bedtime from 9:30 to 10:30 to 11:30 at night! Doesn't he know that I need sleep and coffee to function? Can't they just give their mom a break for a few more weeks?

The problem was, I wasn't investing what I needed to invest in my kids. At this point, I'm not talking about discipline (although we are re-upping our game for that as well). I'm talking about an investment. When I saw I could relax for a bit, I didn't feed into my kids or take the time to plan anything extra, I just sat around smiling to myself and thinking what a great job I did.

Why is that so bad? Let me list for you some dangers of coasting downhill...

  1. Going too fast. I've started to think in the past few months, that because my children are advanced verbally and intellectually, they are advanced in all areas, which is just not true. Sometimes my 5 year old will get frustrated and throw an epic fit, hitting his babysitter or parent, this has nothing to do with the fact that he can read on a 2nd grade level and everything to do with the fact that he's a tired, hungry, overstimulated 5 year old with sensory issues. Despite the fact that my 3 year old (as of tomorrow) can communicate stories with a beginning, middle, and end in complete 10 word sentences, doesn't mean he's physically ready for potty training or developmentally capable of sitting still for 30 minutes while I do independent work with my 5 year old. It's dangerous to go too fast and assume that my kids can handle it, instead of maintaining and working on growth in other much-needed areas.
  2. Blind corners. I have always said that 3 is much worse than 2 or 4 behaviorally. And yet, when it hit our house a few weeks early, I was entirely unprepared. The defiance, the ridiculous bedtimes, the epic fit throwing, they all threw me off my game. Now, I knew they were coming, but I had no plan in place when they arrived a bit earlier than I expected. 
  3. Patting your own back. When we're going downhill, we can go faster, and it's easy to attribute our success to our own efforts. But in all honesty, the size and steepness of the hill and gears of your bike are what determine your speed, not your own effort. Your own effort in the downhill stretch needs to be ensuring your safety, if you congratulate yourself on hitting 45 or 60 mph on a road bike by patting yourself on the back, you will quickly find yourself on the side of the road, injured and with a bike in need of repair. It's not your own effort leading to speed, but simply the factors involved in your current environment. 
  4. Ignoring the road signs. While coasting, especially at a high speed, you may find yourself ignoring road signs of all kinds. You may be going too fast for a turn, miss a scheduled rest stop, or ignore the upcoming uphill stretch. It's important to note, not only where you are now, but where you need to be. Don't give up on planning for potential changes, don't given up on self-discipline, don't overschedule next week because you "can handle it now".
In short, sometimes in life, when things are going well, it is okay to sit back and relax for a bit, but going downhill isn't always the right time for that, if you're not prepared for the road ahead. The best time to relax is when you're on the flat road. Doing a bit of work, knowing what's coming up, and not taking things for granted and relying on your current circumstances.
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