Posted in mental health, mindset, parenting, physical health

Free time isn’t free: the sequel

So yesterday I wrote about the consequences of giving kids free time at school.

Those thoughts definitely 100% do not apply to kids at home.

Kids need free time.

Kids need free time to play, to be bored, to imagine, to create, to be with friends.

Also, adults need free time to play, to be bored, to imagine, to create, to be with friends.

We all need down time. Not crash-on-the-couch-in-exhaustion time.

If you’re having time finding it, schedule it. Make it a regularly-scheduled non-negotiable appointment.

It’s rare around here to have a day when The Kid doesn’t have some unscheduled time. Even with his crazy track schedule, he had some time after school to play or read or do whatever he decided to do that day.

(He doesn’t have homework, and he is, sadly, at an early-start school, so he had an hour after school. Those are variables I don’t have control over that happened to work in our favor. I’ll write more about homework soon.)

I have some unscheduled time at least three days every week, often more. (That’s not writing time, or time when The Kid is here but not directly supervised, which is often spent in tasks around the house.) The Climbing Daddy gets some unscheduled time regularly; he’s getting better at not protesting that there are other things to do.

So. Make time for yourself to play. Make time for your kids to play. (That includes the big kids!) It’s worth it.

Posted in ebb & flow, education, mindset

Free time isn’t free

I’m a teacher. Years ago, I had an excellent assistant principal who said, as the year wound down, “Free time isn’t free. Someone always pays for it.”

The message was: keep kids engaged and learning all the way to the end. Most of the time, the teachers are the ones who pay for the free time. Not always the teacher who gives it. (Every now and then there’s a class that can have some free time, behave appropriately, reengage when it’s time, and not continuously ask afterwards when they’re going to have free time again. Those classes are rare indeed.)

Do something meaningful with the time, as often as possible.

We so often kill time then later lament that it’s gone. Even if it’s not always in the context we’d prefer, use it while we have it.

At this point in the school year (for me, four student days of school left), we’re not playing instruments any more. We’ve gotten them all cleaned (whew!), we’ve gotten them all accounted for (whew!), and there’s time left. (So much better to have time left than to run out of time.)

We play music-based games. I’ve done the 90-second rule meditation from the Calm app with some classes. We do self-reflections and planning for next year. There are other things we could do if there was even more time, but we’re rarely that efficient at inventory. Some things that used to be end-of-the-year fun are now part of my regular curriculum.

We (teachers) spend a lot of time complaining that we don’t have enough instructional time. (And we don’t, based on mandates. That’s a whole separate train of thought that I won’t tangent into today.) Here’s some time that’s unaccounted for. Use it to do something interesting and fun that The Standards don’t permit the rest of the year.

Keep kids engaged. Keep yourself engaged. And may the force be with you.

Posted in connections, ebb & flow, know better do better, marriage, mindset, parenting, podcasts, thoughtfulness, vulnerability

Podcast quote: problem maintenance

As I mentioned a bit ago, I have been bingeing on Where Should We Begin? by Esther Perel.

The first episode of the second season (“You Need Help to Help Her”), she’s talking with a couple who has a young adult daughter with problems. Most of the details of the episode aren’t relevant to this post, but if you have a child with any sort of mental health issue, you might gain some insight from it.

Basically, there weren’t (known) problems, and suddenly, there were big problems, and the whole family dynamic and structure changed.

At the end, Esther is summing things up, and she says this (emphasis mine):

“When mom speaks of the holistic view, the way I would define it is this. I am a family therapist. I think systemically. I think about problems in context, problems in an ecology, not just what causes them but what maintains them. How is the relationship system, how is the family organized around the problem?”

Maybe you’ve thought about this before, but I’ve never thought specifically about problem maintenance (when the problem doesn’t start as a systemic one).

I’ve been thinking about this and am starting to apply it to my closest relationships.

  • What am I doing that maintains problems? (within my level of awareness)
  • How can I change that? (within my level of control)
  • Where can I connect disconnects to make life happier for everyone who lives here? (within my levels of awareness and control)

Hopefully, in time, we can all connect in to that, but I’m starting first, and we’ll go from there.

Blew my mind.

Problem maintenance.

Posted in audience participation

It’s beautiful outside!

May 20.

It’s in the 60s. Predicted high for today is in the 70s. The current temperature is cooler than the average low for May. Average high is in the 90s.

I could have used a jacket this morning.

People all over the Valley of the Sun are rejoicing in the beautiful weather today. But I encourage you: GO OUTSIDE!

Yesterday was an equally lovely day, and, unfortunately, I spent too much of it indoors. I will not make that mistake today!

Don’t just be glad when you walk to and from your car that it’s nice out–take advantage of it! (Even if that means the parks and trails are all crowded.)

(If the weather is not lovely by you today, save this message for a day when it’s beautiful outside. Especially if it’s a time of year when it’s not typically beautiful outside!)

Posted in know better do better, mindset, thoughtfulness, vulnerability

Our culture of victim-blaming and shaming

Victim-blaming is almost a national past time.

My [expensive thing] was stolen from my [car/house/desk/anywhere]. “Was it locked?”

She was raped. “What was she wearing? Was she drinking?” (I could make a giant list of victim-blaming that applies just to women.)

My purse was stolen out of a shopping cart. “What did you expect?”

Kids at lunch were making fun of my hair. “I told you not to wear it like that.”

He was just diagnosed with lung cancer. “Does he smoke?” (Tidbit: diagnoses of lung cancer in non-smokers is on the rise and has been for a few years.)

In cases where we’re judging other adults, it seems to be a simple self-protective mechanism. If I can blame what happened to you on your actions, then I don’t have to worry about that thing happening to me, because I’m smart enough not to act how you do/did.

(I believe this is also why we ignore data on common things that are carcinogenic—because then we’d have to be responsible for not using them or for our diagnosis if/when it comes, and we would rather attribute it to bad luck, random chance, or a deity.)

In cases where we’re judging children, it’s either because they’re experiencing something painful that we did (or still do) and instead of dealing with that pain that brings up for us, we wall up and blame them. Or we’re judging their parents through the kids.

(Which is why so many of us are over-invested in what we think other people think about our kids. Sometimes shitty kid behavior is because of shitty parents, and sometimes it’s not. Often can’t tell by the snapshot you get.)

This is not to say that no one has personal responsibility for anything, contrary to what the current socio-political climate might suggest. (Or how some parents act regarding their kids.)

People are responsible for their actions. What they choose to do and say (or not do and not say).

That’s the thing—it’s not the owner’s fault that someone decided it was OK to open a car that didn’t belong to them and take things from inside. That is completely on the thief. No matter what is inside, no matter how much you can see or not see through the windows.

It’s not my fault that while drunk, a friend decided he could have sex with her. That is completely on the rapist.

“What did you expect?”

I expect that people will be decent to each other. I understand that this is not reality, possibly even most of the time. But I also know that often enough, people live up to or down to expectations.

I feel like … blaming the victim gives a pass to the perpetrator. And as soon as perpetrators get a pass, word spreads, and there are more of them.

Start to notice how often we blame the victim. Start to think about how much better off we’d be if we held the appropriate people accountable. Polish up your words and actions so as to have fewer victims. (None of us are never the perpetrator.) And see if we can spread that, instead.