Just before Christmas, Karen asked me if I could write about our typical unschooling days. I spoke about this topic in a podcast a few months ago, so I thought I’d share some of what I said in a short series of posts.
Today, I’m starting with our morning routine. Routine? That doesn’t sound very unschooly, does it?
We all get up early in the morning. If it’s one of the warmer months of the year, we might go for a run together. Usually, that’s the girls and me. When we get back, we shower, breakfast, do the chores, say our prayers together before getting on with the more exciting work of the day. We meet up for morning coffee. We eat meals together. We spend time together in the evening if there are no after-dinner commitments, and we all go to bed at reasonable times, so we can get up early again the next morning and do it all over again.
Now that sounds really ordinary, doesn’t it? It could be anyone’s life. Don’t we want to be like some unschoolers and lie in bed late in the mornings? We could read books without getting out of bed just because we can. Don’t we want to get up and wander around in our PJs, turn on the computer and play computer games first thing in the morning? Why do we look at the clock and decide it’s lunch time? We could just grab something to eat while we’re working, whenever we feel like it. If we’re in the middle of doing something interesting late at night, why stop and go to bed? We could sleep in the next morning, couldn’t we? There aren’t any rules. We could unschool like that. That sounds much more exciting (than what we do). I also think it sounds much more typical of an unschooling life.
Sometimes I do feel like living that type of life, doing things when and where I feel like it. But I don’t. I think that there are advantages to living the type of life we do. Of course, each family is very different. But for us, this type of lifestyle suits us very well. We have a rhythm to our days. Everybody’s individual timetables are in tune with each other, so this means we spend a lot of time together. I think we would miss out on so much if we lived a more haphazard type of existence.
For example, if we all got up at odd times of the day, we’d miss out on running together in the cool of the morning in summer. That’s a really lovely time of day. It can get very hot in summer and the days are draining. You don’t feel like exercising when the sun’s beating down. But first thing in the morning, on an Australian summer’s day, it is beautiful. We get outside before the sun has really warmed up the day, and walk down to the bush and hear the kookaburras laughing. We might see a kangaroo if we’re early enough. We’ve seen a few lyrebirds in the trees. They are all very special sights, and we get to see them because we’re up early. Sometimes we’re up so early we see the sun rising over the gum trees. And then we exercise our bodies, come home tired but feeling very satisfied. Yes, we’ve started the day off well. I find it’s worth getting up early to experience all of this…
… Now I’ve told you how I feel about it, and I assume my girls feel exactly the same way because they freely choose to get up and come with me. Sometimes I say, “I can go on my own tomorrow. You sleep in. You must be tired. You were out late.” (They might have gone to a choir practice or some other function.) I don’t expect them to come running with me. I get up. I get myself ready. I go out to the kitchen to get my water bottle and there they’ll be, lacing up their shoes… I guess it’s important to them as well.We don’t always run first thing in the morning before our breakfast. We find it’s too cold in winter. It’s also very dark. Not good running conditions. So we prefer to run in the middle of the day. That’s when it’s warmest…
…But we still get up early even though we don’t get up to run. We get up to do our morning routine: to shower, have breakfast, do our chores, say prayers together before we get on with what we really want to do.
I said it’s not easy… When I wake up in the morning, all I really want to do is get on with the things I want to do. My head’s always buzzing with things that I could do doing: some blog posts I want to write, a video I want to make, something I want to do that is much more interesting than the morning routine. I don’t even really want to hop into the shower. I just want to get out of bed, stay in my pyjamas and go off to the family room, start up my computer, get going with my work.
I wonder if my children feel the same way. Do they want to stay in bed and read all those books that are piled up beside their beds? And maybe if I did wander around in my pyjamas, ignoring the chores and just doing what I want to do, my children would then choose to do what they want to do as well. But they seem to follow my example. They won’t let me do the chores by myself. They want to pitch in and help.We all know that our day is going to run smoother if we have done those chores first. We like living in a clean and tidy house. We like being able to find things. It’s very frustrating when you can’t find things because there’s a mess everywhere. We like things in their place. We’re not perfectionists. We have a certain level of untidiness, but that’s work in progress. But basically, we do like to sweep the floors, clean the bathrooms, have the dishes washed, have some plans for what we’re going to cook for dinner, have the washing on the line. And then, yes, the day is ours. The adventures can begin.
This transcription was taken from episode 41 of my unschooling podcast: Chores and Our Typical Unschooling Day
I said I have to be a good example if I want my children to be part of that team in the morning, to help me get the house organised…