One common theme among parents is the dreaded “morning rush”. We talk nostalgically about our childhood summers, when the world seemed to be on “kid time”. These days, people always seem to be racing to keep up with their schedules. Being an unschooling family, we rarely experience the “morning rush”, which makes it all the more noticeable when we do. This summer, my kids were involved in several week-long activities that required us to be up and out by 9:00 a.m. with lunches and supplies packed and ready to go.
I barely survived it.
Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating a bit. But those mornings were such a stark contrast to our normal daily rhythm, it made me really think about the chronic stress schooled families must experience.
Unschooled kids are able to live in the moment, which is what comes naturally to all kids. When my children get up, they move through their morning routine at their own pace, with plenty of play and chatting sprinkled in. They are well-rested, having awakened to their own bodies’ signals instead of an alarm clock. They are delighted to meet the day, and one another, and spend time reconnecting before, during, and after breakfast. It is rare that we have to be anywhere very early, so there is no pressure to forego this in order to be ready on time.
On the other hand, during our weeks “in the fast lane”, all kinds of problems arose. Bedtime became an issue, because we needed to be up and out so early. Each morning I had to wake the kids up, and then nudge my sleepy, slightly disgruntled charges through each step of the morning routine. Tempers ran short as I hurried them along…quick, finish your breakfast, run and grab your brush while I get your clothes…you know the scene, right?
The whole time I’m thinking, why am I the only one who cares about being on time? The truth was, they all cared about being on time, in an abstract sort of way. But when it meant acting against their in-the-moment nature, being on time always lost. That’s because kids are the epitome of the stop-and-smell-the-roses philosophy. They know, in their childish wisdom, that enjoying the process is what life is meant to be about. In our rush to get out the door and on to the next thing, we adults often forget this. Not only that, we make our kids feel bad for not being more like us: with one eye always on the clock, our thoughts racing ahead to whatever’s coming up next.
Today was officially our last day of early morning activities, and, although everyone enjoyed the activities themselves, I think we’re all breathing a sigh of relief. The morning rush is over, and it’s back to the slow and relaxed unschooling life for us. Tomorrow, we’ll be enjoying the roses once again.