A Piece of Peace

 

I sat down a few days ago with some yarn and a pair of needles and decided to try my hand at socks again. The last two pairs I’ve attempted left me in a funk. Good pattern, bad yarn followed by good yarn, bad pattern with not one project finished since December. This time I decided to use some good yarn with a tried and true pattern. Rock and roll. The timing couldn’t be more perfect because I really need a break from the cross-stitch stuff. I have a lot done, but I have a lot left to do (and I thought I would have it finished by the end of June.) I have one more of these projects that I want to finish before Christmas (much more realistic goal) and then I don’t know if I’m going to ever tackle this type of stitchery again. The little x’s are so satisfying when complete, but I mostly just want to pull my hair out when I work on it. In a shocking twist, on some nights, I work without watching or listening to anything. My brain needs the quiet.

I bought house shoes. The rosy pink color. And I love them. (In other news, I fluctuate between 8 and 80 years of age.) I’m thinking about buying everyone in my family a pair. They don’t seem to get the rule that outside shoes don’t belong on my inside floors so I don’t know if they’d get the whole inside shoe thing. (P.S. I really wish they would.)

We’ve been spending too much time on screens this summer. And by we, I mean my children. I’m just so tired of fighting about YouTube and Xbox and Minecraft, so I don’t. Every night I go to the bed with the idea that tomorrow I’m going to do better and make them do some chores and let them be bored and ignore the incessant pestering about when…when…when can I use my screen and then I get up (at 7:30am) and they’ve already got their faces in the screens that I obviously didn’t hide well enough the night before. I feel like throwing my hands in the air and screaming. Or throwing all the screens in the garbage. Or going off the grid completely and becoming a subsistence farmer. And if I hear the whiny refrain “It’s tooooo hooooooot.” one more time, I’m sticking them in the freezer to remind them of what November-May was like around here. I hate being that parent whining about their kids and tech (I can’t even begin to tell you how much I hate being that parent) but I’m not spending all my summer being a cruise director and I’m not spending it being a police officer so SOMETHING has to give. If any seasoned parents have ideas on balance, I’d appreciate them. PROFUSELY. (In the mean time, I’m trying to practice what I preach and limit my phone and computer usage – all blog post evidence to the contrary.)

So…that’s me. How are you this week?

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  • How am I? Better than you this week, I think. Sorry! I feel your pain. I remember it well. I’m a firm believer that we schedule school all wrong. Summer is too long. Too much unstructured time. And when the kids get to be teens (or tweens), they resist the structures we try to create. Of course they do: Differentiating from us is the job of adolescence! (Silver lining: your kids are doing what kids are supposed to do.) Not that I ever had great success with it, but I remember having some success with giving them a list of kinds of things they had to do before they could do screens. I think we had categories of activities that contribute to different kinds of health (physical, social, emotional, intellectual), and we made requirements about how many they had to do in a day. Once those were done, they could be on screens. No nagging. It gave them choices and some control. They still pushed back and did a lot of things half-heartedly, but it was something.

    Hope this week brings more peace and less whining. 🙂

    • I’ve always kind of pushed back against shorter summers and the idea of too much unstructured time but the problem is that unstructured time has turned away from “let’s go make up a game” to “let’s find a screen and pacify my boredom”. I WANT them to be bored but I want them to explore other ways to self soothe. (In this regard, I might have to do a little more guiding.)

      I LOVE the idea of having different categories to fulfill before getting screen times. I may have to incorporate that. They go to camp next week and I’ve decided I’m going to use that week to really formulate and implement a game plan. I love a good strategy session. 🙂

      • One school in my district is on a mostly year-round schedule. They do get 5 weeks off in the summer–as well as 2 in the fall, 3 for winter, and 3 for spring. What I can tell you is, those teachers are not crazy strung-out by May the way the rest of them in the other schools are. I think more regular breaks would be healthy for everyone and wouldn’t cause us to lose so much time getting kids up to their previous speed in the fall. That said, I’m slated to go back early this year, and I’m freaking out a little at not having enough summer, even though I’m really excited to know I will get some breaks through the year. So, there’s that. Humans are contrary.

        I remember that we made a list of kinds of things they might do for each category, and then we were open to adding things they came up with. Chores were definitely part of it! 🙂 I do remember some issues with intellectual health–some of the things they wanted to do (like learn about particular topics) ended up being best done with a screen. Which actually caused me to think more deeply about the whole issue of screens.

        And now this got me to go back to our old blog, where I found this: http://www.thissortaoldlife.com/2011/10/18/screen-time-manifesto/ Maybe there’s something in there that’s helpful for you.

        • I got caught up in the hustle and bustle and missed this comment! I’m going to go check out your blog. We were on vacation last week and managed to keep screens to a minimum. (I was impressed that we made it 7 out of 10 hours in the car without them and without fights.) We talked a little while on vacation about how we noticed them changing our mood (and not for the better) when we fell down the rabbit hole and how we’re going to try and incorporate some screen free days each week before school starts.

          I can definitely see the benefit to more long breaks during the school year and a shorter summer. I just really love the time to unplug. Going to look into your blog post! Thanks for the link!!

  • Your house shoes look divine. So comfy, yet with enough support to be healthy for your feet.

    I have no practical advice for how to separate kids from their screens. I realize that for today’s youth being bored is akin to getting rabies, something to be avoided at all costs.

    As for my week? Well, so far, I’ve had some of the weirdest dreams ever in which people who would never know each other in real life have come together at my dinner table. Is this good? I dunno, but I can’t stop ruminating on what this means.

    • Hmmm, that is fascinating. I love thinking about my dream world. Sometimes I can figure out what my brain is trying to process, and other times I’m completely confused.

      And yes, I LOVE these house shoes. Very comfortable and cozy.

  • The cross stitch is coming along so nicely, Kate 🙂 . Will there be some outlining? I always found outlining was my favourite part of the project, the nearly-there finishing touches that went twice as fast as the x’s. Is it for you, or is it a gift?
    As to sock knitting, I pretty much always use the same basic pattern. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, is my motto 😉 .

    Rita came up with what I think are great ideas for how to somewhat limit screen time, or if not limiting, exactly, then at least making sure the kids are doing *something* else. I wish I had some good advice to offer. My 13-year-old is constantly picking up a screen, just to “check something.” It drives me batty, but this is a case of the pot calling the kettle black, so I probably should stop nagging and come up with some concrete solution/rules. He’s only allowed to play actual computer games for a certain amount of time each day and he does adhere to that, and he does still read actual books, but I do feel he should be doing other stuff as well. I love the cruise director analogy. I don’t want to be one of those either, but I do recognize that I need to actually execute some of the ideas I had listed out months ago. Like you, my good intentions in this area haven’t really been brought to fruition yet. (I totally agree with Ally on the boredom thing, which could be a post all on its own.) (Also agree with Rita on summer being too long. When we lived in MN I found summer vacation WAY too long; it’s shorter here, thank goodness, but could still use some trimming, IMO.) (Oh, and I also agree with your kids! It IS way too hot! I cannot wait for winter!)

    Sorry, that was really rambly and not very helpful! My anxiety is on overdrive these days: another exam to upload (my perfectionism is paralyzing and may just derail this entire thing); another course started; a house that’s a mess; people who should be helping more, but aren’t, because it’s too hot/they don’t know how/they dig their heels in/they don’t see what I see/they aren’t bothered by what I see. (But at least they all know to take their shoes off. Shoes in the house is something that drives me up a creek. /laughs out loud at “fluctuates between 8 and 80”; deletes rambling thoughts about slippers bringing up childhood memories as a reason for staunch refusal to consider anything other than socks or going barefoot/)

    Have a good week Kate 🙂 .

    • I love your comments, Marian!! Thank you so much! I’m so sorry to hear your anxiety has been on overdrive. It can be so frustrating when our own inability to let things be “good enough” adds undo stress and pressure. I know the feelings of perfectionist induced paralyzation all too well. Hang in there.

      As for the staunch refusal to consider anything but socks or barefoot (you have me curious about slippers and childhood memories), I’ve always done the same, but in the last few years I’ve developed some pretty pesky plantar fasciitis and my doctor recommended that I wear a supportive shoe at all times. And I pay for it when I don’t listen enough to realize that, at least for now, barefoot isn’t much of an option.

      Okay, I’m off to be an example for my kiddos. 🙂