The Cure for Overwhelm

So many decisions to make. So many big decisions. Which curriculum? which way to teach it? which books? which activities? which classes? which, which, which. And then there are the how’s. How do I organize HomeLearning? How do I keep the baby happy? How do I teach math? How do I get them to stop arguing? How do I get them to get up in the morning? And for every ‘which’ and ‘how’ there is a ‘here’. Here is the curriculum you need, here is the method, here is the activity, here is the place for you to drop your kids off, here is a zoom class for your kids, here is the book you need, here is the latest book, here is another, and another, and another, and another….
I hate to digress but…. I’m goin’ off the rails on a crazy train!

The following quote from Volume 3 really deserves a read in its context. But I’ve pulled this part out to Single In on the topic for this article. Here Charlotte describes possibly the same thing you and I may be feeling with HomeLearning overwhelm.

“The Effort of Decision.—But it has been well said by a celebrated preacher that the effort of decision is the greatest effort of life. We find it so ourselves; shall we take this line of action or the other, shall we choose this or the other quality of carpet, send our boy to this or the other school? We all know that such questions are difficult to settle, and the wear and tear of nervous tissue the decision costs is evidenced often enough by the nervous headache it leaves behind. For this reason it is, we may reverently believe, that we are so marvelously and mercifully made that most of our decisions arrive, so to speak, of themselves: that is, ninety-nine out of a hundred things we do, are done, well or ill, as mere matters of habit. With this wonderful provision in our tissues for recording repeated actions and reproducing them upon given stimuli—a means provided for easing the burden of life, and for helping us to realize the gay happiness which appears to be the divine intention for us so far as we become like little children—it is startling and shocking that there are many children of thoughtful parents whose lives are spent in day-long efforts of decision upon matters which it is their parents’ business to settle for them. Maud is nervous, excitable, has an over-active brain, is too highly organised, grows pale, acquires nervous tricks. The doctor is consulted, and, not knowing much about the economy of the home, decides that it is a case of over-pressure. Maud must do no lessons for six months; change of air is advised, and milk diet. Somehow the prescription does not answer, the child’s condition does not improve; but the parents are slow to perceive that it is not the soothing routine of lessons which is exhausting the little girl, but the fact that she goes through the labour of decision twenty times a day, and not only that, but the added fatigue of a contest to get her own way. Every point in the day’s routine is discussed, nothing comes with the comforting ease of a matter of course; the child always prefers to do something else, and commonly does it. No wonder the poor little girl is worn out.”

Do you feel like little Maud?
Nervousness turning to overwhelm? Overwhelm leading to self doubt? Ready to bail on this ‘great idea to homeschool’??

The problem:
Too many decisions
Decisions that aren’t ours to carry.

Where do the decisions come from? All around us, magnified with the bombardment of media and advertising, well meaning friends trying to help, suggestions here, subscriptions there, come to this activity, buy this curriculum, bling, bling bling. Add to the HomeLearning journey the relationship aspect of people in a household. How can we all do this together without killing each other?

Single Eye.
Singling In.

Cutting down, paring back. Limiting purposefully, intentionally, with strength.
What do we cut down on?

One place to start might be to limit the choices you have. In today’s world, the choices are endless. Self monitor to limit the input coming in, no one will do this for you. – material types of things, involvement in activities, and messages that tug on our hearts. Let FB go. You’ll survive. Stop looking at the ‘likes’, the ‘friends’, the web sites, if that’s what it takes. For surface things, find the best resources and stay put with those. The tried and true, as CM tells us for books. And maybe now and then a new source. The amount of blasts for ‘what you need’ will never end. It is like laundry. You never really can have them done, there will always be more. Just when you think you have the best curriculum, the best pod cast, there are more waiting in the wings. Like the clothes your kids have on- laundry waiting in the wings. For larger outlook types of things, find what you can fall back on. What is it that can catch your fall? What is it you are trying to do on this HomeLearning journey? Narrow your focus to zero in on what rises above all the clamouring. Do what ever it takes to eliminate, and get to that Single Eye. Stare for a while.

After you quiet your soul, I’d imagine your Single Eye would be something of higher purpose than just finding the best math curriculum. Something higher than figuring out how to nature journal and which watercolours to use… , which book you have to have, signing up for this, get notifications for that….While we need some of this, I’d venture to say 80% of it is wasted time and decision-making energy. It pulls our gaze down, down, down.

Look higher. What is God telling you to focus on? Maybe it is making your children friends with each other. Focus on that. Maybe you want your children to learn to serve. Focus on that. Maybe it is modelling having a relationship with God. Turn your focus there. Maybe it is to focus on your church body.  Maybe He is telling you to focus on Him and the things of His Kingdom not the world’s kingdom.

When  you have a higher goal, the surface clamour becomes less noisy. Carrying too many decisions, even small, as Maud did- adds up. It takes it’s toll. Eliminate the weights that hinder, with a Single Eye. Your decisions become fewer because inconsequential things fade from vision.

…“become like little children”, Charlotte says.

It calls to mind another famous person who said something similar.

“And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”- Matthew 18:3

God is the best carrier of your decisions, large and small. He has promised to make your load easy and light. Can you look at him with the trusting eyes of childhood- before all the cares of life turned your eyes downward? Before the treasures that surround us, that bombard us, stole our gaze. Even the children of Israel after seeing God pull them from the grip of bondage, turned their eyes back to Egypt- the land and goods of their slavery.

The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. – Matthew 6:22

Pray as Jesus taught us. “Our Father…not my will but thine be done.” Ask for those eyes that looked to God in innocent pleasant hope. Put the things aside. Just stare. Rest and know that He is God. Let Him make the decisions that you were not meant to carry. When you feel the pressure of needing this, needing that, not knowing what direction to take, calm your spirit to know He will find the right things for you and the right place for you to be.

“It is well that children should know that while the turbulent person is not ruled by will at all but by impulse, the movement of his passions or desires, yet it is possible to have a constant will with unworthy or evil ends, or, even to have a steady will towards a good end and to compass that end by unworthy means. The simple rectified will, what our Lord calls ‘the single eye,’ would appear to be the one thing needful for straight living and serviceableness.” – Volume 6 p.132-133

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