Routine helps increase self discipline. In high school, I would get up, throw on my clothes and go run for a couple miles before getting ready for school. Fifteen years ago I moved out to the country to live a less stressful, richer life. I decided that I needed to get up and have prayer and meditation time each morning no matter what. Except for a couple of years when I had to seek outside employment, I have done so ever since and it makes all the difference in my day. A few years ago I realized I needed to stretch my sore muscles every day or I would develop painful knots which would lead to headaches and other problems. If I follow my routine of up, coffee, pray, stretch, I feel much better, more energetic, less pain or pain free. When I miss my stretches, tension builds, my muscles knot and soon I am having headaches and visual disturbances, even leading to dizziness and more.
When I find that we are veering from our routines, I pull us back on track. I get the boy up when his alarm goes off (usually about 8am), remind him to say his prayers, then let him wake up a bit before breakfast. Gadgets get turned off while we’re eating. Then he has some free time until he has to wash up, get dressed and start his chores. At 10am we start math. If I let him do something else first, by the time he gets around to math he has been procrastinating so long that he cannot bring himself to focus. By doing the least favorite subject first, we get it out of the way and get on with the rest of the school day. We also do corrections right away. I have found that by leaving them for the next day, neither one of us wants to deal with them and the school day drags on.
After school, the routine is finish chores, get out and move around, ride his bike, check and see if dad needs any help, then free time. On days he is highly distractable during school, I will frequently send him out to run, ride his bike or do something strenuous for 10 minutes to get it out of his system.
When we stick to our routines, we build self discipline by doing what needs to be done. When something is being neglected, we find a place to plug it into the routine. If the routine becomes overwhelming, we reassess and cut the fat. I am one that tends to overschedule myself and then become overwhelmed and do nothing. That is when I have to sit down and pick out the 3 most important objectives to complete that day and just concentrate on them. Same with Yak’s schoolwork. If things are fizzling we may cut back to math, reading and writing for a few days. If nothing else gets done, at least the most important stuff did.
It is hard to be productive in my work. I know what I need to do but getting it all done proves to be an insurmountable task. Some days the best I can do is homeschool, write 1000 words and update the blog. Other days I manage to make a few sales calls, find some new customers, new markets and keep up with social media. Mostly I struggle to find time for making product, recording videos and keeping up with household maintenance. Much like most working parents. I am still tweaking my work routine. And working on my self discipline.
Working and homeschooling is a tricky balance. A child intensive curriculum, one in which the child is responsible for his work and corrections is wonderful in theory, but doesn’t always work the way it is supposed to in practice. Some children just want to be doing something else. Anything else. So they need a certain amount of supervision and motivation to get their assigned work done.
My son is this way. Even though on a good day he can get all his work done in a couple of hours, except for his reading, many days he will daydream, get distracted, hug the cat, get up to get a snack (5 minutes after breakfast), try to sneak and check his email, his blog or his skype messages, etc. It is hard to get anything done in this chaos. I know his frustration. As a work at home writer, I tend to do the same thing most days, allowing anything to prevent me from tackling my job.
Enter self-discipline. As a child, I took piano lessons. My teachers recommended I practice at least an hour every day. I was no child prodigy (although I knew several) but I did fairly well with practice. Mrs. Allen always knew when I didn’t practice and she did not hesitate to point it out to me with irritation. I took up the flute and that was a bit more natural for me. I began reaping the benefits of practice in chair assignments. By high school, the only time I was less than first chair was for 2 weeks when I changed schools. In college I commandeered practice rooms for several hours a day, at one point even practicing for 8 hours a day. I was determined to be a pro. That fizzled, but the improvement in my playing and the advancement of my musical skill was without question.
I think of those times whenever I find myself lagging. I want my son to experience that confidence and satisfaction that comes with knowing your self discipline and hard work has paid off. I guess he gets some of that with video games, but I want for him to experience it in other aspects of life. He has also experienced some of that in playing hockey. A few years ago, he spent about 10 months straight playing hockey. He kind of burned out. Now he thinks he is ready to play again, so I think that maybe a short season would be good for him. We also have bikes to ride, now and are going on weekly hikes. Discipline in one area tends to help breed discipline in other areas.
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