There’s Nothing to Do


So this attracted some attention when I had some people over:


Honestly, I’m a little embarrassed by it because I tend to come up with a lot of ideas but very few of them stick — and while my family knows they just have to forbear through my latest schemes, others may get the impression that I’ve got things figured out or that I at least show a lot of initiative. This is not really true, but I thought I might articulate how I got to this thing on my wall.

One of the ways that I’m able to budget the expenses of my energy and expectations is by jotting down and filing away all the ideas and opportunities of things I could be doing as part of homeschooling. Jane McGonigal writes about giving yourself a “daily quest”: a reasonable expectation of a set of goals you can routinely accomplish every day and reward yourself for, even if other, loftier ambitions are not met. I, for one, feel fine about how the day went if we did our devotion, a little math, a little reading, and a little writing. If we were able to go out or do some chores, even better, but I try not to punish myself if, let’s say, we ended up watching a lot of PBS Kids together. And if I think of a “someday we should” notion, I let it not nag me by adding it to a very very long list of such fancies.

On days when we do build up some momentum, however, I find we sometimes stall because I don’t explicitly have in mind some activities to do. And I tended to lose track of when we last played a board game or did a science experiment, for example, which tended to allow us to stay stuck in ruts of my impoverished spontaneity and imagination.

My first idea was to get a set of blank cards and “deal” out activities. Each card would have written on it a single activity or prompt. I color-coded them so that I would have some cards representing topics we could test or review, some cards representing quick diversions, some cards representing local trips we could take, and so on. Any time we needed something to do, I could rifle through the deck and pick something or even shuffle the deck and let Biggie pick one at random.

Unfortunately, the deck got unwieldy, and we didn’t really refer to it all that often anyways, so the cards languished for a while.

Then I installed this big makeshift white board to give me a convenient place to write notes to myself.

Now I have this idea that I’m going to stick up all these cards (I use poster tacky) on one side of the whiteboard and, as we gradually realize them into events, we move them over to the other side of the whiteboard, until we cycle through them. I like having my options all fanned out in front of me.

Now that I think about it, you know what it is? It’s my sweded version of Minority Report.


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