Friday, October 8, 2010

Filling our time with the BEST things!!!

[The Wii]
I have a HUGE confession to make. After baby number 6 (which came only ONE year and 5 days after baby number 5) I broke down and purchased myself a little babysitter called the Wii. I remember coming home from the hospital overwhelmed, a bit frantic, and just plain scared. How in the world was I going to handle 6 kids ages 8 and under. The Wii was my temporary solution to keeping the kids quiet, and entertained while I figured out how I was going to adjust to this new addition to our family.

Once we introduced the Wii into our home it was unthinkable to my kids to remove it. Sometimes gently or other times quite abruptly we would yank the thing out of our home hoping it would never return. However, in some degree it always found its way back in. At first it would only consume a little of our time, but eventually it would take up more and more of our very precious resource TIME. I found that most of the time having the Wii on (especially during the week) caused contention, frustration, and irritable kiddos. I kept thinking I could figure out a way to create a balance, but I couldn't (which was probably totally my fault, due to inconsistency among other things).

FINALLY, two years after bringing it into our home, we semi-permanently lent out our Wii, to a home that can handle the distraction. And we FINALLY limited our family's electronic gaming time to ONLY Saturdays for 2 hours. Miracles started to happen in our home, as a result of the change, but an interesting by-product emerged. We had 5-6 weeks left of summer when we yanked the Wii, and cut out basically all electronic gaming and movie watching.

We hadn't started school time yet (we homeschool), and so we had a lot of FREE time (about 2 hours each day) that I had previously (yes I partially justified it because it was summer) allowed the kids to play computer, Wii games, OR watch a movie each day. I was curious what the kids would do with all this empty time.

I talked to the kids about it, and made myself available to play games, build forts, play with toys, or whatever... I wanted to help the kids discover new, even better, and more satisfying ways to fill their time. However, they didn't need me at all. They figured something out on their own.

They immediately began printing off FREE coloring pages from the internet, and carefully coloring them. They made games out the pictures, laminated their favorite ones, and even putting together binders of their pictures. It was crazy, but they quickly filled up the 2 hours previously used for electronic time with out ever complaining or even requesting Wii, computer, or movie time. Maybe it was because I had been very clear on the new expectations...but I think it helped that the Wii was gone, the TV was in my closet, and I was very clear that the computer was only to be used for very specific reasons during the week.

So began the Martineau Paper Saga...resulting in elimination of 3 rems of paper in 2 weeks. I still can't believe that!! Most of the time they were printing and coloring Pokemon pages, but we also had our fair share of princess and animal pictures to color too. They were happy, working together, and enjoying each other's company.

[Let's take it up a notch]
I was was a good temporary transition from where we were to where we wanted to be...however after 2 or 3 weeks of this I came to the conclusion it was time to move on. I wanted to INSPIRE them to fill this time with an even more meaningful activity. We had baby steped ourselves out of filling these 2 hours with electronic time, but it was time to take it up a notch. It was time to learn to draw and paint ourselves...we COULD do this. (However, I don't have any artistic training...or talent really so how was I going to do this?!)

(All the drawings below, are Jarom's, he's really really good!!!)

I researched and researched and researched for a week or two...trying to find something to help us all figure out how to draw. I'd actually been looking for something all summer to no avail, but now I was on a mission, so I looked even harder. I was ready for my kids to stop printing blank coloring pages, and start to draw on their own. I'd recently been reviewing and reading all about the power of drawing and observation from Charlotte Mason, and I wanted even more to teach these skills to my kids.

[The Skill of Drawing]
FINALLY, I found something. I was recommend by a fellow homeschooler to Mark Kistler's books. I thought they looked great, but was worried that with someone so incompetent at drawing as I was, that the books would be over my head. SO then I did a little Google search, and found his website, and decided it was the PERFECT thing for our family.

Over the last month all my kids have started to fill their time with drawing. Jarom especially has enjoyed learning the skill of drawing, and will hardly go anywhere without his sketch pad, and drawing pencils. Its AMAZING to see what he's been able to learn in the last month...WOW!! The best part is that I'm learning right along with my kids.

For school we often pull out our 'school' sketch pads, and draw something from the history, science, reading, etc... lesson we worked on that day. It helps us remember the concepts, observe the details, learn with more clarity, and probably more important than anything else it has strengthened our relationship, as we've all sat around the table, and just enjoyed this sweet simple time together.

[Good, Better, Best]

Its amazing what happens when we really try to fill our time with the BEST things. I know this post is about a very small thing, but I feel anytime we can make better use of our time (like replacing our electronic time with time spent learning a new skill) that we will be blessed. TIME is one of our most precious resources in this life, and yes there is a small amount of time for amusement and entertainment as we know it today, there are so many things we can be engaged in that will help edify, lift us, and help us grow and those are the BEST things that most of our time should be spent on. Wouldn't it be great if we could always spend our time on ONLY THE BEST THINGS IN LIFE!!! I pray I will always know what the BEST thing for me and my family to be doing with our time is!!


Terry Schnepf said...

Wow you are amazing. I love that my grandkids are getting so much love and care. Mom

Mindful Mothering said...

Love this!

Jarom's drawings are great! The twins really like Mark Kistler's videos... we'll have to try his books too.