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Born Lazy?

by Beverley Paine

Some time ago I thought long and hard about laziness, from the perspective that I am lazy. Mum told me I was when I was just a kid. I remember not wanting to do things I didn't want to do, plus I found other things too hard and so avoided doing them. Both of these attitudes seemed to accentuate my natural laziness. I honestly thought I was naturally lazy, or as my Mum put it, "born lazy."

Mum was noticing something special about me though. She didn't know that, never recognised it as special, so intent was she on labeling it lazy. Sad, eh? She truly thought I was lazy. But I wasn't.

I was super efficient and brilliantly clever.

I used my mind to think of ways to do get things done without doing them the way I was supposed to, or how, and sometimes when, other people wanted me to do them.

I learned how to manipulate my environment so that I either didn't have to do those things, or which made the task less onerous or difficult or time-consuming. I'd organise my time too.

But best of all, I learned to recognise patterns, pathways, and the links and relationships between elements within my environment.

I honed my natural observation skills, learned which bits of information worked to meet my need (to avoid doing what I considered to be unnecessary or undesirable things) and built a repertoire of habits which Mum liked to call 'laziness'.

If you are willing to make me a cup of coffee; pick up my towel where I left it on the bathroom floor; wash and sort and put away my clothes; make my bed; sweep up the mess I left under the table, well, obviously all that is important to you. Don't do it if you don't want to do it: I don't.

And don't assume that because I don't do it today, or did it yesterday, that I won't want to do it tomorrow. My brain doesn't work that way. Some days I am happy - and yes, even want - to do those things.

And if you don't do them for me, don't expect I will automatically do them because you've left them for me to do. I might, I might not. But if it is important to me in the moment I will.

Always do it for me and I'll find something else to do with the time that has been freed for me.

Because I am thinking person and my time is important to me. I choose what I want to do with my time. If I'm not doing what you want me to do, you can call it laziness if you want.

But what happens when I'm not doing what I want me to do? What do I call that? Come to think of it, that rarely happens, because no matter what I'm doing, I know it is meeting one or more of my needs, which means I want to do it. Sure, I get cranky that I'm not living up to my own expectations, or standards, or whatever. And I get frustrated. And sometimes I beat myself up, hearing the voice of the inner critic (using my mother's chastising tone), tell myself I was 'born lazy'.

And then I remember that this moment in time is just one moment and my life is made of many, many moments. I value the me in all of those moments, not just the ones other people value. And if I'm choosing to not do something that should or ought to be done, there's probably a really sensible reason: usually it is because it doesn't really need to be done at all.

Some days I feel that I am indulging myself by choosing to do what is important to me: after all, life wasn't meant to be easy and there's no such thing as a free lunch! 

But then I think about my kids and all I want for them is for them to be doing what they want and love and are passionate about, to have the freedom and ability to do that. The only way I can help them achieve that is by being true to me, by showing them that it is important, in my life as well as theirs. That's a powerful message of love.

It's really easy to think our children are lazy because they are unwilling to learn the way schools structure education. 

When we as students didn't do what the teacher wanted (because we didn't want to, it didn't make sense, or we simply couldn't understand or didn't have the skills or knowledge to do it) we were called lazy or stupid - and maybe sometimes we were. 

Or maybe we were daydreaming and because that imaginative problem solving and relaxing activity isn't valued at all in our society (unless we're best selling authors, actors or art gallery artists) we were called lazy. 

And because we were called lazy frequently because we weren't doing school work at the standard or level or in the time frame others wanted us to, we fall prey to thinking that way about our children when homeschooling. 

It's okay, we're all human, we have a lot to learn and that's the best bit about homeschooling, our gift of time to ourselves and our children to learn how to work through these little hiccups. Bit by bit we become adept at working out how our children learn and how we can help them learn.

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Beverley Paine with her children, and their home educated children, relaxing at home.

Together with the support of my family, my aim is to help parents educate their children in stress-free, nurturing environments. In addition to building and maintaing this website, I continue to create and manage local and national home educating networks, help to organise conferences and camps, as well as write for, edit and produce newsletters, resource directories and magazines. I am an active supporter of national, state, regional and local home education groups.

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We began educating our children in 1985, when our eldest was five. In truth, we had helped them learn what they need to learn since they were born. I am a passionate advocate of allowing children to learn unhindered by unnecessary stress and competition, meeting developmental needs in ways that suit their individual learning styles and preferences. Ours was a homeschooling, unschooling and natural learning family! There are hundreds of articles on this site to help you build confidence as a home educating family. We hope that your home educating adventure is as satisfying as ours was! Beverley Paine


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