Can you imagine coming home from a long day at your job and doing two to seven hours more of the same work? That is what many of our kids experience almost every day. Everyone needs a break at the end of the day to relax, replenish and let any new knowledge and experiences percolate through their brains. Homework has caused many squabbles in my home and I would love to see it abolished. My dream situation would look like this after school: kids pleasure reading, playing, working at a job, helping with chores, and enjoying the outside world and then getting ten hours of sleep.
When my oldest was in second grade I made him cry every time I tried to help with math. So I stopped helping and would write at the top of the sheet, “He doesn’t understand this.” We sent our second child off to college exhausted, with circles under her eyes because she gave up sleep to do AP classes, a sport, chores, and her social life. My high school junior has a crazy ass schedule and says he will rest during his gap year between high school and college. Last year my seventh grader’s math teacher asked me to check that his homework was done each night. I’ll never forget the look on his face when I said, “No. I don’t help with or check homework.”
My last child dislikes doing homework so much that he gets up an hour earlier in the morning to do his work so he has his afternoons free. He’s asked me to champion the “No Homework” movement.
“Why don’t you do your work in school and participate in class but don’t do any homework and see what happens.”
But I won’t get into a good college.”
“You’ll be fine. A middle school principal once told me that anything that happens before high school doesn’t matter.”
What do you do when you get home from work? Do you mow the lawn, cook dinner, and walk the dog? Who would do that if you came home and worked until bedtime? I got a taste of what my kids must be experiencing when I opened a brick and mortar art school seven months ago. A few months into it, a friend and fellow business owner asked me how things were going.
“I love what I’m doing but I’m tired and noticed that my endless creative well is not overflowing as usual.”
“You’re experiencing burnout.”
While I’d heard of burnout, I didn’t think I’d been in business long enough to experience it. Burnout is a state of emotional, mental, and physical exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. You can get burnout by working long hours. You can prevent burnout by eating right, exercising, relaxing, and getting enough sleep. As soon as I stopped working on my business seven days a week, I relaxed, started doing neglected chores around the house and my creative juices began flowing again.
I owe the chore part of this remedy to a play I recently saw at the Theater of Western Springs called The Clean House. The story is about a very busy couple that hires a housekeeper who doesn’t like to clean. The wife’s sister, who loves to clean, takes over the housekeeper’s job, unbeknownst to her sister. The cleaning sister poses the question, “How will you know if your husband is cheating if you don’t sniff his underwear while doing the laundry?”
Personally, I can usually find problems in the laundry by eyeballing them but she makes a good point. Doing chores keeps you in touch with your home and family. If repairs are need anywhere or to anyone, you’ll know. Children, who are required to do chores, not only learn time management but also understand that they are not the center of the universe. And here is an added bonus: Doing mindless chores give you a chance to think, daydream, and work out problems.
So try skedaddling out of work early, give your kids a homework pass, and do something fun when you get home. I’ll bet you’ll return to work and your kids will return to school the next day with renewed vigor.