Do Less, Achieve More

Sep 1, 2001

by Jennifer Sellers

Most people make their New Year’s resolutions in January. I make mine in August. The start-up of the new homeschool year is a much bigger event to me than the change of calendar years. Every August I determine that this will be the best school year yet. The kids will go to bed at their bedtimes, and so will I. We will rise up full of energy and brainpower, and all of us will get along well. No more mopey mornings for us! No more quarreling and competing for mom’s attention. We will start the day with prayer and Bible reading and then plunge into all the interesting and colorful new curriculum with unit studies I have so lovingly and carefully chosen after hours of browsing through catalogs. “Yes, this year will be the best,” I tell my kids as they look up at me with weary smiles and reply, “Mom, you say that every year!”

I am always surprised and pleased at the surge of energy and interest I have in the new school year. In May I was dragging, but in August I’m ready, eager and enthused. Because of that enthusiasm, and the fact that I am a book-a-holic and curriculum junkie, each year I tend to overdo things. I keep adding one more thing to the daily schedule. “Expanding and enriching the curriculum” is what I call it, as I buy one more book, one more craft project, one more CD ROM. My expectations of what we can accomplish grow as our bookshelves expand and our bank account shrinks.

This year, however, I will try to do things differently. The Lord spoke a little four-word sentence into my heart as I read my daily devotional book, God Calling, a few weeks ago. “Do less, achieve more.” The thought arrested me in my tracks and has been a refrain in my mind ever since. “Do less, achieve more?” Isn’t that an oxymoron? As I meditated on the thought, it began to make more sense. I saw myself busily planning, cramming as much as possible into our curriculum, adding this and that. What I really needed to do was to simplify and focus. How many of the numerous projects, unit studies and books had really made a lasting impact on our children? Some of them had, surely. But had all the extra frills and the sheer volume of “things to do” cluttered up their minds and blocked true learning? I began to wonder.

This year I will keep these words in the forefront of my mind as I plan and schedule our daily schoolwork and activities. “Do less, achieve more.” I am simplifying. For an eager-beaver homeschool mom like me, this is very difficult. Perhaps this year my children will not burn out as they have been wont to do.

I challenge you to be cautious of overdoing. Concentrate on doing a few things well. Plan for quiet home days and uncluttered lives. Stay focused and simple in your life. This is the message I sorely need. Perhaps you do too.

Jennifer Sellers is the mother of five children and grandmother of twin baby boys.  She has homeschooled her younger three children for the past 10 years.  She lives in Clyde, NC with her husband, Larry and sons Joel and Daniel age 10 and 13.  She is an active member and former president of the Haywood County Home Educators support group.

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