Make Time Every Day to Do the Things You Love

On a walk around 7:30 pm. The kids should have been getting ready for bed, but oh well.

Once upon a time I taught elementary school for many years in Los Angeles. Although working with kids was often rewarding, there was plenty about teaching that I did not enjoy. Some of the required curriculum was decidedly lackluster. Then there was the endless paperwork, the depressing home situations, the demoralizing staff meetings (your test scores still suck!), the discipline issues, the test prep, and the staff politics. Worst of all, I felt like a failure almost every day. In the beginning, I just didn't know what I was doing. And even later when I did, there was simply not enough time in the day to do everything, and certainly never enough time to do it well.

But despite the overwhelming pressures of teaching in low-income under-performing schools (often in danger of being "taken over" by the state), I decided for my own sanity to spend some time each day doing things that I enjoyed and considered important, even if nobody else cared that I did them (or even if my principal and other higher ups actively discouraged me from doing them). I read aloud to my students every day. We exercised every day. And we talked about poetry and sang songs every single day.

Turns out that learning to cope with an incessant sense of failure and always having more to get done than can possibly get done were excellent preparation for being a parent. Now as a parent of three little ones, when the sense of failure becomes especially overwhelming, I remember this lesson from my teaching days: make time every day to do the things that you love.

During the month of May, I tried to spend 30 minutes outside in nature every day with my kids as part of the 30 x 30 Nature Challenge. After the first week, I didn't scrupulously keep track of our minutes or activities. It became more of a mindset. A greater willingness to accept my children's request to push them on the swings. An evening walk as a family after dinner whenever time allowed (and often even when time didn't). A lingering outside between the car and the front door to look at bugs. Reading books outside on a blanket instead of inside on the sofa. Going for a morning walk with my 2yo in the stroller instead of doing an exercise DVD at home. Choosing to slow down and skip certain inside tasks in order to stay outside.

I love seeing these friendly flowers on my morning walks.

And because spending time outside with my kids is something I both enjoy and value, I'm going to continue looking for those pockets of time, to continue making time to be outside enjoying nature every day. Here are a few more photos from our #30x30Challenge, in case you missed them on Facebook and Instagram.

Lying on my back looking up at the blue sky and this year's crop of apricots ripening on the tree.

My son's walk-a-thon. One of the only school fundraisers I can actually get behind.

Dragonfly love in my front yard (hope they don't mind the close up!).

Giant shadows after sunset on our after dinner walk.

Popsicle weather!

After dinner family bike/ trike ride.

Oh how they love to swing.

Riding off into the sunset.

Check out additional 30 x 30 Nature Challenge posts here.

Other Challengers
Don't miss my fellow Green Phone Boothers Queen Composter and Ecoyogini posting all month about the 30 x 30 Nature Challenge on their blogs Eco-journey in the Burbs and Ecoyogini.

What things do you (or should you) make time to do every day?

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