04 April 2014


Have you ever had one of those days where you have several things you need to do including being somewhere by a particular time but you constantly feel like you are running after a bus that has just left your stop?  A couple of weeks ago I one such day.  We were supposed to be going to friends for an afternoon play and stay for tea, a Jacob's Join, I was making a couple of salads.  I wanted to pop into the town they live near to pick up a few bits we needed and well you can see where this is headed......    every time I looked at my watch another hour had passed.  We arrived at 5 o'clock, so much for an afternoon of play.

If there is one thing that could push me to an early grave it is having to be somewhere by a certain time.  I can do this occasionally but all the time, I would be an anxious mess.  If the children went to school, and I more than likely out to work our lives, my life would be a very different one.  I would be much more shouty for one thing, I loathe the pressure of time.  I sometimes wonder whether most people do.  Having to be places, rushing about, not really having enough time to get from one place to another especially if there is more than just you that needs to be there. 

Time has been under discussion here lately.  My youngest has been pondering the whole concept of time with questions such as what is time, what is an hour, minute, second, indeed what are they? An abstract notion or a period connected with the midday sun, and then we go and loose an hour.  Really loose an hour, how careless, try explaining that one!  We are now on British Summer Time, GMT + 1,   this was introduced nearly one hundred years ago to give the day more light in the evenings rather than the mornings.  A bill was recently proposed by this MP to move to British Standard Time, permanent British Summer Time a move that was also trialled at the end of the 60s beginning of the 70s.  Thankfully this ridiculous idea has been shelved as the bill failed to complete its passage through Parliament.  Living where I do this would have meant that in December in the days around the shortest day it would not get light until around 10am, are the winters not bad enough?

In an attempt to answer some of these questions we have been investigating and pondering time.  If we were hunter gatherers we would just need to know when it got dark, nature can be a good predictor of this and if we were always living that way we would be tuned in to the signals.  Later when farming became more prevalent and people settled in one place the seasons would be as important as the hours of daylight.  Perhaps this is when the notion of a calendar was developed, the sun and moon moving in phases and noticing a relationship between the length of the days, what the weather was doing and therefore what could be grown.  A sundial could measure hours, but only when the sun was shining, so mechanisms that could measure parts of hours, minutes and seconds were developed.  Most early clocks were developed and used in religious communities as they had a need for timekeeping.  As we moved from rural, agricultural living to an urban industrialised life, time became money and needing to keep track of it was vitally important for productivity.  Then along came the railways time had to be standardised if you were to catch your train, up until then it had been aligned with the local noonday sun.  Sometimes it feels like it still is if you have ever tried to catch a train recently.  

So now we live with an abstract notion of time which we are slaves to.  We start this young when we attend school.  Time is our master for five out of seven days of the week for fourteen years of schooling.  Is it any wonder that those that go to university seem to live in a time zone of their own, the freedom.............then we go out to work and our employers timetable is our master.  We have chosen not to send our children to school, they have no timetable.  I wobble sometimes on this one, as I am sure many home educators do.  Will their lack of timetable stand them in good stead in a world where most of the population has one.  What is this teaching them.  Given the anxiety that I feel when I have a time pressure, I hope they will be able to manage this much better than I can.  The anxiety gets in the way, I loose my focus and in the end often reach where I need to be a gibbering wreck.  Surely anything is better than that?


  1. Food for thought. As you know I have a foot in both camps and when Dave is away in Edinburgh my stress levels are up at the thought of meeting the traffic and school run routine. And as for the clock change it completely threw me and does so every time!

  2. Sometimes I always seem to be hurrying, and hurrying the children along too. I hate it. I'm so happy now that the school holidays are here, and we don't have to have that pressure of getting ready for 8.30 every morning. We're free! I really enjoyed reading this post SM, and I found it very thought-provoking. I have similar concerns about things like television and computer games. Mine watch very little television, and don't play computer games. But when they leave home, will they be able to limit the time they spend on these things, or will they suddenly be addicted and unable to tear themselves away?

  3. Oh yes, I always seem to be rushing out of the door, but I put this down to my own poor time management rather than anything else! I am easily distracted. I always relish the holidays for the slower mornings and less clock watching but I'm aware that my whole day - during the week - is completely dictated by getting to and from somewhere by a certain time. I can usually accurately guess what time of day it is. What a thought-provoking post!

    As for your concerns, I would think a less anxious mother is infinitely better than an anxious one! x

  4. Yes, I agree, very thought provoking! On one hand, I (and therefore to some degree my children) thrive on routine and structure. A clock helps me with that. I know that to get my children to school on time for 815 we need to start getting ready at 7:50 and out the door by 805ish. Transition periods between school schedule and holiday schedules are always a bit nutty for us but after the first week or so, it becomes a well oiled machine and if we depart from that "time" schedule I tend to fall apart and the day feels a little off. So, it' s kind of opposite of what you describe here. However, I can totally relate to the stress of feeling rushed and I do get more "shout-y", which I naturally end up feeling, and my kids feeling, completely terrible about afterwards. For me, it's a matter of accepting that I'm not very good at doing more than one or two scheduled activities in any given day and trying my best at planning my days with respect to that limit. Easier said than done sometimes. Great post!


Hello......would love to hear from you :)