A Do Nothing Day

Everyone needs down time.


As an Unschooling Mom of Gifted Kids who usually drive learning of their own accord, I sometimes forget this. I worry that I’m not doing enough. I worry that I’m not challenging them enough. I worry that I am holding them back.

I forget that just because my 7 year old can read The Hobbit (and enjoys when I read it to him) doesn’t mean that he always wants to be reading at that level. Sometimes the only thing he wants to pick up is Click Clack Moo.

Just because my 5 year old enjoys learning about ancient peoples and is usually entranced with their lives doesn’t mean that sometimes she just wants to play Minecraft and watch Peep in the Big Wide World or Pokemon.

We Unschool so our days are very relaxed compared to those of others but in our house teachable moments and learning is an everyday activity. It’s how we live our lives. Not just Monday through Friday, not just during certain hours. Holidays, weekends… every single day is a school day. Yet even then there are periods of intense learning followed with periods of completely random acts.

Gifted Kids, Gifted adults… We enjoy learning. It’s an obsession. It’s a part of who we are and yet even for us there are times when we want to do nothing and learn nothing. There are times when no one cares if the moment is “teachable” and no one wants to ask or answer why.  Sometimes we just need to watch TV and not analyze the character development or the interpersonal relationships. Sometimes we want to play video games for the pure sake of playing video games, or play outside just to have fun. We need to do things that do not require any thinking.

I know this because I need it too. There are times when I don’t want to read college textbooks for fun and instead I find a handful of young adult Sci-fi/Fantasy novels and I loose myself to other worlds. I will read manga from the time my kids fall asleep to the moment they wake up. I know this and do this for myself but I often forget that my kids need this too, because we learn through everyday life and actions I forget that they need breaks too.

Of course not everyone looses themselves in the same way but there is always something. Something that a person does that is mindless, unorganized, and would otherwise be considered a waste of time and yet they love it.

I think we all need these activities.

We need these breaks from ourselves. Little breaks from our own inner dialogue to help us clear our mind.

Before the advent of modern technology human beings had the ability to do nothing. To sit in silence. To think without thinking about thinking. I believe that many of us have lost that ability. We have lost the ability to do nothing and in exchange we have found activities that become mindless. We need that time of nothingness, of mindlessness. I believe that it is an integral part of the learning and growth process.


take the course this is all just my own personal way of looking at things, but I have discovered that during these cycles of nothingness or mindlessness our brains are subconsciously processing the vast amounts of information that we bombard ourselves with regularly. Once fully processed and organized internally we then transform the information into a part of ourselves. Usually this all happens completely unconsciously. We don’t think about how we internalize information and ideas unless they radically challenge us to think differently. So how do we internalize our everyday lives if we are not consciously thinking about our everyday lives and actions? I believe that we do this through down time.

I discovered this while watching my children play.

When they play they act out the things they have learned. I listen to their conversations and hear them using a lesson taught earlier in the week or month. It is how I know they are learning without the use of assessments.This happens all the time, it’s part of our “school” but I have also noticed that during times of nothingness the play changes. They no longer pretend using facts and learned ideas. Instead their play becomes more subdued. Less imagination, less action, less talking all while having more messes, more fights, and more relational subject matter.

After a good week or two we all slowly go back to wanting to learn, wanting to think and do. We return to our naturally intense state and as if a switch has been flipped understanding flows naturally. It’s like we are cleaning the slate and preparing ourselves for new learning…like defraging a computer.

We need this time. It’s not a waste of time. We need to embrace this, regardless of our lifestyles. Regardless of if you homeschool or do traditional school. Regardless of if you stay at home or work. Regardless of if you are insanely busy or not. We all need to do nothing once in a while.

Embrace it.

Take the time to have …adonothingday.jpg


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