Consumerist Shortcuts

Haven’t we all been there? We decide to get fit and get bogged down somewhere along the line, choosing a fitness plan, reading Amazon reviews of medicine balls, finding space in the spare room for the stationary bike, and we never really get started. Or this is going to be the year we are going to grow a real vegetable garden, so we get all the catalogs and three books from the library, or even order a dozen seed packets, but nothing ever really gets off the ground, much less in the ground.

Occasionally, a purchase really does fix a problem. I replaced my anti-nausea first trimester pills with the exact right dosage size so I didn’t have to split them, and stopped gagging on them (quite so often). I got my kid with a destructive chewing habit one of those food-grade silicone necklaces and it’s mostly fixed the problem. Even the illusion of trying can help: I buy the backseat mirror so the baby can look at herself in the car, and if she still screams, hey, at least I’m not plagued by guilt imagining she’d be happy if I had just shelled out $11.

I think homeschooling is a place where we are particularly prone to this temptation. (Who is it who says homeschooling mothers may be the most insecure people alive?) It’s tempting to think the right math manipulatives or reading curriculum or educational philosophy gleaned from poring over site after site will make school fun, calm, illuminating. Advertising is designed to convince us of this, that buying the right things will fix any problem we encounter. And a shiny new purchase can lend us confidence, for awhile.

But there’s no substitute for just getting in there and doing: setting out for a jog out your back door, getting the soil turned up in the garden and figuring out details later. Reading experts is good. Reading product reviews and making judicious purchases is good. But we must resist the temptation to get caught up in the variety of options or complacent in the assistance of our tools to adequately do the real work for us.

Choose a thing and stick to it, at least long enough to know. Talk to a couple good friends who know more than you do. Go straight to the source and read the book those blogs are referencing. Really, it’s this easy: pick a couple tools and stop stalling. The real work is waiting when you do.

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