Hamster Wheels: Through the Eyes of a Child

This post was contributed by Kim Sewell

When Julie announced there was an overwhelming connection for the next blog topic ‘hamster wheel’ among my colleagues, I immediately felt anxious. Just the term ‘hamster wheel’ had me imagining moving as fast as I can, but not really getting anywhere. Kind of like the nightmare where you are being chased and you freeze because you can’t move your feet and you crumple into a ball until the monster overtakes you (or maybe that’s just me.) I could not think of a more exhausting image to think about and then write about. 

I’ve thought about this image from the viewpoint of a mom (cook meals, wash dishes, do laundry, grocery shop, clean house, repeat) and from the viewpoint of a teacher (get new class, set routines and expectations, meet parents, teach curriculum, assess, go on field trips, have class parties, get seasonal breaks, have May Day, out for summer, repeat). As a mom and a teacher, I put new demands on myself and others are put on me. As we know, time is finite—no more no less—but that doesn’t stop us from adding more work, more goals, more life into that time. I was going down a real cynical, cyclical path thinking about this topic. Hamster wheels suck… I could not find a positive side to this wheel!

Then I thought about children…my own, the ones that are in my care, the ones I encounter out in the world. The older I get, the more I realize children have the best outlook and most of the answers in life. Up until the age of 5 or 6, children love singing the same songs (wheels on the bus, twinkle twinkle), eating the same food (goldfish and fruit snacks), wearing the same clothes(even when they get too small) and sleeping with the same luvy (yes, the one you have to go back to get when they have left it somewhere, because there is NO substitution, even for one night). Children thrive on consistency and routine. They thrive on the hamster wheel. To them it’s all about the journey, not the destination. It’s the process, not the product. Sometimes they are barely moving the wheel, sometimes they are at a steady pace, and sometime they are going ninety miles an hour, but they are going at their own pace and enjoying the wheel. It’s secure and safe. We usually do our best work in those conditions. From now on I will try to look at the inevitable hamster wheel in life through the eyes of a four-year-old, smile, eat my goldfish, and remember that it’s about the journey. 😉

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