How to Stay Educated When Your Focus is on Them

By Sarah Maraniss Vander Schaaff

Most Saturday mornings, I am awakened around 6:30am by my youngest daughter. There’s the regular routine of unloading the dishwasher, feeding the dog, making the beds and figuring out how my husband and I will divide and conquer the rest of the day, and rest of the weekend.

Last Saturday morning, I woke up around 6:30 and snuck out of the house quietly. We were visiting my parents’ house and it would be my husband and mom who’d figure out the bowl of Cheerios and morning schedule.

My father and I were on our way to a conference for biographers. I got to listen to Douglas Brinkley and Evan Thomas discuss Nixon, Rosa Parks, Eisenhower and Walter Cronkite. I scanned the book table and bought one on Henry and Emily Folger and the library they created on Shakespeare.

Wow. I don’t know who’s unloading the dishwasher right now, I thought, but it’s not me.

All it took was driving 182 miles, getting a last minute pass for the event, riding with my dad to downtown DC, and remembering to pack grown-up shoes along with zoo-friendly Clarks.

It’s hard to be an educated mom. And it’s easy to become mired in the details of our children’s educations at the expense of our own continued expansion.

There is, though, room for both, and as psychologist, Dr. Katherine White told me in a blog a few years ago, modeling an interest in learning is one of the best ways to pass it on to our children.

So, because I can’t escape to writers conferences every weekend morning, I am committing to taking back a few of the things I’ve forsaken.

Tops on my list: NPR in the car. As a child, I listened to an agonizing amount of static-ridden sports radio, and in my recollection, I never once said, “Could we please listen to Madonna instead?” Maybe it’s the era of entitlement, but somehow, when it comes to what’s on in the car, I stopped abiding by the rule that whoever drives gets to pick.

Second: CBS Sunday Morning. My husband and I used to watch this—just after waking up. Obviously that was when we slept in well past 7am on Sunday mornings and no one was asking for a second gummy vitamin.

Third: More read-aloud books that appeal to all of us. Recently, my ten year old and I finished the Young Reader Edition of I Am Malala. We’re ready for more like that, please. We were able to talk about the larger world, politics, religion, childhood and womanhood in other cultures, and both learn.

What’s on your list of “take-backs” for your own summer edification? Leave a comment and let me know.


Thank you for reading. Check out Nancy’s viral (in the good way, not the pre-k way) post on a simple strategy for summer learning. 1-2-3, you got it!

And why not bookmark the Mindprint page on Free Resources and articles–links to the best articles and studies and helpful info for you and your child to keep on learning.


MPgirlsmileArticles from Leading Experts and Journalists —bookmark the page now and enlighten yourself. 


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