The Barnelf Phenomenon

Barnelf PhenomenonI’d like to introduce you to Mr. Barnelf.  Imagine him as an amiable retiree who’s hobby is his wood shop.  While he enjoys the idea of wood-working, in practice it is the shop itself, not carpentry, to which he devotes his time and care.  He delights in acquiring tools, arranging his work area, building jigs to facilitate hypothetical projects down the road, and occasionally making a few items to sell for the express purpose of funding additional equipment purchases.   The purpose of the shop is self perpetuation, not production.

Because for Mr. Barnelf, the notion of woodworking is merely a hobby, there’s no harm done.  It is an innocent and fulfilling (if somewhat frivolous) avocation, and he enjoys it.  Sometimes though the Barnelf Phenomenon can be more damaging.

I’ve had my own share of “Mr. Barnelf’s Workshops,” fooling myself into thinking I’m working hard at figurative “carpentry” when in reality I’m just moving tools around the workbench.

Do you spend more time planning out school than actually implementing those well-laid plans?  Do you find yourself doing a major life overhaul every few months and redefining the very skeleton of your family’s structure?  Is your closet cluttered with unused organizational caddies?  Are you scrambling to try to squeeze your family onto a schedule instead of letting your routine facilitate and provide freedom for everyone?  Are you constantly changing curriculum in search of elusive perfection?  All are symptoms of the Barnelf Phenomenon.  Good Chaos Taming should alleviate stress, not create frantic anxiety.

Superfluous structure is as crippling as anarchy.  Organizational systems, schedules, routines, procedures, curricula and strategies are intended to serve you–not the other way around.

(This article was also posted in my Taming the Chaos column on the HomeschoolBlogger Front Porch)

~Domestic Chaos tamer and homeschool mom of 5, Dell writes about home, heart and hearth.~

Taming the Chaos: Dell


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