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unrealistic expectations of self

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 

So I'm wondering if my expectations of myself as an "unschooler" are unrealistic....  Any moment that I take that isn't with my kids, and I do take them with relative frequency, is guilt-laden.  That includes time spent on the internet researching/discussing schooling/parenting, time spent cleaning the house, time I may spend showering... as well as time pursuing my own interests (of which i have many).  We recently moved to a place where Montessori schools are charter schools and my children could attend at no cost to us.  I do not entirely agree with the philosophy of Montessori education, there are pieces of it that seriously don't sit right in my heart, but it is definitely better than any 'regular' public school, and I have considered it as a possible avenue of education because I feel like there is no time for me at all if I am to unschool.  I feel like this must be unrealistic because I have known several unschooling families where both parents are still able to follow their own passions, keep the house in relative clean and working order, and even shower and brush their own teeth.  There must be a way to make it work and I want to find that balance.  I do not want to compromise my beliefs by sending my kids to montessori because I feel that if every waking moment of my life is not spent with them helping them to pursue their interests than I am a failure as both a parent and an educator.  The bigger point to this thread is that I am a post-production photo artist and in order to maintain that I need to work with photoshop on a daily basis.  I understand that I get 'me' time everyday or I'll go insane, I know that's completely legitimate, but I don't want the photoshop time to be at the expense of dancing or meditating or journaling.  I am not saying I want to sit around selfishly fulfilling my own needs for the entire day, but I want to feel whole and not fragmented.  I also understand that each family finds it's own unique schedule and rhythm to life, and I have been blessed with one child that plays well independently and right now a toddler that likes to eat my time like candy (this too shall pass, i think).  But I am hoping that someone can help me to get an idea of how much of my passions I can pursue and how much of myself I have to abandon for the moment..... I work on ways of incorporating "me" time with them when possible... we tidy the house together, we stretch and sometimes do breathing exercises together, my eldest and I even journal side by side sometimes.....  but if I wanna take 2 hours a day and hire a sitter and work on my art--- is this being selfish? unrealistic? would they be better off in a montessori charter school?  any thoughts/experiences?


Love and Light

post #2 of 13

If you can find help, take it!!!! There are no 'rules' to go against. The goal is to be a happy, cohesive group that can meet each others needs, however that may be done. If I could hire someone to take my kids to the park (or clean my house) I would, it's just not in the plan for us. I'm only now figuring out how to get me time out of this whole unschooling gig, and my kids are an easier age as they are more self-sufficient, but they also seek my interaction more than when they were toddlers. So if they're doing Lego, my sewing studio is set up right there so I sew. Do I feel guilty? yeah, I do, because they'd LOVE it if I lego'd with them. But I need to sew, I need to. And I'm learning to be alright with saying no to lego. I show my love and interest for them in so many other ways, and our choice to unschool them is a huge part of that love. I can't say that i'd be more interested in doing Lego if they were away from me all day, kwim?


I've started a knitting night at my house, with two friends who unschool and who's kids are friends with mine, so they play and we knit.  I've joined a Mom's soccer team through my kid's club, and I trade off with dh for his ultimate nights (another sport). Just some examples of how I can have my own interests along side my kids. It takes time. I've started many things only to realise it wasn't a good fit, too overwhelming to met that need at that time. So I stepped back and took stock. I find things that are up to me (rather than a class to join, who's schedule I must adhere to) work best. I can decide when to go for a run, or knit, or write, or sew.


Not sure if that helps, but wanted to chime in with my 2 cents. :)

post #3 of 13
Thread Starter 

thanks so much... that does help.  I totally get what you mean by avoiding classes at the moment...there's a bunch of different classes I'd like to take, yoga, kung fu, guitar lessons.... but adhering to a pre set schedule just doesn't work, so if I want to do learn new things they've got to be things I can teach myself with books or instructional dvds.  I have also finally gotten to the point where I can do most of my photoshop work, not all of it, but a good majority of it with the kids present and even interrupting frequently.  I admire your ability to sew near children, I was beginning to learn how to sew but kids can't even be in the same house as me if I'm working on something and so I decided maybe sewing just isn't the thing for me and I should focus more on my other interests.  I will also feel terribly guilty about spending the money on a sitter, thinking of trying to find some sort of homeschooling childcare co-op in our new city.  However, my dh will insist that we do have the money (though i argue there just is never enough) and he will hire me one behind my back for my own sanity if I don't find something else soon.  I also really like your knitting night idea, I could use some art/craft time with adults and if I could find other unschoolers that needed that as well and our children could play i wouldn't have to feel guilty about taking it.  

post #4 of 13

How old are your children? You said you had a toddler. Toddlers, whether you unschool or not, are more time intensive and physically needy than older kids. I only really started getting me time alone without kids when my youngest was a toddler. It wasn't much then. I will say that modeling flow is important for kids too.

post #5 of 13

Why feel guilty when you are not doing something with your kids? If you have healthy boundaries, you will also model healthy boundaries for your kids, and to me, that is a very positive and valuable lesson you'll be teaching them.


I understand the tendency to feel guilty about such things, because it happens to me too. But I recognize that it exists because I was raised without healthy boundaries. I existed to serve and please my parents, basically. So believing that I am valuable enough to demand "me-time" is really hard, but I know it needs to be done.


Unschooling doesn't mean you have to be "on call" 24/7. Sometimes it's educational for your kids to learn to wait until you can give them your full and willing attention before investigating a subject or looking up the answer to a question, or whatever. Really. You'll be teaching them important lessons: that mom is important, that patience is a virtue, and that they aren't the center of the universe....just an equally valuable PART of that universe.


I totally hear what you're saying, though. I am an artist and web site moderator and writer, and it's hard for me to turn my back on my son to get work done. But it pays the bills. And when I need mama-sanity-time, like time to paint or write or just relax, I am learning to take it. I beat back those guilt feelings, knowing they are not healthy for me or my child.


Best of luck!

post #6 of 13
Thread Starter 

the youngest being a toddler is difficult. She's completely different than my first in that she demands all of my attention, all of the time.  She seems to have no ability to play or entertain herself independently of me. she's 19months old--- is it ok for me to just let her cry sometimes as I explain to her that mommy will be with her in just a few minutes?  (so long as she isn't hurt or really in need of something such as sustenance or comfort)

Dh just got a new job where generally leaves work at 8:30am and doesn't return home until 7-9pm.  Makes for a long day for the both of us and I feel guilty asking him for much help at home since he's working so much.  We also just moved and so I've really got no support network or friends to speak of, and I'm starting to feel like my existence is nothing more than the focus of the endless/need want of other entities (kids, Dh, dogs, cats)..... not to mention I'm about 14 weeks pregnant!--I would really like that to feel more joyful, but mostly it just feels so overwhelming i want to cry.  If anyone has any advice on how to carve out some "me" time amidst all of that--- and preferably a little bit of that being the kind of time that isn't interrupted every 2.5 minutes--- I could really use it!


Much Love and Light!

post #7 of 13

I'd go easy on yourself! It sounds like a lot. And it's winter, so it's a tough time for all. In my experience, when my children were much younger or when I was exhausted by pregnancy, I had to take simple pleasures for myself. I'd take baths alone at night after dinner and after DH got home or spend time reading. It had to be short and was usually confined to me at home. If you can get an hour or two to browse a bookstore on the weekend or go shopping alone, then with very small children (and a pregnancy!) that sounds like "me" time to me. It's just a rough few years in there. You'll get through it.


I'm not sure how to respond to the letting her cry. Not sure exactly what you mean. It's up to you to determine how comfortable you are with what's happening. When I had a toddler, there were certainly moments where someone was crying and there wasn't much I could do about it. Kids cry. :shrug:

post #8 of 13
Thread Starter 

what I mean by letting her cry is that she wants to be in my lap/have me hold her/nurse constantly.  She gets more than enough attention from me, I'd say it isn't from a need to fill some sort of deficit except it might be because she seems to need all of my attention all of the time.  I am really uncomfortable with letting her cry when she's wanting me to hold her while I'm trying to do other things because i'm just plain uncomfortable with my kids crying and I think that has caused issues with her older sister.  I don't want them to cry, don't want them to be sad or disappointed or frustrated.....it hurts my heart.  I think this is one of my larger parenting flaws, but I'm not sure.  At what age is it appropriate that they learn to become ok with some discomfort?  If I'm in the middle of cleaning up the kitchen is it reasonable that I have her wait for a few minutes while I finish, even if it means I let her follow me around and cry?  or should I interrupt everything I do to meet her every need/want/desire still?  In some ways she seems a lot like a baby and in other ways I know she's growing up and I just didn't figure out the developmentally appropriate age for this the first time around and I've got a child that's nearly 7 that is just now having to learn how to handle frustration/disappointment/unhappiness, and this isn't fair to her or anyone else in the house that is present as she learns this later in life than she should have.  I want to nurture their dependence and at the same time I fear that I am doing them a disservice by not allowing them the space to have unpleasant emotions and learn how to deal with them.

post #9 of 13

Well that's all age-appropriate, it sounds like. I think that it's a relationship and a give-and-take and you have to judge for yourself as you go about your day how much you're willing to do in any moment. It's not my opinion that children's needs can be deciphered from their desires or that independence really has to be fostered with much intention. I always parented rather intuitively. If something felt wrong, I knew it was wrong. I did and do a lot of apologizing as a parent. With my youngest, who was far more needy than my oldest, it's only now that I'm urging him more and more to do things for himself. He's almost 6.


I also don't think that you can really judge at 7 how something turned out. I try to keep a long view. When they're adults, a lot of this will have worked out. There's no real perfecting it. It's all a constant negotiation of needs. It's a juggling act. If we had more than two hands for all these children and our homes and our personal needs, then everyone's needs might reasonably be met. As it stands, if you're in a house by yourself most of the time with small children (as most of us are), then you're understaffed. We aren't meant to parent this way. We are evolved to do this in groups. So it's often true that someone is not going to get their needs met. It's a real juggling act to get everyone's needs met enough. I'd focus on that, rather than the details of how to perfect it. I simply don't believe that you can say that someone needs to be left alone to cry in order to learn to work something out on their own. Sometimes it's true, however, that they are capable of figuring it out on their own while we meet another more immediate need of our own or theirs or someone else.

post #10 of 13
Thread Starter 

Thanks anna...there was much wisdom in that and I deeply appreciate it.  There is something I would like to clarify--- I don't leave her alone to cry so much as allow her to cry sometimes now.  I am with her while it's happening and gently explaining that mama will be with her in just a moment, giving her the play by play on whatever it is that I am doing and involving her as much as i possibly can.  It's just that their crying hurts my soul... and so even this is difficult for me, but at times is necessary.  If I picked her up each and every time she wanted me to, nothing would ever get done--- the house would be a mess--- her sister would never get any of my time......  this little one is just very needy.  Though I do understand that if I nurture this stage she  will pass into the next one with ease, like you were saying-- it's a juggling act, I'm just trying to work out how to meet all of our needs at once.  

post #11 of 13

Sorry about that! I meant the general "you," when I said that, not you personally.

post #12 of 13

have you tried to back-carry her in a wrap while you're on the computer? This worked well for us when my daughter was around the same age (same sort of work) it is very painful for me to listen to a child cry too - for any reason <3

post #13 of 13

I wanted to remind you that even if she is a needy 19 month old, she may not be a needy 2 1/2 yr old.... A year ago, when my youngest (of three) was 1 1/2, I couldn't sew (she would throw the pieces everywhere) or blog (she would bang on the keyboard) or read (she would crawl up and want to nurse....)


A year can change a whole lot. 


That said, as I am writing this my 2 1/2 yr old crawled up, lifted my shirt, and cried when I put her down for a minute.


BUT...most of the time, she will play with her siblings, or by herself, now.


It will all shift.

You will find time. :)

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