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Homeschooling Mamas: How do you get your "me" time?

post #1 of 40
Thread Starter 

So neither of my kids are school aged yet, and I'm still exploring all the options and styles (both school and homeschool) for education, but the biggest mental barrier for me when I imagine myself possibly homeschooling is how to get some time for myself.  I really love time alone, in my house.  Going out alone is nice too, but I always have lots of creative projects to work on at home, and I love being able to turn on some music or a movie, and spread out my supplies and make a big creative mess without worrying about my 3 yo getting into things or being in anyone else's way. 

 

Currently, I stay up later than I should most nights in order to get this kind of time.  Also, my 3 yo attends a 2 hour a week coop preschool, so there's a few hours each month where I just have the baby to worry about, and he naps and can't crawl to get into stuff yet.  Tomorrow my dh is taking the 3yo on the monthly out-of-town shopping trip, which takes most of the day.  I'm so excited! 

 

Also of note is that I plan on at least 2 more kids, so I expect the baby/young child chaos will be continuing for a while. 

 

So, how do you get your me time with homeschooled kids? 

post #2 of 40

As your kids get older they won't be AS demanding. My 7 year old is far more independent and significantly less into my stuff than my 4 year old. I can't even make dinner without worrying what ingredients she will sneak into the pot--no matter how careful I am (we still haven't figured out how she got the veggie broth into the pie crust without us realizing it until we took a bite.)

 

I am an older mom. I gave birth to my first at 43. I've lived enough that I know this is all temporary. Too soon this will pass and it will be time for the next phase of my life. So I just take the attitude that THIS is my hobby. Someday I'll try another hobby, possibly even one where I leave stuff sitting on the counter, but for now this is what I do for fun.

 

I get it about wanting time without the kids to accomplish something, especially since my body has decided 5 to 6 hours of sleep is no longer sufficient. (Really, it was so much better when I got by with little sleep.) However, the needs of the kids should come first. Can you work on projects you can include the kids in? I love to cook and it's a whole lot harder when someone is throwing red peppers into EVERYTHING, but I try and go with the flow. I ask her if she wants to help me cook and her face lights up so much. It's a lot harder, takes longer, and isn't as zen as doing it all by myself, but SHE NEEDS me to include her.

post #3 of 40

I totally agree with SundayCrepes. This is a short time, shorter than it feels like at the moment!

 

Now that DD is 8, she does quite a bit on her own. Also I can do things alongside her (my own stuff) without her getting into it, especially if I make her a version of whatever I am doing. Then we just work side by side. I can also set her up with some of her schoolwork for maybe 10-20 minutes at time before I'll need to give her any help, and during that time I can get some dishes done or sweep the floor, or sit in front of the computer.

 

I'm a single mom, and I also work, so I've learned to adapt... DD does some classes (gymnastics, theatre, stuff like that) and I can either bring my laptop along while she's in class, or go off for a bit, or even just take a powernap in the car.

 

Even though homeschooling does involve being present for your child a whole lot more of the time than brick and mortar school would, there's still never going to be a time quite as intense as it was when they're between 1 and 5.

post #4 of 40

As the PPs said, as your kids get older they are more self-suffcient. My 6 yo will entertain herself for a good 30 minutes or even an hour. My 2.5 yo of course is still a handful, but often the 6 yo will help entertain her as well if I really need to get something done. My DH is very supportive too. When he gets home from work he can take them for awhile so I can have some "me" time and weekends he helps too. If I am really desperate I can put on a video. It also helps to have a good network of other moms if you can. As others said, it is a relatively short time that they are so dependent. I am on #3 and would love 4 or 5 as well but in all, it is probably only a few years of my life when I don't get much "me" time. I try to remember that in 10 years they will be tweens and teens and all too independent and I will miss this time of cuddles and stories.

post #5 of 40

It has always astonished me that as a society, we sent our children off to school to live lives apart from us in school just at the age that they are starting to get really lovely to live with. Parenting under-6's is not for the faint of heart. After that provided they spend lots time with their parents at home learning how to live equitably and empathically with others, they can be really lovely to be with: they can hold real conversations, pursue their own interests, respect others' needs, meet many of their own. It doesn't come all at once the moment they would have started kindergarten, of course, but it really does turn the corner at about that point. 

 

It's no wonder some mainstream parents don't actually like their children very much: they sent them away just before they would have got nice to be with.

 

Miranda

post #6 of 40
My main advice is to encourage independence. Just because you and your kids are in the same house all day long, does not mean that you have to be doing the same thing at the same time, together, all the time. My kids play on their own, pursue their own hobbies, go outside and hang out with their friends. And while they do that, I do my own thing. (Also, a really nice part of homeschooling is that your older kids are still home to play with the little ones, so you don't have to be the constant playmate!) I teach them how to do things for themselves, and then I expect them to do it. (My 10yo is making himself hard boiled eggs for a snack right now, while I'm talking to you!)

The other side of that, is that I try to involve my kids in my interests. I like photography, so I take photos of the kids. Or I take them on a nature walk and I photograph flowers. I like geeky tabletop games, so I play Robo Rally and Get Bit and Zombie Dice with them instead of Monopoly or Candyland. I love Doctor Who, and honestly, the first time I always watch it away from the kids with my husband so I don't have to get annoyed with anyone talking during the show. But then I watch it with the kids, and now they love Doctor Who, too! smile.gif

Mainly, I don't expect them to be the center of my life all the time, and I don't let them expect that of me. If I need to go in my room for an hour and watch a show or listen to music while I fold clothes, then I do that. I might play CubeMen with my son first, or I might tell him that I'll do that later (as long as I actually do!)
post #7 of 40

What I have found funny/interesting is that it was only hard for me to get 'me' time when they were little.  Everyone always 'looks forward' to school days so they can have 'me' time, but it turned out that right around that time, 'me' time just started happening on its own.  It is hard to believe, I know, but it is true.  I get me time now in the morning (my kids were EARLY risers until just a few years ago--now they get up by 8).  I also get it throughout the week because my kids play at their friends houses, go to parties, go on bike rides, fly kites in our field, play outside together (not needing me), etc.  I still have the standbys in place if things get to where I need a break (dh, grandma).  However, my kids also want their own private time so I get unintentional me time in the process.  And, another spot it sneaks in. . . when the playdate is here!  My kids really play well and (most) their friends do too.  I check on them, but they play very well together in the basement or backyard.  I find that I can get SOOOO much done by letting my kids have friends over.  BTW I am not the type of mom who 'plans' out the playdate--we've ran into a few kids whose mother's must plan every waking moment.  It takes them a while to learn to "go play"---with their imaginations but not with me!  I do plan things too for my kids, but it is so important that the kids know how to play without mom all the time.  I wouldn't get nearly as much "me" time without that skill in my kids.  On a more traditional note though, a girlfriend and I meet for coffee once or twice a month.  My oldest watches over the other kids while I do this.

 

Good luck!  My main point is that homeschooling doesn't make 'me' time impossible.  

 

Amy

post #8 of 40

Another endorsement for "hanging in there".  My girls are now 6 and 8.  I hear questions along this line from parents of 3yos who are considering HSing.  Don't assume it will stay this way!  My girls often seem to want nothing to do with me during the day, though they do like me to be available.  I can spread out all I want to.  

 

But it depends in part on what someone's definition of "me" time is.  If you want to spread your projects out, then great.  Be patient and it will happen.  But if "me" time is getting large stretches of time away without the kids?  Not so great, not in our family.  A "spa day" is not necessary for me, having an errand day can be really nice, but all I really need is not to have to attend to everyone's needs every 5 minutes, and "spread out" my stuff, and perhaps tuck away a magazine article now and then without being pestered.  The bar is set so low for me, I even count picking up the whole house without interruption as "me time".  Or at least 2 hours.  And I do get that, though not always when I want.  Yet.

 

I agree that they are so enjoyable at this age. Don't think that your 3yo will be anything like this in 3 years.

post #9 of 40

Like everyone else, I've found that it gets a lot easier as your kids get older.  Mine are 7 and 10 and they're perfectly capable of entertaining themselves without me being involved most of the time.  (Especially the 10 year old.)  I do some part-time work from home, so my "me time" mostly consists of sitting at the computer working.  I can do that pretty much whenever I want to, leaving my kids to their own devices.  If I wanted to spread out some stuff and put on music and work on a project, I could do that too.  Our house is so small that I don't have a good place to spread stuff out that's well away from the kids, but if I had a room for that or wanted to use my bedroom I could tell the kids to stay out and leave me alone and they (probably) would.

post #10 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by moominmamma View Post

It has always astonished me that as a society, we sent our children off to school to live lives apart from us in school just at the age that they are starting to get really lovely to live with. Parenting under-6's is not for the faint of heart. After that provided they spend lots time with their parents at home learning how to live equitably and empathically with others, they can be really lovely to be with: they can hold real conversations, pursue their own interests, respect others' needs, meet many of their own. It doesn't come all at once the moment they would have started kindergarten, of course, but it really does turn the corner at about that point. 

 

It's no wonder some mainstream parents don't actually like their children very much: they sent them away just before they would have got nice to be with.

 

Miranda


yeahthat.gif Although my mainstream friends love and like their children very much! But I see what you are saying.I hear so often "I could never do that" from other parents but I just haven't found it that difficult, I am enjoying my kids much more being home with me than when they were in school / daycare. DD is turning 6 and she is such a different person than she was just a year ago. But I do sense that implication form some parents that they just don't want to spend that much time with their kids which makes me a little sad.

post #11 of 40

I love this thread. I have a 3.5 year old and a 15 month old, and right now, I keep fantasizing about all the naps I'm going to take when they go to school.  I needed to read these responses. Thank you!

post #12 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by CrunchyMama19 View Post


yeahthat.gif Although my mainstream friends love and like their children very much! But I see what you are saying.I hear so often "I could never do that" from other parents but I just haven't found it that difficult, I am enjoying my kids much more being home with me than when they were in school / daycare. DD is turning 6 and she is such a different person than she was just a year ago. But I do sense that implication form some parents that they just don't want to spend that much time with their kids which makes me a little sad.

 

 

I couldn't agree with this more! I hear it all the time. DD and I have a wonderful time together but we aren't always on top of each other when we are home. Right now, I'm on the computer and she's reading a magazine. Later we will cook and eat lunch together but then she'll settle in to some homeschool work and I'll be able to do some chores or relax or whatever. I have to agree with so many pp's that it really really does get so much easier as the kids get older. My dd is definitely a morning person just like her dad. I get to be with her during her best hours of the day. If she were in school and I was only seeing her behavior for two hours in the evening before bed, I'd probably be worried about spending time with her all day because by that point she's tired and unfocused and a little cranky .. lol

For me time, I do have a bed time for her and I use that time at night to relax and do anything else I want to do. It's true that I very rarely get time for myself out of the house. Sometimes it's frustrating but then I remember what it was like before I had her, how desperately I wanted to be mom and that she will grow and change so quickly. This time will be gone before I know it and that breaks my heart a little to be honest. 

post #13 of 40
Thread Starter 

Thanks for all of your responses.  I have been reading them as they come, just had trouble finding time to actually be able to type a response. 

 

I know things will get easier as my two kids get older, but the next couple babies will replace them in the chaos making, lol.  Maybe my oldest will be able to play with the youngers a bit better by then?  He does love to play with the baby, but I have to constantly watch to make sure he doesn't hurt him on accident.  I think the thing that I find stressful is that constant "on" feeling.  Even when the baby is napping and ds is playing happily by himself, I still have to be vigilant to make sure ds isn't getting into something he shouldn't or that the baby isn't waking up etc.  My attention is constantly split, and having a couple hours where it doesn't have to be feels so refreshing.  I think part of the problem also is my baby's naps aren't usually more than 45 min.  My first napped for hours at this age, so it's been a bit of a surprise.  45 minutes feels like barely enough time to feed my ravenous, nursing body, help the 3 yo with whatever he needs, and pee without company.  No time left for mama recreation.  Night times are at least getting a little better, he's waking up less in the time between his bedtime and mine.  And then there's the fact that our house is kind of small, so if I want to cut out a new dress to sew the only space big enough is either the dining room table or living room floor, both of which are extremely available to the littles. 

 

I don't think my needs or wants for time alone are unreasonable.  An uninterrupted 3 hour chunk once or twice a month plus the shorter moments I find serendipitously through the days could probably satisfy me.  I do laugh to think about how cooking dinner without interruptions feels like such a holiday lately. 

 

I do need to get better at including the 3 yo in my activities.  My dh is good at this, but he gets to lock himself in his office and work by himself for hours everyday.  I'd probably have more patience too, if I were in his shoes.   I feel like ds1 is almost old enough to be able to handle watching me do some things without interfering, and close also to being able to learn some of the cool things I could teach him.  He's just not quite mature enough to watch me sew without twiddling the tension dials on the machine, or play at the table without spilling dyes while I'm painting yarn.   

 

As far as other mommy friends, we are getting there.  We're still relatively new to the area, but we are settling in and getting to know people.   I just worry that it's all going to disappear once the friends he has now hit school age.  I know one homeschooling family here with kids my kids' ages, though not very well.  It's a smallish town in a rural area, so I worry also that there's not a very big homeschool crowd to get into.  Guess I need to look for some local groups. 

 

I don't want to sound whiny, or like I'm trying to make excuses for why I can't handle homeschooling, because I think I can.  I think we have the opportunity to create a really cool lifestyle.  I just know that I need the next year to really wrap my head around what life will be like if I don't send ds1 off to kindergarten with his peers. 

 

And I'd still love to hear how it works for other mamas. 

post #14 of 40
Angelorum, I just want to encourage you that having school-aged kids and toddlers is much easier than having just toddlers. Once my older kids were 6, 7, 8 years old, they were helping with household chores, playing with the babies, and generally making my life easier.

I'm pregnant with number eight. If you are planning to have more babies, ask yourself if you want to have your older kids on hand during the day, or if you want to continue being on your own with the babies. Even if all they do is play with the littles, they are going to make your life easier!
post #15 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by michelleepotter View Post

Angelorum, I just want to encourage you that having school-aged kids and toddlers is much easier than having just toddlers. Once my older kids were 6, 7, 8 years old, they were helping with household chores, playing with the babies, and generally making my life easier.

I'm pregnant with number eight. If you are planning to have more babies, ask yourself if you want to have your older kids on hand during the day, or if you want to continue being on your own with the babies. Even if all they do is play with the littles, they are going to make your life easier!


...aaand now I want more babies. =)

post #16 of 40

I have a nine year old, a seven year old and a two year old. Honestly, I feel like I have lost all perspective about "me" time.  I hardly even know who I am anymore!  But I don't mind.  I am happy in my life, and I wouldn't have it any other way.  I just know that when they grow up a little, it's going to be a little strange to find myself again.  Right now, I cannot sit down to read for more than about 2 minutes unless the younger two are asleep.  Making dinner without helpers?  Hah!  Not going to happen unless everyone is at my parents' house.  What I find the most helpful, is getting enough sleep, exercise and eating correctly.  We all lay down everyday after lunch and sleep or read quietly.....So I guess that is where I put all of my me-time. 

post #17 of 40
I can certainly relate, because my main passions are knitting and sewing, and I find it almost impossible to sew! Every day i wake up with this creative energy that hits its peak around 10am and i rarely get to do anything with it on homeschooling days. It is frustrating at times but as others have said, this is a special season in your life where obligations shift temporarily. My main mental obstacle is that pre-baby (my third, who is now 19 mos) I was able to knock out a knit baby hat, pair of booties, whatever, within a day. I could sew a garment in a morning. I have an Etsy shop that was quite busy, and is now eerily quiet most of the time. smile.gif Now I have so many interruptions that I have to split the process into tiny little pieces and I find that really frustrating. So...I have stuck with smaller projects for awhile now and on occasion have done bigger sewing projects on a weekend morning when my husband was on board with it. So for example I will do an appliqué or a felt crown or a quick little pair of pants or something instead of a bigger project. It's all about balance, and it's just taken some time to figure out how to scratch my creative itch while feeling like I'm not neglecting my family, particularly the baby. smile.gif I think it's a combo of my age and his poor sleep but I have rarely been inclined to stay up late since he came along...I am just do done by then and the inspiration and clarity are just not there.
post #18 of 40

The thing that gets me through the day (now and when the kiddos were littles) was to stop seeking "me" time.  It's not Zen-like as in "Stop Looking and it Will Find You" because, frankly, it won't.  It's more like "Stop Looking For It Because You Will Realize Half Your Stress Is Looking For It And Not Finding It".   That doesn't mean don't talk to your dp to coordinate some time where he takes the kids to the park or lets you go to the store or the library without the kids, it just means, don't keep looking for those random pockets of time throughout the day when you might not find it.  It truly makes the hard work so much easier.

 

This is where I will bring up HSing styles, because it hasn't been mentioned yet.  If you are thinking that Homeschooling is sitting down with your older children for stretches of time, and you tending the baby while they do sit-down work after a Hearty Explanation by Mom, followed by more sit down time, followed by dinner prep, and housekeeping and gardening in between breaths (and scrubbing the shower while you are in it because it Must Be Done Sometime) then you might very well not find your "me" time.  But homeschooling does not have to look like that.  Many kids do very well for years without such schooling.  Add that to the increased self-sufficiency of your oldest as the years pass, and you are not going to be looking at any extra time you'll need to commit to.  

post #19 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by michelleepotter View Post

Mainly, I don't expect them to be the center of my life all the time, and I don't let them expect that of me.

This works for me.

I rarely do anything for my children that they can do themselves, and so now that the older one is 4, she can get herself and her little brother a snack or water, help herself to the bathroom, wash her hands, dress herself, etc.

We also have all our arts and crafts and make-it/build-it supplies out at their level, so they can get whatever they need/want to work on or make stuff with.  There is an expectation that they respect their tools and supplies and use them appropriately and help with clean up, which they both do.  

Ever since my older one was about 15 months old, I've been working on her doing her own thing while I read.  Now that her brother is 19 months, I've been at it with him too.  

I have a few things that I set aside for the little one to get into while I read/write/illustrate (work that I do from home).  Right now he loves a jar of buttons and various scoops and spoons.  He doesn't put small things in his mouth anymore, so they both can have full access to our extensive art/craft supplies.  

I require a clean-up twice a day, which we all help with.  But I don't make them tidy up constantly, which means that mornings result in the mess that's tidied up before quiet/nap time, and afternoons result in messes that are tidied up before dinner.  

Each morning I get their breakfasts organized, and we eat together.  Then I make coffee and sit down to read while I drink it.  Both kids entertain themselves during this time.  It took quite a while to get this to go smoothly, but I think the consistency of it helps.  It's part of the rhythm of the day.

My mom comes once a week to take care of them while I work up in my office for the day.  

On days when my partner is home in the mornings, I work for two hours before joining them for the rest of the day.

I've scaled back my idea of needing a certain amount of time, or certain ideal conditions.  I take it where I can get it now, and I'm getting used to using it to the fullest advantage whenever I do get time to myself. 

Alone time is essential for me to function in the world, and to recharge my energy stores, so I've made it a big priority for our family. 

 

I have been thinking about hiring a teenaged homeschooler to come as a mother's helper.  I'm thinking a couple of hours in the morning, so that I can work in my office more.  But we're managing so far, so no need to do that yet.  OP ... is that an option for you?

post #20 of 40
Quote:
An uninterrupted 3 hour chunk once or twice a month

 

Getting involved in the homeschooling community and finding a lovely homeschooled teenager who can come play with the children for that chunk could fill this (perfectly reasonable) need for you. We have a 16 year old babysitter who homeschools. She started with us last year, when she was 15, and the kids love it when she's here.

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