How do you get time to yourself? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 19 Old 03-26-2012, 09:49 AM - Thread Starter
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We have been on again-off again with the homeschooling thing, but we really have to decide soon now that DD is 5. Once I entertained the idea of homeschooling it seemed like a great idea. But in reality, being a full-time mom is hard for me. While I love  it a lot of the time, I can't say that I love it all of the time. And I just don't always feel good at it. Sticking to a routine is hard, hard, hard for me! I actually started fantasizing about sending DD to school, more for me than her, and registered her, only to recently learn she got assigned to a school that I hate. She is wait listed for some others that I really liked, but our numbers are bad and she is most likely not going to get a spot at one of those. (For clarification, we live in Boston where the public schools are done by a lottery process. I'm not talking about private schools, which are completely out of the picture for us.) So there's really no way I am sending her to the school she was assigned to, leaving me back in the homeschool camp. I do feel OK with this. In fact, I think in many, many ways it is a better option for DD. It's just me that I'm worried about it.


So how do you do it? Is every day spent doing your child's activities with little time for your own interests? Did you find that you were able to stick to a good routine even if that's not your strong suit? Do you somehow manage to get regular alone time for yourself? I suppose in some ways it is selfish of me to be worrying about this, but I do worry about getting my own needs met if I'm committing to be a SAHM for an infinite amount of years. 

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#2 of 19 Old 03-26-2012, 10:21 AM
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I've been homeschooling for a few years now. My oldest is 8.5 and my youngest is almost 5. Now that the kids are older, they spend a lot more time away from me (in our house) doing their own thing. I really only spend about 2 hours in the morning and then 1 hour in the afternoon about 4 days a week. And that is with me including activities for the younger kid. That being said, I do feel like I need to spend more time on some crafts - so I probably should add a little more time in. 


Since they spend a lot of time playing together, I have a lot more free time than I had realized I would. Another way to ensure that I get some time for myself it by instating a quiet time during the day. During this time I separate the boys from each other and they play quietly by themselves. This gives me time to exercise or do other things I want to do. 


I'm not sure if you have another child or not. If not, it may be a little harder until she is reading independently. Once she is - then she will probably stick her nose in a book for periods of time.  :)


I know you that you don't do well with keeping a routine, but I think that if you set up a quiet time it would really pay off. And by having it follow a meal or be at a similar time, it becomes a habit which helps to remove some of the resistance you may run into. 






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#3 of 19 Old 03-26-2012, 01:02 PM
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Some ways to make time for yourself and your interests:


Institute a daily quiet time.

Make use of time early in the morning or after your child's bedtime.

Hire a babysitter once in a while and go and do something.

Hire a "mother's helper" once or twice a week (a younger adolescent) to play with your child while you have some time for yourself.

Carve out some time for yourself on weekends or during evenings, when your partner or extended family can take over the primary caregiving.

Include your child in your interests, rather than always following hers.

Allow your child plenty of "fallow time" and resist the urge to constantly program and direct her learning and being.


As she gets older she will rely less on you for guidance and support. She'll have activities that will take her away from the home. Her attention span will get longer and she'll have the skills she needs to amuse herself at home for longer. She'll develop social relationships that will occupy her during the day. She'll be more able to self-direct and self-administer her "school" and leisure activities. During the first year or two, it can be challenging to stay grounded in yourself and who you are.


A change of scenery always worked wonders for me. If I was feeling claustrophobic at home, as if my life was being ruled by the whims and needs of my small children, it really helped to bundle us all up and go somewhere. Even just on a short walk out the door of our house, or a trip to a café for hot chocolate, or to the park for me to read aloud a chapter from a story, or to the garden where I could dig and the kids could run around.



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#4 of 19 Old 03-26-2012, 03:06 PM
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Our school is about 2 hours a day- so there is lots of free time for our other things we have/want to do.  Well we do read outside this time- so that is probably an additional 30 min- 1 hour/day.  


My kids play awesome without me around.  So I really do have quite a bit of time to myself- can't complain there :)

Iowaorganic- mama to DD (1/5/06), DS1 (4/9/07), DS2 (1/22/09), DS3 (12/10/10), DD2 (7/6/12) and a new kid due in early 2014

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#5 of 19 Old 03-26-2012, 09:24 PM
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Allow your child plenty of "fallow time" and resist the urge to constantly program and direct her learning and being.


This is a biggie.  My daughter is 5 and spends probably half her day off in her own world, doing her own thing.  Sometimes that means me setting up something for her, but then she's on her own.  Lately she's been painting -- she paints for HOURS.  I set up the paints, and check in every so often to make sure there's nothing spilled on the table.  She sets her own pictures aside to dry, gets more paper, changes the brush water as needed.


Sometimes she watches her yoga video.  Sometimes she watches movies or shows on netflix (she loves Zobomafoo).  Sometimes she goes on the computer to play at poissonrouge or another of her games, or she'll even play Minecraft!  She knows that she's supposed to ask before having screen time.


Sometimes she's in her room playing with her dolls.  Sometimes she's sitting with a pile of books, reading.  Sometimes she's in the playroom with the Lego.  Sometimes she's playing 'kitchen' or 'party' or 'school' or 'Mario' -- taking playsilks, dolls, and other assorted toys and creating vast landscapes out of them.  


We've allowed her to be independent and gave her the tools to do so with a very Montessori-inspired toddlerhood.  Note I said "allowed", not "taught" or "made".  :)  


Anyway, so homeschooling her is really no different than parenting her was when she was younger.  She spends a lot of time on her own, but also a lot of time with me.  When she wants to play a game together, or watch a show together, or just cuddle.  Some of our 'together' time is also learning time.  We don't follow a strict schedule but follow her cues, mostly.  Lately she's really keen on science.  She asks every day to 'do science' and will do two lessons in a sitting.  We have math and cursive writing and grammar programs on the go too... none of them take very long to do a lesson.  Most of her 'learning' at this age is practical stuff rather than academic.  And the academic stuff that does get covered doesn't take very long.


Some of the practical stuff includes helping out with housework, with cooking, etc.  She's part of the household, not separated off into her "kids activities" vs the "grownup activities".  


I get most of my 'me time' when she's playing on her own.  I can also get 'me time' in the evenings when hubby is home, or on weekends.  Homeschooling doesn't mean scheduled-ordered-activitied-working-24-365.  :)  And heck, even if you do find things overwhelming once in awhile, you can just take a day off whenever you need it!  :)

Heather, mom to Caileigh 12/06 and aspie ADHD prodigy David 05/98 :intact lact
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#6 of 19 Old 03-27-2012, 05:45 AM
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Everyone is right, you will have plenty of time when you are at home.  My dd is 5 and entertains herself a lot of the time, we do only about 1hr, if that, a day on actual materials.  For me the problem is getting to my doc apts, working out, hair cut, etc.  My dh travels very often and is usually not here during the week and I have a chronic health problem that requires plenty of doc apts.  I feel some resentment and anger when I hear about my mom-friends making it to the gym, by themselves!!!, and getting to exercise, or swim, or take a yoga class,...I could really use some time to nurture myself and get healthier too.  I used to have a mom/friend that I hired to come into my home and watch my dd, and do arts and crafts for 3 hrs a week (all at once).  I loved her and so did dd, then we moved :(  She is still one of my closest friends.. But I haven't found someone like that here yet.  I would schedule all my apts on that day per week and could count on getting things done, if I didn't have a doc apt I would go work out sometimes or get a hair cut, etc.  I don't think it's selfish to consider your own well-being....after all if mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy :)

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#7 of 19 Old 03-28-2012, 10:47 AM - Thread Starter
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OP, here. Thanks for your thoughts, everyone. It's been reassuring to read your experiences. 

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#8 of 19 Old 03-29-2012, 11:05 AM
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Ditto to everything everyone else has said, except I will add one thing - for me, having a community of likeminded, homeschooling moms/parents to share in some childcare and/or child activities has been a lifesaver.  Take ds1's taekwondo classes for example, which are 3 days a week.  Sounds like a pain, right?  Not so, because there are 3 other homeschooling friends taking classes at the same place.  I know that if I need some time, I can drop both of my kids off (including the younger one who doesn't even take classes) at the taekwondo center and another mom will watch them.  Or, another mom will often take them there leaving me to simply pick them up.  Or maybe she'll do both.  Or maybe I'll drop my kids off at a friend's house hours before the taekwondo class, she or her husband will take them there, and I'll meet them there at class time.  Or maybe I'll do all those things for her one week. 


Anyhow, that's just one of many examples of how a community of parents can help each other out.  This situation replays itself many times a week with different activities and for different reasons.  Sometimes the transportation arrangements can be complicated to the point of being comical, but at the same time they allow our kids to do various activities while the parents maintain their sanity AND get some free time here and there :-). 


I realize that I am lucky to have this community, and having friends of this caliber doesn't always just 'happen.'  However, the more you can cultivate friendships like this among other homeschooling families the better (IMO)!

~ Meredith, mom to dd(Jan '02), ds1(May '04) and ds2 (June '07) ~ :
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#9 of 19 Old 03-31-2012, 04:52 PM
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We wake up at 6am and start our homeschool routine at 8am.

During the two hours in between, dh and ds have breakfast together and hang out.

This is a special time for them to spend together, and it gives me those two wonderful hours of quiet and coffee by myself.

I occasionally have to remind them to keep the volume down so that their noises don't interfere with my quiet time.


We don't have happy homeschooling days every day.

You shouldn't feel bad about that. It's hard. Some days, weeks, months are harder than others.

And remember that you have the freedom to schedule activities as you wish.

Be creative, and structure your day / week / year in a way that works for YOU.

Mama to one 9yo Dancing Boy

My Blog -

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#10 of 19 Old 04-22-2012, 03:26 PM
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I let him watch PBS for an hour, or pop in an educational DVD. I read in the back bedroom.


Homeschooling, organic gardening, jewelry-making, bread-baking pagan mama to Bubba:
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#11 of 19 Old 04-23-2012, 11:25 AM
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If I was working an 8-5 job, I would not have time to myself during the day....and I don't expect much of it while homeschooling either, since I treat homeschooling as my full-time day job.  I do my best to have them all done with their school work by 3 pm every day, about the time the bus drops the neighbor kids home from school.  DH gets home around 5 pm.  Between 3 and 5 they can play, and I can sometimes take some time to read, quilt, practice music or some other pursuit, if I haven't decided to cut the grass or clean something instead.  I usually do dishes and laundry from 6-7 am so I am not needing to do them during school time or this 3-5 time block.  The only thing I usually have to do between 3-5 is make dinner and I do my best to come up with things that can cook either very quickly, or slowly without a lot of preparation or attention. 

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#12 of 19 Old 04-23-2012, 01:38 PM
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That is a good perspective. I hadn't thought of it that way.


Originally Posted by PGTlatte View Post

If I was working an 8-5 job, I would not have time to myself during the day....and I don't expect much of it while homeschooling either, since I treat homeschooling as my full-time day job.


Also, I was about to chime in from our own experience that now that our DS(9) enjoys Minecraft, I have all kinds of time to myself! haha. Seriously, though, he's so absorbed in it, I can actually confidently start projects knowing that I won't get interrupted, which is huge. It wasn't always that way. And he visits a boy (13y.o. friend of the family) once a week who I pay to watch him, but they have fun together just as though they are hanging around as friends. That's 2 and a half hours there where I can do my own thing too. And then there's the occasional class I sign him up for. Prior to that, though, what saved me was (a) when he did his independent play and (b) when he watched the media that we did allow, which for his early years meant a Thomas the Tank Engine video or nature show video. Ahh, those were the days :-)


And of course at night when DH comes home we have the weeknights divided up because we both have 2nd jobs out of the home and/or activities that we need/want to pursue on our own.

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#13 of 19 Old 04-23-2012, 02:33 PM
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IMO, your support system has so much more to do with your free time than whether you homeschool or not. People who have parents, siblings, good friends, etc. that live nearby that are willing and able to help out when you need it is what gives you time. That and paid help I guess. Unless you have one of those two it doesn't matter if you are at work all day or schooling your kids all day,  you still aren't getting time to yourself. I think the hour or so I get on and off throughout the day homeschooling is the same amount of down time I got at work for breaks and lunch so no difference there.

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#14 of 19 Old 04-24-2012, 04:04 PM
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good thread to read, thank you


I started waking up earlier because I wanted to have time to myself before school started.  That backfired and the kids just started waking up earlier too.  We still do not start schooling till 8- but now the kids just crawl up my butt about you know- food, water, clothing, that sort of stuff lol


..but it sort of ended up okay, because now they are going to bed earlier too- so after the kids go to bed, I am done DONE DONE DONE


I also have a baby in the house too, so when it is her nap time it is quiet time for everyone, and during her nap I claim that time too


she always had napped, but now naps are really a nice break for the kids and for me during the day

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#15 of 19 Old 04-25-2012, 07:32 AM
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I do martial arts 3 times a week (2 evenings and then on Saturday morning).  I also have a once a month book club that happens on a Sunday with the ladies from my martial arts class.  Those are my "me" times (even though the kids also do martial arts, I help in their class and then attend the adult class).  If I didn't have martial arts, I would go insane! :)

~Brandon Michael (11/23/03), Jocelyn Lily Nữ (2/4/07, adopted 5/28/07 from Vietnam), Amelia Rylie (1/14/09), & Ryland Josef William (9/7/05-9/7/05 @ 41 wks). 
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#16 of 19 Old 04-28-2012, 01:26 PM
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My kids are almost five and almost three, and to be honest, there is a lot of time where they don't play nicely with eachother. If they are in separate rooms they usually do great, but they do require my assistance a lot of the time. I'm sure the situation will improve as they get older.


To be honest, I do feel the need for some "me" time, and for me, one way to solve that has been getting a gym membership. Three or four times a week we take a trip to the gym, where I work out for an hour (and sometimes relax for 10-15 minutes in the gym's cafe), while the kids play in the childcare area. We go in the mornings when the childcare room is not very busy, so they get a lot of attention from the babysitters. Both boys love going there, and I get some time to clear my mind and do something just for me.  Another thing we do is that DH takes the kids for most of the day on Saturdays, so that I can have some time to myself then. I try to get housework done on Fridays, so that I really can do something fun during those hours. I also take care of the kids for a few hours on Saturday so that DH gets some personal time too.  Sundays are our family day.      We also try to do rest time. Older DS does really well and can stay in his room for 40 minutes, but 2 1/2 year old DS lasts for maybe...five or ten? So for me, these other times when someone else is actually watching the kids, provides some personal time.

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#17 of 19 Old 05-01-2012, 03:37 AM
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I think finding time to myself is the hardest part of homeschooling.  I do belong to three book clubs, so I get out three evenings a month and our homeschool group has a mom's night about once a month so I get out for that as well.  I do find myself getting jealous of friends who get to go out to lunches, go on travel trips during the day (we live in Europe and groups of moms take the train to Paris, places in Germany, etc. . .), who get to join clubs to meet others when I feel pretty isolated most of the time.  I'm not sure it would be like this if we lived in the states, but where we live there just aren't many opportunities to hang out with other like minded families.  We do have the homeschool group, but it's a super ultra conservative religious homeschool group. . .and they do a lot together with church, Bible study, kids' church stuff, etc. . .that I don't really want my children involved in.  Finding a sitter is hard without paying 10-20 euro an hour (around $18-$36).  I do love spending time with my children and we do only actively homeschool 3 days a week for less than 4 hours at a time. . .the rest of the time they play, fight with each other, read, do crafts, etc. . . but I do always feel like I'm on duty with them.  

Barbara:  an always learning SAHM of Ilana (11) and Aiden (8) living in Belgium with my amazing husband.

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#18 of 19 Old 05-01-2012, 08:11 AM
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Just found your thread and haven't read any of the other replies yet so forgive me if I repeat something that has already been said.  My involvement with home school ends with lunch.  The afternoons are mine.  When the girls were home schooled, we had school from 8 am to around noon.  After lunch was a walk, then quiet time for everyone, me included, for an hour.  For the rest of the afternoon, they played by themselves or with neighbor friends (when they got home from school) until dinner time.


Now, with my son (age 14; 8th grade), we start school with a walk at 8:30.  Then math and language arts.  My active participation ends with lunch.  He does history and science (with the exception of experiments) on his own after lunch.  When he is done with school, he is free to chose his own activities.  And I start sewing (I have an at home dressmaking business).


While I am mostly available in the afternoons, I'm a firm believer in letting children play without parent involvement.  I'm not my children's friend or playmate; I'm their parent.

Chris--extended breastfeeding, cloth diapering, babywearing, co-sleeping, APing, CLW, homeschooling before any of this was a trend mom to Joy (1/78), Erica (8/80), Angela (9/84), Dylan (2/98)
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#19 of 19 Old 05-01-2012, 09:03 AM
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Originally Posted by earthgirl View Post
So how do you do it? Is every day spent doing your child's activities with little time for your own interests? Did you find that you were able to stick to a good routine even if that's not your strong suit? Do you somehow manage to get regular alone time for yourself? I suppose in some ways it is selfish of me to be worrying about this, but I do worry about getting my own needs met if I'm committing to be a SAHM for an infinite amount of years. 


I've been on my own for 2 hours now. My 12 year old dd is still sleeping but she regularly does her own thing for hours each day. If I need space I tell her that I have something to do or need time alone. It can be helpful to give her a specific time we will do something together again instead of just saying later.

I am generally awake 1 hour before dd and go to bed 1 hour after she does.


When dd was 5 she did less on her own but it sure didn't stay that way forever.  At 12 my dd can do so many things for herself and honestly doesn't want me in her face so much anyway.


I wouldn't say routines are my strong suit. We spend 2-3 hours per day actively homeschooling with breaks between subjects. We take days off when we feel like it. We like lots of free time. We do not have ongoing outside activities that require us to be on the go a lot.


I personally think I have more time to do my own thing than some mothers I know with kids in school. I don't have to get dd awake and dressed and out the door every morning. I don't have to pack dd a lunch. I don't have to make or buy treats for a class.  I'm not having to go to a school to pick up dd or attend conferences, volunteering or programs. I'm not running off to work every day.

I know there are also homeschool parents who spend much of their time focusing on their kid's activities and desires and it makes me tired just to hear all that they do for their kids.

I think you can happily choose to do that but you don't have to. If you need time to yourself or have trouble with heavy routines you can choose a more relaxed way of homeschooling. You can choose to limit scheduled activities and let most of your child's time be free play particularly when they are younger.

Kim ~mom to one awesome dd (12)

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