How to cure home school overkill

‘Me’ time!

The hunt for Madeleine McCann back in the news this week and you really appreciate your kids being around.

But full on, full time children, which is what you get when you home educate, can drive you crazy however grateful you are for their safety. It’s not your kids exactly, you’d soon get sick of anyone you were with too much – partner, parents, best friends, whoever, for however much you love someone you need space from them too. This is important for any relationship to survive not just parents and children. There’s nothing like overkill for spoiling something precious.

Overdoses of home educating can soon dull what is a truly uplifting experience. But I found a little tweak in management could soon change that. Thought I’d share some ideas I found helped in case you wanted to try them.

–          The first and most important thing was quite simple – it was planning.

–          I found that if I planned time for my own pursuits as well as educational ones I felt instantly better. I had to reckon in the planning too. Whether it was time for exercise at my pace or a sit in the garden!

–          I realised that just because I was home educating I didn’t need to be educating every single minute. Or that I should always be attentive and engaged with the kids. Don’t forget; kids in schools only get very tiny amounts of engaged time with the teacher.

–          Using others; family, friends or other HE parents, to do a time swap with worked well. It wasn’t neglecting my duty as a home schooling parent, it just gave time for my needs too. Having that time on a regular planned basis was something to look forward to and extremely effective at easing the feelings of being swallowed up by children’s needs -very necessary if you want to be a successful HE parent.

–          No parent needs to feel guilty about having pursuits that their children aren’t part of. After all, the kids have pursuits that we aren’t part of. Besides, encouraging kids to be independently engaged in something also encourages them to be self motivated learners.

–          It was so easy to forget to do things alone. It soon became a habit to choose activities that would interest them as well. It’s important to have something just for us sometimes – much times!

–          Remembering that both me and the kids needed time apart from each other. Conscientious parents can forget this.

–          I also found I could still have a regular habit of personal time even when the kids were around being busy with their own things. I talked to them about being ‘out of bounds’ for a while and read, or gardened, or did something that was wholly for me, as they could do something that was wholly for them, where we didn’t disturb each other. They soon get into the habit of this. It’s a good lesson in mutual respect. And they need to understand they are not the centre of the universe.

–          I found activities for the children, often with a group, where they could be happily occupied whilst the parents could have some adult conversation. Places like play centres are great for this – wears them out too. Depending on their age we also used playgrounds, parks, swimming pools, skating or bowling rinks, sports halls, picnics in parks or the country.

–          I accepted there were times I couldn’t summon up enough energy to do anything and it was best (discovered after much angst and trial and error) to give up on the day and let them play. Accepting this rather than fighting it was much better and as I’m always advocating now – they were learning whatever they were doing, play included. A break did us all the world of good. They’d have plenty of days in schools where little was achieved. A relaxed day playing is far, far better than an enforced, stressful attempt to have a so-called learning day and end up hating each other!

–          We tried to create a different feel to a weekend than a weekday just for contrast. A change is as good as a rest.

–          Although we always considered our family as a whole, it was necessary to recognise that within that there were individual needs that required equal amounts of attention – ours included. Understanding that is part of an education – and parenting!

If you’ve got a strategy that works for you, please do post it. It all helps families to home educate successfully and enjoy our time with our children.

Remembering the McCanns we know we are the lucky ones.


14 thoughts on “How to cure home school overkill

  1. Great post Ross! I make time every day to meditate for 20 minutes. The boys know that they can’t disturb me unless the house is on fire or something similar :-). It gives them a space to get on with stuff on their own initiative, and gives me much needed headroom each day.

    I think your point about not having to be educating every single minute is a really important one, and easy to lose sight of sometimes.

    Thanks for a reassuring post!

    • Thanks for posting this – and the compliments. I agree – that twenty minutes to meditate, or stare into space in my case (others should try that too if ‘meditation’ seems to scary!) is a great way to get that head room. BWs

  2. I love this post! It’s very encouraging and reaffirms what I try to do with my children. We try to focus on school in the AM then pursue play in the afternoon. My kids can play with their friends, and I can work. It’s a win-win, and we aren’t as stressed!

    • Thanks for sharing that. It’s great to see how well home schooling can work. And thank you for the compliment, it really is uplifting to know that this blog brings people pleasure and support.

  3. Reblogged this on homeschoolhero and commented:
    Sorry for the lack of posts recently. There have been so many sick bugs going around and i think we caught them all! Because we were sick i felt a little bit guilty not feeling up to doing much in the way of home schooling with Ben. Then i logged on today, read this post and felt instantly better. Its about Home School Overkill and calms all my worries about having time to myself. Whether its to recover from being ill or just having an hour to sit and have ‘Me Time’. Its a great post. Enjoy!

  4. What a wise and wonderful post! I honestly think this works in more ways than we would expect. I have always had writing time on my own. I have never told my son to go off and write but obviously he sees me do it, However, he has taken it upon himself to do the same thing. So now he writes for websites, has two websites of his own and is being published in a book next year – he’s fourteen. So I think that you have raised a very valid point here, Ross. Not only can we keep our own personality and interests whilst we home educate but we can be influential role models to our children. By not trying to engage them or teach them anything but by our own actions we can actually inspire them to do things off their own back. This truly is self motivation and I believe that is one of the most important things we can teach our children.

  5. We tend to call Saturdays our ‘chill’ day where we just get up late and have a lazy day either playing on the wii or watching tv. As we are able to go out in the week, we tend to stay in hibernation at the weekends… for us!!

  6. Thanks for this, Ros. I found going on train or tram with T was good for carving out some headspace for me even if we were “together” if that makes sense. Not a bus and not taking more than one child though. T could always tell when I’d mentally checked out otherwise.

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