Half term. And some parents will be moaning about having their kids round them for a week.
Of course, home educating parents have that full time and mostly they enjoy having their kids round them. That’s why they had them!
Never the less, managing that enjoyment requires attention because, as with anything, over kill can ruin it. And children and adults have different needs and different interests, all of which deserve respect.
Family life isn’t only about what kids want. And to educate children about the world also requires educating them to understanding how they fit into the world and with other people. Education has an element of give and take – it’s not all take on the kids’ side and all give from the parents. Parents and children are a team – family life requires team work. And if children can feel part of that it makes them feel useful and loved, develops confidence and self esteem. Makes them happy.
How parents manage being together – or not – with their children is very personal and individual. As with everything, I think it’s a question of balance.
We need to be attentive, but to be attentive and at your child’s disposal whenever they demand it is perhaps not giving them an understanding of how the real world of relationships work. As with all relationships it is healthy to have some space from one another, so why should we not expect that between parents and children? For example; I love my partner to bits but if we were together all the time I think we would be in bits of a different kind! We respect and love each other enough to know we need time apart. We would be doing our kids a disservice if we didn’t teach them that about relationships.
However, the concept of ‘adult time’ or ‘time out’ always makes me squirm a little as it suggests that adults are deserving of something that kids are not and seems a bit of a put-down. But teaching children that time apart out of mutual respect, because we’re all busy doing other things at times, is a healthy part of all loving relationships, is an important part of their education.
Not to mention understanding that everyone has needs, mums and dads too. These have to be balanced within the relationship of give and take, depending on the age of the child.
Another view is that if our time with our children – our team – is engaged and happy and fulfilling, then there isn’t such a need for space as there is when children are frustrated, irritated, or constantly demanding the attention they crave when they haven’t had it. Some parents think that the more attention kids receive, the more they demand it. I found it to be the opposite; if they are secure in knowing they receive loving attention they don’t have the need to demand it.
You can sometimes achieve a moment’s mental and spiritual space right alongside a contentedly occupied child. Space doesn’t always need to be physical. When parents say ‘the kids are doing my head in’ it is often just that; in the head. We may need to clear our thoughts and practice ways of gaining mental calm by letting go of the unnecessary and focussing on calmer thoughts.
I went through varying stages of managing my own needs in balance with the children’s which you can read (and laugh) about in the new book A FUNNY KIND OF EDUCATION. But I think I would now say that, actually, you don’t need that much space from happy contented busy children; they are a joy to be with. You just need to keep their happiness in balance with your own.
Not forgetting that one day they will have flown away and space becomes an empty house!