“So how do you get time to yourself?”
This was one of the questions often asked by other parents when they discovered we were home educating and – shock horror – were with our kids all the time!
Sometimes, so appalled were they at the thought of not having the kids away from them in school all day, it even preceded the more important questions that were actually about learning and education! We generally got fewer of those – apart from the ones like ‘How do kids learn anything without being in school?’
Anyway, you’ll no doubt be gaining the answers to that as you progress through your home ed life.
But the time-to-yourself issue is very personal and different for everyone, depending on how much you feel the need for it, and how you want to manage it within the relationship with your children.
I say that because all our home ed is dependent on our relationships. And part of education is learning about relating to others with respect and consideration. And that’s at the core of finding time out for yourself, however it is needed.
It’s a subject I talk about in ‘A Home Education Notebook’.
And in ‘A Funny Kind of Education’ I tell the story of how I first started practising this in a tangible (if laughable) way. I described how I’d tell the kids I was slipping upstairs to read quietly whilst they were happy playing and I’d be down to help with anything in a little while. Did it work? Well, after spending the first few sessions worrying myself sick at first about what was going on whilst I wasn’t there it developed into a habit I was able to practise with some success when I’d got to the end of my tether (yep – I wasn’t perfect!) and needed some time to myself. Didn’t always work. But evolved as the children grew. They do need to be at a certain age and stage of development to be able to manage it.
But I saw it as part of their social education – part of the give-and-take of living with others – they won’t always be living with their parents hard though it is to imagine when they’re young.
I explained it to them this way: when the kids were busy immersed in their playing or other individual pursuits I didn’t pester them as I could see they were busy. So referencing that, I talked to them about me needing time to be busy in my own way and I’d appreciate it if they could keep their requests for when I’d finished. This is part of the respectful way we interacted in the home and the way we learned together about having consideration for others’ personal space and privacy at times.
Everyone needs time out from each other who ever you are, whatever relationships you’re in; lovers, relatives, parents, kids, siblings, etc. Taking time apart is not a denunciation of love in any way and should not be tied up with that. It’s just a natural need, greater in some than in others. Some never need it at all. I actually need quite a lot of solitude. Sod’s law I have far too much now and can go head-crazy! 😉
I just thought I’d mention it in case you’re one of the parents who I’ve heard about that can feel guilty wanting time away from their kids. We need time away from our partners, or our own parents too on occasion – but somehow that isn’t something we feel so guilty about.
Guilt has nothing to do with your personal need for personal space. We are all individuals and should take the time we need, asking for respect for those needs from the people we love. Respect is an essential ingredient to all loving relationships. If you need time out – arrange it.
And then you can go on loving your kids in the way you want and building a strong respectful relationship with them that will last a lifetime.
As ours has.