In the weekly Unschooling Q & A on our FB group, the question of “Me Time” came up.
And how DO Unschooling parents manage to find any time for themselves amidst all this togetherness?
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I think we have to start by shifting our perspective a little. Sometimes we’re under the impression that something big has to happen. Maybe we’re visualizing something like a weekend away or 5 hours of uninterrupted time.
And it tends to not look like that most days, for unschooling parents.
Yes, we have hobbies and interests... but they're often the kinds of things that can withstand interruptions here and there. Unschooling parents are often pursuing their own interests right there in the living room near everyone.
Instead of living and enjoying our lives apart from our children, we live WITH them. (Read...That One Little Word)
That’s the thing about unschooling, we're prioritizing connection/relationship with our kids.
Yes, dIfferent kids' personalities are going to require different amounts of our time. And that’s something that’s always changing! Kids are constantly growing and maturing. And as kids explore new or different interests, they may need more help from us.
Sometimes they may even “request help” from us on things they’re fully capable of doing themselves. That’s often their way of asking for more connection with you. We tend to resist helping in some of these cases because we have some story in our head about them “taking advantage” of the situation, or “not trying very hard.” But that’s a whole ‘nuther blogpost!
What if our hobbies DO need uninterrupted time?
We usually have a few options.
If our pursuits can't be interrupted, we can find odd times of day when we can focus (late or early.) It may not feel ideal initially, but why fight with reality? And, when they’re teens and preteens wanting to sleep in each morning, you’ll have a lot of available uninterrupted time early in the day!
While they’re still younger, we can call for reinforcements - babysitting trades, spouse time wth the kids (without you around or in earshot), or even hiring a Mother's Helper from the local homeschool group (a preteen or younger teen looking for cash!).
As kids get older, they can see you as a Real Human (why am I slipping into ideas of Pinocchio or the Velveteen Rabbit?!) with your own interests and pursuits that nourish you in a personal level. While this is an important lesson to learn, they don’t see things that way at early ages! But as with most things parent-related, the more secure they feel in their relationship with you, the more comfortable they can be with a little more separation from you.
How do we help them get more secure?
You stop pulling away. Our wanting it isn’t enough to make it so. But if you help them get their cup full, so to speak, they’re able to do the internal work that’s necessary to feel more self-confident.
Security can’t be rushed - and when it is, the child clings even tighter. It’s the reassurance that you’re still with them, available, that allows them to relax into that concept.
This doesn't mean you have to be WITH your child 24/7, ever-present, always available though. If you need to go take a few minutes in your room, or do a little work, unschooling parents do this! Sometimes parents get the mistaken idea that every waking minute of their life has to be dedicated to child-raising. Making our kids a priority doesn't mean at the exclusion of everything else.
On a recent group coaching call, we were talking about this concept. So here are a couple of practical suggestions:
Don't make a big announcement, "Mommy is going off to her room now!"
That often seems to CREATE a need for them to be with you! (Kind of similar to when you get on the phone!)
Sometimes it helps to stop what you're doing and focus on them for a few minutes. Fill their cup and then they will happily skip off, capable of occupying themselves for a little while.
Headphones help a lot! Sometimes the house is noisy. And the kids are simply being happy rambunctious kids. When we recognize that that's where they are developmentally, we can bring our own stress level down about it. And those ear buds will really get you through it all!
It all may require some modifications with the pandemic, and I get it! A lot of parents are feeling very weary after months of being thrust into this position. Having the stressors of 2020 and the lack of outside distractions has made these situations more difficult. But it is what it is, right? We have to figure out how to make the best of it and continue to help our kids do the same.
Hopefully these ideas help.
If you have additional suggestions for how you make this work, leave a comment!
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