Something has bothered me about the recent back-to-school commercials. The overwhelming majority show moms celebrating as the kids head off to school. It's like they can't wait to get rid of them! I don't know how many times I've heard a mom say to me, "You homeschool? I could never spend that much time with my kids!" The last time I heard this from a mom, I replied,
"Sometimes I need to take a break, just like everyone else, but I happen to enjoy being around my kids and wouldn't have it any other way!"
This brings me to a very important topic, which happens to be the focus of this week's Blog Cruise:
How do you find free time? Is it okay to take time for yourself? If so, how?
Is it okay to take free time for yourself. Absolutely! There is no question about it. Getting some "me time" on occasion definitely improves my outlook on the day. Also, our kids need us to take free time. It is difficult to parent if you are constantly drained and don't recharge. Sometimes we moms forget to make time for ourselves, but it is so important. The more difficult part to this question is how?
1. If you have younger kids, barter child care with a friend
When my kids were younger, a friend and I used to swap kids once a month for three hours. This seemed to be the right amount for us to feel like we had a break without interrupting our daily schedules. The kids enjoyed it too, since they 'd have playmates for a few hours. As a result, the mom doing the child care sometimes had a bit of a break too, simply because the kids were occupied playing.
2. If you have older kids, assign some work and step out for a bit.
Now that my kids are older, I can leave them home alone. I'll often give them independent assignments and then go run errands. Even though this isn't complete "me time", it does give me a bit of a break. No errands to run or you need a bit more relaxation? Perhaps there is a coffee shop nearby that you where you could just put your feet up for 30 minutes or so? My husband and I do a version of this on Saturday mornings. Our schedule and finances don't allow us many "date nights", but we usually head out every Saturday morning without the kids and grab a Starbuck tea. We'll either sit at the outside tables and enjoy the activity of our downtown area or run various errands. It doesn't much matter which, it is really just a break from the household.
3. Plan family activities that both kids and adults enjoy.
Several years ago we started what our family calls "Football Ministry". Essentially, it is a time of fellowship with other families, usually coinciding with Sunday afternoon football games, that the whole family enjoys. Each family brings a dish to pass and stays for several hours, often times well after the end of the game. The kids usually go off and hang out, the men (and some women) go watch the same, and the rest mingle around the food table and converse. It is a way for everyone to get a bit of "me time" at the same time.
4. You must have a Moms' Night Out on occasion!
Our support group tries to schedule at least several Moms' Night Out events each year. Really, several isn't enough, if you ask me. Usually someone offers to host in her home and those attending bring a snack or dish to pass. You could meet up at a coffeehouse, a restaurant for dessert, take a class together...anything. The important part is to get something down on the calendar! It doesn't have to be anything huge. Coordinate your schedule with a friend's and head on out!
Often there is no agenda other than to talk with other homeschooling moms. I often feel most recharged when talking to other homeschooling parents as they understand my perspective, whether we are discussing homeschooling issues or otherwise.
There are other ways to find time for yourself, such as hiring a mother's helper or enlisting the help of relatives on occasion. What I think is the biggest challenge for homeschooling moms is to just do it. We need to take the time for ourselves, even if it is just a walk around the block if that is all that can be managed. I don't believe the "hows" are the biggest obstacle, but rather understanding the importance and making the time. So, grab your calendar right now and plan some "me time". You'll be glad you did (and your kids will be too!).