I was amused when a much older friend told me she loved watching me with my kids. I was the quintessential mother hen, as I always have the four kids following along behind me.
I remember a young mom saying she was just so thrilled to homeschool her kiddos so she could just be with them again. But then she discovered she was indeed with them, every single hour of every single day…and then what?
In one of the first homeschool books I ever read, the author wrote that if you don’t genuinely enjoy being with your kids and appreciate their companionship, you shouldn’t homeschool.
This piece of wisdom did not have entirely make sense to me when I first read it, but it sure does now. I’ve since learned, never were truer words spoken.
Should I always be with my kids? Do my kids always want to be with me?
No, they don’t….and turns out, neither do I, all the time.
Let me unpack that a bit…
There are too many music lessons and sports and playdates and youth groups and other stuff to honestly say that I am ALWAYS with them anyway. Though they aren’t typically out of my presence for seven hours on the regular,unless they’re well into high school years, they are involved in a lot of activities away from me.
My adolescent kiddos like time with their parents too: to read “To Kill A Mockingbird” after younger siblings are in bed, to watch movies, and to chat. The adolescent kids like to be part of the big family discussions, like where we’ll travel next, or discussions on current affairs, but adolescent kiddos certainly don’t want us ALL the time either.
Kids, especially in adolescence, crave solitude: to think and strum their guitar, to write their songs and text their friends, to read their books and think about who they are, to consider what life is all about and how they fit into it.
Children were born to parents and parents were intended to be children’s primary influencers, but they don’t need us all the time.
Turns out that though I enjoy my quadrangle of children, I like being by myself too.
Being by myself invigorates and energizes me. I get to express myself creatively better when NO ONE is around. I get stuff done incredibly quickly when I’m alone. I get to think a thought through to the end, without interruption.
There are times, like when we’re travelling, or living away from home for a few weeks or months, that the continuous familial interactions are a bit much, for everyone. Not everyone could verbalize that, but a couple of us certainly can, and loudly.
One daughter harps, harangues, and gets edgy. I know then that it is best to take the other three to the playground and let that daughter be quiet and decompress. Sometimes guarding my adolescent’s quiet time is even more important than guarding my own quiet time.
Mama can get edgy too. Quiet time for me is as necessary as breathing fresh air. Without an occasional quiet time, it feels like PMS every day of the month.
How to Find Quiet:
- Mama might need to go for a run or a neighbourhood walk when the oldest can look after the youngest.
- Mama might arrange a Saturday afternoon when the kids are hanging out at someone else’s house. Trade kids once a week.
- Mama might arrange a getaway when her partner arrives home.
- If both parents are home together, one parent might take responsibility for morning and another parent take responsibility for afternoon activities.
- Get up before the kids. (Yes, I know this can be a challenge with younger kids, but just two mornings a week might profoundly benefit you.)
- Designate screen time for your quiet time.
- Designate a basket of special activities just for quiet time.
- Head to another room and place a timer outside the door so kids know when you’re available: when the alarm goes off.
- Leave the home. By yourself. Even an afternoon of errands alone can refresh when you’re accustomed to being with kids all day.
- Being home alone is the sweetest quiet. (Also the trickiest quiet time to find.)
- Sit your kids with grandparent reading zoom dates. Grandparents can read stories or play trivia games or online games with kiddos while you’re in another room. And they’re in their Zoom Room.
- Have kids go to bed early once a week. Let them be on their bed with games or books for longer than typical bedtime.
- As a final option, get noise-cancellation earphones. Point to the earphones, which declares, “Mom is not available”. (And eventually they’ll believe you when you practice this on repeat.)
Mama just has to know what she wants, be humble enough to ask, and set healthy boundaries, on repeat, until quiet time habits are entrenched.
I chose this lifestyle because I want to be with my kids. I want to experience life with them and learn with them and discover things together. So I need to find ways to be together and to be alone.