There was an internet meme going around a few weeks ago showing a mom jumping with joy over the first day of school while her kids stood next to her, frowning. I imagined she was so excited because she’s getting back to her regularly scheduled program: a neater house, lunch with friends, time for hobbies or volunteering, mani-pedis and spa days (hey, it’s my fantasy), or other self-fulfilling pursuits. Sans bébés. Her kids not wanting summer to end.
I couldn’t really relate to the photo.
First, there’s really no “first day of school” for us. We’ve been doing a little school here and there over the summer and we’ve eased back into our regular day. So the first day of school is a non-event. In fact, the day everyone else was posting their back-to-school photos on Facebook, I snapped a picture of my kid too. In bed. Sound asleep.
Second…well, second is kinda obvious, isn’t it? I don’t have that kind of (fantasy?) “me time” during the day because we home school. No large block of time where I can do whatever I want, for I have a child to teach. So, “me time” has to happen differently and on a more irregular basis.
How do I keep from going insane trying to teach my kids academics along with teaching them pick up their toys? When do I find time for myself?
How on Earth Do You Do It?
In an earlier article, I talked about the mechanics of how we make homeschooling work, but there’s another aspect – my sanity – that I struggle with the most. When people ask me “How on Earth do you do it?” they mostly mean the emotional and psychological part of the deal. How do I keep from going insane trying to teach my kids academics along with teaching them pick up their toys? When do I find time for myself?
When I DO get away, I feel guilty because it’s like I’m saying, “I don’t want to be around my kids” even though most people would think “of COURSE you need some time away!” But see, if the kids were “in school” I would have kid-free time that is *imposed on* me. But my kid-free time? It’s self initiated. *I* have to make the decision to leave the house, so I feel guilty for the implication of what “getting out” means. So, instead of having time that’s guiltless, I have time that’s guilt-filled.
I really need to quit listening to that voice. “I don’t want to be around my kids” is harsh and really needs reframing: I need a break from my kids so I can be a better teacher/mom. Because if I don’t get out of here I’m going to LOSE MY FREAKIN’ MIND!
Now. That’s better.
The Long View
So, on days where I’m feeling less…balanced… I take a break for a bit. Recollect my thoughts. Wait for my husband to get home so I can get out of the house for a while (usually to run errands because shopping without kids asking for a gazillion things or asking a gazillion questions is a luxury I enjoy even if it’s just grocery shopping). Or I mow the yard. Anything to take a break, people!
With a little clearer head and better perspective, I remember why we’re doing this. It’s going to be tough some days. It’s going to be rewarding some days. Some days will be productive, some not. And some days even the dog gets on my nerves.
And I still wonder about the woman in the meme jumping for joy… what IS she doing during the day?