"Me" time for unschoolers

Once in a while someone comes to try to assure us that she can't unschool unless she has a lot of "me time," a break, time to herself, her own hobbies, that being with her children is crowding her and smothering her.

Trading childcare with another family or two can help—kids will be with whole families, not a sitter, and in fun places the like, with toys.

But feeling separate from a child instead of feeling a partnership will cause more problems than it will solve.

Pam Sorooshian had added this to a list of "Examples of priorities that can hamper unschooling:”

• Parents expecting too much "adult time”

Clare Kirkpatrick wrote something wonderful in response to another mom's "I've put my life on hold mostly.":
I went through a mental health crisis when this feeling of being trapped overwhelmed me. That wasn't the only part of the crisis. Part of my healing was realising that I hadn't put my life on hold, I had changed my life. My life now includes my children and I'd chosen that and that was wonderful and delightful and tiring and relentless too...and that's ok. But if you think 'I've put my life on hold', that thought has a danger of growing and growing until you can't contain it any longer and you can't enjoy the reality, which is that your life is not on hold, simply different, filled with different, equally beautiful things (if not more beautiful). Embrace your present moment instead of yearning for what you don't have. I love the saying 'the grass is always greener where you water it.'
And in another post, Clare had written:
I've found that the more I let go of the idea of 'adult time' and the less I expect or even desire it, the more opportunities emerge unexpectedly. When the children don't feel that I'm trying to get time apart from them, they seem to need me less. By embracing these years with them and showing them how much I value their presence, I find they are happy to help facilitate my own interests the way I do theirs. Because they know I'm going to my dance lesson because I love it rather than because I need to do something without them, for example, they're happy to be cared for by my parents. When they're not happy, I don't go. Possibly because of that, they trust that ultimately *they* are my priority not the dance lessons.

So for me, unschooling did mean letting go of my own stuff until they learned to trust that I wasn't always looking forward to my next bit of 'adult' time; and now I'm surprised by how much of my interests I manage to fit in—often the children are involved; they're certainly alongside me as I am alongside them as they pursue their interests. But doing my stuff had to genuinely stop being my goal before that shift could happen.

—Clare Kirkpatrick
2014

On October 29 Heather wrote the outside parts, about something she had posted in 2011, which I've brought whole:

Heather Booth wrote:

I found it! I was looking for what I wrote when I was new to unschooling and "me time" quit making sense to me. https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/AlwaysLearning/conversations/topics/62327 I'm a little teary reading that now. It was a really sweet night.
Today on Facebook a conversation was started about how kids have to go to bed at a certain time so parents can have me time. Other people commented on how they need this time at night so that they can have a healthy relationship with their spouses. Even though I was there in that thought process a mere 11 months ago, reading the thread made me so grateful that I quit thinking these types of limiting thoughts.

Last night Austin came in after I had layed down and started watching Star Trek and asked if I would help him cut some stuff. He wanted to cut out stick figures. I could have (and probably would have a year ago) told him this was my time to do what I wanted to do without him. Instead, I flipped over and started cutting out stick figures. After we were done Austin took the stick figures, asked if he could play in the bathroom (which is attached to the bedroom) and play. I said sure. He helped me clean up so I wouldn't trip over boxes or slip on paper in the middle of the night and then turned off the light for me.

This morning I woke up and in the bathroom were the stick figure guys hanging on a towel and action figures hanging off cabinet handles. It cracked me up!! I opened up the q-tip box and there was even one in there!

I felt very limited when I needed me time. I was needy and restentful when I didn't get it. I'm glad I don't feel I need it nightly anymore. I'm glad I have been able to find the joy in being around Austin even after the sun goes down and find times for myself throughout the day if needed. I'm glad that I can find connection with my husband even when Austin is still awake. It feels so free! I wish I could help everyone feel this free!

—Heather Booth
2011
That little stick figure guy is still in the qtip container. Whenever we get to the end of it there he is.

            

jbantau, Jan 21, 2008
I haven't posted for a while, but there are some things I really wanted to share.

I realized, recently, that much of my difficulty with respecting my children as equals is because I didn't want them in my 'club'. I remember being a child and being left out of the grown ups' games and parties. I remember wanting to hang out with my mom when she had friends over for coffee, but not being allowed to participate. There were so many times when I thought, "I can't wait to be grown up so I can be part of that."

Well, now I'm grown up and I haven't wanted my kids to have equal footing with me. I never had it with my parents. Why should they get it? I never actually thought those words, but that is how it’s done in parenting, right? Kids are kids and play with other kids. Adults do adult things. A grown up may condescend to join in the kid stuff, as a favor. Maybe, an adult would even surprise you with an invitation to join the grown ups once in a while, but that was the exception to the rule. There was never any doubt where the class lines were drawn, though. Now I want my kids and I to be part of the same club.

I am doing my best to adjust my behavior as the true meaning behind my actions and reactions is discovered. The development of humility and the deflating of my overlarge ego is difficult and painful, but well worth it. Doing things with my children that enrich their lives and make them feel loved is my true happiness.

I have learned that doing things for other people benefits me the most. When I first began this unschooling journey I felt completely overwhelmed. It seemed even more work then conventional homeschooling. I felt used up and taken advantage of and under- appreciated, but that is because I thought that I was doing everything for everybody. I felt that my family was taking and not giving me anything in return.

The truth is when you do things for other people or simply because it’s the right thing to do you gain self-respect and, in turn, self- esteem. This minor change in perspective has changed a lot of things for me. I no longer feel that I am doing everything for everyone. I am doing what makes me feel like a good person. I am doing it for me as much as for them.

So to sum up, I won't exclude my children because I was excluded and I benefit as much from doing thing for them as they do.

—jbantau


When Parents have Issues

Chat transcript on "Me" Time

Generosity Abundance Gratitude