"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"

Jen Keefe, March 2018:
In the beginning, I fought so hard for the me time I deserved. God it looked ugly! Deep down, I wanted to do nothing but be with my kids, but I felt so much pressure to have me time. It created so much tension, chaos, and disconnect.

Now, my kids are 8 and 10. My 8 year old daughter wants me near all the time.

When I do have a dentist appointment for example, she always has the option to come (we have an awesome family dentist) but chooses to stay home with Dad. She gives me huge hugs before I go and tells me how much she'll miss me and loves me. She's so happy when I come home. My son is too.

I've started going to book club sometimes lately. My daughter tells me that she'll miss me but hopes I have a good time.

When my daughter was younger and really needed me near we would sometimes go to the same area together and my husband and kids would go to a bakery or playground nearby while I got my hair done, for example. Other times my husband would take the kids out before I left, as suggested above.

I spend most of every 24 hours with my kids. We still have a family bed (minus my husband because he has to go to sleep early for work) and many mornings I lay in bed and look on my phone while I wait for them to wake up because they are so happy to see me when they wake. Sometimes I get up before them and enjoy that morning quiet before they get up. We always go to sleep at the same time.

My family expressed great concern about whether or not I was getting my needs met in the beginning. Then (unrelated) we moved away from family. Now, our little foursome is so stinking happy. We love each other so much and so enjoy our time together. We would not have gotten here if I hadn't moved away from a constant search for me time. If I still believed that loving each other so much was a detriment, I wouldn't know how wonderful enjoying each other could be.

One last note: my husband and I didn't go on proper dates for years. Now, we've been on two in the last month. Everything really is a season in my experience (which I think I first learned here).


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
Your present moment

 photo DSC01030.jpgEmbrace 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.'
—Clare Kirkpatrick
photo by Sandra Dodd

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. hhttps://sandradodd.com/archive/AlwaysLearning/topic/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
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 things for them as they do.


Joy and Connection

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
photo by Gail Higgins

Finding yourself
I was asked recently, "When do you find time for yourself as an individual?"

When children are very young, their lives ARE the mother's life. The more time the mother spends with the child when he's young, the easier it will be for him to separate freely on his own. It goes against some of the assumptions of traditional parenting (although it might not in India, and my comments might be too western here), to suggest that fulfilling all of a child's needs will make him more INdependent, but when a child is needy and feels ignored, he will be more demanding, not less.

As my children got a little older, I found other families to trade time with. Their kids would play at my house while the mom shopped or something, and she would reciprocate. If a mother is encouraged to look for more and more time without her children, though, it can make her feel unhappy thinking she's doing something wrong and should "find herself." Rather than encourage mothers to feel they have lost their individuality, I've found that helping them become the sort of parents they're proud to be can make them feel much better than outside interests might have. As children get older, mothers have more time, until someday the children are grown. People say it and hear it all the time, I know, but when they're little it seems it will never happen, and when they're older, it seems it took no time at all.

The more people one's children know and trust, the easier it will be for the parents to find some separate time, but I don't think time apart should be a high priority.

The graph was created for this article: SandraDodd.com/howto/precisely

Being a Happy Mom When Parents have Issues

Me, talking about "me time," to Amy Childs
(sound file also that page; this links to that spot in the transcript)

Chat transcript on "Me" Time

Generosity Abundance Gratitude