I must have looked pretty frazzled this past week because I had a couple of different people ask me if I ever get any “me time.” I quipped that I have between 9:30 – 10:00 p.m. because that is the quietest, most non-guilt intrusive time of the day but at the same time I keep thinking I get more time than that. I’m a homeschooling mom of three and social justice advocate. No one tells me what to do with my time. It’s all me time, right? Right?
Who is the “me” that gets time, anyway? Too often I have heard the phrase “me time” coupled with suggestions to get a manicure as though the “me” has to be a woman identifying myself with luxury and femininity.
Is working on my social activism “me time”? It is, in that it something I choose to do and for the most part its fun and challenging, but on the other hand it can also be a responsibility and burden. Cleaning can be me-time if it is transforming my surroundings into what I want. It’s drudgery if I’m just picking up the same stuff I picked up yesterday. Playing games with the kids can be me-time if it gives me a feeling of connection with them and builds my identity as a mother, but it can be a torture if I feel myself coerced into doing something I don’t want. Mother, homemaker, activist, bookworm, blogger…. there are all different aspects to who I am and the key is to finding how to be all of those.
I reject the idea that being stressed out by the kids necessarily means I need time away from them. Sometimes it does, but quite frequently it just means I need to adjust the way I do time with the kids. Maybe I need to take more control so my interaction with them is less them demanding things and more my providing things. Maybe I need to try to stop multitasking so I actually put the attention into the children rather than feeling like they’re pulling me away from other things. Sometimes giving more time to the kids, upfront and willingly, fills their need for affection and helps them find their own activities to do later. It varies depending on what the problem really is, but the point is that when I’m struggling with the kids, I don’t necessarily need to take a break from identifying as ‘mother’ but rather than adjust how I identify as ‘mother.’
We need to keep realistic expectations for parents. When my oldest was a toddler I read book after book about attachment parenting and about the need to meet my kids needs right that moment. I’ve seen the blog pages saying that children who are talked to or read to more have all sorts of advantages. But everything can be kept in proportion. I’ve read unschooling literature that promotes the idea the child should be in control and that if we push somehow we’ll crush our child’s love of learning and the magic unschooling fairies will not come, but seriously, having some level of structure in our house helps to keep the kids exposed to new ideas which they then take and incorporate into their play, so they play better and fight less. Likewise I’ve seen a million beautiful brilliant craft and unit study ideas on the internet but doing any of them would take more time and energy than I have. Keeping my expectations for myself realistic lets me survive.
That said, I still need time. I need time to get everything done I need to get done, and I need to appreciate what I get done instead of just guilting myself about what I don’t get done. I use the little bits of time I can. I let the kids have screen time when I need to cook supper. I’m getting better – perhaps too good at times – at saying “no, I can’t read that story right now” or even “I don’t want to hear anything about minecraft right now.” I’m learning not to say “maybe later” or “when I finish this…” because frankly, I never know what I’ll end up doing once I finish one thing. I could easily have a diaper disaster to clean up and the scissors to find so no, I can’t promise that I’ll read it after.
This blog post is part of the Gifted Homeschooler’s Blog Hop for September, our theme being Sleep and Other Forms of Self Care.
- Teaching with Chronic pain and Fibromyalgia
- Buy Yourself Something Pretty
- Why adults should nap for sanity
- The most important type of self-care for parents
- Homeschool and You
- Self-Care: Do I As I Say…
- Just This Side of Narcolepsy
- Parenting: Uncovering our Hidden Expectations.