I have been doing a lot of thinking lately about how important it is for parents-especially homeschooling parents who are with their kids so much- to take time for themselves. This is not something that I have been good about during my parenting career. My normal pattern is to not take regular time for myself and then all of a sudden become so exhausted and irritable that I need an entire afternoon-or heck, an entire day, alone to recover.
Not exactly ideal.
Right now we are winding up a three-week break from our school work. I have been making a point, during these weeks, to spend a little time each day doing some things just for me. Reading. Exercising. Working in the garden. Writing. Drinking tea. Knitting. Breathing. Slowing down. And most afternoons I have escaped to my room for 30 minutes to be alone. I shut the door and everything:).
It has been so very nice. And, I see now, it is so very necessary to my well-being, my patience, and my energy level. Plus, it's not too hard to fit in time for myself on a lazy day when no one has to do any math.
But next week, it'll be next week. And if we are going to try out a year-round calendar, we need to start doing some lessons, even if it's in a relaxed, summer-time-kind-of-way. And truthfully, with four kids, all the animals, the chores, the activities, the summer camps, the fun stuff we want to do...I despair of finding that time to myself that I know I need.
I have come to the conclusion that perhaps it might be better this school year to go into things with a bit more of a plan. Not a "schedule" per se, but a routine, a purposeful way of going about the day so that the important things get done and the less important things don't get in the way. I am pondering what a good routine for summer learning might look like, but I do know that it must include self-care. It has to be a priority for it to happen.
Some ideas I have....
kale smoothies and trying to have a salad most days with lunch. I have also been drinking lots and lots of water. I do believe I am less tired when I drink enough water and pay attention to what I eat. But I still need a piece or two of dark chocolate after lunch too:).
2. Get up earlier than the kids. I have been doing it over our break and it
makes a world of difference. Yes, I am a little more tired. But it is
much easier to face the day when I have had some time alone to drink my
tea, to actually eat my
breakfast instead of helping everyone else get
theirs ready, and to think and plan a bit for the day ahead.
3. Go to bed on time. Because I really need my sleep. I try very hard not to use the computer after the kids are in bed, because it keeps me awake. No caffeine in the afternoons either, or I can't fall asleep.
5. Exercise most days. I have been exercising first thing after the kids
have had breakfast and my husband leaves for work, for 30 minutes. It is
great. Can't say I always look forward to it, but it definitely helps
me feel better and more energetic when I stick to it. I alternate
between jogging around our yard and riding the exercise bike while
6. Have afternoon tea time. It's getting a little warm, so soon it will be afternoon iced tea time. A little pick me-up, a chance to just sit for awhile and do nothing. If we are going out for the afternoon, I try to make some tea to take with me, though I usually forget.I have all my tea things-loose tea, tea bags, travel mug, chai mix- in a cabinet so they are ready to go. The little teapot, is a new addition which I am quite fond of!
7. Listen to music more. I have been trying to take a CD along while I am driving the kids around. Something I want to listen to. We have lots of CD's and I don't tend to listen to them in the house much. I would like to get some sort of music player I can keep in the kitchen to listen to music while I cook.
8. Make time to create and read. Not necessarily every day, though that would be ideal! I like to have a project or two going that I can work on when I have time, a free moment here and there. I like to knit a little, read, and do some writing. Right now I write for an hour a few evenings a week while the rest of the family plays Wii together. I read for a little while after the kids are in bed and before I get too tired. Knitting is harder to fit in but I do a little here, a little there. It is very calming. I would love more time for these things, but some time is better than none!
9. Take the time to do little things. The time to cut a little bouquet for the table, light candles for dinner, put a pair of earrings in, wear my birthday necklace, brush my teeth slowly, make a little
something nice for dessert, stick ingredients for bread in the bread-maker after lunch, drink my morning tea on the porch... The more little things like this I can take the time for, the more relaxed and purposeful my day seems to become. The key here is being aware of these opportunities when they arise and taking as many as possible.
If you are reading, I would love to know how you make time for yourself and what you like to do when you find the time!