Tuesday 9 April 2013

How Important is Alone Time and Home Schooling ?

Daily time alone is very near and dear to my heart and is something I encourage all mothers in all walks of life to partake of regularly. Why ? You need to fill up because you are pouring out.  Over the years I have come to realize that many mothers feel guilty taking a few minutes a day to recharge. For these mothers I point to scriptures and how Jesus often withdrew to lonely places (Luke 5:16) If HE needed time on His own then how much more do we ?

Burnout is a very real companion of many mothers and the sad thing is that many keep it a secret because they feel as though they are failing. Home schooling is no small undertaking and in order to keep at it for the long haul you need to take care of yourself. Without you there is no home or home school. You are the most important ingredient on this journey and you are the one that is responsible to keep yourself properly cared for or it won't be long and you will be burned out.

Self care or Me Time out of balance can be a bad thing too. It can become a self serving, self worship time which is not edifying to you or your family. Today I read a great article that helps to put Me Time in perspective over at Raising Arrows called: Caring for Yourself {The Me Time Myth Revisited. Please know that I am not advocating a self centered form of self where we actively seek time to be away from our family at all costs.  What I am talking about is finding time to grow and become all that you can be in order to care for your family well.

Early on in my home school journey I was introduced to Karen Andreola's book The Charlotte Mason Companion and fell in love with the chapter on Mother Culture.

How do you start ?
Time management is key to avoiding burn out and part of the solution is a daily time for you. Schedule it in if you don't make it a priority then it will not happen at all. We need persistence to find time for ourselves, especially if our lives are hectic, hurried, and we have learned how to live on adrenaline in place of that highly practical virtue, fortitude. (Page 345**)

Purchase a good kitchen timer with a loud ring that can be heard across the house.  Use the timer every day so the children become confident that Mom will not forget to let them out. (Did that once. Two hours later a little voice piped up: "Mommy is room time finished ?" Ooops everyone was so quiet and happy . . .)It also eliminates the calling out to you "Is room time finished yet ?" for children who can't tell time.

Start with five minutes and add a min a day until you work up to an hour. When Sir N was a baby my friend encouraged me to start with him as soon as he could sit. We borrowed toys from friends and later the toy library.  We also used toy rotation. He was only given these toys during room time. I used a timer so that he learned it was the timer that released him from playpen time and not crying. In the beginning I sat with him put him in there and started the timer when it rang five minutes later I verbally let him know "The timer rang time's up let's pack away the toys" this signaled the end of room/play time. Gradually over a four month period we worked up to an hour playpen time he was a year old by then. It is not advisable to start with a sick child or a tired one. I did playpen/ room time half an hour after he woke up so he was not tired. He looked forward to this part of his day because he could play with his special toys.

The principle is the same with children aged six and younger. When training them to keep themselves occupied start small and build on success. This is a daily thing not a Monday to Friday schedule. If you skip Saturday and Sunday you will need to start from scratch on Monday.  The number one key to success is to have room time every single day at the same time unless circumstance warrants a change.

For intermediate aged children start with a 15 min block of time. Use toys which you have set aside for this purpose only. A pre-room time snack, small drink and toilet stop is important to prevent the calling out Mommy I need the toilet! Mommy I'm thirsty.

Let me warn you of the perils of answering your children's questions during room / playpen time. I made the mistake of answering a question during room time one day and Oh dear from then on for a few weeks they called out to me every day until I finally said if you speak to me during room time then time starts all over again. That happened only once . . .

Teen children can keep themselves busy for an hour a day they are old enough and if they can't then start as you do with intermediate children.

Set Boundaries at the start
  • Use a timer to keep time 
  • No toilet breaks
  • No calling out to Mom
  • No talking to other family members
  • Quiet play
  • Any toys taken out to play with need to be put away at the end of play time.
  • And for you: No Housework.  This is an easy trap for you to fall into. It seems like a good idea to clean while no children are present. Do NOT do this mother. The purpose of this hour is to feed your soul!
What can the kids do ?
  • Listen to Audio Books
  • Rest on their beds
  • Lego
  • Puzzles
  • Special crayons and a colouring in book
  • Toy Library toys
  • Anything quiet
  • Character qualities developed: creativity, contentment, obedience, 
  • Promotes imagination
  • Encourages keeping themselves occupied. 
  • Improved Concentration Span
  • A love of music
  • Independent play improvement
For you
This time is not there for you to clean your house! It's there for you to do something for you without interruption from anyone. That means switch off the phone become unplugged for an hour a day. Be wise with your time and redeem it. You are the only one who knows what's best for you to enable you to be the very best at everything you were created to be.

Charlotte Mason advised the teacher to replenish her soul with a continual supply of ideas. ...stimulates your educational thought in many directions and keeps you from drifting into mere routine... Do not think this is a selfish thing to do, because the advantage does not end with yourself."

On the WWW

Think seasonally. One interest per season, coupled with thirty minutes of reading a day, may be all that is needed to keep up the Mother Culture and regain any lost enthusiasm for living - Karen Andreola


This week

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  1. This is terrific! I think we are all on the same page. I have tog et this book just to read that Mother Culture chapter.
    We have a 2 hour quiet time. I tell my kids before they go down, what time we are done. Sometimes it varies based on the day and our schedule.

    1. I'm impressed. I have a confession I have let this particular ball drop and need to get back in to it again. :)

  2. Love love love this post. I am linking it on my facebook page and as always...enjoyed your concise thoughts and links!

  3. Think seasonally. One interest per season, coupled with thirty minutes of reading a day, may be all that is needed to keep up the Mother Culture and regain any lost enthusiasm for living - Karen Andreola <----- LOVE THIS! Great post - thanks for sharing!

  4. I tend to ignore my needs most days, so your post was refreshing and definitely needed.

    My favorite homeschool literature site.

  5. I love the timer idea. :o) I do a similar thing with the girls in the evening in the sense that they have to go off without me. They get books and head off to their room to read and play and to leave mum alone. :o) it's not timed, but it helps to free me up for some time and train them to be able to occupy themselves for a short while.

  6. Wow, this is exactly what I needed and I'm not just saying that. I'm pinning it for future reference. Thank you for sharing!

  7. such a great article - and thanks for the shout out! Love your blog :) - kelsi from Cheeky Bums

  8. Great reminder. Thanks the practical advice. - Lori


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