Monday, September 13, 2010

Alone time... does such a thing exist?

When you are homeschooling and/or have little ones it does not seem so. But this weeks topic is not just about taking time to be alone but also free time... now that is something I like. This weeks topic for the Cruise is: How do you find free time? Is it okay to take time for yourself? If so, how?

I was going to skip this topic. I just have not felt like writing this up. Then I saw, and read, a couple of posts from other crew members and all of a sudden I felt like writing this. I have older kids now. I have me time. Sometimes to much me time as they are not as interested in doing things with me. They have their own interests. They range in age from 24 to 13. But, they were not always as self sufficient as they are now.

When my kids were little there was very little free time. When the girls were toddlers we lived in a trailer in a rural area. To walk around the block was 4 miles!!! Hmmm not going to happen. Not to mention no sidewalks and not even an area on the side of the road to walk! I was stuck in that trailer or in the dirt area, in front of our trailer. No grass. No outdoor play equipment. We also only had one car. I hated living there. Some days I felt trapped. I did not have much contact with other mom's of young children. I had only evenings and weekends, with my hubby at home, to feel sane. I don't remember getting any alone time.

When we moved into the apartment in upper Delaware I found other mom's (and one dad) with young children and we formed a play group. This was pre-homeschool days. We did things together, the kids played together, we got to talk to other adults, the kids were kept busy for a little while playing. That helped some. The girls would sometimes go play at one of the other mom's apartments, that gave me some time alone, but that did not happen often. Most of the time the mom came with the kids and we spent time watching them and talking.

When we decided to homeschool I knew that also that meant giving up alone time and other things like daytime Bible Studies. I would need time planning and carrying out homeschool, and the girls would be with me 24/7. I understood, accepted and liked that they would be with me, that I would have influence on them, that I would teach and train them, and be there to see (and help with) the struggles and successes.

When my kids were young I do not remember getting or taking a lot of alone time. But, I am not one to need a lot of alone time. I do need time to talk with adults though. My hubby and I did make time for date night and that was something I looked forward to and needed. Time with my spouse away from the kids was better than alone time to me. I am a people person.

One of the things I did when my children were young was join a Babysitting Co-op. I have not heard of these in a long time but they were so wonderful when my kids were young. A Babysitting Co-op is not for meeting and doing homeschool topics or studies together but strictly for babysitting each others kids without spending any $$$$ on the babysitting part. We sooooo needed this. We did not have money to go out for a date and spend $$$ for a babysitter too. With the babysitting co-op we exchanged points instead of money. You could only be in the babysitting co-op if you were recommended by someone already in the co-op. They took friends and then added friends of friends and wanted it to be people we all could feel comfortable leaving our kids with. I was invited into the group by one of my friends. Each couple had to be people that friends could feel comfortable leaving their kid(s) with. We were a tight knit group and did not add new members very often. Anyway... if you were going out and having someone babysit your children you got negative points. If you were babysitting someone else's children you got positive points. We tried to keep the points between -100 and +100. If you got close to -100 then you needed to do some babysitting and get closer to 0 and if you were getting close to +100 then you needed to go on a date and "spend" some of those points. This was such a blessing to my husband and I. I was even the leader of the group for awhile. I still have all the paperwork on how many points it was for how many children for how long a time in case my kids want to start one of these when they have kids.

I loved my little people and wanted to be home teaching them but I also needed some me time. Me time for me was not always being alone. I wanted time with people... just not little people. We were in various co-ops when the kids were growing and that gave me some outlets for meeting with other mom's. Taking the kids on field trips getting together for play days at parks or taking turns teaching and the mom's not teaching had time to chat.

I did thoroughly enjoy the Mom's Meetings our local homeschool support group put on monthly. That was another chance to get away from the kids for a night, and to get some fellowship and support from other homeschool mom's in the trenches with me. We usually had a speaker talk on a topic pertinent  to homeschooling which picked us up and kept us going until the next Mom's Meeting.

One thing I have always enjoyed is time away from my hubby and kids with my Mom. A couple times a year I would, and still do, go to my mom's and spend time with her. Now, most of the time I was not alone... I was with my mom... but I was away from the normal pressures of motherhood for a weekend. No one saying, "Mom...." , "Mom...", "Mom!!" I would usually get little time alone though. But I usually come back missing my family and ready to go. Recharged from my time away.

Another thing I enjoyed that recharged my "batteries" was and is the Ladies Spring Retreat that our church puts on. That I look forward to from the day after the retreat ends until it comes up again the next year. Usually though, there is little time there to be alone. Again, I enjoy being with people and it is a different setting. No phone or laptop and no little kids. Just good messages, good music, fellowship with other ladies, good food, and no doing the dishes or cleaning up afterward. The last few years my girls have joined me once or twice... that was lovely and I enjoy time away with them now that they are young ladies. This past year instead of engaging in some of the activities on Sat. afternoon we took time to be alone with the Lord and time by ourselves for a couple hours. It was so nice. My daughters and I took a walk in the woods and then we took a blanket and spent some quiet time reading our Bibles, other books, and writing sitting in the sun. It was one of the best Ladies Retreats ever.

These days I get plenty of alone time. I can go to Ladies Bible Studies during the day too, because the older girls are at home with the boys and I look at their work when I get home. I enjoy participating. I have time to blog, watch a movie, scrapbook, read my e-mail, go on Facebook, read a book... time I never had when my kids were little. I don't do all those things everyday, but I do have time to do them. I also don't cook every night like I had to when the kids were little. Now we share the cooking and I only cook one night a week. Sometimes I still get away with my hubby. We usually take time for us as a couple every couple weeks. We have special time away from the kids and don't need babysitters. But, most of my alone time these days is spent in my room on my computer.

I don't have little ones calling for me all the time. That makes me sad sometimes. I miss them needing me. The boys don't even want me to read to them for school. They want to read the books for themselves. I miss read aloud time. Then I think of all they have become, of the time we had, the time we still have ahead, and the time I have for myself now and I am thankful for this season of my life. Enjoy the season you are in. Make time for yourself if you need it. I think it is ok to need some time alone. Don't feel guilty about that as long time alone does not become something you need more than you need God. As long as it does not become so much time that you are neglecting your family. Find a way to recharge whether that means time alone or time with adults away from the kids for an hour or two. Make time for your husband, too. You need that to keep your marriage strong. Especially spend time alone with the Lord each morning. That will start your day right and give you the right attitudes toward serving your family as the Lord would have you to do.

Be sure to stop by The TOS Blog Cruise to read how my Crew mates answered this week’s question by clicking on the button at the top of this post.

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Michelle said...

Lovely and encouraging post. It's a reminder for me that this time when all four of my kids need me so much won't be such a long time after all. Sometimes, the constant calls for "Mommy, mommy, mommy" can be very overwhelming.

Vickie said...

Great post! I love the babysitting co-op idea. I wish there was something like that when my kids were little. I had a hard time trusting others to watch my kids :)That was that season, I'm now in this season.

God's Blessings


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