Are you racked with guilt because you don’t want to be around your kids every moment of every day? Do you feel like this desire to get away from your kids makes you a bad mom? Does it break your heart to admit it to yourself? Are you afraid to even tell anyone else? Or get the support you need to make this dark dream come true?
Guess what? It is normal and healthy to want time away from your kids. You may have a lot of reasons for homeschooling. One of them might even be that you want to spend more time with your children in order to form a deeper bond. This does not mean, however, that it is healthy for you to never have a break.
This is simply not something we should be feeling any guilt about! I am not sure where this idea that we are “less than” if we want time away from our kids even got started.
Yes, I want and need time away from my kids, and you do too. It is okay to shout it from the rooftop guilt-free. It probably won’t sound so crazy, or dark, or scary once you admit it out loud. The first step is admitting you have a problem. Your problem is simply that you need a break. A little time to step out of your role as mom and just be you.
Taking the time to do that will make you a better mom. When you spend enough time away from your kids that you actually start to miss them, you come back to them refreshed, happy, and ready to throw yourself wholeheartedly back into your mothering and homeschooling roles.
But, when you never take a break you get drained. You get tired. You might get angry or resentful. You either become less nurturing or start to become a surface nourisher…going through the motions while your heart is a million miles away.
It’s not just okay to want to get away from the kids, mama. It is good for you to get away from the kids. It is part of keeping track of who you are, appreciating your kids, and being a great mom. So, no more guilt, okay? It’s not a dark problem. Just bring your need into the light and find a way to get that time away you need consistently.
How much time away does a mom Need?
How much time you need away depends on a lot of things. Personality for one. But I believe deeply that every mom needs this time.
An introverted mom might use the time for different activities than an extroverted mom, but we all need it. During stressful times of your life you will probably need MORE time away, not less.
So, please, please, please, trust your own self-wisdom on this. Experiment. It also can depend greatly on the age of your children and how many you have. You might miss a newborn after 30 minutes away, whereas you might not miss a teen for over a week. (No feeling guilty if you don’t miss your newborn after 30 minutes…this is not a measure of what makes you a good mom! It is just a measure of how much you need a break!)
If you get a little consistent time to yourself every day you will probably not need the amount of time to be as large. But if you can only get time away once a week, then you will need a larger block of time before feeling refreshed.
How can you find this time away?
Let me start by saying most moms need little bits of time away from the kids every day. This often happens after the kids go to bed or when little ones are napping. But that might not be enough daily time.
When I had lots of littles, other ways I got time alone were to disappear in a hot bath or go on a trip to the thrift store or grocery store by myself. I had one baby who would start sleeping for the night at 6 pm and we lived 5 minutes from the library, so even while he was nursing, I could slip away for a bit without worry.
You have to find what works for you in your own life right now. Now that my kids are older most of my alone time is spent waiting at activities. I don’t have time for baths or thrift stores, but I can sit while they are in an extracurricular activity. I might spend that time reading, writing, or chatting with another mom, whatever my soul needs for refreshment.
Of course, you need support and help. Parenting isn’t a solo-game even if you are a single parent. Every mom needs people behind her, willing to take over the kids while she gets some space.
Mom’s night out? For several years I enjoyed a monthly homeschool mom’s coffee night.
Some mom’s put a day on the calendar that is for them. They plan whatever they like, someone else will be on kid duty. Dad, or grandparents, or uncles, or aunts, or friends, or another mom they trade babysitting for a day away while the other mom gets some needed downtime.
Some need a day and a night away regularly. It’s ok.
As homeshool moms, we spend a lot of time with our kids. Did you ever think about the fact that your kids might need time away from you too? Time to find out who they are outside of mom’s shadow? The truth is every human, no matter how much they love another, still needs time away from that person. It is a part of healthy boundaries. It is part of finding and nurturing ourselves. It is part of loving the other.
So kiss those sweet little faces good-bye and go do something without them.
Marla Szwast lives in Marietta, Georgia with her husband and six children. She is a life-time homeschooler. She writes about homeschooling, child development, neuroscience, and the history of education on her blog at www.jumpintogenius.com, you can also follow her on Facebook @jumpintogenius, or Twitter @MarlaSzwast, or Pinterest.
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