Tell me if I am wrong, I think a lot of homeschooling mothers go through a stage where things get a little easier. The children are that little bit older and they are not so demanding on mum providing entertainment for them. So once the chores are complete, meals are made and enjoyed, and school is finished for the day, the children run off to do their ‘fun activities’, the ones they have been waiting for all day. They don’t need mum to hold their hand, or push them on the swing, or supervise them with the paints, or tie their shoes so they can play outside. So what does mum do? She follows her own pursuits. She reads, she blogs, she surfs the net, she sleeps, returns phone calls, declutters. Then before she knows it, it is 5pm and time to begin dinner and get cleaned up from the day.
Then the guilt comes to visit. Guilt that she should be doing more with her children. Sure, they are content and happy having freedom outside of chores and school. Sure, you have just spent ALL day serving your family. Don’t you possibly need some time off?
Think back to when they were little. You had a newborn, a toddler and a pre-schooler. Weren’t they full days? Like I mean, very full days. I am not sure about you, but I didn’t used a baby sitter. So my children did everything with me. My break time, during those days, was when the baby and toddler napped. If I worked it right, they would both nap at the same time. And so did I! My break time during that season in life was during their afternoon nap. Now some days, that nap only lasted 20 minutes, other days I could have up two hours. I have heard of mothers whose children nap for three hours at a time, hmm, not here. However, I usually found that time was enough to rejuvenate me for the next several hours until hubby was home and the bedtime routine would begin. I believe God gave mothers that baby/toddler nap time, so she could replenish herself and carry on being what her children need her to be.
So what about now? Your children are all school aged. They are not napping toddlers and babies anymore. Nor are they pre-schoolers who beg for mummy’s time. All. Day. Long. Let me tell you, it is so easy to just absorb yourself in something you enjoy. Let me get something straight here though, it is not wrong of you to have this time. It is not selfish of you to do something you enjoy. You deserve it! Right? I mean, come on, you have just spent all day shuffling between maths, reading, spelling, grammar, history, science, geography, Latin, French, poetry. And all that at three or more different grade levels! And you weren’t even good at maths in school! I mean you didn’t even learn all of your multiplication tables. Oh and remember how much you disliked history and you failed science in high school. Who wouldn’t need a break she deserves? This is tough! Some days are just plain hard.
I do have to admit that now my children are grades 6, 4 and 2, this whole schooling thing is getting easier. The content is getting more difficult, but homeschooling in general, juggling different grades and subjects is getting easier. I know more of what to expect from my children now. I know when to back off. When they have reached their capacities. As my oldest says when their ‘brain is about to explode’. In other words – information overload. They need a break. They need a change of pace.
In some ways, it gets too easy. Mum can become too complacent. Yes, I am referring again to those afternoons. It’s all too easy to let the time slip by without intentionally doing something fun with your children. You love those children so dearly. It’s obvious by the sacrifices you and your husband have made to allow you stay home to homeschool them. Let’s be honest here. This may hurt a little. Do your children feel that though? If you are there supervising the chores in the mornings, preparing and serving the meals throughout the day, teaching the school subjects for five hours every day, then going on a sabbatical every afternoon for two hours, are your children feeling your love? Or do they feel like you do the dutiful things with them? Do they feel like you leave them to do the fun things without you? Mum is there to ‘get us to do stuff’.
Think back again, when they were tiny and you would push them on the swing for 30 minutes at a time. When you would sit on the floor and build block towers for half an hour to entertain your tiny one. What about when they wanted a snack, and it would take one whole hour from beginning to end because of the procedure to set up a young child to eat, then you help them to eat, then clean up from them eating, while also changing and feeding the baby and answering your pre-schoolers questions about things you know nothing of. Remember those days? The washing, both clean and dirty, would pile up for days on end, because you valued time spent doing all those ‘fun’ things with your little ones.
You have to admit that it is certainly easier to keep up with the housework now. For one thing, you don’t have babies and toddlers and pre-schoolers. And another thing, your children now help with the housework. So what is it that is so important that you can’t do something fun with your children each afternoon? What is holding you back from making those fun memories every single day of the week? Yes, you have more time with them than your friends do with their children who go to school, because you are with each other every day. But are you having quality time with them? Are you connecting with your child in a fun way that is not related to chores or school work?
I asked my girls what children of their ages, would want their mums to do with them in the afternoons. My girls came up with a dozen suggestions in a few minutes. I have put these ideas and some of my own together in a printable for you. These are ideas to help you be intentional about giving your children quality time. Giving the best of yourself to your children, while doing the fun things that they love. These are the memories you want them to carry with them into their adulthood. Memories of mum playing and laughing and having fun.
After lunch each day, we have quiet reading time. This is something that has evolved over the years for us. Sometimes it disappears altogether. Sometimes they buck and complain. I have come to realise the value of this time for both mum and the kids. At the moment we only have half an hour, but I know others do this for an hour or even two hours. My older girls grab their book of the moment, Pollyanna and Heidi, and find somewhere comfortable to read, usually their bed or the lounge. My youngest comes with me to my bed. She reads to me first for about ten minutes, then she does her own quiet reading, still there on the bed with me (a habit we started when she stopped napping during the day so I could safely contain my curious toddler while I rested). Then I read from my pile. Some days I only do 15 minutes, other days I will be able to read for half an hour. The point – find some place to have solitude. Everyone needs it! Especially after being together all day. Even half an hour is enough quiet for everyone to enjoy each other’s company again. But you, mama, need this time to rejuvenate. I usually make myself a drink and do some computer work, marking or organising school, answering and responding to emails and messages.
Then I need to stop! Close my laptop down, put my phone away. And go and enter into the world of my girls. They are ever so happy to see me coming to have fun with them.
Don’t feel guilty anymore. You are doing a great job mum. Be sure to take a break. Replenish your spirit and your mind. Grab this list, pick one and go and enjoy your children. I am sure they would love to have your company.
Enter your children’s world and see your relationship grow.
Fun Afternoon Activities Checklist will provide you with a month of weekday activities. Join our growing email list and receive your free checklist, plus other subscriber only freebies. I would love to hear how this checklist helps you build that fun connection again. Leave a comment below to let me know 🙂