How can I get time to myself while homeschooling?

Maritza is a new homeschool mom and is enjoying the process, but has a concern:

Hi! I just started homeschooling my kids (4, 2 and 4 months). It’s been 3 weeks and I’m enjoying it. It’s just that I feel very tired at the end of the day and sometimes get frustrated. I have them all the time and as much as I love them and want to be with them, I feel I need time to myself. The problem is that I don’t see how to get that time.

Hi Maritza,

Thanks for stopping by!  First of all, I'm SURE you are tired at the end of the day!  And with good reason!  You have three very young children, rather close in age, and have recently had a baby.  Children this young, by their very nature, need Mommy lots—and usually have abundant energy (especially the 2 and 4 year olds)!

I'm not sure, but it almost sounds like you have worked outside the home and may have just recently transitioned to being home all the time with your children, which can be a big adjustment even if you are not homeschooling.

If that is the case, give yourself and your children time to get accustomed to the “new normal”.  Even if you have been home all along, changes, such as beginning homeschooling, especially depending on what you are doing in that regard, can need some adjustment time as well.

I am a firm believer in homeschooling and in academic excellence, however, in my opinion, four years of age is pretty young to be spending very much time each day on actual academic pursuits.  Research led by Nobel Prize winner James Heckman, shows that academically hyperstimulated children are not ending up academically ahead of their peers who play on the merry-go-round instead of doing math worksheets, phonics flashcards, and things like that.

I also believe that beginning actual academic “pencil and paper—book learning” types of activities with young children often leads to frustration and even burn-out (for the child and for Mom).  Research also supports the idea that early academic work can lead to eye strain and needing glasses.

During the early years (till around 6-8 years of age) I think it is far more important and helpful to focus on character development (patience, diligence, etc.), relationship building between parents and children and between siblings (by spending time together working and playing together and learning how to get along, follow household rules, etc.), gross motor skills development (walking, clapping, hopping, going up and down stairs, etc.), “life skills” (picking up toys, sweeping the floor, helping put groceries away, setting the table, etc.) discipline/self-discipline, and things like that.

These types of learning are foundational, and so important to learn in the early years.  And, if learned in the early years, these things make life and raising children SO much easier for you and better for your children as well!  I highly recommend either no TV/video time or at least vastly limited “screen time”, and instead spend time doing things like building with blocks, going for walks—pointing out leaves, flowers, rocks, sticks, pine cones, blue sky, clouds, birds, etc.—talking about the things the children are seeing and experiencing, reading age appropriate books aloud to your children, teaching your children to help out around the house LOTS, and sprinkle in some more “academic” activities like: coloring, learning to use a pencil, supervised “scissor crafts”, play dough, finger paints, alphabet recognition, number recognition, singing, finger plays, learning to tie shoes and things like that.

Time to yourself will be hard to come by while your children are young.

But, by spending time working and playing together, rather than focusing a lot on academics, I believe your time will “feel” better, you'll be getting some of your housework done (I know it will take longer to do household tasks, and they may not get done up to your standards while your children are young, but continued training in this area will yield great results down the road!), you'll have the satisfaction of raising helpful, competent, responsible children, you'll be building close rewarding relationships, and will be building a superior foundation for later academic work—with all these benefits, your wish for time to yourself may not feel so strong.

One way to get some time to yourself, however, is to work at teaching your children to constructively occupy themselves during “quiet time” each day.

You'll have to start with short segments of time, but will be able to build up to longer time periods as your children grow up a bit more and get used to what you expect.  Pick a time of day, say after lunch, or before bedtime, or some other time of day that you can do most days.  Begin teaching them to quietly look at books, or do a very quiet, parent-approved activity on their own beds, or in a child-safe area of your home for short periods of time (doing it at the same time of day will speed the training time).  As you train them to stay where they are supposed to stay and to do what they are supposed to do, you will be building a time each day that you can read a book, take a short nap, or do something that will relax or rejuvenate you.

I'm sorry this got so long—I didn't mean to “type your ear off”!

Basically, in a nutshell, I'd say to take it a bit easy on the academics for now, be sure to play and work together, and enjoy your children!  Hope some of these ideas help.

Above all, stick with homeschooling—the blessings and benefits can be wonderful!!