I’m a Mom to one. I have a loving son with an appetite for all of the attention he can possibly get. After all- he’s always gotten it. As a homeschooling family our days are filled with conversation, interaction, learning, and fun – one on one – without the distractions of any siblings. I have friends who have told me how amazing it must be to be able to focus on one child, and it is… it really is. I have been beyond thankful for this opportunity, and I have seen my son grow in ways that are blowing me away. There are the challenges though, just as with any other parenting or homeschooling scenario.
We (parents to an only child) don’t have other kids to care for and devote attention to. That is a huge reduction in responsibility compared to our multi-child bearing counterparts, but we also don’t have other kids interacting with our child, and distracting them from wanting our constant attention either. It can be all consuming at times to be the sole person satisfying every need and interaction of our child as a parent and teacher. We have to find ways to give ourselves breaks and maintain our sound mind. I often find myself sneaking moments in the day that nurture my own sanity.
Here are some of the moments I grab hold of …
We work so hard to fight the socialization stigma that comes with homeschooling and often times we find that our kids are so well socialized that it’s not even a concern. What we often forget though is to socialize ourselves! Scheduling playtime for our child can give us some time to connect with other Mom’s and to have some adult conversation. When I can’t make that work then I am sure to find some time to catch up with my friends on the phone. We schedule socialization time for our kids, and we should schedule it for ourselves too!
Upon waking, our son is allowed to watch one of his parent approved shows (typically curriculum related) on Netflix. Yes, we give into the screen time, but it’s valuable time, and I’m ok with admitting that we need it. This is a blissful 30 minutes I have to begin the day and to prepare myself for our activities. Other times we will pick a movie or show that is connected to our learning and make it an event. We make popcorn or have an indoor “picnic” lunch and watch together. It’s o.k. to decompress a bit- and enjoy it!
Playing is such an important part of growing and learning. We take play breaks throughout the day. We love boardgames as they provide a satisfying and relaxing time of connectedness for both of us. There are the times our son plays on his own. In those solo playtimes, I check in with myself, and take care of some of the other responsibilities that fall on our shoulders as parents.
Our homeschooling routine is pretty consistent and enjoyable, but flexibility is key for us. We take our schedule day by day and allow for moments/hours/days to slip by at times without touching our “routine.” That has been the most important thing for us. It took me a while to let myself off of the hook, and to realize that even in the moments when I am grabbing hold of my sanity, my child is learning.
We have been teaching our kids since they were born, and we can continue to teach them well, even if all of our expectations aren’t being met in an hour/day/week. We can do this, and continue loving ourselves at the same time. After all, we want the best for our kids, and that includes having a teacher who is relaxed and healthy. We have to provide care for our child’s teacher- especially if it a role we are filling ourselves.
Christina is a former public school teacher who is detailing her transition from the classroom to homeschooling on her blog.