I think “free time” or time to yourself is a little over-rated 🙂 I LOVE spending time with my family. That’s one of the reasons I love homeschooling so much. Perhaps I’m unusual, but if I was given the choice, for instance, to spend time alone or with my husband, I would choose my husband every time. I would probably also choose my children over time alone 9 times out of 10. They’re only children for a short time and I cherish every moment (okay, except when they have a temper tantrum!)
One of the ways that I have time to myself while I am spending time with my family is by sharing my passions. I have taught both my children to knit and spin and do other hand-crafts and we often will sit together and do so. For read-aloud time, we often take turns reading to each other. While one reads to us, the rest of us are generally knitting or doing something else with our hands. I meet the ladies in my spinning group to knit (what we have spun) every Monday after dropping one child off at an activity, and my other child in tow. Sometimes said child will sit and knit or read a book, or join in on the conversation while we’re at the cafe knitting. I also go to the weekly Friday afternoon Fibre-arts drop-in at the library with both children. They will either join in with some fibre arts, wrap up some independent homeschool work, or read quietly. Many of the ladies at the library rarely get the chance to be around children and it is a delight for them to have time with mine 🙂
I also love to read. While my children are doing the independent work in their workboxes, I am often able to curl up with a good book, or the Bible, or a book on my iPod. I will admit that sometimes housework suffers while I read, but I’m generally willing to live in a “lived-in” house 🙂 As my children get older, books we’re reading in our homeschool are some of my favourites, and it gives me great pleasure to read them aloud with my children.
Play-dates are another terrific invention. My children and I can all go out and enjoy another family’s company together, or enjoy another family’s company here. We love to have parties as well. Bi-yearly we hold a Family Boardgame Day and invite all our friends and our children’s friends for the whole day. We have a terrific time. In the summer we have pool parties fairly often.
I think sometimes when we seek time alone our children can miss out on some terrific opportunities. For instance, my spinning guild, The Unspun Heroes, recently hand-spun and hand-wove a milling blanket for the local Gaelic Society. We presented it at a Milling Frolic and I brought my children along. They had an absolute blast singing and helping mill the blanket, as well as taking part in some spinning and weaving that was happening. There was one other child there, who just happened to be homeschooled as well, but the homeschoolers were the only children present. I think it’s sad that there weren’t more children there having fun, especially since Gaelic is almost an extinct language and having more children there, surrounded by it, would certainly help ensure its future.
My children also help me in my businesses. Over the summer I had a table at the local Farmer’s Market. My children were terrific ambassadors – they wore t-shirts with my business logo and handed out stickers to children passing by. They learned some great lessons in running a business by watching how I interacted with potential customers, and I enjoyed chatting with other adults while still spending time with my children.
For me, it’s all about perspective. If we keep in perspective how short a time we have to spend with our children when they’re young – and even how short life can be – we won’t crave all this time to ourselves, or think we’re missing out on something. My 37-year-old cousin died suddenly this year. He left behind two young children and a wife. Nobody has mentioned how much great time to himself he took in life, but they have mentioned all the cherished time he spent with friends and family.
Love, Luck &