As a homeschooling parent, it is genuinely rare that I have any time by myself...I'm usually 'on' 24/7...and yes, I do mean the '24' part because we almost always have a kid sleeping in our bedroom during the night. I find particularly challenging that two of my children are early morning risers, while one begins to come alive at about 9:00pm. I want to be available to all of them during their best hours, and frankly need to be available to them during their best hours (to hear what's going on in their hearts, to work with them academically at a time of day when it's easiest for them to learn, etc), but I struggle with the need to be present throughout such a long day. I'm often tired...emotionally as well as physically.
One solution that has been a huge help to me over the past four or five years, and something I've really looked forward to as meeting a personal need for rest, has been the week(s) that my kids have been in summer day camp(s). For the past two summers, I had two and three weeks to myself during the day because the kids were in various day camps. If you've been a blog reader here for a while, you'll know that my intention for those weeks has always been to be productive around the house - to work on projects, organizational tasks, whatever. The reality, however, is that I've spent a good number of those weeks doing nothing other than sit in our little home library - crying, and drinking tea or coffee. I've come to accept that my tears, which tend to go on for days during one or more weeks of summer camps, have been terribly cathartic...tears of futility, tears of grief, tears for lack of time by myself, tears of healing and restoration.
This year, as new cottage owners and brand new cottage lovers, I didn't sign my kids up for any weeks of summer camp. And sure enough, we're having a surprisingly great summer at the cottage; other than four days that I spent in Vancouver two weeks ago, and quick trips back to the city for groceries and clean laundry, the kids and I have lived at the cottage since the third or fourth week of June, in addition to weekends there from early May onwards. It's been great...and, without question, really good for the kids.
...I'm missing that summer camp time, when I could drop the kids off somewhere at 8:30 and not have to think about how to occupy or educate them for the next nine hours. I'm really, really missing it. And it's too late now. Just this morning, feeling a little desperate, I even checked the website of our fav summer camp, the one the kids have attended for the past five consecutive years, and next week is full up...and it's the last week. I admit that I hung my head a little, feeling just a little sorry for myself.
I need to be clear that, almost always, I love being with my children. I feel privileged to be able to be with them full time and love our life as homeschoolers. People regularly say to me that I must have the patience of a saint, and my response is always laughter - I have no more patience than anyone else. But we did make a choice about we want to live our lives, with our kids, and I wouldn't change that for the world. When one tries and waits for kids as long as I did, and when one finally experiences the riches of parenting for the first (then second and third) time, it seems a natural choice to want to maximize the blessing and to foster attachment and relationship as much as possible. For other people that manifest differently than for me, undoubtedly...for me it manifested in decisions to suspend a career that I loved and to homeschool my children. No regrets, ever, about that...for the rest of my life, this will be one of the best decisions I've made.
It's just that...
I live near the border between introversion and extraversion - just slightly on the extraversion side. I've done the tests many times, over the past few decades, and I always land around the same spot. How that works out in my daily life is that I draw energy both from being with people and from being alone...and I need both of those things in order to function healthily. It's obvious which source of energy is lacking these days. 😂
I know it was my choice - Geoff even encouraged me to sign them up for a week or two of camp - but I may have made a poor choice in deciding not to. Although I'm generally managing pretty well, there are some frayed edges around my tolerance levels that I'm noticing and not liking. We're soon to head into another very busy winter season and my personal margins are somewhat at a low ebb, despite a good and mostly relaxing summer.
So, I need to figure out a plan to give myself a little alone time. There is one other summer camp the kids have enjoyed in the past that may have a few openings during the next week or two. Other than that...suggestions?