How did everyone do with small step #1 here: http://theparentingpassageway.com/2011/06/27/serene-summer-one-small-step-1/ Now that we have pared down our commitments, I think the second, small, concrete step to build a solid foundation for parenting and homeschooling success is to set aside time to be with your partner. If you are single, how about setting time aside to spend with a mama friend, or to just rejuvenate yourself?
I say this is a good small step because fathers are the backbone of homeschooling success for many families. Fathers’ work life enables us to stay home and homeschool. They act as principal, teacher, supporter, encourager. If mothers and fathers are not on the same page, parenting, homeschooling, and life becomes so much more difficult. Mothering and fathering is the backbone of family life. Fathers need to not be last on the priority list of the family, which can happen if a mother is not careful. If a father is feeling well-cared for, he is more likely to be open and ready for discussion regarding parenting and homeschooling, and more relaxed in general. Time and space for discussion and intimacy can make life so much better.
I have been an advocate of spending time together as a couple and finding ways to do it within the home. Can you spread out a blanket and order Chinese food and sit down after the children are in bed? Can you plan to play rummy or card games on a Sunday afternoon when the little ones are napping?
But is there a time and place for separation from our children in order to nurture the adults in the family? Of course there can be, depending upon the ages of our children and our comfort level and if as adults we feel we need some nurturing away from the children and outside of the home. We recently had an interesting discussion on one of the Waldorf lists I am on regarding attachment parenting, Waldorf parenting, separation from our children and the use of babysitters (family members or family friends or babysitters) Chelsea wrote a lovely response to this thread, and we are all fortunate she posted it on her blog for us to read: http://chelseab.typepad.com/lady_i_swear_by_all_flowe/2011/06/30-june-2011.html
Families new to attachment parenting and Waldorf parenting sometimes want hard and fast rules. If I stay home with my children, when is it appropriate to leave them with someone else? What if I have no grandparents or extended family near and only dear friends? Will there be “judgment” if I leave my children to spend time with my husband or do something for myself? In some attached circles, I have seen these questions turn nastily into a “who is most attached” kind of thing. I really dislike using the children, and the honest needs of adults, as pawns in this sort of a game.
Attachment and separation are things that every family will have a different comfort level with. I think it also makes a difference if one is speaking of leaving an only child or a group of siblings, where the older siblings help carry the younger ones along. Overnight visits with family or spending the night with dear family friends are other places and spaces where families have to find their own ways; there really are only the rules and traditions you create within your family.
So, all of this to say that your one small step this week is to find some time (the amount of time, the activity or discussion in this time, doing this at home or outside of the home is up to you!) to spend with your spouse, partner, or a dear friend or yourself. Have fun, or go deeper and have a serious discussion about parenting, homeschooling, or things that need discussion. Talk to each other in a truly intimate way, and support and encourage one another in this journey.