Rhythm: Part Six

The biggest and often most problematic part in attachment parenting and in homeschooling is lack of time for oneself separate from the children. Despite the number of attachment parenting oriented blogs and homeschooling blogs that never seem to talk about “time alone”, I still think this need does exist, but no one seems to want to mention it.  Would we be badly attached mothers to admit that there are some things easier to do alone?

For me, this is where sometimes I think the Attachment Parenting movement got hijacked by the popular press or something.  Attachment Parenting International talks about “balance” as one of its principles.  Time to be alone, at least for certain things,  exists for me, and many mothers I speak with as well.   But many mothers I speak with have extreme difficulty  finding time alone, and wish they could for certain things.  Here are some of the frequent examples that I hear from mothers:   many mothers really dislike trying to exercise with five children staring at them, or  they really don’t want to go to the dentist for themselves, but with three children to entertain whilst they are getting their teeth cleaned!  Some mothers say how hard it is to go shopping for adult clothes, or whatever it is on their list.  I hear you, mothers, and I think boundaries are okay.  Yet so many attached and homeschooling mothers seem to feel guilty about trying to arrange time away for themselves.

I think the key to this part of rhythm is:

1. Acknowledging that we, as mothers, wives, and women, do have some needs apart from our children and that is okay.  It is okay to be an adult woman and separate from your children!  Babies and toddlers absolutely do have intense needs, some children do have trouble separating as well, but it part of the basis of the attachment parenting movement (think Continuum Concept) to have a family-centered approach to the child.

2.  Acknowledging some real needs for health do exist.  It may be reasonable to think one might not be able to exercise or attend doctor’s appointments or do this or do that alone for awhile, but to think of not doing these things for years on end or to do them in a hurried and less frequent way through the years is actually, probably and very realistically not super healthy.  Our families deserve us to be healthy in body and mind and soul!

3.  To work toward ways of meeting some of your own needs within your rhythm with the help of other adult friends, your spouse, family members.

Make a list!  What are the things that you wish you could do alone and how often must they happen?  Dentist appointments, OB-GYN appointments, how about bra or swimsuit shopping?  Exercising?   A hair appointment?   What would you like to do by yourself with no little eyes watching?  Some mothers have mentioned to me homeschool planning is something they really need to do alone because otherwise it is hard to focus!  How about budgeting or paying bills?  Do any of you choose to do that alone?

I think then talk to your spouse. I have heard some wives say that their husbands are utterly unsupportive in their endeavor to have some time alone each week.   This is so sad to me.  It is not parenting as partners, and to me it also undervalues the work a mother does and the very real need to recharge.  I try to think positively,  perhaps their partners are working hard to make a living so their families can homeschool, and maybe they  are actually short on time due to working several jobs.  However, maybe these spouses or partners feel they are already doing their part and do not need to contribute toward spending time alone with the children so their wife can have a break, which is a bit more of a distressing thought.    This can be a real problem for many of us in the United States who may be living far away from extended family who could otherwise help and who are essentially relying on their husbands for a break.

So, I think then we have to call in the reinforcements:  do you have friends that could help you in trading off watching the children whilst you have a dentist or doctor’s appointment? I

Those of you who are lucky enough to have family close by, do you ever utilize your family members to assist you?

I would love to hear from you:  what do you like to do alone, and how do you make that happen?  Where is that as you plan your rhythm for fall?

Many blessings,

Carrie

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10 thoughts on “Rhythm: Part Six

  1. Carrie thank you for addressing this important topic!! I have been struggling with this myself. My husband and I recognize this need for me to get out alone but we are stuck financially for babysitters. We are working on family members but it has been rough as they are more talk than action when it comes to helping out. Some times it feels like they undervalue mothering and being at home, if I were working then I’d get more help. It is sad but we are accepting their position as we can’t change other people. Before one of my friends moved away we used to trade babysitting so that we could have date nights with our spouses. It worked out well for a while. I’d love to hear some other comments about creatively getting some time alone.

    • I have the very same problem Meaghan, I live away from my parents and the babysitting network is thin on the ground where we live, my husband works 24/7 for four months during the winter season but is pretty available for the rest of the year :) we are just coming out of the winter season now and I am due some ‘me’ time. It is very very hard with children at home all day and no one to take the pressure off for even a few hours.
      What I tend to do in the winter is invite other kids to play often, even having them for sleepovers and then get the favour returned from their parents, which gives me a few hours to do essential me things. (I even have my two daughters go to two separate houses sometimes) this tends to work quite well.
      I hope you find a solution,
      best wishes
      Louisa

  2. I’m fortunate to have family nearby, and my mum has my three children for an afternoon a week. My husband often does something just them and him on Saturday mornings – swimming or the park. I feel v blessed! I completely agree about different attitudes if I was at work – I get comments from other people about how I get too much help!

  3. I want to recommend creating a babysitting co-op. I’ve done it with a group of 12 families from our church. We’ve kept it quiet for awhile and slowly been inviting others as we’re up and running smoothly. At some point we may open it up to outside friends. We have quarterly gatherings so parents can get to know one another. This is the website that manages our points: https://www.babysittingcoop.com

  4. I’m so glad you address this, Carrie! When my first was younger, I had a very hard time getting and asking for any ME time, and as a result, I felt exhausted all of the time. After I had my second though I knew better, and my dear husband was a lot of help, with both our 3 yr old and infant. I too thought that being an attached mother meant I shouldn’t worry about my needs to exercise, sleep, shower alone, and get out when needed. As a homeschooling mom I never wanted to complain or express this need for fear of others telling me I should reconsider homeschooling. Now that my boys are ages 8 and 5 it is SO much easier and I don’t feel a need for as much time alone anymore. I can workout easily while being the not adult in the house. I can prepare a meal, read, catch up on email, and even enjoy shopping with them! But for the first 3 years or so I definitely needed more breaks.

    Thanks again for posting this!

  5. I use nap time as my me time. I knit or read or internet browse. I pay bills and look up recipes. I very much miss that time on the harder days when my 21 month old needs me with him during nap to stay asleep. My husband often comes with to entertain my son for a few minutes if I need to go clothes shopping – this happens infrequently as I do not enjoy shopping for clothes. I struggled to find time to exercise alone until I finally gave up and found ways to incorporate my son. We go for the longer walking route to the park. I do pull ups on the monkey bars and lunges between pushes on the swing. My husband is very good at giving me a bit of time if I need it and ask. However, his work schedule doesn’t always allow for my me time at a practical time in my son and I’s schedule. I would love more time in the evenings after my son sleeps but that time isn’t right now. I feel we have a rhythm that works for us right now. We don’t have any family close and although we’ve lived in our present community for 8 months now, I don’t seem to make friends easily. I’ve yet to meet anyone I’d feel comfortable leaving my son with and he is very reserved around others outside the family. So, sometimes things like dentist appointments take longer to get done, but they do get done eventually. I don’t feel neglected in my personal time, but we’re also not planning on another baby anytime soon if at all either.

  6. As a child psychologist myself and a mom, one of the things that is so misleading about attachment parenting is the name. It is only called attachment parenting because of the theory it was based upon. It is not called this because it is the only form of parenting which allows parents to develop a secure attachment relationship with their children. There are numerous ways to develop a secure attachment relationship with our kids. I explore more of this myth here for anyone who is interested:
    http://www.themommypsychologist.com/2012/04/15/what-does-the-mommy-psychologist-have-to-say-about-attachment-parenting/

    • Dear Mommy Psychologist,
      I agree, and I do think that the Attachment Parenting movement has in some cases, been misinterpreted and misunderstood by parents…having no boundaries is not secure attachment and yet many AP parents seem to think so. I will have to go read your article. My best friend is a psychologist who studied attachment theory and we talk about the fallacies and missteps of attachment parenting frequently, and how parts of it have just been plain misunderstood. Attachment Parenting should be based upon and meet the developmental needs of the child within the context of the family and the community.

      Blessings,
      Carrie

  7. I don’t get much time alone. However, one thing that I almost always insist on being able to do alone is grocery shopping. I simply cannot tolerate doing major grocery shopping with three children in tow. I usually do my shopping late Saturday night after the kids are in bed and dh can be home with them. One other thing that I’ve started doing for myself that was never part of my regular routine before is going to a salon to have my hair cut, colored, eyebrows waxed, etc. I have never really been into beauty or taking care of myself in this way and have never wanted to justify spending money on it, but since I’ve been homeschooling, I’ve found that the morning out every few months being pampered does wonders for me. It helps that a good friend is my stylist and so it also becomes an hour or two of great conversation. I also have been following Melisa Nielsen’s advice to get up early in the morning, and I’m finding that the hour or two of alone time also really helps me feel ready for the day. (Assuming the toddler cooperates; he often wakes up when I do, but at least it’s only one child instead of all of them.)

  8. I have taken my now 10 month old son EVERYWHERE with me. He is a delight to be with. He has nursed on demand, and I never leave him. However, I have my mom that I can trust to be gentle and she is attached to him. So I’m very thankful for that!

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