I make my kids leave me alone for an hour every day.
OK, I’ll admit that maybe it isn’t every single day, but most days I expect my kids to leave me the heck alone for about an hour after lunch.
Why would an otherwise loving and attentive mother check out in the middle of the day?
Simple. I need a break. And if I don’t get one, I have a hard time continuing to be that loving and attentive mother.
As a homeschool family we spend a lot of time together. And frankly, sometimes it gets to be too much of a good thing. I know that if they are getting on each other’s nerves, and on my nerves, that I’m probably getting on their nerves as well. So I have built a break into our day, and we try to take it whether tempers are flaring or not.
It’s not a punishment, it’s a treat.
For an hour, everyone has the opportunity to take a nap, or doodle, or get lost in a book with no interruptions. I won’t ask them to do a chore, and they won’t ask me for a snack. It’s a beautiful arrangement.
After lunch I make sure everyone gets a drink, uses the bathroom, and has a whatever they need to be comfortable for at least the next hour. For the preschooler this means a soft blanky and a pillow, because she will likely nap. But I always give her a handful of board books too, because she knows she isn’t allowed to come ask for one once quiet time starts. My older girls typically get a notebook and colored pencils, or a book. Then we all disappear to our happy corners with the admonition that no one bothers Mom unless there is fire, blood or vomit. I would also allow poop, but let’s hope it never comes to that!
When quiet hour is over, I give the all-clear and everyone comes back, happy, rested and ready to tackle the afternoon.
Quiet hour isn’t only for homeschoolers, though. In fact, I first became a stickler for naps when my oldest kids were babies. Back then it was obvious that they needed a nap. Only as they grew older did I realize that I also needed a rest during the day. When I finally tried it for myself I knew there was no turning back.
Knowing I have a scheduled break coming up helps me stay motivated to get things done in the morning. Coming back from an hour of rest I’m more patient with my kids, and more likely to allow a messy craft, or load up and head to the park. An hour of rest also does a lot in the way of heading off afternoon melt-downs in the under-five crowd.
So if you’re feeling frazzled, anxious, or just not 100 percent exhibiting the awesome mom you are on the inside, I suggest implementing a daily quiet hour so you can recharge and regain some of that June Cleaver zest for motherhood. Your kids will learn to love it and you will too.
You deserve a break, Mama!