I had a bit of an epiphany today. I’ve recently taken up yoga in the mornings as a way to squeeze in some me-time to our often hectic HE lives, and when I finished I found youngest still in bed enjoying a rare leisurely lie in, while oldest was downstairs absorbed in a book. It clicked in me just how important taking personal time is for us all.
We often stress over getting enough social time in home ed. There are plenty of opportunities, you could easily attend a different group, class or event every day. But it’s always the first thing people bring up as a concern whenever we mention that we HE, so we tend to feel under the microscope and place a lot of pressure on ourselves to prove them wrong. And of course, social time is important. Friendships and a sense of community are a big part of life and have a large impact on mental health, but so is personal time and this is so often overlooked as all our focus is directed towards how we can be more social.
Time out to take care of our own wellbeing, to enjoy our own personal interests, to allow our bodies and minds to recover and generally be mindful of ourselves, is hugely important, both for us as parents and for our children. The tricky part is finding the balance and this will be different for everyone. For some, they may need lots of social time and only a little personal time, but for others it may be the complete opposite. I know plenty of children who love to be out with others for as much of their week as possible, but my own children tend to be much happier seeing friends in short doses and need quite a lot of time to themselves. They learn better independently and suffer from social burn-out quite quickly. They enjoy time with others, it’s just that for them, their ratio favours personal over social. And each child will be different.
So from now on, when looking at our timetable and panicking over the age-old concern of ‘are my children getting enough social time this week?’ (which, let’s face it, is actually pretty easy to achieve given how active the Cambridgeshire HE community is!), I am going to stop and ask myself, have I factored in enough personal time? Have I included enough time for them to recover from the social stuff and recharge their batteries? Enough time to take care of their own personal well-being?
But that’s the beauty of HE, we can look at our children’s individual needs, we can consider what their own social/personal ratio should look like and adjust accordingly.