“Don’t People Want a Break from Their Kids?”

"Don't People Want a Break from Their Kids?"

One of my favorite things about running this blog is the interaction I receive on the Facebook page. Inevitably, every three months or so, I get a comment that accuses homeschoolers of being weird in one way or another.

Recently, it was this one:

Don’t people want a break from their kids? Having them around 24/7 seems a bit much.

These comments are nothing new to experienced homeschoolers, of course. And after a few years, we all develop some pretty thick skin so these barbs and arrows of outrageous questions just bounce off. But I wanted to address this question in a blog post for those of you who might be new.

So here you go. Arm yourself with these responses if you get asked the same question. (And please contribute your own at the end of this post by commenting!)

“Yes, I do want a break from my kids, but the answer isn’t sending them to a place where I have no rights and they have no freedom.”

Look, it isn’t new information that public school limits parental involvement in a child’s life. If anything, it is the family that becomes the satellite to the school. Not only that, the children themselves have no freedom when it comes to deciding what they want out of their own education. Why would you sacrifice your parental rights and the child’s freedom and curiosity on the altar of needing a break when that can be arranged just as easily by hiring a babysitter for a few hours or making other arrangements with family?

Also, children do grow up, you know. At some point, they are capable of taking care of themselves for a little while. But with the perpetual infantilization public schooling promotes, we would hardly know it.

“Our breaks are built in to our schedule.”

I take a nap every afternoon. My children know what is expected of them when friends come to visit and when I have things to attend to. They do not expect me to be holding their hands all day long. We get mental breaks and physical breaks from each other. We are people, too, and we all want to do things by ourselves. Surprise, surprise… even the children need breaks from being told what to do under adult supervision which they never get at public school. 

Homeschooling allows us to get more breaks than you would think.

“Just because we homeschool doesn’t mean we’re attached at the hip.”

It is the culture of constant adult supervision and surveillance that has inured us to this. But it doesn’t have to be this way. With the constant reminders to talk to the kids when they’re little and faulty research that says the brain develops during the early years, with the push for more and more academic involvement in the preschool years, people have begun to believe some big lies. These include the lie that children cannot care for themselves.

I ignore my children. And it’s good for them. They take care of themselves for most of the day. I would argue it is only in homeschooling that we can take such a drastic step toward freedom and self reliance. Such independence is impossible in public school.

“No, actually… we’re just fine. We don’t need “breaks” from our family to keep it together.”

The idea of needing time apart is currently fashionable. While I do believe it is healthy to spend time doing something other than being with people all the time, I don’t think all of this obsession with “breaks” is healthy. Look, I get it. I’m an introvert and so is my husband. Interestingly enough, at least one of my children is also introverted.

We all get our needs met at home – even our need for breaks from each other. We’re perfectly fine being in the same room and not talking because we’re all working on something else. That is called being comfortable with each other without someone with way too much power telling us what to do every moment of the day. We’re also free to leave and go into the next room just to be alone. Try doing that in a public school setting and let me know how it works out for you.

“We get more breaks this way than we would were my kids in public school.”

Want to goof off for a day? Go to the park? Go to the museum? Watch a movie? Sick? Birthday? Vacation? Grandparents visiting? Moving? People in public school have no idea how much freedom homeschoolers get and how many more breaks we have – and by the way all this is done with less money spent per child and way more efficient education.

Instead of dancing to the tune that the school plays, we are free to make our own schedules and do what works for us. This keeps the family at the center of our lives rather than the alien institution of a school dictating things down to what we eat.

So, seriously, stop with the siren song of getting a break from our children. As homeschoolers, we get those – and way more.
Thanks, but no thanks.

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Author: Purva Brown

Writer / blogger at http://TheClassicalUnschooler.com - unapologetically blending two seeming opposites.

2 thoughts on ““Don’t People Want a Break from Their Kids?””

  1. One thing I never understood when my children were babies was how all the other mothers were so excited when school started. They wanted to get rid of their kids and get on to their lives. I was a school teacher and all I wanted to do was to be with my children. I stopped teaching when my littlest was one. When they were 3 and 4 I taught in a private school where my children were in k-3 andk-4. It was a financial decision. When they were in 2nd and 3 rd we started homeschooling and it was the best decision of our lives. We spent lots of time together. It was in the 80’s before all the stuff that’s around now. I will never regret homeschooling and the time we had together. They are normal,socialized human beings who both serve in jobs that give to our world.

  2. Spot-on, for families without a high-needs child. But these points do not apply to families with a high-needs child: “Our breaks are built into our schedule” and “Just because we homeschool doesn’t mean we’re attached at the hip.”

    Here is something I wrote last year about how special-needs parents don’t get breaks, ever (at least, I didn’t). (BTW, this was not a discipline issue; my son is on the autism spectrum.)

    My son Jack has always been ridiculously high-needs (needed to be held, bounced, AND walked simultaneously as a newborn or screaming would never cease). He is an exuberant, high-energy little boy, but he needs me for EVVVVERYYYYTHING. I’ve read parenting books that sound so lovely and pleasant with suggestions to sit and work on some handwork while the children play nearby… it doesn’t work like that for my Jack and never has.

    He demands 100% of my attention 100% of his waking hours. If I want him to play, he insists that I be down on the floor playing with him… if I try to do something other than play with him, he is pulling on me, screaming, crying until I play with him. I can’t cook or clean because he’s doing the same thing… usually with his arms wrapped so tightly around my legs that I can’t even walk. When it’s time for him to sleep, he isn’t content with me sitting in the room with him.

    His first instinct is still ALWAYS to pitch a fit first, and it takes a huge amount of effort, asking him “want to eat?” “want to play upstairs?” etc. and only some of the time does he calm down enough to communicate what he needs… so, needless to say, I am pretty much always anticipating his needs rather than requiring him to communicate, just to avoid all the non-stop meltdowns.

    He resists routine every step of the way. When I sing the clean-up song and start picking up toys and encourage him to help, he’s right behind me taking the toys out and throwing them back on the floor. I dread doing something fun that he enjoys, knowing that no matter how long we do it, when it’s time to do something different, he will pitch the worst screaming fit you’ve ever seen. Transition songs, timers, etc. don’t work for him.

    It’s been nearly three years of constant chaos, and to top it all off, he wakes up numerous times during the night with night-terror-like screaming. It takes anywhere from 5 minutes to half an hour to calm him, while he screams babbly sounds like he’s being tortured and dying. I don’t do well with broken-up sleep, and three years of sleep deprivation is causing my sanity to be shredded… I am so TIRED and so weary of every little thing being a huge battle. NOTHING is enjoyable. I can feel my stress levels zoom up when I think about the next meal time or bed time… I love both my boys but I’m so tired of every little thing in life being such a high-stress event. (And my poor younger son gets short-changed because his big brother demands 100% and more.)

    ^Thankfully my younger son is neurotypical, and as he grew older (little brother is now 4), it dawned on me: normal children give their moms breaks ALL.THE.TIME. There are built-in breaks constantly throughout the day while he plays independently for extended amounts of time. Moms of neurotypical children don’t need a break from their children because they DO get breaks all day long, just as you say in this article.

    It’s sooo not the case with a high-needs child. No mother could sustain 18 years of what I described above with no breaks. And it would be impossible to homeschool other children in the family when one child sucks up 100% of mom’s attention and energy 24/7.

    Praise God, at age 5, Jack is getting much better. Four supplements have transformed him over the last few months. He now sits and plays or does schoolwork independently for chunks at a time just like any other 5-year-old. He finally plays with his little brother. This has made it possible to homeschool this year and it’s wonderful.

    BUT. There are numerous children with far more severe needs and who may never measurably recover. Moms of those children would read this blog article and be crushed that it’s simply not true and that homeschooling is impossible for them unless they get outside help. As I type, my boys are playing with math blocks together and having little conversations while I sip coffee. It’s a moment I never thought would be possible, and my heart goes out to all the moms not acknowledged in this article for whom it will never be possible.

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