I’m often asked if I find any time for myself with children being there with me 24/7.
“What about your own hobbies?” “Do you find any time to devote to your own interests?”
“Do you and your husband get any alone-time together?”
“Isn’t it suffocating to live with children 24/7?” (“Suffocating”? Wow!)
Regarding that first thing – “do I even manage to find time for my own interests?”, I thought what better way to answer this than introspect my own moments and days, look at all that I do – with my kids, and without them involved. Then, share it over here – for some of you who have this concern (valid, ofcourse, I understand) and also for myself.
For myself because there are times when I do feel on a halt. I feel like I’d like to take up a new project or a skill or a course but can’t yet. Or, I’d like to go with full speed, but am having to move slow. But then, not only are my kids with me always, one of them – Sufiana – is small still. She’s only 4. I wouldn’t like to be away from her 6-8 hours a day. Pari is 12 now, and has her interests clearly defined at any given time. These days its baking, and she’s head-long into it. She discusses recipes with me, wants me to source her ingredients and keep the pantry stocked up before she’s going to try making something unique.
Yet, sometimes I feel like I’m always facilitating their art, games, storytelling, book reading. Sometime a day goes by and then another when I haven’t done anything to satisfy my creative urges. I also tend to shy away from big projects because, again, I feel big chunks of time will come in a couple of years, when Sufiana is 6 or 7 at least.
And, yet when I sit back and reflect on a day or a month or an year, I’m awe-struck often times, because of all that we’ve done together, and alone. Not just the kids but me and the hubby – individually and together.
Now…now… as I’m writing this, there’s a series taking shape in my mind. This is what I’m feeling and imagining right now….
Why don’t I share here one thing from my day – may be every day, or once/twice a week – that shines light on my own learning, interests, explorations. Basically, to reflect back for me to see I’m having fun, I’m learning. I’m not just surviving but thriving! Not that I doubt it. But, to write it down, with a picture or two, reinforces the feeling. Plus, it’ll be a wonderful memory for me and the kids to revisit in years to come.
And, for others who are concerned (about getting trapped with children 24×7) to know that this unschooling life is not limiting for a mother, and there’s no reason for her to feel trapped.
And yet…feel trapped you might! You possibly will.
If you’re always aspiring for loads of ‘me time’ – apart from your children. When the kids get the vibe that their presence is hindering in some way to your happiness or priorities then your homeschooling (or not) set-up will be just that – a ‘set-up’ where you’re looking forward to the time away from them. And, they’ll resent your ‘me-time’ because they sense that they’re being excluded.
On the other hand, when I don’t set aside that ‘me-time’, I’m surprised how many opportunities I find to do things that give me joy.
I’ll give one example. And this can also be my first share in the series (I mentioned above) that’ll throw light on how unschooling/homeschooling doesn’t mean you have to stifle your own interests and passions.
As some of you know, I love to work in the garden. Infact, these days, as the hot, humind weather in Goa has finally cooled off, I’ve been busy sowing (starting October), preparing the beds, transplanting the saplings, mulching, watering, taking care that the young plants will not die of excess heat (in the afternoons) or that surprise shower or two that came pouring down out of the blue (in late October).
All this is not small work. It’s loads of work. And, I have no idea how I’ve managed to find all this time. The reality is I don’t get a stretch of time. But, I happily find spurts all through the day. In the morning, when Pari is still sleeping and Sufiana is munching on her watermelon playing magna tiles with her father. Or, early noon when Pari and Sufi are busy with their made-up games. I sense I’ll get 15 minutes there and quickly prepare couple of trays to sow seeds. Early evening, when the neighbourhood kids are at home, I know Pari, and Sufi especially, have company. That’s when I can do a chunk of work, including watering.
But other than all these bits and pieces of time, there are times in between when Sufiana works along side me in the garden. She loves to sow seeds, water the plants. I tell her the names of the seeds. Tell her to water the saplings gently. When plucking the leaves off the vine of Indian Spinach (pui or Vowchi bhaji in Konkani), she wants to know what I’m going to make with this. I tell her it’s for juicing. Sometimes, her cousin-sister (my niece) Myra joins us. And they both ask for Tulsi leaves to munch on.
Pari is not interested in gardening, but she doesn’t resent my spending time outside because she’s self-satisfied – she has her own things – art, music, paper mache, baking, working on the next recipe – to keep her engrossed for hours.
And, together and alone, we achieve a whole bunch of tasks in the garden, in the kitchen, on our blogs.
The garden! It’s my retreat, my best space to meditate. Meditate on the seeds that have just sprouted, that pair of true leaves emerging from the young seedling, that gorgeous flower on the tomato, brinjal or ladyfinger plant. Who said only flowering plants bear beautiful flowers. You’ve got to see the joyful, starry-eyed tomato flowers or the delicate mauve blossoms on the brinjal plant or that pastel yellow big smily flower on the ladyfinger plant.
Unschooling is not an obstacle, I feel – mostly – to pursuing my desires. On the contrary, when exploring things for them or when facilitating their interests, things that I learn often become my own passion/s. The best part is, there’s no clock to drive you, no school bus honking, no exams hovering, no projects to be submitted by the deadline. So, you get to pause and look at those beautiful flowers, to gaze at the butterflies, to marvel at the sun bird that sucks sweet nectar from the red hibiscus – kinda flattered to be sucked at, like I feel blessed that my Sufiana still suckles at my breasts….
I need help sustaining this blog…
Dear blog readers – It’s been exactly eight years now that I’ve been writing on this blog! Yes, eight long years and hundreds of articles. From art, creativity and learning; to food, health, gardening, travel, sustainable and mindful living, natural birth. In our un-schooling life, as we go on introspecting, questioning and evolving, I’ve strived to share our stories and experiences with as much honesty, care and sincerity as possible.
I spend hours writing an article – and often write and rewrite many times before it rings true to me and sounds worthy of your time to read.
The most important thing for me is to keep this blogging endeavour authentic and true to my values. This blog has been my sacred space to express, share, feel empowered and contribute. Hence, I do not like to support businesses that don’t align with my values. So far, I’ve rarely taken sponsorship from brands and companies. I haven’t placed any ads on my blog, though there have been multiple offers.
Infact, I’d like to keep this blog ad free unless something truly meaningful comes across.
Yet, there’s a cost to running this blog. The basic cost of keeping the domain alive, and hosting all this content on. I spend roughly INR 10,000 (USD 173) just to keep this blog up and running. So, I need to cover this cost. Plus, it’d be nice to bring in some income for our family of four. And, this is where I request your support.
If you find my articles and stories useful or inspiring at some level, please help me sustain. Starting from 1 dollar or 100 rupees to whatever you can, do consider donating for the content I share; for my intention and the time and effort I put. Your support will go a long way in keeping this blog (of 8+ years) sparkling with stories for many more years to come. Thank you, dear ones. I’ll value what you’ll gift with love and kindness. :-)
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