Wednesday, 23 September 2015

The Art of Being Alone

One of my favorite times of the year are the school holidays. They are filled with lazy mornings. Interesting chats. And doing things that we usually don't find the time to do during the busy term.

But there is a downside.

There are often days of arguing between the kids as they spend so much extra time with each other. They will be sitting quietly doing something together and then suddenly out of the blue they are running through the house screaming my name as someone did something to the other and normally it comes to a head with someone getting an 'accidental' foot to the face.

Once I have soothed things (often with kisses and ice packs) they find each other again. And then soon after ... They are running through the house screaming my name as another accidental foot to the face. At some point I find myself yelling at them "separate and find something else to do".

And they do for all of five minutes before we start the whole process again.

Yesterday was one of those days. And after the crying had finished I had an epiphany.

See doing things by myself has always been pretty easy for me. I'm an only child and learnt early how to be alone and entertain myself. But they have always had each other. They had never learnt the art of being alone.

So today we try something new.

I got them to write out some things they could do by themselves that didn't include devices or tv or me or each other.

And in rotation today they are spending time doing these things. Then we are doing an activity together. And then they can do whatever they want (probably screen time). These are all happening in equal proportions and we will be doing it all day.

So far we have played a game of scrabble together. Now it is alone time. The first thing they did was both go outside. One to play with their ball the other to practice on their skateboard. I could hear them chatting away. And although the mood was light it defeated the purpose. So reminded them that one of the rules is separate spaces.

The big one decided to go to his room to read for a bit. And the little one decided to cook us a meal.

I don't know if this will work. But as I say to the boys my first job as a mum is to love them. And my second job is to teach them. To teach them the skills they need for life. To make them healthy men and productive citizens. Today I am hoping to teach them how to be alone.

Upside is we have just completed the first alone hour. Energy here is calm. Although I just got served a raw chicken schnitzel 1/2 a chopped up apple and a mandarin at 9am my hopes are high.

Note: the above photo is not mine. Tiff took it and it is one of my all time favorites of the boys.

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