One of the most frequent questions I get as a homeschooling mother is, "Your kids are around all day? How do you get anything done or have any time for yourself?" I have never understood why the presence of children means that I can't function as an adult. I get plenty done (and when I don't it is often my own fault and rarely the fault of my children) and I do have time alone. Granted the amount of alone-time is dependent upon the age of children I have... babies need more constant attention than a 4 year old. (But then, babies nurse. A lot. That's some prime reading time. I miss it.) But once children are napping, there is always at least a two hour span that is more flexible.
We have learned the art of living together because we have had too. We don't do it perfectly, some days are better than others, but for the most part we can all live in the same house with our sanity intact. I have always enforced quiet times after lunch. Everyone needs time to themselves... to think, do quiet activities, learn to be by oneself, recharge, or just do nothing. This is what happens for a couple of hours each day. We do need time away from each other, but it is a learned skill. By the time our children are 6 or 7, they have learned that sometimes they just need time alone and they know what I am talking about when I tell them I having my quiet time. Naps seem to move naturally from a time of sleeping, to a time of playing quietly on one's bed, to a time of independent functioning. It is through practice that we can do this.
Long car rides are the best analogy that I can think of. That first day can be long while everyone settles into a new routine. Everything is more difficult and there seems to be an excess of bickering. But experience has taught me that this is a temporary state. A new normal will soon appear and we will all begin to enjoy our time in the car together. That is unless we parents short-circuit the process by giving up too soon. We can do this by cutting the trip short or using a
Learning to get along takes practice. Learning to be alone takes practice. The my-kids-are-driving-me-crazy-I-can't-wait-till-they're-gone syndrome is merely a symptom of a deeper problem: The fracturing of the home by outside forces. The more a family is separated from each other, the more the members of the family forget how to get along, and the more they begin to wonder why they even want to get along. It becomes weak.
Reclaim the art of living together as a family. Enjoy your children. Be careful what you say about them.