Do you struggle when it comes to taking time for yourself? Here’s how you can differentiate between if that time is selfish or smart so that you don’t feel guilty getting time alone.
I am an only child who grew up in the country.
This means that, pretty much, I grew up with peace and quiet. Not a lot of traffic or hustle and bustle…
And I liked it that way.
When I did the ministry course for a year I had to share a room with three other lovely girls. If I ever had the room to myself and heard footsteps coming down the hall, my heart would start palpitating (honest to goodness) and I’d think:
“Oh no, please, no no no, I just need to be alone.”
Needless to say, having small children means the house is boisterous and you don’t even get to go to the bathroom by yourself unless you lock the door.
It has been a very hard adjustment for me, and one I’m still working out.
There’s clearly nothing wrong with quiet time, and yet, sometimes we shut our children out during the day simply to escape. Ignore everyone to surf Facebook when I don’t even care about Facebook.
That type of “alone time” isn’t even fruitful for me, and yet if I haven’t had time to myself regularly, it’s all I think about.
Here are some thoughts on alone time from this “lonely only” on whether relaxing and mom’s quiet time are actually responsible.
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Learn what’s helpful and what is NOT.
There is a difference in relaxing and “escaping.” Let me explain…
I used to think that running errands alone would help me feel more centered.
Bring on the go is not relaxing. So, if I’m running errands I may as well take the kids. What I want is for my husband to take the kids and run errands so that I can stay home… alone.
Furthermore, I also used to think reading or watching movies helped me relax. Now I know the truth.
Some things helped me escape, but I didn’t feel any better when they were over.
In fact, if I’m reading a good book then all I want to do all day long is to tell my kids to leave me alone so I can read.
So yeah, that ain’t helping me to be a better mom.
Personally, what helps me is time alone (away from technology.) While consuming technology makes me feel more stressed, producing or creating things is better.
It could be sewing or some other craft that leaves me feeling rested. The difference for me is that my mind is not occupied while creating something.
Taking time for yourself doesn’t have to look like anyone else’s alone time. It’s what works for you that matters.
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Moms, like everyone else need periods of rest.
Some people call it zoning out. I call it necessary. Whatever you call it, it’s neurological and scientifically proven that our brains need rest.
Taking time for yourself is one way of getting that mental rest that you need. It will be different for everyone, but the key is to knowing what works for you and what does not.
Plan on taking time for yourself.
Life is about going through seasons. As a mom, we have busy seasons and more relaxed times.
Sometimes, we have to push through the tough times in order to get to those times where you can take some time for yourself.
But, plan those alone times so you don’t skip them. Pencil them in, leave yourself sticky notes, tell the “powers at be”, or whatever it takes!
Plan for it, so maybe you won’t neglect it.
Then, when you are tempted to stick your kids in front of the TV or on a screen all day long just to take a break from them, you’ll be able to restrain yourself.
Don’t get me wrong…. there’s nothing wrong with a little TV, but if you are constantly using screens as a babysitter just to be alone, this is a sign you need to take time away for yourself a priority.
Taking time for yourself doesn’t have to be over-the-top.
When taking care of yourself, every little bit counts. And honestly, most moms won’t want to go to extravagant measures or take long vacations away from their kids.
A morning to yourself, a crafting class, an hour at the gym, a quick trip to the spa, or even a little weekend get-away might be enough for you.
The key is to discovering what your needs are, and fitting them in.
I used to go to a hotel for 24 hours every few months when I wasn’t nursing some baby. I loved this! I’d buy a new book, eat out, take hot baths, and not have to wake up early! Then I realized that one day was simply not enough. I then started the 48-hour mommy vacay.
Without the kids! This gave me something to look forward to, but I had to plan it ahead.
So, even if it’s a small thing you’re doing for yourself… plan it in and make it happen.
Be present when you’re present.
This is hard and very important. But, if you balance your schedule (to include your needs), then you should feel fairly refreshed.
From this place, try to be as present as possible without going insane. A sure clue you need time away is finding yourself constantly being present yet absent.
When I’m not well or pregnant or stressed, my children will notice that I’m here but not really.
My daughter gets clingy and worried and my sons start to act out a bit. It can be hard to push through the long days, but remember why you’re doing it.
If you need to get away, get away. If you are home, be present.
- pinpoint an issue
- draw out how it’s affecting you
- label what you don’t like about it
- determine areas of responsibility
- figure out how it’s showing up
- say what you’d rather happen
- brainstorm solutions
Prioritize your needs too.
Mom life can be busy and hectic. Good news- you don’t need to give your kids undivided attention all day every-day, even though you do love your child.
It’s right and normal to need some time away to recover. We need this time to maintain our identity, stay mentally healthy, or even re-envision ourselves.
It is not selfish to prioritize your needs. In fact, it’s hard to pour into others from “an empty cup.”
- Learn what “alone time” activities work to relax and reset your mom brain.
- Schedule (actually plan) these things into your life routine.
- Don’t dismiss your needs.
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Lauren Tamm says
I am a huge advocate for moms taking time away. I was recently able to take a few mornings to myself. And in a few weeks I will be taking one or two days away to go visit a friend! I can’t wait! As mothers is so important to realize we need to nurture and grow our own spirits so that we may help our children grow theirs.
Rachel Norman says
It’s so true. It has taken me a while not to feel “guilty” for getting away. As in, I’m not escaping them, I’m doing something vital to my mental health. Ha :)
Loved this! I am vert similar with my need for alone time and to have things quiet. It makes me a better mom as I’m sure it does for all moms. My husband went to the gym last week and dropped my daughter off at his moms for an hour while he worked out. It was short, but I got to spend some time reading in my house while it was completely quiet! I loved it, and it was only a couple hours! Great post Rachel!
Rachel Norman says
Now THAT’S the best way. Being at home alone. I sometimes go out for a walk alone, etc. but it’s being home that feels most relaxing. So lucky to have your MIL near. I am jealousssss :)