Do you struggle to know when alone time is selfish or smart? Here’s how you can differentiate the two so 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 counseling 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 alone 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.”
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1. Learn what’s helpful and what isn’t.
I used to think that running errands alone would help me feel more centered. It’s only recently I’ve realized that I don’t relax when I’m on the go. 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.
I also used to think reading or watching movies helped me relax. Now I know the truth. Those things help me escape, but I don’t feel any better when they are 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 makes me feel more stressed, producing or creating things often helps me feel better. Whether it’s sewing or some other craft, that leaves me feeling rested. The difference for me is that my mind is not occupied. My mind needs frequent periods of rest. I believe that’s called zoning out. It will be different for everyone, but the key is to know what is helpful for you and what isn’t.
2. Plan it in.
When you know there are periods of rest in your near future you’ll be able to push through the tough times. Then, when you are tempted to stick your kids in front of the TV all day long just to be alone, you’ll be able to restrain yourself. There’s nothing wrong with a little TV, but if you are constantly using the TV as a babysitter just to be alone, this is a sign you need to make time away a priority.
3. Go small or big.
A morning to yourself might be enough for you, or you may even take a mommy sabbatical for up to a week. 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! I hope to do that again a few months later.
4. Be present when you are present.
This is hard and very important. If you schedule in weekly/monthly alone time sessions 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 son starts to prefer the company of my husband. 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.
Mom Problem Solving Worksheet
- 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
There are enough things during out normal day-to-day that require our attention, and this is right. 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 and even re-envision ourselves. I believe it’s equally important to know when we need to get away and when we need to stick it out.
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Do you plan time away? What do you like to do?