Parents: Are You Getting Any?

Alone time, that is. What else would I be talking about?! Pfft.

 

be free. not cheap - by shahir zag
{via Shahir Zag}

This one goes out to the introverts. Which are you? An introvert or an extrovert?

I am an introvert. I restore my energies with time alone. When I don’t get enough (or any) time to myself I become highly stressed. Things that never bother me really get under my skin. I shout at the kids more. I become critical of myself, talk myself down. I become my own worst enemy.

I don’t know a parent alive who doesn’t understand those feelings. Because as hectic as life is before you have kids, as busy as you are, as hard as you are working – before kids you can shut off. You can choose to not go out, you can choose to rest when given the opportunity, you can quite easily make it a priority to look after yourself.

But with your beautiful family comes enormous responsibilities. Unending responsibilities. And at certain seasons in life, those can really weigh you down.

 

Can You Make Time for Alone Time?

Sparky (bless the man) and I decided we would make my alone time a family priority. Because, in the end, I am a better family member when I am restored.

Each-ish weekend, we choose a half day that is my designated alone time. And I get the hell out of the house. Even though I may want to garden, or am overwhelmed by a mountain of laundry that needs doing, I just get. the. hell. out. Otherwise I get sucked back in to all the things I should be doing.

Nine times out of ten, I go to the library. Because I am a dork awesome.

It’s quiet, I can write or read, or people watch. I can rattle around in my own head, and think full, uninterrupted thoughts.

It’s a very simple act, very plain and boring and mundane. But it’s also really wonderful.

How Do You Learn to Put Your Needs First?

Firstly you need to tell that little voice in your head – you know the one, the nagging one with the high-pitched voice telling you that you’re a jerk for wanting this – to shut the hell up, and then get out of the house as quickly as possible. Otherwise, you will think of many reasons to put it off. To stay at home. To undervalue your own mental well being.

Guilt was my constant companion for the first few alone-time excursions.

“I should be home. I’ve got so much to do. This is selfish. I shouldn’t need to be away from the kids and Sparky. I’m a horrible mum.” etc etc.

But then a funny thing happened. I started to see the value in my alone time. I am calmer during the week. More fulfilled. More satisfied. And do you know what? I started dreaming for myself again. I started to feel like a person in my own right again. I started to think I was capable of great things.

And do you know why? Because I was investing in me. It was only a few hours a week, but I was saying to myself, “There are 529 other things I could be doing with this time. And yet here I am, spending it on you. So make the most of it.”

I am a mum and a wife, yes, and it is the most important and exhausting job I will ever have. But I am also me.

And one day, in the not too distant future, our kids won’t need me like they do right now. They won’t rely on me so much for all their earthly requirements. And I will have time. And space. And what good will that time and space be, if I have completely deserted myself? What could I then build, if the very foundations of me have been eroded by neglect?

So, yes, to say that a few hours at the library every week is soul-saving and life-affirming feels as ridiculous as it sounds. But it’s true.

Investing in yourself, just a little, will leave you happier, healthier and better equipped to deal with the chaos life brings.

Do you spend time alone on a regular basis? Have you seen benefits from your time alone? Or do you need to be with people constantly?

21 Responses to Parents: Are You Getting Any?

  1. Hi Brooke,
    I just wanted to pop in to say hello and to let you know how much i enjoy reading your blog! Your posts are so well written and quirky, and make my laugh at times! Keep posting, I look forward to reading your trials and tribulations!

    Patrice

    • Thank you so much, Patrice! I must admit, sometimes I wonder and worry if people understand my quirkiness, so I’m really happy to hear I don’t come across like too much of a doofus!

      Thanks so much for taking the time to say hello – it means a lot! xx

  2. Couldn’t agree more! I’m a ball of confused, seething, resentfulness if I feel I can’t have a little time to myself. I love reading your blog, you have a style that I feel i can really connect to. So happy I found your blog! Have a beautiful day :)

    • You’ve summed me up in one sentence, Tam!! And thank you for your kind comments too – you made my day. (And I shed a little tear when I read them. It means a LOT to me to hear I am connecting.) xxx

  3. I am introvert too and my alone time is not an “optional” thing in our house. i can skip it a little if need be but then need to make up for it with a bigger amount of time alone to recharge. School holidays over summer are my hardest time of year if i don’t plan carefully (i now use vacation care when it is available)

    PS how did i not know about your blog? LOVE it!

    • That’s me in a nutshell, Deb. If I skip my time alone, we all really feel it. I’m happy to hear that there are other mums who feel the same as me, but who are also finding solutions that help them get the alone time they need. I can see in the future, when my kids are older, that those long stretches of holiday time could be a real challenge.

      And thanks for the kind comment! I’m taking your 30 Day Self Care course soon and CAN. NOT. WAIT! xx

  4. I’m an introvert, too–and I agree with everything you’ve written here. My “babies” are 14 now, and they don’t need me the way they once did, but I still struggle to get the time I need to recharge. I seem to need it more now than I did when they were younger. And I’ve stop beating myself up about it. It’s just the way I’m wired. It’s not that I’m bad, weak, selfish, or unloving. Good for you for figuring it out now–and for having a husband who understands and accepts you the way you are. Wish I’d had both when mine were much littler.

    • I think I will find as the kids get older, that the demands just change, but don’t necessarily lessen. So I can see how you would still struggle. Life’s just damn busy, isn’t it?

      Accepting the need though as not selfish and not something to feel guilty about has been my greatest struggle. So glad to follow your lead and not beat myself up about it.

  5. What a lovely blog you have…I’m so glad to have been introduced to it. If alone time means quiet time…I’m with you all the way. It’s the constant chatter, noise, questions that drive me bananas…nothing wrong with a bit of time out x

    • Thank you so much!! And the chatter (particularly with a 3 year-old who is never. ever. quiet) does my head in on days. Most days actually. I think that’s why I love the library so much – the lack of noisy kids!!

  6. First, I concur with all the praise for your blog! So glad I found you! As for alone time, your timing here was heaven sent. I am the same way needing the alone time, but I feel so guilty about it that I rarely ask for it. My husband is an extrovert and tries to accept it, but doesn’t understand it. I know inside it’s best for me, which makes me a better me for all of them, but turning off that nagging is so hard. I need to take your advice and tell it to shut the hell up! I’m due shortly with our 3rd child and (while totally jacked about the new one) acutely aware of how little time I’m about to have to pee let alone read. I have 2 months to spiritually/emotionally/mentally/physically rest up and I need to make it a priority. It’s encouraging to hear someone else with the same feelings and needs so I don’t feel totally nuts!

    • Thanks so much, Susanna! Sometimes I worry that I’m writing to an empty room, so it’s lovely to know there are real people out there, and that I don’t sound like a moron!

      It is so hard to make yourself feel OK about time out. And when you and your husband are opposites in that regard, it can feel even harder. But with bub #3 on the way (hats off, lady! how exciting!) you’ll need a little in reserve. Good luck with getting some R&R in the next couple of months. xx

  7. I just burst into tears reading this! Thank GOD I am not alone! I feel so guilty that I don’t want to spend 24-7 with my beautiful boys (two under two! Insane right?) Sometimes Mummy just wants to go to the toilet ALONE!!!!!!!! My boys go to daycare every Friday so I have one day to myself and I’ve always felt dreadful that they are so young and yet I look forward to daycare day! WOW! People who understand! WooHoo!

    • Angie, YOU ARE NOT ALONE!! Promise!

      And I have known the insanity of 2 under two as well. It’s tough, and it does get better!! Glad to hear you’re able to take a day each week to spend on yourself though. It’s something we overlook more than we should. :)

  8. […] I am firmly introverted. I am not shy (I used to get the two confused, but they are very different things). I find the idea of a room filled with strangers both exciting and exhausting. I love my alone time. I also love talking to new people about things we are passionate about. I am happy and content with all these elements of me. […]

  9. I have stumbled upon your Blog today, & it has been such an encouragement! I have a 3 year old, 2 year old and 7 month old and live 1600km from our extended family. Needless to say I find it hard to make time for me! Thank you for the eloquent reminder to make me a priority.

    • I’m so glad you’ve found us, Hannah! It sounds like your life is pretty busy right now! Happy to hear you’re feeling inspired to take some time for you too. It’s really hard, particularly with a young family, but I hope you find a way to make it work. :)

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