Families have been spending more time together than ever this year. And we can all agree that’s a great thing, even if the circumstances that caused it really suck. But all this family time can leave moms craving some time to themselves.
Single moms especially might be feeling the pinch of loving time with their kids but needing a little me time.
But when we’re still being told we should try to stay home and stay away from people, getting that time to ourselves can be a little more difficult than usual. But it’s not impossible. You just need to get creative.
Obviously, these ideas may need to be tweaked a little, depending on the ages of your kids. But they’re all a great place to start.
Create “Family Quiet Time”
If your kids are still small enough to nap, then nap time has probably been a source of something resembling my time anyway. You keep the older kids quiet, do quiet activities, etc. Take it a step further by making it an official “Family Quiet Time” where everyone who doesn’t actually take a nap spreads out, finds a quiet space, and engages in their own quiet activities.
If your kids are beyond napping age, sit them down and institute your new “Family Quiet Time.” Carve out 30 minutes to two hours a day where everyone does their own quiet thing. Reading, putting a puzzle together, watching a video on a tablet with headphones, coloring, or taking a walk through the neighborhood can all be good ways to spend this time (again, depending on age). If a couple of kids want to pair up to do a quiet activity together, let them.
The only real rule to this is that the activity is quiet, and no one disturbs others.
Wake up earlier
It’s a long-spouted piece of advice given to parents for a number of reasons. But waking up earlier is a way to get your much-needed alone time. You don’t have to get up in the middle of the night — as little as 15–30 minutes might be enough for you.
This is a bit of a tough one if you’re not a morning person. Believe me; I understand how hard it can be to leave the comfort of bed so early in the day, even when you know it’s for a good reason. But it can be worth it to get that little bit of peace and quiet you’re so desperate for.
Give it a try. And if you’re not a morning person, try starting with just 10 minutes and work up to more as you begin to feel the difference.
Go to bed earlier
If getting up earlier feels like it’s just not an option for you, try going to bed earlier. Not to sleep but to spend 30 minutes to a couple of hours alone in your room. Watch TV, read your book while sipping tea, do your nails, or whatever else you enjoy.
If your kids are older, this is pretty easy. Remind them when bedtime is and let them do their own thing. Maybe check on them around bedtime. But what about smaller kids?
If your kids are too young to turn loose on the house, there are a couple of options. One is to put them to bed earlier too. They might even benefit from the earlier bedtime.
The other option is to turn on a movie or something else you know they’ll sit and watch and then listen for them while checking on them occasionally. It’s not a perfect plan, and you might not feel quite as refreshed as you could, but it’s a simple way to get your alone time without worrying about the kids getting hurt or burning the house down.
Create some rituals that give you space
As moms, we’re always on call, and that’s never been more true than this year. Kids barging in when we’re showering or dressing, being expected to serve as entertainment even while we’re the family chef, and waking up to kids telling us they’re bored or can’t figure out how to get online for class.
One way to get a little alone time is to create a few rituals that give you some space. What does that mean? Don’t worry, and I’m not talking about sacrificing a kid to terrify them all into leaving you alone!
Just create some simple rituals that allow you to be alone. These might be around things you already do anyway, like taking a shower — turn it into a ritual by locking the door or telling the kids to leave you alone, paying close attention to the shower and how it feels, and taking your time as you dry off and dress. Maybe smooth on some lotion to extend the time and feel a little pampered.
You might also create new rituals, like sitting on your patio with a glass of wine and watching the sunset before making dinner — while the kids are inside doing something else.
Creating and maintaining a daily meditation practice can be a great way to have some alone time. Turning your focus inward, away from all the noise and hustle of the outside world, can be incredibly refreshing.
If you’ve never meditated before, you can start with just five minutes and work your way up to more time. Use an app or work with a teacher to help you get into the flow and then just enjoy it.
You can even meditate with your kids if they’re interested.
If you’re new to meditating, check out my simple How to Meditate ebook. It’s a great way to get started.
Be intentional about how you spend your time alone
The only thing worse than looking back on your time alone and wondering what you did with it is getting some unexpected alone time and wasting it because you don’t know what to do with it. So make a plan to be intentional about how you spend your alone time.
I suggest creating a list of activities you enjoy and keeping it handy in a notebook or on your phone. This way, when presented with the gift of some unexpected alone time or when your long-planned-for alone time arrives, you can choose something from your list to do.
You can also plan alone time with an activity in mind. For example, planning to go to bed early on Friday night so you can read the book you just bought or watch the new season of your favorite Netflix show that just dropped.
Getting alone time isn’t as easy with a house full of people. And yet we need it more than ever because of that. So get creative. Think of things you wouldn’t normally consider as “alone time.” Make changes to your routine or schedule to get the time you need. And when you get it, take a deep breath and savor the moment.
Wendy Miller is a Single Mom Coach & meditation teacher. She helps moms use mindfulness and meditation to create the life they really want. She lives in Florida with her two sons, where she homeschools while solo parenting while surrounded by what feels like a zooful of animals.
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