Importance of Alone Time as a Parent

My feet are hitting the pavement in rhythmic time as my strides carry me through my run.  This is my alone time, my time to meditate and be creative.  I reflect on my day and think about creative solutions to problems I have encountered, I pull from my memories of parenting and imagine a variety of articles I could share on this site.  I breathe in a little freedom as my legs pull me further into a time when all that exists in my world is me, the pavement, and a playlist of my music in the background.  At times, I used to feel guilty about delegating my responsibilities as a mom to others and taking this time for myself, but I have discovered how very important this time can be.  This time varies in length for me from day to day, sometimes it’s only 20 minutes, sometimes it could be an hour, but this time has contributed greatly to me becoming a better wife and mother.

Whether we are working moms or dads, stay at home moms or dads, or single moms or dads, we all seem to feel a little guilty, for the same and different reasons, when it comes to taking time for ourselves.  As a stay at home mom, I used to feel super guilty about wanting to take alone time to do something I enjoy because I felt like it was my duty to take care of the kids all the time.  Whatever the reason for our guilt, it is important to know that you should not feel guilty about wanting and needing a little time to yourself.

According to Dr. Sherrie Bourg Carter, a psychologist and author,

Spending time with yourself benefits everyone because by having a happier and healthier mindset, you’re in a better frame of mind to take care of the people who are important to you.

She lists several reasons why alone time is very important, but as a parent, I think the most important reasons are:

Solitude allows you to reboot your brain and unwind.

Frustration, anger and stress can build up inside of us if we don’t take time to refresh our state of mind and be in our own thoughts, uninterrupted. This is the time that we can breathe in some peace and quiet in our own way to prevent an explosion of anger and frustration towards the ones we love. I have been victim to this build up and explosion and have not been proud of the words that have come out of my mouth or the harshness that coated those words. I am not perfect by any means, and have had moments I wish I could redo as a parent and a wife, but I have learned from these mistakes and have found how truly healthy it is to unwind your mind and be in your own world with no distractions, even if it is just for a few minutes, so that the unseen pressure of constant motion is relieved and the brain is revitalized.

Solitude gives you an opportunity to discover yourself and find your own voice.

It is easy to get trapped in the role of being a parent and forget your own thoughts, feelings, needs and wants. Being a parent requires sacrifice, but it is important to remember to nurture yourself and respond to your needs as well. Reflection on your actions and decisions without interruption or outside input leads to discovering things you’d like to improve on, and things you are happy with, so that you can determine who you are and what you need to do to make sure you stay on the path that will lead to being the best you possible. This, in turn, will illuminate your relationships with everyone you love because you will have a healthier self image and be a stronger, more confident you.

Solitude helps you work through problems more effectively.

When you make the time to step into yourself and be in your own head, away from everything else going on in your life, and solely in the moment, your brain calms and you can look at problems in new light. One of the toughest things as a parent is reading book after book, article after article, asking other parents about a situation you are dealing with concerning your child, and all of the advise is failing. These are the moments where alone time has helped me become more imaginative, utilizing all of the information I have received, but then pulling in everything I know about my child and adapting the advice and information into a platform that is much more effective for his or her personality. Without alone time to really get creative with different situations and problems I encounter, I keep reacting the same way, and it just creates a cycle of frustration for both me and my child.

Find something you enjoy doing and let it be your escape so that you can have the alone time you need to be a healthier, happier, more confident you. For me, running has become my escape pod into the world of my mind. I get not only exercise, but the opportunity to delve into my mistakes, my accomplishments, unresolved problems, and the imagination portal in my brain. I have learned that it is not selfish to spend some time alone so that you can become a more efficient, productive, happier and healthier you. If anything, the time spent alone, without interruptions, is a great benefit to your children and all of your relationships because it allows you to remain balanced and continue walking down your path, instead of losing your way and stumbling repeatedly. Make alone time a priority in your life, even if you start small, taking just 5 minutes a day to unplug and be alone in your thoughts without distractions so that you can reconnect with yourself and get to know your joy, anger, sadness, disgust and fear better.

References:
Carter, Sherrie Bourg, Psy.D. “6 Reasons You Should Spend More Time Alone.” Standard Blog. Psychology Today. Sussex Publishers, LLC, 31 Jan 2012. Web. 22. Feb. 2016. https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/high-octane-women/201201/6-reasons-you-should-spend-more-time-alone

Carter, Sherrie Bourg, Psy.D. “Why You Shouldn’t Feel Guilty About Stealing a Little Time for Yourself.” Standard Blog. Psychology Today. Sussex Publishers, LLC, 01 Feb 2012. Web. 22. Feb. 2016. https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/high-octane-women/201202/why-you-shouldnt-feel-guilty-about-stealing-little-time-yourself