Time Alone

I stepped up to the counter to place my order. As the barista prepared my tea, he asked how my day had been.

“It’s been awful!” I exclaimed. “I’ve been homeschooling four kids all day and it was just one thing after another. I thought I was going to lose my mind!”

The poor barista looked a little startled at my answer. I think he was expecting the usual, “Fine. And how was yours?” He didn’t really know what to say after that.

I walked away to my table, slightly embarrassed for playing the part of the frazzled mom to the barista at the coffee shop where everyone else is so cool and mellow.

But you know what?

Sometimes I am a frazzled mom. And this occasionally frazzled mom needs time alone on a regular basis in order to feel a little less frazzled.

For the past few months I have become a regular at this coffee shop on Tuesday nights from 8pm – 10pm. Tuesdays are my nights and boy do I look forward to them. After I feed the kids dinner and help clean up the kitchen, my sweet husband takes over with bedtime duties and shoos me out the door because he knows how much I need this time, these two precious hours.

Now I’m an introvert, so two hours of heaven to me are sitting alone at the coffee shop with my computer doing a lot of self-reflection, goal setting, writing and occasionally reading a book. You see, I’m a thinker and with four kids running around asking me questions ALL DAY LONG, there is no time for me to put one coherent thought together, so I desperately need this time just to think and to process all that is going on in my life and in who I am.

This particular night I made lists of why I’m not cut out for the whole “stay-at-home mom/homeschool” thing. I had a little pity party for myself, and thought about all of the ways I am a bad mother and homemaker, feeling quite sorry for myself for not living up to my own grand expectations and even more sorry for my poor, poor children who have to put up with me every day.

Then I fantasized about getting dressed up in fancy clothes and driving my fancy car to a fancy office and working with fancy people after dropping off my children off at their fancy preschool.

Then I pulled myself back to reality and reminded myself of why I choose to stay at home with my children and homeschool them. I reminded myself that all moms have bad days, and that doesn’t mean that I can’t do this. After a little mental pep talk, I was ready to face another day.

One could say that I wasted those two hours, came back with nothing to show for my time. But regaining my temporarily misplaced sanity was well worth the time spent.

In the art of self-care, it is easy to think about caring for our bodies and our souls and our spirits. But caring for our minds can be a little bit trickier to figure out. But as busy moms, we have to find time for a little quiet and solitude, so that we can simply gather our thoughts, evaluate our lives, and work toward our personal goals. The other day I wrote about our need to quiet the noise in our lives in order to truly be able to cultivate a life of intention and grace. That day I was specifically talking about the noise of distractions that we purposefully turn to. Today I am referring to our need to literally quiet the noise so that we can think, because thinking is the first step of living with intention.

Cultivating Intention:

  • Do you get any alone time during the week? If not, is it possible for you and your spouse to work out a schedule where you can get away for a few hours each week?
  • Once you get your few precious hours, you need to use them well. If you are an extrovert, you might enjoy meeting a friend for coffee and processing your thoughts through conversation. If you are an introvert, you will probably enjoy being alone. Do whatever works for you in order to come back home refreshed. Just make sure that you don’t waste your time running errands or scanning Facebook. That’s not what this is for. Set some clear guidelines for yourself so that you can make the most of this time.

Cultivating Grace:

For a long time I felt guilty about wanting to be away from my husband and my children for a few hours. It felt selfish. After I read Introverts in the Church by Adam McHugh, I finally began to better understand my personality and my need for this time to process and unwind. If you read through the gospels, you will find various scriptures where even Jesus and the disciples went off to be alone to pray or to rest. As women, we need to get over the feelings of guilt that seem to come when we take care of ourselves, and remember that we can’t be the wives and mothers that we want to be when we are running on an empty tank.

So this week I encourage you to carve out a little bit of alone time for yourself. You need it. You deserve it. You will be better for it.

Always,

Amanda

This post is Day 8 of the 31 day series I am writing on cultivating a life of intention and grace. For a complete index of posts in this series, click here. To read more 31 Days series, please visit The Nester.

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Comments

  1. Wow! Isn’t it funny when you are popping from blog to blog just reading then you come across one that you can so identify with and you just KNOW that person would be someone you would be friends with if you knew each other in real life?

    I’m adding you to my reader and I’ll be going back through the first few days of your series. Love it!

    For many years, since the kids were really little, my husband gave me Thursday night “off”. My introverted, I-love-to-be-alone, self would just enjoy sitting in restaurant alone or shopping all by myself. Sometimes when I had a nursing baby I would just get to lock myself in my bedroom, take a bath and clip my nails. Knowing Thursday was coming would carry me through the hard weeks.

    Great post! Lisa~

  2. latoya @ a peaceful crib says:

    This is exactly what I needed to hear today. I feel this way all the time and making that quality time for myself just to be able to sort out all that’s in my head always helps.

  3. I started taking one or two afternoons a week to get some time away at a coffee shop. I schedule childcare for my son somewhere between the hours of 1 and 4:30 (often the whole time) and just sit and drink coffee and sigh and read a few blogs and do writing, photo editing… sometimes I just sit there and breathe.

    It always goes by too quickly in many way… I’m still struggling to find that balance because sometimes the more I get away, the more I want to get away. But I have found so much improvement in my mood by adding these breaks to my schedule and I honestly view them as a NEED, not just a splurge. I recently wrote about one of my frazzled coffee shop mom moments here, if you are interested in reading: http://beautifulinhistime.com/2012/11/17/when-mommy-breaks-just-arent-enough/

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