By Guest Blogger Bethany Godwin, LCMHC, PMH-C
Have you ever spent time alone, intentionally? I don’t mean lying on the couch after the kids have gone to bed scrolling through your phone or searching Netflix for something that you know you can only watch when you’re alone. I mean planning an entire day solo, by yourself.
Time is Currency
I discovered this many years ago after my son got through those first years where he needed me much of the time and my husband and I had to barter with each other for who was going to be productive or on childcare duty. When he got more into the early preschool years and my husband got into his groove of taking him for outings, there was finally this opportunity it seemed for myself to have a break. This wasn’t something that happened all the time, but when it happened it felt magical!
You don’t really think about when you are pregnant and anticipating this child that your time is going to become almost like currency, it becomes so much more valuable. Before my son was born, I had time alone sure, but I didn’t really pay much attention to it…it just was life. Suddenly though after that child is born your “free” time becomes something you anticipate eagerly with all sorts of desires.
The Rejuvenation of Time Alone
When the chance popped up for me to have a significant amount of time alone, I found myself daydreaming. Even taking a walk sounded amazing, a walk alone is a very different experience than a walk with children. Leaving whenever I pleased, not having to convince anyone to get out of the car. Plus, not having to plan snacks or toys for entertainment, and having silence to complete a thought.
I found that planning out a self-care date for myself was rejuvenating. It allowed me to get back to “me”! Getting back in touch with who I am underneath my title of wife, mother, and all the roles I play. It made me get quiet and ask myself what do I truly enjoy? I found not having a lot of time can really make you prioritize what you do want to spend your time on.
Planning Your Solo Date
I approached it as if I was taking myself out on a day date. Remembering my favorite things I enjoyed before parenthood I would find a way to plan them into the schedule of the day. I would start with the beginning of the day including my morning routine, a place I wanted to visit, an activity I wanted to do, where I’d want to eat lunch, etc. It was a day I would be completely on my own, no one to have to compromise with or figure out schedules together. Everything was my choice, that freedom can feel exhilarating.
Being alone with yourself the entire day also really gives you time to get to know yourself again. You aren’t distracted with other’s dilemmas or desires. You are the only person to focus on that day. Often during postpartum and early parenthood it can be so hard to connect with just us. That’s because there constantly is someone that needs us, looking for us to guide them or help them with a task they can’t do on their own. It can seem like there is never enough time in the day for household or career tasks. Relationships also need our attention, with whatever energy we have left to offer. It is very challenging time to be able to have space for connecting with ourselves.
If you are able to have space right now in whatever life stage you are in, I encourage you to think about if you had a day all to yourself. How would you spend it? What could that day give you? Would it add to your quality of life? Chances are it would tremendously, which also in turn adds to the lives of others you are caring for. You’ve heard the adage, “we cannot pour from an empty cup”. Never have I found that to be so true than when I became a parent.