Time alone to just be and enjoy my own company is a requirement for me these days. I am trying to train my family that I need this, and when they saunter up to me speaking about laundry cycles, plane tickets, dinner plans, etc. without a preamble can result in a polite yet firm “Can we discuss this in 15 minutes? I am in the middle of something”. They can expect a downright snarl if I am crouched up with a pen and notebook in hand.
I am noticing now in COVID-19 days that I get really cranky if I don’t have time alone with my own thoughts for days at a time. And quietly working on a work report doesn’t count for time alone with my own thoughts.
I sound pretty tough about it, don’t I? And yet I sabotage time alone often, by not keeping my own boundaries (“Would you like to come on a dog walk with me today?”), by oversleeping, hitting the snooze button, puttering on laundry cycles rather than getting on my morning set-up, staying up too late watching TV with daughter, sitting at my desk obsessing over bills (If I touch it and look at it one more time, will it just pay itself and fold itself up and fly away?!?), or surfing news media on my phone (“Hello NPR, CPR, CNN, Bloomberg, or Slate- will you please tell me you have news that the world is back to normal now?”).
We only need to start with 10 minutes a day without phones, people, or loud vacuums running. Preferably not at a bar or cookie factory, as this time is supposed to be nourishing and rejuvenating to intentionally be more present, not depleting or escaping. Super bonus points if it can be in natural surroundings.
Ways to create valuable time alone:
- Carry journal to a private place
- Make it a goal to enjoy 30 minutes alone in meditation/contemplation before anyone wakes up (rather than doing dishes or puttering during this window of time)
- Cheerfully let family know you need 10 minutes alone and will be right back (or just request a bathroom break)
- Go to sleep on the couch in the middle of the night alone (sounds weird, but it works for me!)
- Leave phone upside down/under a book and on silent so not a temptation to surf while having alone time
- Set a deadline for current book completion– “Sorry, I need to get back to this book to finish it by Friday night”.
The benefit of valuable alone time:
- Resets our inner balance
- Feeds the introvert in us that needs a recharge
- Allows natural solutions to bubble up if we can NOT ruminate during alone time
- Creativity often follows alone time
- Our sense of humor is rejuvenated
- Helps us know ourselves better- to set better goals and plans for ourselves and our families
- We are setting the example to our children that being alone and enjoying, even relishing it is a normal behavior
So go get a cup and sit down, you got this Mama!