For us mothers, the thought of being alone brings feelings of elation. Whether we spend the day at home chasing toddlers or in the oﬃce attacking deadlines, we all dream of peace and quiet at the end of the day. The truth is we need solitude. While we can’t survive without friends, community, and family, we also need a healthy balance of time alone in order to recharge physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.
You might read this and think, Are you kidding? How in the world could I find time for solitude when my kids, job, and husband demand all of my energy?
For many of us busy mothers, that’s just the point—we think that everyone, and everything, other than ourselves is a priority and has to be done right away. As a result, our health suffers. Our moods change and we feel more overwhelmed than we should.
My challenge to you is this: Take a hard look at what you fill your days with and find ways to slow down. Find time to be quiet, to hear less noise, and to enjoy your own company.
Let’s look at what solitude can mean. Obviously, most of us don’t have large chunks of time we can set aside to be alone. So don’t frustrate yourself by looking for lots of time if you have small children. Solitude can be as simple as turning off the radio while waiting for your daughter to be done with her soccer practice. Moments of solitude can be caught in numerous small places throughout the day. Personally, I find the car a great place for solitude. The point of solitude isn’t just to be alone for a few moments; it is to be alone without noise from the radio, iPod, cell phone, or kids in the room. Solitude means not just pulling ourselves away from people for moments during the day (or week). It also means deliberately finding moments of quiet.
Here are some practical ideas for making time for solitude:
- Pick an “average” day of tasks and responsibilities and keep an accurate log in fifteen-minute increments of exactly what you do. My guess is you’ll find some wasted opportunities in your day for quiet moments. How much time do spend on Facebook or watching TV?
- Determine that you will make moments for solitude in your day. Instead of surfing the Web at lunch, maybe you’ll take a walk around the office parking lot instead. Find other “bite-size” moments such as going to the grocery store alone, sitting on the deck alone for fifteen minutes after the kids are in bed, driving in silence, or soaking in a hot bath.
- The public library is a wonderful place to clear your mind. Even mundane tasks such as making menus and grocery lists can become calming when accomplished in a cozy, quiet library corner.
- Create your own spot, beanbag chair, or easy chair that’s reserved for your “alone time.” With a visible object, we have a reminder that spending time alone is doable and important.
Tell me how you make time for solitude in your busy day. What are your greatest challenges to finding alone time? What, specifically, has worked for you in recharging yourself with solitude?