Recharging Through Alone Time
I am a person who needs a lot of space and a ton of alone time. This one aspect of my personality is likely responsible for many of struggles as a mom- it is easy for me to feel burned out when I don't get enough of that alone time. Especially since James acts like my little magnet pretty much every minute he's awake. There is no rest from this constant desire he has to be right next to me all the time.
And while I'm sure this is just a stage, my (faulty) memory is telling me that I can't remember a time since he was mobile when he hasn't been this way. It can be so hard for me to feel like I have any breathing room or time to recharge (classic introvert).
Recently, I was reading a book about parents called All Joy and No Fun by Jennifer Senior. It's not exactly about parenting, but more about parents' stories.
One of the mothers Senior focused on was talking about how her husband seemed to take full advantage of his free time on the weekends but she never did. Senior asked, "Do you think if you said to your husband 'I want to walk around Barnes and Noble by myself for an hour or so on Saturday; would you be okay with the kids?' he would be fine with that?" And the woman admitted that her husband wouldn't mind that at all.
Reading that hit me right between the eyes. I could do that. Why have I never done that?!?
This isn't to say that I don't consciously work to having alone time. Brock understands this need and is super accommodating on nights and weekends to help me get the time away that I crave. But I had never thought of leaving the house to get that time.
Usually, I'll hide out in our bedroom while Brock takes care of James, or I'll stay behind while Brock takes James to the playground or farmer's market. Both of those are fine, but being at home isn't as relaxing as leaving. I always feel like I should cleaning the bathroom or mopping the kitchen
or in other ways doing something more productive than sitting down and reading a book.
So a few weeks ago, after reading All Joy and No Fun, I asked Brock if he would mind if I headed out by myself to the library for an hour or two. Obviously, because he's Brock, he said to take my time, so I went. I wandered the shelves and browsed in a lazy way that I can't when I have James with me. I then sat in a chair by the window and read for more than an hour. It was bliss. Pure bliss. I cannot emphasize enough how this hour and a half alone at the library fulfilled me in a way that I thought I wouldn't be able to get until my kid(s) were teenagers.
When I got home, I was so happy. It was around 5:30 pm, which is my usual time when I'm absolutely done dealing with James. But on that day I was so happy to see my husband and son and I had endless patience to play trains and read book with James. It was remarkable the difference I felt.
I've since repeated this outing (including this weekend) and it's hard to overstate how wonderful it is for me. I don't have to spend any money and my mental health has been so much better. I love anticipating my alone time and I enjoy every minute while I'm gone. And when I get back, I'm so much better at being kind and loving to the people in my life who most deserve it. It's definitely a win-win.