I have alone time on the brain this morning because I have a day off work, during which I planned to get lots done on my projects that I can’t do with the kids around, but Liam has perfectly timed his second round of pinkeye to coincide so instead I’m on motherhood duty again.
Recently David and I both took a personality test and we had a date to discuss the results. It was fun! One of the aspects of personality it measured was introversion/extroversion. This has to do with what energizes you – alone time, or being with other people. Unsurprisingly, I scored high on the introversion scale. (Yet my personality type – ISFJ – is usually very social, which explains why I love to connect with others so much.)
I’m very tempted to feel guilty by my need for alone time: if I love my husband and my kids, shouldn’t I want to spend the most time with them possible? Especially since I work and our time is already limited?
But it was a mind-blowing discovery for me in recent years when I realized that, being an introvert, I really need time to myself to recharge. It’s an act of self-care. And I’m not going to be a very good version of myself for my family if I don’t get it.
Unfortunately, that time is extremely hard to come by as a mom, as most of you probably know – whether you work or not. I think back to before I had kids and I wonder: what did I DO with myself? Why didn’t I get so much more done? Why didn’t I do all the things??
Have you heard the saying that no one is going to GIVE you time to yourself, so you have to take it? That sounds kind of aggressive, but I think it’s mostly true (except sometimes my husband or my parents or in-laws intuitively know when I need a break and help me out).
David is an extrovert, and in addition one of his top love languages is quality time. So it doesn’t naturally occur to him that I might want alone time, and that’s why communication is so important. I think he is finally starting to understand, although he still can’t relate and has had to learn not to take it personally. But he has been supportive all along, and every weekend he tries to give me a large chunk of time alone. During this time he usually takes the kids on an adventure – something fun or just running errands. (Don’t ask me about naptime; it’s a sore subject.)
I don’t get alone time much at all during the week the way our schedule goes (mostly because I go to sleep at the same time as the kids – maybe one day that will change), so this break on the weekends is critical for my sanity. I notice that when I don’t get it – like when David is sick, or we have too many commitments scheduled – I start to get irritable and depressed.
Liam basically a toddler now, but what about when you have a little baby? Do you think it’s possible to have restorative “me” time WITH your baby? I think yes, to a point. You can’t do every solo activity you might want to with the baby around, and you don’t get the mental break of freedom from caring for others, and you might not get a break from all the touching. But until the baby is mobile, I feel like I can go a lot longer without having complete alone time. (Now, if it’s just me and Liam, constant vigilance is required and it’s not relaxing at all.)
What are your thoughts on alone time? How do you fit it in? What activities do you do when you do get time to yourself, and what about when you’re with your baby? I’d love to hear also from moms who are extroverts – do you still feel like you need breaks like this?