During my kids’ winter break, I was running through the house picking up jackets that had fallen on the floor. I could feel myself cracking, but I didn’t know why. I was ready to unleash all my anger out on my kids who were sitting on the sofa, minding their own business and watching a movie. Those jackets on the floor and that movie playing set me off in a bad way, and I just couldn’t figure out why.
I’d been looking forward to this break for weeks. I’d planned it out in my mind: We’d stay up later than usual. We wouldn’t have to do as much running around, so we’d go to the movies, out to lunch, and bake some cookies. I’d do face masks with my kids and pop popcorn on a lazy afternoon, then end it by taking a road trip.
But that isn’t how it worked out. I wasn’t in a blissful state of zen at all. And I was mad at myself for getting so irritated about something insignificant — my kids were simply there, minding their own business and the noise from the television set was going right through me.
I went in the bathroom, sat on the toilet, and tried to gain some composure. Then it hit me: It had been almost ten days since I spent any time alone other than a quick shower. I had not taken any time to do something just for me. I’d neglected my nightly reading because I was too tired from staying up late with my kids. I wasn’t taking my time getting ready in the morning, a new ritual I’ve started since they have gotten older and don’t need me to constantly watch them. My morning routine helps set me up for the day as I find myself lost in thought about future decorating plans, friends I wanted to see, and places I wanted to go.
I know this about myself, I know I need time to recharge, even if it’s only for an hour every few days. I’ll go through stretches of time when I don’t think I crave the quiet or that being alone with my own thoughts isn’t important — but it is.
And when you find yourself getting mad at your kids for nothing at all, it’s really damn important you fix the problem.
According to an article published on Power Of Positivity, being alone is essential for our mental health. But so many of us don’t take the time to do it. We confuse being lonely with spending time alone — but these are two very different things.
The article says, “Loneliness is a painful feeling people get from being alone because they haven’t learned how to enjoy their own company; being alone, however, is simply a state of being, neither good nor bad.”
So being alone doesn’t mean you are a lonely person, but for some, it’s not so easy to learn how to enjoy being alone without any distractions. It may not be what we desire to do, but science says we need it. And that afternoon, my mind needed to tune out for a bit, yet I had refused to listen and kept going until I’d almost screamed at my kids about a stupid jacket.
Taking those few minutes in the bathroom alone saved me though. Of course, we all need more than that, and Power of Positivity explains that our time alone should be spent doing “creative, restorative things.” No matter what your thoughts are on being alone (some people dread it, others relish it), scrolling through your phone or watching television doesn’t give you a chance to be alone with your thoughts, which is really what we all need.
Let’s face it, as parents we take what we can get. There are days we crave having a day to ourselves in bed or an afternoon to make a mess in the kitchen, but it’s not always realistic. A little alone time can go a long way, though. So, put it down, turn it off, tune out and get in touch with yourself — your mind needs it.
These days we are always moving so fast, going from one thing to the next, when we do have some down time, we spend it catching up on social media or binge-watching Netflix. While there’s nothing wrong with this — and we all know we aren’t giving up these luxuries — experts say we aren’t really able to reset unless we are doing something without any other distractions.
Yet we don’t, because it’s hard to think about things we don’t want to think about and let our minds wander. I still struggle with that even though I know I am a better person when I take time to recharge without any devices or keeping myself distracted with busy jobs around the house.
It’s easy to think there’s always something that needs to be done, but even if we are able to unwind and do something like yoga, mediation, draw, or paint, the benefits are huge. We’re better moms — and better people. No one likes going over the edge about something small. No one likes feeling lonely or disconnected, especially with themselves. And spending just an hour or two a week, doing something that makes you feel loved without putting anyone else’s needs first is going to make you feel like a healthier person, and that kind of attitude is contagious.
So, the next time you start to feel extra irritable, or you are craving some alone time and talk yourself out of it because of guilt, don’t. Remember science says you need time alone for your wellbeing, so go ahead with your plans and reap the benefits.
Lest you lose it on your kids over a silly jacket on the floor.