Goals for March 2018 – pick and choose or create your own:
~ Take time to journal
~ Begin to observe – a slow self study
~ Quiet my mind more
~ Acknowledge that individuals in a family all need Alone Time
~ Explore a new hobby
~ Schedule my own Alone Time
~ Stop the guilt I feel about wanting Alone Time
~ Find a way to ask for Alone Time without shouting for it
~ Model Alone Time for my kids
~ Recognize that I cannot pour from an empty cup
March Week 1: Observe yourself
You might be so desperate for a minute to yourself that it feels like your pen might catch fire just waiting to start journaling if it means there is more time for you on the other end. Deep breaths, Mama. Finding, making, and valuing time to yourself doesn’t happen overnight. Being a mom means there is going to be other people involved on this journey, mainly your family. This first week is all about observation. Observing yourself: identifying pockets of time, what your individual needs/likes are, how you feel about Alone Time, etc. This will get you one week closer to finding the time you need to fill you up. Every person’s refresh button looks different. Taking a week to look at YOUR life is how we each can find the individual answers we need while walking the same path.
In case you missed the Facebook/Instagram share from a few days ago…Are you married or live with your partner? My husband Chris and I lovingly recommend bringing them in on this personal project BEFORE it starts. It doesn’t have to be a long or involved conversation, just a: “Hey, honey. I joined up with this group of moms online. We’re doing a monthly journal challenge together. This first month is about ‘Alone Time.’ We’ll see how this unfolds as the month goes on, see if it’s even relevant to our family. Just wanted to let you know. I’ll be journaling everyday. It’s not about you, it’s just answering questions about Alone Time and our interests. If you want to know more, I can share with you as it goes along…”
Alone Time can become a family value. My hope is to help you shift from not getting any time to yourself to the whole family getting some needed Alone Time exploring hobbies and interests they enjoy.
Write about what pops into your head when you think about Alone Time. Is it important to you? Do you feel like you need it? Do you feel like you’re getting it? What do you need? Do you wait until the breaking point and demand/scream for it? Are you supported when you ask for it?
Remember…mommy steps. Today is just about observing and getting our first thoughts down. At the end of the month, today’s journal entry will really highlight how small steps every day really add up.
When is your Alone Time? During your commute in the car? Does it only happen if you set an alarm and wake up before the rest of the house? Is it after the kids go to bed? When you’re on the toilet? In the shower?
Today’s journal entry is about identifying pockets of time. Just observing…mommy steps. There is a lot of growth that can happen from just looking and thinking before you act.
What do you do with your Alone Time? Listen to podcasts? Nap? Sip a cup of coffee? Go for a walk? Shower? Are you too frazzled in your thoughts to use it well? Do you feel consumed by the “shoulds,” thinking about what you “should” be doing? Is it filled with to do lists? Do you squeeze in a phone call? Are you afraid someone is going to be disappointed in you because of how you use your time?
In order for mamas to get some Alone Time, they need the help of someone else to watch the kids. A partner is not always a given (single parent, married, doesn’t matter—it’s not a given). Who do you need to help? Who could potentially help? Who would love to help? Who has offered to help? Your partner? An auntie? Your BFF? Could you imagine a friend swap where you take turns watching each other’s kids for a bit? A nanny service? Try to identify who could help.
Make a list! What are some of your favorite things to do? What are your interests? Is there anything you’ve ever wanted to try? List it all…songs you like, drinks, foods you love, a book you have been wanting to read, a podcast you’ve wanted to listen to, sewing, hunting, running, singing, being around animals…list what fills you up.
How/when/where do you think? Over coffee? In the shower? On a walk? When you pray? In the car?
How do you feel after thinking about Alone Time? Hopeful? Resentful? Inspired? Why? Whatever you feel, step outside and take a deep breath. Nice, full, deep breaths.
Try not to get ahead—remember to observe. Mommy steps!
Take a step toward Alone Time…something that will fill you up. Add that podcast (or figure out what a podcast is!). Buy that case of sparkling water or bottle of wine to have on deck for a “me” minute. Restock your coffee or teas. Get our your favorite mug. Que up a mommy playlist. Book that yoga class. Restock your shampoo. Schedule that sitter.
March Week 2: Observe your children
Well, your family, but mostly the kids.
Do your kids naturally go off on their own?
When? What are they doing? Reading? Screens? Toys? Reading? Don’t ask or guide them, just watch.
If you have an infant, what are they doing when they are awake and by themselves? Playing happily? Cooing? Reaching for toys? Trying a new skill? Do you place them in front of toys/objects of interest or do they find them themselves? (Answers will vary greatly month to month and even day to day with babies because they grow so, so fast). Do they enjoy being by themselves? Don’t guide them, just watch.
Did your kids go off by themselves? Was it at the same time of day? The same activities? Did they seem to need to decompress? Were they tired? Or was it after sibling tension? Did they ask to be alone? Did they just take it?
Observe yourself in relation to your children
Do you encourage separate time for your child(ren)? Do you encourage siblings to spend time apart? What is your expectation for siblings during the day? That they are to be all together all the time and get along? Do you set up stations for your children? Are there clear areas in your home where they are welcome to start playing at/in at any time? Do you put out activities for them? Coloring? Playdough? Slime?
Take action: Research quiet activities for your kids. Check out our Pinterest board. Share your ideas on our Facebook page or comment on our Instagram feed.
Go outside… and observe!
Mommy steps. Today is about inside vs. outside. Do you go outside during the day? Do your kids spend time outside during the day? Do you make it a point to go outside at least once? Twice? Go outside today and watch your kids. Try to go to a safe space where your child can explore while you watch from a distance or quietly walk beside them. What are they looking at? What are they doing? Are they wild? Quiet? Do they need to get energy out by themselves? Does it seem like they need a big space? Do you think their quiet time would be better spent in a cozy space or a big space?
While you’re outside, try taking some deep breaths for yourself. Let your kids in on what you’re doing…we can model deep breaths and point it out to be clear. It may seem odd to say what we’re doing out loud, but that verbal cue draws your child’s attention to what you’re doing. Model the behavior you want to see. What person, big or little, couldn’t benefit from a few deep breaths?
Today’s action: make Alone Time a priority if it feels important
Look at your calendar/schedule. What’s looking like it might work better—everyone going off on their own at the same time or separate times? Is it looking like there is room for daily Alone Time or not? Are there small holes of time that could work? Would it be easier to start with once a week? Are you going to need to set that alarm in order to get it? Is there a time you could set aside as family alone time/quiet time?
Not a scheduler? Simply try to keep it in mind as the day unfolds.
Check your expectations
Just because you buy/do/set up an activity for your kids doesn’t mean they have to do it. It’s their time to decompress. Guide, but don’t force. It’s okay to schedule and try, but make adjustments as needed. Modeling really is one of the most effective ways to ‘teach’ how to be alone. Not sure how to present the idea to them? Show, don’t tell. Write about your expectations…how was today’s Alone Time? What did you think it would look like? What did it actually look like? What did you expect your kids/family to do? Take their own time? Leave you alone during yours? Were you clear about your wishes?
Today we’ve looped back around to observing ourselves in relation to our family. Write about your expectations for others and think about whether they are fair, loving, needed, clear, etc. …
Keeping expectations in check can help keep goals obtainable and decrease frustration. What could you let go of that would get you closer to more quality Alone Time? Are your goals of a whole day at the spa too expensive or impractical? Is your wish for zero interruptions keeping you from enjoying the few minutes you do have? Do you expect everyone to make way for your Alone Time without offering any in return? Do you feel like you’re not planning big enough? Do you have expectations, or do you think of them as goals?
Make that playlist for the car that your child will enjoy, que up a storytelling podcast, buy or make supplies for a project, print out coloring sheets, go outside, go to the library and check out books. Find time and/or materials for your child’s alone time. If today is too busy, write down your ideas (you can even start to ask for their input).
March Week 3: Research/Action Week. Time to fill your cup!
You’ve had two weeks of making observations and lists…time to take those lists and put them to good use! Use them as a reference for daily ideas about what you and your children can do during their Alone Time.
Do you feel like you don’t have enough on your lists? Make new ones. Search more on Pinterest or on yayamamas Facebook and Instagram pages. Spend this week doing more research…that’s an action that will move you closer to more focused Alone Time. Having trouble settling your mind when you finally get a minute? Research “mindfulness” or do a search for ways to combat anxiety—that, too, is a step toward more quality Alone Time.
Give yourself permission to be/do/think as you
Carve out the time and take it, even if it is five minutes. Decide on some self-care, choose something that will fill you up…and do it.
Are you so disconnected from Alone Time that you’re not sure what to do with it? Try picking one thing and just doing it. Try something you love. Or simply go outside and take deep breaths.
If you get interrupted, take a deep breath and try again. It’s not about getting from point A to point B, it’s about enjoying the in between moments.
Today is about trying to be with your thoughts. Journaling might be where your Alone Time begins and ends today. How did it go today? What did you do? Did you love your Alone Time? Were you interrupted? Were you able to recover or did it make you want to give up?
Try again…because trying something once doesn’t mean that’s how it will always be, because yayas know every day is different, because change is constant, because enjoyment cannot be replicated exactly every time. Try something again. How’d it go? Were the results similar or different?
Take the time
Take the time. Sit down. Pick up that book or newspaper. Talk the bath or shower. Take it. Do it.
How’d it go? Write about it. Doodle about it. Breathe about it.
Mommy steps. Alone Time takes practice. Every day looks different. What worked today? What time of day did you have a minute? What activity? If you’re journaling, sometimes just the act of writing in a journal is the self reflection/deep breath space we’re after. The thoughts you’re jotting down are your thoughts. The doodles on the sides of the pages are your doodles.
Read an article on mindfulness
Read an article on mindfulness (we’ll share a few in our Facebook group!). Just take a moment to take it all in. Great input can create/foster great output.
That moment of reading can totally count as your daily Alone Time if you’re keeping track. What struck you the most about what you read? A big idea? A small concept?
Action day! Apply some point or idea from yesterday’s reading. What was it? How did it go?
How’s it going?
Great? Frustrating? Fair to midland? I hope you keep trying. Lost in the chaos is what we are trying to climb out of. If it ever feels impossible to get a minute to yourself, I encourage you to go outside and take a deep breath. Even one breath of fresh air is better than none. Mommy steps. One breath at a time.
March Week 4: Bring your family in on the conversation!
Make time to talk with your family. Oftentimes, when we try to make positive changes in our family and no one notices, it’s easy to get frustrated or even angry that “you’re the only one doing it.” It’s not hard to fall into the martyr role.
The truth is, everyone in our family has different needs/wants/goals each day and more than likely aren’t mind readers. So let’s bring them in on our work and establish family goals for Alone Time. Let’s really start to teach them the value of Alone Time. The conversation might look a little like this, “Hey, guys! I’ve been thinking…I know each of us has different likes. It can be hard to always be together as a family every minute of every day. We each need time away to take a deep breath and just do something we love, something that is just ours and not the family’s. We each could use some Alone Time. I like to __________. I noticed you like to _____________. What else do you like to do? How can we help each other have time and space to do those things we love?” Then listen. Chances are high they might have some really good ideas.
For the younger crowd, you can keep it simple. Even asking them what they like to do or talking about what you like to do starts the conversation. For moms with babies, tell them now so they grow up knowing that your family does Alone Time and that’s okay.
Use the terms and words. Use “Alone Time” to describe time alone. Call it what it is. Give it a title to take away the secrecy of it. Give it a name so that your family knows what it is—it’s challenging to value something that doesn’t even have a name. There seems to be such a stigma around it. We’ve found in our house that the more we talk about it and really start to define what Alone Time is to us, the easier it is to ask for it and actually get it when we need it.
Growth isn’t a secret—it is the positive change we are modeling for our kids.
Talk About It
Talk with your partner about an article or two you read last week. Share it—on social media or through a text or email. Start a bigger conversation. Talk about it with a friend. Don’t let negative talk or someone poo-pooing a concept get in the way of what’s important to you. They might just “not know.”
Lead by example. Talk. Be clear… “I’d like to start asking for Alone Time instead of trying to steal it in the bathroom for 20 minutes or waiting until my breaking point to scream for it. That doesn’t fill me up. I can’t pour from an empty cup. I need time to refuel so I can be the best I can be for our family.” Let your loved ones know you understand that they need to feel filled up, too, and that you’re ready to make space for everyone to get what they feel they need.
What did your conversations look like today? Write about them.
Ask questions—curiosity can be an expression of love. Ask your family, “How are you going to spend your Alone Time today?” or “What would you like to do with your Alone Time today?” or “Do you feel you need some Alone Time today?”
What are YOU going to do by yourself today, Mama? (Or what did you do?) Journal about their answers and what they actually did (if any).
When was the last time you tried something new? What was it? Is there something new you’d like to try? If so, look it up! Brainstorm about how to make it happen!
Ask your family and yourself—what do you want to do with your Alone Time today? Guide siblings through it: “Let’s give your brother some space…” “Please give your sister some space…” How did it go? What worked? What didn’t?
Asking again helps being direct about Alone Time become a habit and normalizes it for yourself and your family. The more you talk about it, the more comfortable the topic becomes.
If you need to schedule a helper or do a mom swap, do it! Reach out today! Take steps (mommy steps). Suggest a trade off with your partner. Put it on the schedule: This Saturday, 2 hours for you, switch out, 2 hours for him (or something along those lines). Starting out with just a few hours can feel less overwhelming for everyone involved.
If it gets overwhelming, stop, go outside, take a deep breath. Clear that feeling. Turn on a favorite song from that playlist you made to lighten your mood. Make that cup of tea. Pour that wine. Write about it.
Gentle reminder: it’s not really fair to tell someone else what to do with their Alone Time.
Write about how it’s going…well? Not well? Any resistance from anyone? Who is benefiting most from this week’s Alone Time?
Ask your family what they’ve liked doing this week
Ask your family what they’ve liked doing this week. Do they feel like people are giving them space? Do you feel like people are giving you space? Are you giving space? Does it feel important to you? Them? Journal about their answers.
Any supplies anyone needs?
Any supplies anyone needs? Any big or small space/time that needs scheduling? Jot it down…
Last day of week 4!
Way to go! There are a few bonus days in the Month of March we’ll get to tomorrow, but for today, this is it! How do you feel after 28 days of mommy steps?
Now would be a good time to review screen time. Too much? What else is fun besides screens? Is all of your Alone Time online? Strive for balance. First step is awareness. Mommy steps. Be open. “I’m going to try to look at my phone less, turn the TV off more, to create space for us to be more creative as a family.”
March Bonus Days
Engage online! Join the conversation over on our Facebook page or comment on IG! Share what you’ve learned with other mamas, ask what’s working for others, gather ideas, talk about it! What’s been the hardest part of this month? What did you learn about yourself? Your kids? Your family? How has your attitude about Alone Time changed?
Engage online! Join the conversation over on our Facebook page or comment on IG! Share what you’ve learned with other mamas, ask what’s working for others, gather ideas, talk about it! What’s been the hardest part of this month? What did you
Time to write a few Thank You notes!
Write one or two heartfelt thank yous to anyone who helped you this month…your spouse, a babysitter, your kids, a friend, an internet stranger whose comment inspired you. Say “thank you.”
Thanks for listening. Thanks for supporting my goals. I want us to be a strong, balanced family—thanks for seeing that time away can improve our time together (that sort of thing). Be kind. Be specific. Be genuine.
This is where each day’s work really comes together. On the very last day of every month, take a moment to read back over your writing. What did you learn? See? Notice? Did your writing voice change? Did you write more or less as the month went on? Did you set the example? Check your expectations? Did you get one more moment of Alone Time than you did last month? Is it still a work in progress?
Has your attitude about Alone Time changed? Has your family’s? What will you do more of? What will you do differently? Do you feel more mindful of your needs? Of your family’s needs? More mindful in general? Have your needs changed? Are you pausing more? Taking more deep breaths? Look over the goals you chose on March 1st…have they been met? Changed? Expanded?
Let it all out! This is our last day to journal about Alone Time before we switch to April’s topic…Date Night. March was about our time away, April will be about our time together.