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 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. 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 big or small space/time that needs scheduling? Jot it down…
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.”