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).