What do Moms Miss Most? by Julie Wheaton and Patrece Powers
What do moms miss most about life before kids? Many say, “alone time.”
Wanting more time alone can also mean a need for privacy. Do you want more time alone or just more privacy? Sometimes it can mean, I want to be alone with my family. You can have privacy together. Privacy doesn’t have to mean time and space away. We, as women, benefit when we establish this for our ourselves and our families. A private space for each person in the household is essential. This can be a room, a bed, a corner, or something as small as a container. I’ve (Julie here) given empty cigar boxes to my sons and nephews when they’re old enough to understand privacy. These boxes have become their hiding places for cherished items, like rocks, marbles, and baseball cards.
Focus is my favorite flavor of alone time. I enjoy focusing on a task or a book or my thoughts without interruption. When I wish for alone time, what I’m really wishing for is a stretch of uninterrupted time. What would you do with uninterrupted time?
Alone time is also about restoration—physical, mental, and spiritual. For busy moms, it’s tempting to spend alone time catching up with projects and people. Try catching up with yourself first. Let your natural rhythm restore you and provide that much-needed counter-balance to when school, work, and social schedules rule the day.
What invades your privacy? Once you identify that, you can create a buffer zone to cushion yourself against what interrupts, such as telephone calls, TV programs, social media, or whatever else you find distracting. Even self-talk can interrupt you. Much of that can be noisier than children demanding attention.
When my three sons were younger and wanted my attention, I’d sometimes say, “I’m not there yet.” This meant, I hear you, and you’ll have my attention as soon as I finish what I’m doing. Now that they’re older and if I’m busy when they want to talk, they’ll start by asking, “Mom, are you there yet?”
Years ago, on my first day at a new job, my boss asked, “How do you prefer to be interrupted?” I wasn’t sure how to answer, until he said that he prefers to be interrupted with a note. We were five people sharing a small office space, so any extra talking disturbed everyone. When I wanted to ask him something, I scribbled a note and put it on his desk or slid it under his door. Glass partitions between the offices made non-verbal communication easy. If he wanted to take a call, he’d nod. If not, he’d shake his head. I still use the note method at home. If I’m on the phone when one of my kids wants to tell me something, I scribble in the air, which means, Write me a note. It’s easier than having two conversations.
Perhaps the first step toward having more alone time is first recognizing the moments that do belong to you. Maybe you have just a bit of time to yourself right now. Practice being aware of and using the personal time that you do have. Whether it’s two minutes or two hours or two days, be mindful of how you’re using what you have.
If you find yourself in limbo just waiting until the next person needs you, be aware of that, too. You’ve just discovered your first moment to yourself! No one needs you this very moment. First, we discover moments. Then, moments overflow into hours where we understand that no one needs our total attention and active participation. We get to see that maybe it was our need to be needed that kept us so very busy.
How do you enjoy yourself when you’re alone? By taking a nap? Brewing a cup of tea? The more we claim these mini-moments for ourselves, the more moments we have. It’s called creating time. Let’s learn to be less involved when and where it isn’t necessary. Let’s keep our fingers on those activities that give us satisfaction until we naturally accept that pleasure and privacy are permissible wherever we find ourselves.
Parts of this post are taken from A Fairy Godmom’s Book of Reminders: Trusting What You Know About Being a Mom by Julie Wheaton and Patrece Powers. Julie is a mother of three who resolved the stay-at-home/working mom dilemma by building a shed (for herself, not the kids) in her small suburban backyard. Read more at www.juliewheaton.com. Patrece is the founder of P Systems, a non-profit corporation established in 1983 to promote research and development in the various uses of human energy. P Systems produces resource material for individuals, couples, families, corporations, educational institutions, and the entertainment industry. For details, visit www.p-systemsinc.com