Does reading that headline make you cringe? I know 6 years ago it would have made me cringe. What kind of mother needs time alone from her family..? Aren’t mothers supposed to live their lives for their family? Isn’t that just part of motherhood?
To answer that… all mothers, no they’re not, and no it’s not…
Somewhere around the time that mother’s became the martyr of families (and society started to devalue mother’s and women in general – but that’s another rant for another day) came the rise of the idea that mothers had to do it all, and do it all with a smile.
We were supposed to keep the house, make sure the children were happy, and have a hot meal ready for our husband when he got home from work, all while presenting our perfect manicured selves.
Then we were supposed to do all of that AND work, because the cost of living increases, and who else is going to pick up the slack?
Then we had to do all of that, and work, and increase the extra curricular activities of our kids, and extend our work hours because we can’t get enough work done during the hours at our jobs because we have to run around dropping kids off, picking them up, and missing work for sick days.
Oh and then we had to do it all, while working from home, homeschooling our kids, and dealing with the collapse of the world…
Do you need a break yet?
I do. And so does just about every mother I talk to.
Sure, there are some moms who THRIVE on motherhood – in the same way an extrovert thrives on group interactions.
But there are a large portion of us who aren’t like this. And even for those mothers who are, they still need a break sometimes too.
What Does Alone Time From Your Family Mean?
Alone time from your family means that you get time to yourself, to do whatever you want to do, be wherever you want to be, and most importantly, mentally switch off form the demands of your day, your normal routine, and the needs of your family.
Needing alone time doesn’t mean you’re a bad mom, it doesn’t mean you can’t ‘cope’ with motherhood, it simply means you’re a human who needs to recharge her batteries because you can’t go forever without spending time on yourself.
See the contradiction…
The very thing that makes you a great mom, is something that requires time away from your children.
Confusing isn’t it. But it’s true.
What Does Not Count As Alone Time From Your Family?
It’s kind of sad that I have to say this, but I hear this so many times that I really do need to take a moment to make it clear.
Alone time from your family does not include:
- Going to work
- Going grocery shopping alone
- Getting your hair cut (would you consider this alone time or self care for your husband?)
- Sitting in the car waiting for extra curricular activities to end
- Cleaning the house
- Commuting to work
In order for time to be considered ‘alone time’ you need to be able to mentally switch off and be able to do anything in that time that you’d like to do.
Signs You Need Time Out From Motherhood
I could be really frank here and just tell you that the biggest sign you need time out from motherhood is if you’re a mother, but instead I’ll share some signs you might relate with:
- You’re tired as soon as you wake up
- You’re drinking more coffee but it’s not having any effect anymore
- You’re drinking alcohol more than usual – and passing it off as part of mom culture
- You get frustrated at simple things that wouldn’t normally bother you
- You’re withdrawing from family/friends because you just can’t fathom adding another thing to your list
- You laugh whenever anyone mentions self care and think that it’s some fairy tale that doesn’t exist
- You find yourself quick to anger and wonder who this person is
- You’re not finding joy in your days anymore but justify this as being a part of motherhood
- You’re struggling to keep on top of things that you were previously able to manage
- You find yourself resentful towards your husband and the idea of intimacy just makes you feel even more exhausted
This is by no means an exhaustive list, but a lot of the things on here many women just chalk up to being part of motherhood.
But it doesn’t have to be this way.
Reasons You Need Alone Time From Your Family
Taking regular breaks, getting regular alone time, helps you to feel better about yourself and be a better mother when you’re with your family.
There are tons of benefits to alone time, but these are some of the reasons you need alone time from your family:
1 – Because You’re Burnt Out
Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely LOVE being a mom (99.9% of the time).
I love the cuddles, I love the cute little ways they stumble over new words, I love seeing them grow and thrive and develop into their own personalities…
Being frustrated, and being burnt out doesn’t mean we lack joy as mothers or that we aren’t grateful for motherhood. It means that we are just exhausted.
You wouldn’t run your car for 30,000 miles without servicing it or gassing it up – so why do we treat ourselves worse than our cars?
When was the last time you gave yourself a ‘service’? Or have you been running around with your own ‘check engine’ light on? What about fuel? Have you been using premium gas for yourself or cruddy old ‘whatever is available’ gas?
Burn out comes in many forms, we see it mentally (when we are snappy, cranky, and easily frustrated), we see it physically (when we are exhausted from the moment we wake up, when we wake many times through the night, when our skin is dull, our hair falls out, our weight fluctuates) and emotionally (when we just don’t have the capacity to have fulfilling relationships with our spouse or our friends).
Mom burnout is real, it’s called Maternal Burnout Syndrome, (this is a brilliant article by Frontiers in Psychology that shares experiences and stories from mothers about mom burnout), and being aware of it, and paying attention to the signs, is incredibly important.
Burnout is one of the biggest reasons you need to have time alone from your family.
2 – Because You Need A Mental Break
Needing a mental break is another high priority reason you need time alone, away from your family.
Ask any mom about the mental load and she will tell you all about the never ending list of things going on in her mind, the constant parade of thoughts of things that need to be done, worries she has, or ponderings that barge through her mind like a stampede.
Even now as I write this article I have been interrupted by my kids countless times asking for snacks (no, breakfast will be in 30 min, you’ll have to wait), asking for help with a game, or asking where a book is, breaking up arguments, encouraging them to speak kindly to each other, speak quietly as their dad is sleeping after nightshift… and each time it takes a little longer to get back on task, and each time adds a little more to my mental load… and it’s only 7am.
It’s exhausting – but not the ‘I need a nap’ kind of exhausting. It’s more like ‘can’t someone else just do some of this so I don’t have to think about every darn little thing’ exhausting.
Having time out from your family allows for this mental break.
You need time where no one is asking anything of you, where you don’t have to worry about what your kids are doing, what they’re climbing on, what they’re getting into, without thinking about making them snacks or lunch or snacks… A break that gives you the ability to just sit, and only think of you.
This is something that has to happen regularly in order to actually learn how to switch off. It’s hard to switch off after being ‘on’ for so long. Which is why it needs to happen regularly.
3 – Because You Need To Rest
We often confuse rest with sleep – we think that because we ‘sleep’ 8 hours a night then we must be getting rest, right? But that’s not always the case.
Lack of consistent, good quality sleep (not just the hours, but the sleep quality) has been linked to higher rates of depression, suppressed immune systems, and overall decrease in general wellbeing.
So it’s really important to prioritize getting good quality sleep – and one of the simplest ways you can do that is by having a regular bedtime routine.
What’s your current bedtime routine?
Many moms (myself included) end up going to bed so late at night because we crave that quiet time when the kids are asleep and we get to just be alone.
The problem is, we end up going to bed late (perhaps after a glass of wine, even though alcohol = lower quality sleep), we struggle to fall asleep because of the long list of things running through our minds, we have poor quality sleep, wake countless times to kids, and then when we get up in the morning we wonder why we are still so exhausted.
If you can rest and have alone time that doesn’t require you to stay up later at night, you’ll not only feel less exhausted, but you’ll be more inclined to go to bed earlier and get better sleep.
4 – Because You Need To Be More Productive
We’ve all heard that you can’t pour from an empty cup, but in order to actually fill our cups, moms need time alone from their families.
I know – sometimes when I look at my to-do list it seems like there is never enough time in the day.
But when I’ve had some alone time, unplugged from the family, and allowed myself to just be me for a few minutes without feeling guilty about it, I find that when I get back to my list, I don’t feel overwhelmed by it any more.
In fact, I start making a plan for how I want to tackle the day and what needs to be done first – rather than just running around like a headless chicken doing things that seem urgent but really aren’t that important in the grand scheme of things.
When we are overwhelmed, it’s harder to prioritize tasks and we often find we become ‘busy’ without actually being productive.
Time alone, by yourself, helps you fill your cup and therefore follows on allowing you to be more productive in your day.
5 – Because You Need To Find Your Creativity Again
Stress kills creativity. Burnout kills creativity. Exhaustion kills creativity. Demands of life kills creativity. And we wonder why we don’t enjoy the things we once did?
Even if you don’t think you’re a creative person (you are, you just have your own version of it), it’s impossible to have any creative spark when our mind is always going a million miles an hour.
In order for creativity to flow, we need calm and quiet. We need to be able to be still with ourselves and allow thoughts and ideas to float through as opposed to barraging into our minds like our to do list does.
If you’re out of touch with your creativity, that is reason alone to have time alone from your family.
6 – Because You Need Adult Conversations / Relationships
Do you remember that phase when your babies are really little and you go for such a long period of time where it feels like you don’t have adult conversations anymore?
During this phase, it’s easy to lose a sense of yourself, of who you are without being ‘mom’.
Sometimes that phase comes back into our lives and we have conversations that are always about our kids, about the general running of the house, or about work…
When was the last time you had a conversation that didn’t fall into one of those categories?
This comes under the whole idea of needing a mental break too, needing to connect with who YOU are (outside of being a mom, or a wife/spouse/partner), and to do that, you need time alone away from your family.
7 – Because You Need Time To Connect With Yourself
Which leads to this point – you need time alone in order to connect with yourself.
You can’t have a good conversation with yourself, sit with your own thoughts, or even listen to your own body if you’re constantly being in demand by someone or something else.
You are a beautiful and whole person, you’re not you because you’re a mom, or because you’re a wife/spouse/partner. You are you because you’re YOU!
Taking time away from your family, even if it’s just a little time each day to check in with yourself while you go for a walk, or sit by a lake, can make the world of difference when it comes to being connected with who you are.
8 – Because You Want To
This is reason enough – you need to have alone time away from your family, simply because you want to.
With no guilt. No shame. No judgement.
You’re allowed to want time alone to yourself. It’s that simple.
If you haven’t been sure you needed time alone from your family, or perhaps you wanted time alone but felt guilty for it, or felt like no one else needs it so why should you, then hopefully this has assured you that needing time alone isn’t only a natural thing, but it’s essential too.
There are so many reasons why we need time alone from our families, and the benefits of time alone aren’t just for us, they’re for our families as well.