As an only child, I’ve always had a deep-rooted appreciation for alone time. It’s how I recharge my battery after a long, trying day. My husband, being the youngest of three, on the other hand, rarely has the urge to sit in a quiet room and scroll mindlessly through Instagram in total solitude as a means to unwind like I do. He’d much rather spend time with his family, which I’m immensely thankful for; but it was difficult for him to understand my perspective — especially when my desire for alone time carried over into motherhood.
I’m just the type of person who needs some time to herself during the day without any husbands, puppies and, yes, even babies.
Around the time my beautiful baby boy was six weeks old — while I was in the trenches of round-the-clock breastfeeding, little to no sleep, and eating more Chick-fil-a than I care to admit — I desperately needed some alone time. You know, maybe a solo Target run or a drive around the neighborhood blasting my new favorite Spotify playlist. Grocery shopping alone. Walking the dogs alone. Showering ( … alone). Anything that allotted me at least 30 minutes of no one needing me.
And, until recently, I wholeheartedly believed that made me a “bad mom.”
I know what all the experienced moms out there are thinking. "What? Alone time is CRUCIAL. That doesn't make you a 'bad mom!'" But I think any new mama can relate that feeling of failing your baby any time you leave him or her alone. What if they cry? What if they're scared? What if something happens in the one and a half minutes I'm in the bathroom?
But as a woman who was navigating motherhood for the first time and all that comes with it (enduring the pangs of breastfeeding, learning what different cries mean, surviving the "Last Sunday Before Your Husband Goes Back to Work" Scaries, and so much more), when the desire to be alone crept into my heart, I wallowed in guilt. I was too ashamed to tell my husband — or anyone — so I continued to not give myself a break. I pushed and pushed and pushed myself until I finally reached a breaking point.
It should never have come to that.
Now, don’t get me wrong. While I do enjoy my “me” time, I also miss my son when he’s asleep and would move heaven and Earth to make him laugh. Nothing beats the way he searches for my face in a crowded room, or how he lights up when he hears my voice. My heart skips a beat when I hear him cooing for me from his nursery, knowing he just wants his mama. I truly am “#blessed.”
But over these last six months, I’ve found that if I don’t designate time for myself during the day, I end up feeling overwhelmed, stressed out, and unhappy; which isn’t good for me or my family.
I strongly encourage all mamas — rookie and veteran, alike — to designate time to themselves as often as they can. For me, that means working out with other mamas a few days each week, taking a hot shower after my son goes to sleep, reading a book before bed, or passing the baby off to my husband when he gets home from work so I can take a well-deserved nap. For you, it might mean a mom's night out with friends, some solo yard work, running errands sans kiddos, or treating yourself to a relaxing soak in the tub. Whatever it means to you, make time for it.
Gift yourself some grace and solitude, mama.