October 9, 2015

5 Reasons Moms Shouldn't Feel Guilty About "Alone Time"

A few months ago, I put together a little list of "Mom Fails That Aren't."


"Loving your alone time" was #5 on this list.

I was so grateful to hear from moms who said they were encouraged and appreciated the perspective that some crazy standard of "perfection" is not the goal of motherhood.

But along the way, I also heard from several moms who said they still feel guilty about loving their alone time. 

I don't think their guilt is so much about taking time alone: I think most moms understand they need to do it, for their own sake and the sake of their families.

I don't think the guilt comes from doing it; I think the guilt comes from enjoying it. I suspect some moms think their time alone should be viewed like a trip to the dentist: necessary maintenance for the greater good but not something to be anticipated or savored. 

Admittedly, as one of the most introverted introverts ever to draw a breath of air, I crave solitude more than, well, anyone else I've ever met. But I'm convinced all moms need time on their own to recharge, refill, and regroup.

For the as-yet unconvinced, here are five reasons moms should take time for themselves, by themselves--and why they should feel absolutely free to love it while they're doing it.



1. Good stuff in, good stuff out. There are plenty of analogies I could use here: a rechargeable battery, a gas tank on a car, etc. Maybe you're thinking, "I already get the point. I don't need an analogy." Well, I'll give you one just in case it's been a long day (or a long night) and your abstract thinking is a little fuzzy. Picture a pitcher of water. It gets poured out into glass after glass until eventually, it has to be refilled. You, mama, are that pitcher. I know: obviously...but stay with me. You pour out love and attention and wisdom and creativity and energy and sympathy and discernment and enthusiasm over and over again into the little glasses who live in your house. Eventually, you're empty. Usually, this happens right about the time someone in your house wails that they're thirsty. You've got to get it to give it. Spending time on your own is for your family, not against them.

2. The Master example. No one ever loved better or deeper or more passionately than Jesus. He spent a lot of His time on earth in the middle of crowds so thick, He could barely move through them. What did He do for a counterpoint to this? "He left and went to a place where He could be alone" (Matthew 14:13). Following Jesus' example in anything is a good idea, and this is no exception. If the Master Teacher did it, we've got a lesson to learn from it. (And if you find that your people follow you to your alone-place, take heart: Jesus had the same problem. Check out the link at the Matthew address above.)

3. You don't have to unlike everything you liked before you were a mom.
Before you had kids, what did you enjoy doing? Did you suddenly develop an aversion to all those things just because your title officially became "mom"? Motherhood changes you for the better in so many ways, but it doesn't completely wipe out everything you were before. Doing some of what you loved, pre-motherhood, while you're in--IN--motherhood fills you up. Which is necessary and good. See #1 on this list.

4. Loving alone time doesn't mean you don't love your kids, too. These are not mutually exclusive interests. Both things can be true. You love other people and other pursuits at the same time you love your kids, don't you? This is not an either-or-deal; it's and-and.

5. Taking time for yourself does not make you a bad mother. You are not abandoning or neglecting your children. You are not ignoring or brushing them off. And if taking time to be by yourself makes you a better mom (and it probably does), then doing it is actually an act of love for your kids. And actively loving your children makes you a good mom! You are not taking some time for yourself because you don't love your kids, but because you do love them and want to give them your best. So get out of the house or into a bubble bath or wherever and be blessed.



We moms have plenty we can feel guilty about. (See "With Apologies to My First-Born: 5 Things I Feel Really Badly About" for one of my mea culpa collections. It's down a ways on the "Lists & Laughs page of this blog.) 

But enjoying--yes! ENJOYING!--time alone shouldn't be on the list. So how about making a new list instead? "5 Things I'm Looking Forward To Doing the Next Time I'm By Myself," maybe? 

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If you're still not sold on this subject, click over to "The Importance of Alone Time for Moms" at Go Forth and Mother.

And by the way, that dentist's visit does not count as "alone time" even if your kids aren't with you. That's all I'm saying.


How do you like to spend your alone-time, mama?
Share it here or on Facebook!

40 comments:

  1. A thousand times YES to this post! Especially #3! We can't just forget who we were just because we become moms. We need our own time to relax, enjoy, and recharge.

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    1. ...and a thousand thank-you's for your kind and encouraging comment, Julie! Bless you, bless you! Thank you for stopping by...I'll be coming by your blog as soon as I get tonight's marching band mom gig out of the way. Enjoy (!) your alone-time, mama, as soon as you next get some! :)

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  2. Hi Elizabeth! I totally agree with you about the need for alone time. I think I learn towards being an extroverted introvert, but definitely feel the need for quiet and solitary time after being social. I've started running the past couple years and love this time to be alone and taking care of myself. Dropping by from #LFEO

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    1. I'm so glad I'm not the only one, Angela! Running on your own must have all kinds of benefits--and not just physical--for you as a mom (and as a lot of your other roles, too!). Thanks so much for taking time to stop by from #LFEO...among other reasons, it helped me find you! :)

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  3. Totally agree with you for #5. We need to re-charge and enjoy ourselves right. Thanks for your visit and for the lovely comment ...

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    1. So glad that made sense to someone other than me! Hope you get some recharge time soon, mama! Thank you for taking time to stop by!

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  4. Great advice for Moms of all ages, Stopping by from Small Victories Sunday

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    1. Thank you, Laurie! You are right: we moms really don't "outgrow" the need for filling up our own tanks so we can pour out good things onto our families and beyond. Thank you for taking time to visit...here's to a week of victories both large and small for you! :)

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  5. I spend it brisk walking. Where no one can find me, no cell phones, no computer, nothing but me and the road. Then I am refreshed, recharged and ready to take on the world. Lately, I've been missing it because of two monkeys ages 2 and 3 living with me who say as soon as my walking shoes go on, "Grammie, walk too." How do I say no? So, into the stroller one goes while the other has to wait their turn. Not. the. same! I needed this post to remind me of saying no! Not this time kiddos.

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    1. Yes to walking, Michelle! In fact, that's next up on my to-do list today. Blessings on you as you balance "you time" with Grammie time! ;) Thanks so much for taking time to stop by!

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  6. This is a lesson I've begun to embrace over the last year. We had our kids back to back so that season was long and didn't allow for alone time but as they've aged I'm finding it easier to do it and embrace and not feel guilty! It definitely refreshes you to go back home and serve well.

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    1. "It definitely refreshes you to go back home and serve well." I love this, Anastasia...so beautifully and wisely expressed! Thank you so much for taking time to stop by and to comment. Blessings to you in your times of refreshment and of serving!

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  7. I desperately needed to read this. I have been trying to find the courage and the "blessing" to go to our local gym ALONE to work out because I DON'T like those close to me to see me working out. I get enough criticism without having my family added to the mix. Thank you for sharing these encouraging words and reminder that even Jesus took time alone.

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    1. Oh, Crystal, thank you for sharing so honestly with me! I am so gratified to know that my little list could encourage a fellow mom...which is why I blog in the first place. I, too, do my working out apart from my family...it's part of a whole exercise/prayer/Scripture memory package. Away from my family, but ultimately for their benefit, too. Blessings to you, mama! Thank so much for taking time to stop by.

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  8. I get alone time daily at the gym. In fact, I get flustered if anyone tries to talk to me there.

    Alone time is important for your soul.

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    1. Amen, mama! Here's to being ignored at the gym! :) Thanks for taking time to stop by.

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  9. Yes, yes, yes! I returned my books to the library and spent an hour "reading down" my fines yesterday. It was heavenly, no interruptions. :)

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    1. That DOES sound heavenly, Robbie! Good for you: you recharged your spirit, fed your mind, and paid off some bills, all at the same time. Now, that is some #mommultitasking! :) Thanks so much for stopping by!

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  10. Oh #3 for me! I used to love so many things that I just don't feel like I have any time for these days. We love baseball, but now I watch my kids' 4 teams and never have time to keep up with the major leagues like I used to. I love playing my flute, but have trouble finding a point with no performances in sight. I do try to make time for these things, but my heart isn't in them like it used to be. I think maybe I feel guilty about having my own life! Wonderful post.

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    1. "I think maybe I feel guilty about having my own life!" I love the way you put this, Jamie! It feels like as moms we have to balance what we used to love, what we still love, and what--in this season--we have time and other resources for. I pray you will continue to find joy in cheering on your athletes...but that at some point, you will also again be able to again nurture what you've been passionate about in the past. Thank you for stopping by...from one former flute player to another! (Although it sounds like you still play, whereas my fingers have lost since forgotten what to do! ;) )

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  11. I like number 5. I recall taking time for myself once, while just reading a book quietly in my room. My daughter knocked on the door and said, "I will be glad when you finish having time to yourself." I could not help but laugh.

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    1. Classic! What a great story about your daughter...so funny, yet illustrative of the challenge moms face trying to get some time to themselves! Thank you for taking time to stop by and to share this charming memory!

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  12. I would feel so guilty about wanting some me time that it took a *really long time* for me to actually demand my own time. I finally decided at one point to drop everything that needed to be done and take some time for me during my son's nap time. Those 2 hours are the only 2 hours I get to do whatever I want without interruption. Everything else can wait! Found via #ThisIsHowWeRoll

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    1. Way to go, Lissette! Those 2 hours are probably fueling you up for for the other 22 in your day! ;) No guilt, mama...not on this. Thanks so much for taking time to stop by!

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  13. This is so true. It's like air to breathe. We all need it.

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    1. Yes indeed, Leigh! Your "air to breath" comment reminds me of that other motherhood analogy we've all heard: the old "put on your own oxygen mask before you help someone else" comparison. :) Thank you for taking time to stop by and to comment!

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  14. Great post! I try to find "me time" as often as possible - without the guilt. I used to be a huge concert-goer but it's so hard to go back to that after 2 kids who don't sleep in! So now I do less "bar concerts" (that don't start til 10) and more "theatre" or "arena" concerts, but they cost so much more! I find it's baby steps a lot of the time. I'll go get a salon haircut in the evening after work (which I love and they do mini massages and all that) and leave hubby to feed and bed the kids - or maybe just the youngest; or I'll grab a coffee with a friend once a month without our kids - always a good time; and I always love a good walk, just me and my music and the open road. There are a lot of things us moms can "sneak" in for some alone time (or grownup time) without feeling guilty - especially if there's a spouse around to get some one-on-one time with the kids that they don't usually get either!

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    1. Thank you, Jessica...it's so nice to hear from you again! I am "amening" all your smart ideas! I love the point you make that mom alone-time doesn't have to be a week away on a luxury vacation. Even a few minutes on a regular basis can recharge our batteries so we can power up for the next thing! Thanks so much for stopping by!

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  15. I couldn't agree with this more if I tried! I use to feel guilty about how I felt when I was alone. I craved that time and felt bad that I looked forward to it so much. But, like you mentioned - good things in, good things out. We all need that time to recharge and I always appreciated my family much, much more after a little bit of me time. It's like my focus gets re-focused! Thank you so much for sharing with us at Waiting on...Wednesday!

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    1. Hahaha...thank you, Holly! I'm glad my little list made sense to someone other than me! :) I love how you describe it: our "focus gets re-focused." Brilliant. Thanks so much for stopping by...and for hosting Waiting on...Wednesday!

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  16. I still feel guilty, but I'm working on it. You've given me five great points to think about. Congrats, you're featured this week at the #ThisIsHowWeRoll Link Party on Organized 31.

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    1. Oh my goodness...thank you so much! What a lovely surprise for my Thursday morning. Keep working on that guilt, mama (and this is coming from someone who goes on record every day as being a guilty mama!). Your time alone is good for you AND for the people you love so much! :) Thank you again...I love the #ThisIsHowWeRoll Link Party!

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  17. Awesome post! I may not feel guilty about taking time for myself, but I agree with Jamie above about just not being into things like I use to. When I get time alone now, instead of scrapbooking or playing my flute, I tend to catch up on my girly shows, surf the net, and shower, lol. I still get that space which is much needed but sometimes wish I enjoyed the flute or scrapbooking as much as I use to. Each season of life brings about new pleasures, I guess, and for this season it's girly shows. :)

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    1. Oh, yes, Catherine, that cherished hobby of, you now, showering! Love it! ;) But you are right: a season for everything...maybe with some flute-playing or scrapbooking added to the mix sometime? Thanks so much for stopping by and for your kind and encouraging comments.

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  18. Oooh, I love this! So often I feel guilty about the time I take for myself but it's so important to our health and well-being!

    Thanks for sharing (and for linking up to the #SHINEbloghop).

    Wishing you a lovely day.
    xoxo

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    1. Thank you, Jennifer! It is true that we moms generally have no shortage of materials for the guilty files, but I truly believe enjoying some time to ourselves should not be part of that mix. In this case, what's good for us is good for our people, too! ;) Thank you for so graciously hosting the #SHINEbloghop!

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  19. This is so perfect! I'm just finally starting to realize that I actually enjoy time away form my 20 month son (of course, 1.5 months from when baby #2 comes!) I think it's hard to appreciate that especially in a world where mom's are expected to want to be with their kiddos 24/7

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    1. Heehee, Morgan...well, better late than never, right? ;) I am utterly convinced that time away from the people we love and care for so much makes the time we're with them more lovely and loving. But you are right: our current culture does seem to counsel moms that we should not only be with our kiddos every minute, but that we should WANT to be with them every second. Here again, you can only pour out so much before you've got be refilled. Which is good for everyone. Thanks so much for taking time to stop by! Blessings on your new baby and life as a mom of two! :)

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  20. Loved how you brought the example of Jesus into this. Being alone to recharge is necessary. Thank you Elizabeth for the reminder not to feel guilty about everything. :)

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    1. Aw, thank you, Suzi! I know moms have plenty of reasons we can feel guilty for, oh, EVERYTHING, but sometimes I think we (and by "we," I mean "me") turn that guilt into a badge of honor...almost something to brag about. But I truly believe God gives wisdom to moms to make right decisions, and when He does we should make them and then be thankful about it! :) Thanks so much for stopping by...I hope to connect more with you soon and to put into practice much more of your excellent advice!

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I'd love to hear from you! Feel free to tell me what you really think. Years ago, I explained to my then-two-year that my appointment with a counselor was "sort of like going to a doctor who will help me be a better mommy." Without blinking, she replied, "You'd better go every day." All of which is just to say I've spent some time in the school of brutal honesty!