As we slowly come out of the pandemic, mothers who have spent the last year and a half navigating their children's online learning, career, home life and the stress of COVID, desperately need a break. According to Motherly's 2021 State of Motherhood survey, 93% of mothers reported feeling burned out, up 7 points from last year's survey, and 16% say they feel burned out all the time.
I'm calling it right now: in 2021, alone time is the only self care moms need.
First, a disclaimer. I love my family. My husband is a supportive, loving and top notch dad. I'm very lucky. My daughters are kind and curious beings, and when they're not fighting with each other, are perfectly enjoyable to be around.
Now that we've gotten that out of the way, could everyone just leave me alone, please? Mama needs her "me" time.
My children have been in remote learning since March of 2020, and while they could technically go back in-person now, I didn't push that choice. They both still feel anxious about riding mass transportation (we live in New York City) and frankly, remote learning has gone better than I expected. Similarly, my husband began working from home right around the same time the world shut down, and that's gone so well it's quite possible he'll never go back to an office again. Umm... yay?
Point being, we've all spent A LOT of time together in the last 14 months. And while I think I've done a good job of valuing the silver linings during this traumatic time (an opportunity to bond as a family, to realize what matters most in life), it's those exact things that make me realize something else I value: my own space.
Now say it with me, mamas: THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH NEEDING ALONE TIME.
Turns out, science agrees with me. Psychologist Dr. Christina Hibbert, writes on her website, "I know the research, and the research is clear: Alone time is essential for emotional/mental/ spiritual/social/physical health, and a key element of true happiness."
Let that sink in.
She continues, "By 'alone time' what I really mean is time away from your role as a mother—time to be YOU, to unwind, relax, rest, revive. This can include taking a nap, sleeping in, reading, hiking, going out with a friend, doing a project or activity you enjoy, or anything that helps you feel like the real you and builds your health and strength. Some need more or less alone time, but all will benefit from a few minutes each day, hours each week, and/or days away each year."
So, I implore you, mamas, if at all possible—make alone time a priority for you this year. And no, alone time does not mean running errands by yourself or going to the grocery store. I'm talking, sitting in a cafe with an iced coffee and a big, flakey croissant, feet up getting a pedicure, window shopping and walking through an art gallery—alone. Sitting in your car in complete silence also counts.
We've just slogged through a distressing period of time that I hope we will never experience again. Do yourself this vitally important favor of making yourself the priority. Getting a moment to breathe with no one around to worry about is a tremendous gift to yourself.
And the really amazing thing? When mama is feeling refreshed, everyone will be better off for it.