Tonight, I did one of my favorite things: I went to see a movie by myself. All by myself. I like to pick a movie that I know my husband or kids will not like, devour some nachos or extra-buttery popcorn, and sink way down into my seat. For a few hours, I get some entertainment and some alone time.

We all NEED alone time.

According to Psychology Today, there are at least six benefits to alone time. It allows your mind and/or body to reboot, and this also allows your brain to think and process things clearly. Time alone can give you space to think objectively and to problem solve without interference. Solitude can encourage you to find out more about yourself – your likes or dislikes, your opinions, and your thoughts. Most surprising, this time can actually improve your relationships with others; you may come to appreciate those in your life a little more or find that you are not as close to others. Imagine that – alone time can improve relationships!

We all NEED alone time – but as parents, we are so reluctant to take it.

Why do we feel this apprehension? For many years as a new mom, I felt so much guilt for wanting time away from my kids. It seemed selfish to want time alone, even though I could have used it wisely. If I worked all day long, I felt that it was not fair to want even more time away from my family. Instead of taking time for myself, I ended up frustrated and exhausted. There was no time for me to recharge or, more importantly, to keep my own identity outside of being a mom.

We all NEED alone time – and I finally began to take it.

How? Baby steps, my friend. It was not always easy to set aside my own guilt, and I cannot give you an easy fix for that feeling. I can tell you that the time is so worth it. I can give you a few suggestions for how to get some of this time:

 – Set a designated time for you.

Maybe it is once a week or month. Maybe it is a certain time of day for yourself. It is helpful to schedule your alone time, if possible. There are people who literally write it on their calendars!

 – Find something to make it valuable time.

What do you enjoy doing? Is there something you have wanted to try? What do you really want to do? There is no right or wrong answer, so long as you have quality time for yourself. Personally, I like movies, hiking, reading in a book store, or even, simply, closing my bedroom door. 

 – Find a babysitter.

Seriously, do not underestimate the idea of outside help. This can be someone you pay for her time, a friend who offers to watch your kids, or a family member. Interview babysitters, ask for as many references as necessary, run a background check – whatever you want to do to assure the safety of your children. I’ve even had friends who had a sitter watch their kids while they spent some time alone in their own house; close enough in an emergency and the comfort of knowing you are right there.

Do what you must, OK?

 – Remind yourself of why you are taking alone time.

It is so easy to slide back into those feelings of guilt, I know. You feel like you are the one who must take care of everyone and everything, but you are more than just a parent. You are also a person! Remind yourself of all the above reasons that alone time is beneficial. You need the alone time; don’t forget it.

Alone time can look different for everyone, so find what you are comfortable with. I cannot stress it enough – we all NEED alone time. Whether this is 5 minutes to think in the shower, a night to yourself, or a few days away, it does not matter. I guarantee that no matter how your alone time looks, you will come back feeling refreshed and more like yourself. I know I always do.

What are your favorite things to do alone? How do you get your alone time?

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Rachel Carpenter
Rachel has been an Air Force spouse for 17 years. Her husband's career had taken them to many assignments around the world, and she currently lives in Hawaii. She is a mother of four children; their ages range from fifteen to four years old, so her life is often exciting and challenging. She holds a BA in English and a MA in Management. When not busy with work or her family, she enjoys volunteering within the military community; she has even been a Key Spouse at two stations! Rachel has always enjoyed writing and literature, and she is happy to find this blog and community to combine these interests. She has been featured on Her View From Home, The Beautifull Project, Hand-in-Hand QC, and other publications - but The Military Mom Collective is her home. :)