Virginia Woolf was on the required reading list when I was in college, and the piece I remember best was the famous “A Room of One’s Own,” in which she argues that a woman must have a room of her own (with lock and key!) and her own money in order to write fiction. Lately, I’m been thinking about how this is completely relevant advice for modern parents, too.
I’m like most parents of young kids, I think, in that I mostly get things done after bedtime or in stolen moments here and there. But some things just cannot be done in little stolen moments or after bedtime. I had a very real-life experience of this some months back when I was able to have several hours in my house without anyone else there, especially my (beloved) children.
Once my alone time began, here’s what I did: I started a load of laundry, picked up the house a little, defrosted some meat for dinner, and wasted time on Facebook. (sound familiar?) This all took about as long as I usually have to myself.
But on this day, I knew that the rest of my family would stay gone for much longer. So I waded in to my email inbox and cleaned that out, balanced the checkbook, did more laundry, visited a blog I like, and wrote down some memorable stories about the kids. And then, only then, could I feel my brain clearing out a little to make room for the creative work I had been procrastinating for weeks. Then I was able to sit down and begin working on the task that required focus and creativity.
This is an issue of self-care. One of the hardest things I’ve encountered in motherhood is looking for balance between taking care of others and taking care of myself. But if I am going to be the best mom I can be, I have to be the best human I can be, and that requires enough sleep, good nutrition, physical exercise, mental stimulation, connection with others, and… time away and alone. And not just little stolen moments.
What can you do to get a few hours to yourself this week?