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Saturday, February 11, 2012

Toddler Tricks - 79: Alone Time

Problem: You've got kids. No seriously, that's the problem. Because when you have small kids, sometimes, well, that's it. They're always there, they always need or want you, they expect you to be at their beck and call, to straighten their disputes, to hug them when they fight, to talk to them about pretend shopping and castle building. And sometimes, it's just too much.

Solution: I mentioned "alone time" as a way to get the girls to leave each other alone when one is feeling a little cranky or doesn't want to be bothered. Once this phrase takes meaning in their minds, though, you can apply it to yourself. The other night, my husband needed alone time, and my using that phrase over and over again got him at least five minutes' peace at a time.

Sometimes, of course, five minutes isn't going to be enough, and you've got to do what you've got to do, so stick it out. Stick it out on the promise of alone time later. Do your best. Then, if you do get relief, use it. Go out for a walk, or go read a book. If your kids are napping, take an hour for you. Don't fold laundry or look at the taxes. Take a breather. Get up just a little before them. Have a cup of (hot!) coffee in peace. Think about your day, not in terms of your kids or the activities or schedule you've regimented yourself. Take a moment to live free. If that's at night, after they've gone to bed instead, sip on a glass of wine and contemplate not the minute details of the chores you didn't get done or the ways you failed your children, but what you like about your life, or for something completely different, let your mind run back to things you like that have nothing to do with your life now. You'll find you refresh yourself for the upcoming battles ahead.

It's harder to appreciate where you are in life if you never get a chance to see it, if you are too muddled in the details of the daily grind. Just a few minutes a day of adult alone time, used correctly, will keep your mood just a little bit brighter, which will transfer to your children, which will make the days go better by default.

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