What is alone time? For parents of newborns, this concept scarcely exists. For parents with teens, it’s likely more common. Either way, alone time allows parents to pause, to reflect and to unwind. It allows parents the necessary break to recharge – to parent better because they’ve switched off. Those who are parents will say “Parenting is a 24/7 job” and it is. That still shouldn’t mean you give to the extent where you’re sacrificing your own sanity.
How do parents of newborns feel about this?
Honestly? Pretty guilty. This is a difficult concept to comprehend. For parents of newborns, the thought alone of leaving their newborn is unfathomable. This is a key developmental stage for their children and Erikson’s first stage of Trust vs. Mistrust is integral. During this stage of psychosocial development, ‘the infant is uncertain about the world in which they live, and looks toward their primary caregiver for stability and consistency of care.’ Infants are suspicious of strangers during this developmental stage. Parents are thus afraid to leave them alone – the key is establishing trust with a core family member (such as a grandmother). If the infant experiences, mistrust it will cause anxiety.
How do parents of teens feel about this?
Honestly? Pretty conflicted. They respect the need for independent time – time off parenting their teens and time off from their teens being parented, yet they crave quality time with their teenagers and are always looking to connect on a deeper level. It’s normal for your teenager to go through a phase where you experience interpersonal conflict or family drama. It’s also completely normal for you, as parent, to feel worn down or like you’re “not getting through.” This blog has a good summary of what parenting a teen actually looks like. My simple advice? Remember how you were brought up. Which elements of your parents’ parenting did you like? Which didn’t you like? How will you adapt this reality to suit the needs of your child?
Why we all need alone time
Alone time allows us all a chance to hit refresh. It offers sanctity/peace of mind. It brings calm and quiet. It acknowledges the importance of self-care. Alone time is a luxury for some but a necessity for all. It soothes wounds and offers perspective. Making time for alone time is as important as putting on your safety mask before helping others. This analogy is an important reminder that caring for yourself first allows you to better care for others!
Abandon the guilt that accompanies your need or desire for alone time. Prioritise that weekly date night. Go for that movie with your friends. Children learn from watching their parents lead by example. They will acknowledge your ability to balance living for yourself and living for them, and admire it too. This will pave the path forward for them to enjoy alone time, to embrace their independence and to cherish moments together even more.