Unrealistic expert suggestions for how to get alone time
A child can make the most extroverted people person crave a stint in solitary. “I never get time to myself,” mothers invariably complain. And they’re right. When a mom says, “I’m in the bathroom!” “I’m in the shower!” or, “I’m wrestling myself into a new pair of Spanx!” children all hear the same thing: “Come right in, and tell me exactly what your brother did.”
Parenting “experts” say that it’s imperative for moms to take time for themselves. If we don’t, we’ll become overstressed (become?), and our children will become narcissists (Instagram has got that covered).
I find the experts’ recommendations for getting alone time completely unrealistic:
1. If you have a baby, you should rest when they nap.
No piece of advice has ever caused new mothers more panic than this one. You can’t tell a mom to rest when hormones, lack of sleep, and the thrill/stress of becoming a new mom have her more amped up than Richard Simmons on meth. Every time my newborn fell asleep, this advice made me feel like a total failure because I hadn’t figured out how to do laundry, make lunch, wash dishes, pay the bills, and have “Me Time” during those 30 odd minutes before she’d start crying again.
2. If you tell your kids, “Leave me alone for an hour and then I’ll play with you,” they will understand.
Yes, your kids will understand the words coming out of your mouth. The inherent flaw is that, to a child, 1.8 seconds and an hour feel about the same. So by the time you bolt to the bedroom/bathroom/outdoor shed and shut the door, your kid is right behind you saying, “Is the hour up yet? Can we play now? Let’s play now. That was an hour right? Sixty minutes? I can count to 60. I can count to a hundred. Listen…1, 2, 3, 4, 5…Do you hear me counting? Mom. Mom. Mom. Mom….”
3. Older children will respect your alone time.
Older children? Older as in teenagers? They must mean teenagers, because these are inherently respectful creatures who fully understand that the world doesn’t revolve around them and their needs. Who fully understand that mothers are human beings in their own right. Who certainly would never intrude upon a mother’s solitude with demands like washing her favorite jeans right now or driving her to the mall right now lest the mother be “mean” or “so lame.”
I can remember two instances in the past 10 years where I think I completed a thought in my own brain before getting interrupted. For what it may be worth to you, here is how I achieved them:
- I hired a babysitter so that I could sit in my minivan in my own driveway for an hour and talk on the phone in peace.
- I taught my kids a game called Princess in the Dungeon. They were witches and I was a beautiful princess they’d locked up in their play tent. Under no circumstances could they let me out. Under no circumstances could they talk to me. And under no circumstances could they let me have any earthly possessions except sauvignon blanc and gossip magazines.