How would you cope without any alone time all day? Can you imagine being at work all day, surrounded by people, asking questions, demanding of you. Then travelling home with friends, chatting away, getting through the door and your husband, house mate or mother immediately engages you in conversation. You don’t stop interacting all evening and then at bedtime you brush your teeth, while your spouse regales you with the events of their day and then you get into bed, turn out the light and try to go to sleep.
Now imagine doing that every day for the next year. When do you get time to just potter around, lost in your own thoughts? Get your head into a project undisturbed. Or to just soak up the nature out of the window, whilst washing up?
The website ‘Psychology today’ discusses this topic:
“Modern parents are almost obsessed with filling up their children’s time. There are after-school classes, team sports, camps, lessons. What’s often missing from the schedule is time spent alone. Alone time is not time spent unsupervised, necessarily. Depending on the age of your child, that may or may not be appropriate. Instead, alone time is time a son or daughter uses to learn how to entertain themselves or just relax, without help or input from parents, siblings, friends, or babysitters. It is a crucial aspect of the development of independence. In fact, studies show that children who know how to fill their time alone rarely feel isolated or lonely. Instead, they learn to be content with whatever situation is at hand and truly have fun being creative in the moment.”
Our children are seven years old now and when they were around five we decided to introduce some pre-bedtime alone time for them. Fifteen minutes before lights out when they are in their own bedroom doing something of their choice. They have come to love and rely on this time, often in the late afternoon if they have been doing an activity like drawing or making a card for someone and they have to stop for whatever reason, they will say “Can I do it in my fifteen minutes?” To which we smile inside and say, “of course!”
We agree at the end of their bedtime story the time that they will stop and get into bed, they each have a clock on their wall (it’s really helped them learn to tell the time too!), and we praise them for doing what we’ve agreed. It gives them that much needed alone time, with nobody demanding anything of them.
Tonight in their fifteen minutes Pip chose to build his Brio wooden train track and Flo was pottering around her room tidying it up, organising all her little bits and bobs, both happy and content in their own company.