Scheduling ‘Me’ Time Without Feeling Guilty
Photo Courtesy of Pexels.com
BY MYRA FAYE TURNER
How many hours of alone time do you average each week? I’m not talking about times when you happen to find yourself on your own because everyone’s left the house. I’m talking about scheduled alone time. If you’re like most adults, you probably don’t spend a lot of time engaged in solo activities. But you should. Mentally healthy and emotionally well adults need time alone. Each week, you should spend time pursuing your own interests or hobbies. You could take a slow walk in the park, or take time each day to do nothing.
For most adults, having “me’ time seems selfish. This is especially true for women and caregivers with minors. Someone or something is always knocking on your door, trying to get your attention. There’s housework calling your name. Or maybe you have kids or grandkids that demand your time. If you’re still in the workforce, you may bring work home or if you’re self-employed you may feel you wear too many hats to afford to take a breather.
Push those nagging thoughts out your mind. When you schedule “me” time everyone wins. Taking time for yourself means you’re happier and those around you will benefit because of your sunnier disposition. In “6 Reasons You Should Spend More Time Alone”, Dr. Sherrie Bourg Carter, writes that spending time alone can enhance the quality of time you spend with others.
Sometimes I feel like all I do is chauffeur my son around, cook, run errands, and do housework. All while trying to make enough money as a writer to pay my bills. Some people think because I work at home I have hours of “me” time. Duh, I’m working! I need time alone just as someone who works a regular 9 to 5.
I admit there are occasions when I take time for myself that I end up feeling like I’m wasting time. However, when I don’t schedule time to do things I want to do (or to do nothing at all), it shows. I’m cranky, irritated, and easily annoyed. Even as I write this article, I am planning some “me” time during the week (actually one week and one day) my son is home from school for the Mardi Gras break. Yes, in New Orleans the kids get the whole week off. But I digress. I have already scheduled a day where I’m going to stay in bed. I’m not going to check e-mail, answer my phone, write or otherwise care what’s going on in the world around me. I’m going to watch movies, nap, eat, nap some more, and generally be a lazy bum. I’m so looking forward to it!
How to Schedule “Me” Time
Scheduling time alone is easy — to quote Nike: “Just do it.” I find the easiest way to schedule your solo time is to put it on your calendar. That’s right, make an appointment with yourself. If you use a communal calendar or message board at home, make sure you add your solo time so everyone knows you’re not available. Expect to meet with some resistance from your loved ones but don’t let them guilt you. In fact, everyone in your house should have their own solo time.
How much time should you schedule? That’s your call but you should aim for at least 30-60 minutes a day. You should also plan some longer blocks of time each month.
What to do During Your Alone Time
This is probably one of the major concerns when planning time alone. You have spent the better part of your adult life putting the needs of others first: your kids, spouse or significant other, perhaps your parents. Now, you need to unlearn a lot of what may be ingrained in your psyche. When planning your time alone, you can do whatever you want— that’s the point. If you still need a little help, try these suggestions:
Learn Something New: One way to keep your mind sharp is to continually learn. Thankfully, you don’t have to leave home to learn something new. You can take an online class, for example. There are many free courses available from top universities. Most are self-paced, allowing you to review the course material at your convenience. You can also find videos on any subject that interests you.
Relax: Sometimes the best solo activity is to relax and do nothing. Sit alone in your backyard and communicate with Mother Nature for an hour. You can also try guided mediation. And yes, it’s okay to take a nap and not feel guilty.
Be a Visitor in Your Own Town: There are probably many attractions in your town you have never visited or don’t visit often. If you’re planning a longer solo activity, you can use this time to take a solo trip to visit a place that interests you. I enjoy going to the New Orleans Museum of Art. My son Tyler and I visit often so he usually gets bored quickly. When he’s all fidgety, I can’t enjoy myself, especially when he’s bugging me about going to the restaurant to get a cup of coffee and a sandwich. So, what I like to do is go alone whenever there’s a new exhibit. This gives me the chance to see it by myself the first time. Then, if he’s interested, I’ll take him later.
If you don’t mind traveling alone, you can also take a “daycation”. You can either drive, take the train or bus to a city or town a short distance away. You can spend the day sightseeing or visit one particular attraction. If you can, spend the night. Treat yourself to a nice dinner, get a good night’s sleep, then head home the following day.
Go to a Movie: Yeah, I know it looks kind of sad when you’re in a movie with your friends or loved ones and you see someone alone. But a movie date with yourself can be a fun outing. Especially if you’re able to catch a matinee during the week. Plus, you get to watch what you want to watch without having to compromise.
Get in Touch with Your Inner Creative Child: We can’t all be writers, but you can use your time to journal, write poems, doodle, paint, learn to play an instrument, etc. You may find an undiscovered talent, or simply have a relaxing time.
Still not convinced? Check out these fun solo activities:
- Read a book or magazine
- Take a relaxing bubble bath with candles and soft music (be sure to try a bath bomb!)
- Get a massage, facial, manicure or pedicure
- Engage in a sports activity you can do alone, like mini-golf, swimming, horseback riding, etc.
- Pen handwritten letters to friends and loved ones
As you can see there’s no limit to what you can do during your alone time. The next step is to make a bucket list of activities you want to do during your alone time. Then decide how much time each week you want to schedule your “me” time. The final step — and this is the most important step — pull out your calendar, make a date with yourself, and keep it. Now go enjoy your time alone.