We all need Quiet Time.
Quiet Time is the hour, sometimes two, when my kids are required to stay in their rooms every day. Are my kids past the age of napping? Yes. Are they trashing their rooms while in there? Heck yes. Do I care? No. Why, you ask? Because this is often the only time when I have any “Me Time.”
There are a multitude of books and articles about how important Me Time is. “Spending time alone in your own company reinforces your self-worth, and is often the number-one way to replenish your resilience reserves,” writes Sam Owen, author of Resilient Me. I think we all agree that we want Me Time, but there always seems to be a problem when trying to find the time for it.
Even before COVID-19, I had a really hard time finding Me Time or justifying it. Thus, Quiet Time was born. It was a natural evolution from Nap Time. Basically, the kids still go to their rooms at the same time, only instead of napping, they do … whatever. I don’t really care, unless it involves fire. By keeping Quiet Time, even though my kids are no longer napping, I was giving myself at least an hour every day. But getting kids in their rooms is only the first step in achieving Quiet Time.
The next part is the hardest part, and unfortunately, it’s the key step for it to actually be Quiet Time. During this hour — and, if I’m being really honest, sometimes 30 minutes — that your kids are in their rooms, you are not allowed to do any chores. This is not the time to catch up on the laundry, meal-prep or vacuum. This is your time to nap (just because the kids don’t do it doesn’t mean you can’t), read a book, sneak in a YouTube workout video or watch a Hallmark movie. Whatever sparks joy in you, this is your time to do it. (If folding laundry really gives you joy, then do it, but maybe put on your favorite TV show first.)
This was the part I struggled with most. We all have stumbled across a few free hours every now and then. But a lot of us are driven by some voice or narrative that says we have to be productive during this time. Of course, a nap is not productive enough for this voice. My personal voice tells me that if I’m not doing something that justifies my worth (such as doing something for someone else), then that is not a productive thing to do. So, for a long time, I would use my Quiet Time to catch up on laundry, do the dishes, run errands — anything but stopping and resting.
Don’t get me wrong. All those things have to happen, but even if I did them at Quiet Time, I would still have to do them again later that day, because kids. I was getting more and more drained. The more drained I got, the more resentful I got. The more resentful I got, the less happy I was. I read a great quote from @the.holistic.psychologist that perfectly summed up why this was happening: “Resentment is a sign you’ve abandoned yourself.” I was mad that my family was not giving me what I needed, but I wasn’t asking for it or even taking it when it was available to me. In a lot of instances, especially a few years ago, I had no boundaries or even goals for myself and my self-care. I was bitter at everyone, but I didn’t know why or how to express it.
Therapy helped me to see that what I needed was time to myself, time to figure out what recharged me and time to do it.
Therapy also helped me see this as productive time, and gave me the words and tools to shut down that voice in my head that was telling me I was being lazy or selfish. It helped me to take back Quiet Time and use that as my daily recharge.
Now, my Quiet Time is full of naps, Hallmark and Yoga With Adriene — all things that spark joy for me and reset my heart and mind. I may have to push aside the laundry basket full of clean clothes to make room for my yoga mat, but that’s OK. The important thing is that I’m not only giving myself time, but also showing my kids that it’s OK to take time for yourself and recharge. They know how important this time is for me — and that it’s OK for that time to be important to them when they’re adults as well.