March 9th 2017
Something very rare happened, a few weeks back. For the first time in over three years I was presented with the opportunity to spend over two full days by myself, alone, solo. I am one of those people who has always enjoyed solitary time. And I made sure to take plenty, to ensure restorative rest and balance outgoing activities like work and social gatherings. I found time to be solo and still, even whilst living in student housing, and, later on, together with my husband.
The arrival of our daughter Lou, and me becoming a first time mama, naturally came with change. Motherhood sprinkled its lessons, over my head, up and down my body and right across my heart, like one big giant confetti machine. And although some of the confetti sprinkled was raw and rough, nothing gave and gives me greater joy and more fulfillment than experiencing this deep and unconditional love. I have discussed some of the lessons learned, and challenges faced, in my new book Simply Daytox, but today I’d like to talk about the specific subject of spending time alone, as a mama.
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Spending time alone
Whether you are a person who enjoys (a bit of) alone time or a person who’d rather be amongst others -always-, spending time with no one but yourself undoubtedly gifts you some essentials for a life well lived.
If we distract ourselves constantly with new experiences, conversation, entertainment, work and media, we never get the chance to be with our bare selves. When there’s always noise or talk, there is never the silence needed to truly listen to our inner voice Spending time alone is crucial for getting to know yourself, for reflecting on what you’ve been going through and brewing up dreams. All of our decisions, all we think, feel and do is connected to these paramount elements just mentioned.
These moments of stillness and solitude are therefore essential to self-care. How can we take care of ourselves if we do not know ourselves? How can we take care of ourselves if we do not create circumstances to be able to listen to ourselves? And how can we take care of ourselves if we will not take inspired and intentional action, that’s in line with who we are?
My personal story
These past three years I have made sure to have moments of silence and solitude and have experienced them in many different ways. There have been plenty but they have been brief. An hour of yoga at the studio, an evening by myself when my husband was touring, a stroll in the park while grandma watched Lou. The extended solitary moments, of me simply pottering around the home for a full weekend, were past tense.
Motherhood has granted me with more practicality and efficiency I ever thought possible. It made me prioritize and manage time well. Family came first, my personal time was spent working on inspired projects, the home was kept and there was 30-60 minutes per day reserved for just myself. For silence and contemplation.
A few weeks ago something changed. My husband, who is a songwriter and producer, went on a two week trip to Los Angeles. We had arranged for Lou to have a sleepover at grandma and grandpa. All of a sudden there it was, almost three days, just me. I went into town, visited one of my favourite cafés, enjoyed a flat-white whilst flipping through ELLE decoration, forgot time, took a leisurely stroll, ran into friends on the street, chatted casually, did groceries and went home. I did not stuff my weekend full of social events. I took the time to fly solo. I pottered around the home, stared into the distance, cleaned our bathroom in silence, showered three times in one day -using all of the products I rarely take time for-, did some meditation, ate with quiet as my company and listened to the sound of nothing. Sunday was also spent partially solo. I went on a four hour hike with a dear friend, then went home for more time with me.
What I’ve realized
This extended time of (partial) solitude taught me something extremely precious. It reminded me that I love spending time with me. It reminded me that I love my own company. It gave me a renewed sense of self trust. It slowed me down deeply, as there was no one to take care of except for myself. It reminded me who I am at the core of it all, when all of the petals of the onion are peeled away and you are left with the inner most part. And it made me feel incredibly grateful for the life I get to enjoy, with the two people I love most in this world.
After this experience I have vowed to create more of these opportunities to spend extended time with just me. I do not need or crave it daily, weekly or even monthly. I actively make space for stillness and solitude by practicing yoga and meditation, by taking strolls, by reserving time for just me when the husband has evening work and the little one sleeps to feel connected to myself daily.
But extended stillness and extended solitude, in my home or elsewhere, that’s what I will allow myself to bask in more often. Simply because it gives a deeper understanding of self, a deeper sense of reconnection, a lightness and joy, a deep sense of space and renewed inspiration.
You, as a mama
It’s quite possible many of you, who are mothers as well, find it difficult to arrange or even allow this occasional chunk of extended quiet in your life. You might feel guilty, you might not think it possible. But he fact is, it is possible and you deserve time for you. We tend to forget what we need when we constantly care for others. We will always put the needs of our children first and our own second. This makes the pursuit of brief and extended solitude even more important. It is in that stillness that we connect with our heart, and it is connected and with heart that we will be our happiest, truest selves and the most sensitized and supportive of parent.
Incorporate brief and extended moments of solitude (watching tv or online shopping doesn’t count ; ). Contemplate and reflect on what you’ve been going through. Brew up dreams that are your own. Make them happen.
With love and support,
Photos, recipe and text (c) (copyright) kyra. at kyra’s kitchen.
Photos in the woods edited by kyra. taken by Eveline www.stofenruis.nl