If you are asking for alone time in the reactionary way, Dr. Talib said, you can be specific about what you’re stressed about — a change at work or feeling overwhelmed by tasks at home — and be clear that that’s why you need time to clear your mind on your own. There’s also a difference between being alone and being lonely, she said, and that nuance is worth talking about with kids.
2. Alone time should be part of your family’s routine. Remember those godforsaken color-coded charts from the early Covid days? All the family dinners? “We talked about family routines” when the pandemic started, Dr. Talib said. “Why didn’t we talk about creating a routine of alone time?” Her kids, who are just 3 and 5, know she goes outside every day “to stare at a tree in the backyard.” She’s meditating, and they know not to interrupt “tree time” — and that it doesn’t last very long.
Lizzie Assa, the founder of The Workspace for Children, a website and Instagram account that helps parents teach kids to play on their own, has made sure her three kids, who are now 14, 11, and 8, have “quiet time” every day since they were toddlers. She said it took work, but the payoff is worth it. “Kids learn that they need downtime and they need alone time,” said Ms. Assa, who is a neighbor of mine in Maplewood, N.J. “Even today when they’re having a hard time or getting moody, I don’t have to say, ‘You need to get away from us,’” she said. “They say, ‘I’m going to my room.’”
If instituting daily quiet time feels like a nonstarter in your house,
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