A mom with alone time? That’s the beginning of a joke, right? Sort of like, “Three goats walk into a bar…”
Seriously, a mom with alone time—time devoted to just herself—sounds like a unicorn or Big Foot: rumored to exist, but no one has proof. But imagine that three hours of free time have just “fallen” into your lap. What will you do?
My mind starts racing, thinking about working on some deadlines, maybe getting some housework done, and wondering what I should cook for dinner.
And that’s an epic fail. Alone time is time to recharge, replenish, relax—whatever will help rejuvenate you. And last I checked, scouring the pantry for dinner ideas doesn’t rejuvenate anyone. (Don’t even get me started on housework.)
I recently shared that I’m trying to focus on self-care. It hasn’t been easy, as like many—ahem, pretty much ALL—moms, I tend to put myself last. We all know that we shouldn’t, and yet we do. But I’m a work in progress. And part of that progress is not just taking time for myself, but making time for myself.
To figure out what that looks like—and how to be more comfortable with it—I’ve turned to Renée Trudeau, an internationally recognized life balance coach, author, speaker, wife, and mom. She’s also a San Antonio native who calls Austin home when she’s not traveling the world consulting and hosting seminars on self-care and more. She is passionate about helping men and women attain balance through the art/science of self-care. Renée also happens to be a friend, so I asked her for some insight into how she spends time alone to help her feel replenished.
Renee’s Favorite Self-care Solo Dates
I asked Renee, “So if three hours of free time had just fallen into your lap, what would you do?”
“This happened to me last weekend and my first thought was, ‘What movie do I want to see?’ But after looking at the listings and not finding anything inspiring, I sat quietly on the couch for a bit, reflecting on what do I truly need? A walk around the lake (I love turtle watching) and a peach/mango smoothie ended up being just the ticket,” recalls Renee.
While there’s nothing wrong with going shopping or catching a flick, Renee challenges you to think about what would really nourish—and sustain—you when you get precious time alone (in her words, “Think cotton candy vs. black beans and rice”).
“So many of us are disconnected from who we are and from our true needs and desires. In fact, many mental health professionals believe this ‘disconnect from self’ is the root cause of depression and anxiety. While solo dates may feel weird if they’re new to you, they’re ideal opportunities to reconnect with your essence and core values,” explains Renee.
Her suggestions? The next time you are given an unscheduled window of time alone—like this Mother’s Day!—consider Renee’s soul-nurturing ideas:
- Beauty Date: Visit your local botanical, wildflower, or sculpture gardens, then enjoy a leisurely lunch at a new outdoor bistro or café. (Note: The San Antonio Botanical Garden is always a great option, but so is a walk along the Mission Reach of the San Antonio River, or a stroll through the Japanese Tea Garden.)
- Movement Date: Try a new dance or yoga class, then treat yourself to a new, exotic smoothie. (Check out Michelle’s guide to San Antonio’s yoga studios for some ideas.)
- Nature Date: Enjoy a dip at a nearby spring-fed pool, river, or lake, then treat yourself to your favorite ice cream.
- Culture Date: Explore a local museum or check out a new gallery exhibit, then try a new ethnic restaurant. (The local options here are dizzying: The McNay, San Antonio Art Museum, Blue Star, and more.)
- Journaling Date: Browse your local independent bookstore, pick out a beautiful, inspiring journal, and head to a new coffee shop and reflect on ten things you’re grateful for. (Try The Twig, then enjoy any of the great spots at The Pearl.)
Looking at Renée’s list, what speaks to you? For me, a beauty or culture date sounds ideal, as I find that being in those environments allows me to pause and NOT focus on my to-do lists. But what works for one of us may not work for all of us. If ever there was a time for you to “do you,” it’s when you’re taking care of yourself. Catching a live show or some great music may be what feeds your soul. No matter what it is, DO IT.
I’m saying it to you, but I’m also saying it as a push to keep myself focused on doing something—anything—that is really just for me. I’m working to make myself pause and be more intentional about taking care of myself.
If you’d like to learn more about how Renée approaches life balance and self-care, check out her books or her website. And if you’d like to enjoy the ultimate solo date with other like-minded moms, watch Renée’s schedule: she’ll be in San Antonio for a one-day retreat, “New Way of Being: Women’s Self Renewal Retreat” later this year.
And don’t let that to-do list or housework get in the way of enjoying some solo time that feeds your soul. Happy Mother’s Day!