It is a truth universally acknowledged that if there are small beings who call you “mother,” you are hardly ever alone.
Not in the bathroom. Not while you sleep. Not while you try to answer that email or order groceries or trim your nails. It’s part of the gig, honestly, and most of us have adapted to the point that on most days, we barely notice the fact that we’re being touched around 95% of the time.
What do therapists say about the toll it takes on a human to be that present for other people literally all the time, though?
Well…it might be harder on us that we realize.
Licensed therapist Emma Bennett told Romper that alone time is “a necessity, not an indulgence.”
If we don’t get enough of it, moms are likely to experience parental burnout, feelings of resentment, isolation, anger, and to feel overwhelmed or like they’ve lost their grip on themselves.
Mothers are human beings, after all, and when we feel like we can’t manage the mental, psychological, and emotional load of motherhood and life, serious mood and anxiety disorders can develop.
Erica Djossa, a psychotherapist, concurred, warning that a “lack of emotional or physical support can put moms at higher risk of developing a postpartum mood or anxiety disorder and lack of support/understanding can exacerbate those symptoms.”
A 2018 study found that parents have an average of 32 minutes per day “alone,” and moms are shouldering more of the child-rearing responsibility than they were before 2020.
Which is all to say, experts like Djossa believe “alone time” isn’t an indulgence – it’s essential.
“When moms are communicating they want time alone it usually means they want a break.
I think that moms don’t get time alone when these connections and supports are lacking.
They may feel both isolated and burnt out all at the same time. A remedy to this is ramping up supports and connections in order to have the ability to take a break.”
If you’re feeling like you’re tired of being touched or you need a breather, do something that recharges you personally -watching a show only you enjoy, taking a bath, reading for an hour or two, taking a walk with a hot cup of coffee, whatever works.
Whatever it is, Djossa says just “prioritizing what you need is the key.”
Some moms might feel anxiety about leaving their child with someone new, but Bennett would remind them that first, it’s okay if a trusted caregiver doesn’t care for your child exactly the way you would, and second, it’s important to introduce your child to a wider circle.
“Giving our children the opportunity to build other loving attachments to additional caregivers can be a good experience for children.
It is OK to accept those feelings of nervousness and also try to work with them so you can have some separation.”
Be kind to yourselves, mamas. We can only be at our best for our children when we’re feeling rested and 100% ready to take on whatever life and parenting throws our way.
And I know you think your kids deserve the best – but so do you.