The Pressure of Alone Time

I don’t get the luxury of an empty house very often. I work full time outside the home, so the hours that I’m home, so is everyone else.

But every so often, something magical happens.

Schedules line up. Maybe it’s on purpose, and I took a day off work when I knew my husband would be working out of town. Maybe it’s a sweet accident, and I just got home much earlier than expected from whatever I was doing and my husband and daughter are still out and about.

But inevitably, as soon as I feel the still quiet of an empty house, I freeze.

What do I do now?

How do I take advantage of this time? Is there a project I’ve been putting off? Should I clean something? Watch something on Netflix that no one else wants to/should watch?

Or will I inevitably just end up sitting on the couch in silence, scrolling through Instagram until I realize it’s too late to actually start anything, and then be mad that I wasted that precious time?

It’s almost worse when I know in advance the alone time is coming.

I’ll make grand plans for the day: Cook myself breakfast rather than shoving a granola bar in my mouth while I drive to work! Go to the gym! Mop the floors!

Then I look up at the clock, and somehow it’s already 2 p.m. Where did my day go?

The pressure of planned alone time hits me hard during the holidays. For the last several years I’ve taken a day or two off in early December. The goal is to do any outstanding shopping on a weekday when the crowds are (allegedly) lower and then get everything that’s already in the house wrapped. Then all of a sudden it’s time for daycare pickup, and I’m still surrounded by boxes and wrapping paper, and I feel like a failure for not completing my goal.

So how do I deal with it?

I’m a planner by nature (Type 3, ISTJ, Virgo … however you want to frame it), so I’ve started bringing that approach to my downtime as well. If I start the day with nothing scheduled, it’s going to get away from me very quickly.

On a normal workday, my calendar is broken down hourly. I try to do the same thing for time off. Whether it’s tasks at home, gym time, shopping, it all goes on the schedule.

A younger me might cringe at the thought of scheduling my free time, but for me, it’s the only way to make sure that time feels well-spent at the end of the day.

So how do you spend your time alone? How do you make sure that time doesn’t slip away?

Caitlin made her way to Lafayette more than a decade ago, after growing up in North Carolina and then graduating from the University of Georgia. Since then, she married the man who introduced her to Cajun country, and they welcomed their now 5 year old daughter into the world. She spends her days working in marketing, telling stories using her bag of digital tricks. When she’s not working or wrangling her tiny human, she can be found running (slowly), testing new baking recipes (ask about her almond poppyseed bread), or wielding a glue gun for her latest craft project.