Let there be space in your togetherness. —Khalil Gibran
Taking time for ourselves on a regular basis—or creating a solitude practice—is essential for our peace of mind. It allows us a few moments a day to recharge our soul’s batteries so that we can give back to our loved ones more fully. Beginning a solitude practice isn’t just for adults; it’s also an essential self-esteem-building tool for children. When kids learn to honor their deepest selves and validate who they truly are, they are more likely to face challenges and conflicts with a solid foundation of self-awareness—an understanding of what feels right or wrong to them. Everyone in your household—individual partners and children alike—can incorporate alone time into their lives as a regular practice. Here’s how:
Make it a family affair.
Just like together time at the dinner table or on a trip to the beach, take solitude time simultaneously as a family. If there are young children in your family, be sure they are in a safe environment during their solitude practice.
Make a collage.
Invite kids to find pictures of things they like to do alone and make a collage that they can hang in their rooms or wherever they take their solitude break.
Children might enjoy making a chart of rotating alone time activities. Post it in the kitchen. For example, Mondays are for reading a book, Tuesdays are for painting, Wednesday is “Write a Story” day etc… Each child can make his own chart.
Talk about it.
Have a family discussion or circle time about the experiences of your respective solitude sessions. Talk about the ways this practice might help you in your daily life. Get specific.
Keep in mind that not everyone in the family may be interested in spending time alone. If your partner or child resists, don’t force it. You can encourage a reluctant child to take part in alone time by suggesting how fun it will be to get together afterwards to share thoughts and feelings, or even to offer up what he or she has done during the time alone—a kind of show-and-tell at home.
If your child still does not wish to participate, consider staggering alone times with your partner so that your child doesn’t feel left out. Encourage a non-participating child to make a chart of alone time projects anyway. Do those projects with your child while everyone else is taking time for himself or herself. If you choose to reconvene as a family after alone time, be sure the non-participating child takes part in the discussion and/or show-and-tell. By keeping your child in the loop, over time he or she may wish to try alone time as well.
The ideal situation is a once-a-day event where all members of the family simultaneously retire to their respective sacred spaces, recharge and then reconvene happier, healthier and more whole. If this happens for your family, wonderful. If not, honor each family member’s needs—including your own.
This is an excerpt from Rachel Astarte Piccione's book, Celebrating Solitude, available at CelebratingSolitude.com.
Rachel Astarte Piccione is a wellness consultant, author and educator. She is trained in a number of healing modalities including shamanism, creative writing and flower essences. Her mind-body wellness practice, Healing Arts New York, has offices in New York City and Nyack. Visit HealingArtsNewYork.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org.