Today, my kids got back on the big yellow bus and went back to school for the year. Does it look different from years past? You bet.
I am spending the day enjoying alone time. Just how does one enjoy alone time? I’ll get to that in a moment, but first let me give you some background.
Started the Summer With Big Plans
We started the summer with big plans like we always do. Go to the beach, go camping, have friends over, and do a thousand different small things. We get some of them done, but never all. There’s never enough time, even during the 6-month-long “spring break” that was in reality, everything shut down due to COVID-19.
But this summer looked a lot more regular normal. We were blessed to be able to add on to our house and do some much-needed repairs. I think we stayed at home more this summer than we ever have before. I got up earlier to more consistently enjoy alone time this summer than ever before. Our contractors usually showed up around 7:30 am. Once, I started to give him a hard time about “dragging in” at 8 am. Then, he told me he’d already been to a neighboring town for supplies – for my house.
It’s not a bad thing to have more plans than time. You just have to decide which ones are the highest priority. For us – it was getting the house repaired/remodeled, taking a few camping trips, and showing our hospitality by hosting a few friends.
Related: The Importance of Hospitality
God Blesses Us With The Right People at the Right Time
God blessed us with him. Sometimes, God puts the right people in your life at the right time. This was such a case. Honest contractors that do good work are like finding a needle in a haystack. He knew his stuff, was clean-cut, and I didn’t worry about my kids being around him at all. I enjoyed the chance to get to know our neighbor better.
You can learn from almost everyone that you encounter. Sometimes you learn what not to do. Other times you find wisdom in unexpected places. Never mistake someone’s lack of formal education for a lack of knowledge.
7 Ways to Enjoy Alone Time
It was when I was enjoying alone time in the mornings that I got a good chance to reflect on what was happening during the busy days. Here are 7 ways I found to enjoy alone time.
1. Look for the good around you.
You are going to find what you look for in life. Remember a time in your life when you prayed for the things that you have now. You will have differences of opinion with people, but just because you want different things does not mean that you have to be enemies.
Big things that go wrong are easy to see. The good things often come softly or in little things. When you concentrate on looking for the good around you, it makes you enjoy that alone time and uplifts your mood. I find that I can most easily think on these things when I am by myself.
Where have you found the good today?
2. Write Your Own Headlines
I know that we need to know what is going on in the world around us. I’m not suggesting that we ignore everything and stick our heads in the sand. What I am suggesting, is that you limit how much you consume if you find that the news makes you feel awful.
Our minds are naturally wired to give more weight to the bad. Sometimes problems seem too big for us to make any sort of difference. But just like I told you above to look for the good around you. You can write your headlines as well. Here are a few from my own day:
- Kids subjected to many pictures, hugs, and kisses as they head back to school.
- Teacher meets students that will change her life for the first time today.
- Mom starts back to the gym today; commits to eating healthier. (Again)
- Moms bragging rampantly on social media with pictures of kids
- Parents everywhere uplift one another and pray for a good school year together.
- Morning Routine re-established!
- Blogger/Author/Mom writes first blog post in months today.
What do your headlines from today look like?
3. Look for Ways to Bless Others
A pastor of a church once told me that “There will always be an infinite need, but we have finite resources.”
You might not have very much, but you can still give back to others. Maybe someone you encounter just needs a smile today, or a few words of encouragement. Maybe a free food pantry is empty, or full of expired food and you have a few spare things laying around in your pantry? Do you have a little bit of time that you can volunteer somewhere? Send a text to a friend you have not heard from in a while.
We don’t realize how much these seemingly little things mean to others. What seems like a little thing to you, can mean a great deal to someone else.
4. Pray Without Ceasing
Life moves fast. We are all busy, busy, busy. Today for the first time in a long time, I set myself no agenda. I have spent a great deal of the day savoring the silence and silently praying.
“The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” – James 5:16
Not that I am righteous on my own, but I am through Jesus. Don’t underestimate the power of prayer. God is not limited in what He can do. I’ve prayed for:
- My kids
- Their teachers
- My husband
- This school year
- Myself (asking God for guidance on what HE would have me to do)
- A friend of ours that is undergoing surgery today and her husband and he is waiting for her.
- Other family members
- Those that are sick
- Those that are discouraged
- Our leaders
- Our churches
- Those who need prayers, but God knows their needs.
- You, because you are reading this.
No one is beyond the reach of God. Take a minute now and say a prayer for whatever is on your mind and heart.
5. Have a Morning and/or Evening Routine
Many of the things that we do are habits. Some are good and some are not so good. For me, establishing a morning routine is something I have come to savor. I know there is conventional advice in the self-help world about “get up at 5 am and have an hour to yourself!” That doesn’t work for everyone. Have a morning routine that fits you. My morning routine looks like this on school days:
- 5:40 – wake up, shower, dress
- 5:55-6:10 Get kids up
- 6:10-6:20 prepare breakfast – usually cereal or something fast.
- 6:25-6:30 Call kids for breakfast
- 6:40 – Out the door to wait on the school bus.
- 6:45-7 School bus comes
- 7 – Coffee, Bible reading, journaling, planning the day, to-do list writing and getting organized.
From there, my day goes in whatever direction that it needs to. I sometimes go to the gym, or to see my Mom. I might have errands to run, or I may simply take a walk, clean the house, or do whatever needs to be done.
Am I blessed that I can work from home and adjust my schedule as needed? Absolutely! Does that mean that you can’t have a morning or evening routine if your life looks different? That’s the beauty of making your own routine – you customize it to your life.
What things do you want to include in your routine? Does evening or morning work better for you?
6. Take Time for Reflection
I am often busy. Busy doing this and that, busy doing things for other people, busy trying to get everything done that I need to take care of. Then we took a Saturday off. Or rather, we were supposed to take a Saturday off. What I actually did was try to repurpose some old curtains because I thought my husband wanted me to concentrate on getting curtains on some of our new windows. Yet again, I found a way to be busy.
But I made a startling realization that night. I had no idea what I wanted. Not just with curtains either – I had no idea what I wanted to do with myself once the kids started school again. So many people-pleasing thoughts and imagined expectations were running through my head, I could not figure out what I wanted.
It’s easy to tell a friend “Oh, you should do this!” or “You’d be really great at that!” but sometimes figuring out what you actually want is harder.
Do you know what you really want?
7. Take Time to Feel at Peace
Today, I have taken time to reflect and feel at peace. It has helped me enjoy alone time tremendously. Though I have not yet answered the deeper questions, I have found that:
- I WANT to go to the gym becasue I want my body to feel good. (but still keep chocolate in my life, even if some of it is sugar-free)
- I WANT to keep writing becasue I can’t imagine not writing. It’s too much a part of who I am. ust because I do something and I’m not the best at it, doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy it.
- Just because I can do something reasonably well, does not mean it’s my life calling. It’s just another skill. ( Mostly talking about about patching walls and painting rooms.)
- I am much more than just my profession. Though I have changed professions several times, I’m still me.
- I WANT to encourage others because in encouraging others it forces me to look for the good, to stay content, to keep to my morning routine, and it also encourages me.
- There is always more to learn, and learning more helps me grow.
The Last Thing You Need to Know to Enjoy Alone Time
The thing that you need the most to enjoy alone time is time. You might have an entire day to yourself, like I do, or only a few hours. Often, when I feel like I need to think things through, I find a task that keeps my hands busy but that does not require a lot of mental work. For me, that’s mowing the grass. I zone out and reflect on anything and everything.
If you need a bit of a guide to get started, take the questions that I asked at the end of each section and journal your answers. You might be surprised with what you come up with! If you have questions or comments, leave them below!