Greta Garbo is often misquoted of saying ‘I want to be alone’ in the 1932 film Grand Hotel whenever she said ‘I want to be let alone’ according to John Gainbridge’s 1955 book entitled Garbo. Garbo’s character utters these words before other character’s leave, and she relishes her ‘aloneness’ when she closes the door to her hotel room. The satisfaction in her face is palatable as she finally relaxes after a hectic ordeal but how realistic is this satisfaction for women who crave, indeed need, as Virginia Woolf describes both a room of one’s own and time to oneself in order to pursue hobbies, self-employment or any other activity that requires time alone?
In July, Bridget Schutle’s article in The Guardian entitled ‘A Woman’s greatest enemy? A lack of time to herself’ made me think of how hard it is for some women to carve even ten minutes for themselves out of a busy day. Be that commitments to work, childcare, home or family women are often, as Schulte discusses, undertaking un-paid work after working a full eight hour day. Schutle also argues that because woman have historically been associated with children and home this transgression still lingers in 21st century life. I’m thankful in that I have always made it a priority to have time to myself to re-charge my batteries so that I’m well rested for what life has ahead.
Additionally, I am very lucky that my boyfriend and myself try to be somewhat equal in our aprpoach to housework dependent on each other’s weekly schedule. The only time that myself or my boyfriend have taken over the reigns of doing more housework is if one of us is sick or out of work in a long-term capacity. Other than these situations we try to split the household chores up evenly depending on each other’s weekly or daily schedules. Some weeks I might do more and other weeks my partner does more. It is important to us to have a tidy and clean home but not to such an extent that we are fretting over the smallest mess or bit of dust.
One thing that I adamant about in my relationship and life in general is that I like to have my own space and if possible, a room of my own which. This room is somewhere I have my desk, my books, my art-work and vintage clothing collection as well as a comfortable chair. Having this separate work space enables me to have somewhere where I can solely concentrate on my next blog post or article. Too long I suffered writing at the kitchen table or sitting on my bed. I needed to separate the domestic from the professional.
As the years move forward and I think about having a family I will make it adamant to my partner and vice versa that I need a certain time alone during the week to recuperate to be the best mother/partner that I can be. Too many times I have seen friends having little time to themselves and being short with their children which leads to temper tantrums from both parent and child. What better way to spend the time with your child than when you have even had just half an hour to yourself whilst your partner entertains the child? If you make this a foundation stone of your relationship with your child from the offset, it I feel that it possibly makes for a better parent and child relationship.
Also, you are teaching your child it is ok to be alone for long periods of time to relax and indulge in your past-times or simply nothing more than the pleasure of drinking tea and eating biscuits. Teaching your child, it is okay to be alone ( teaches them confidence to be themselves, to be independent and to create time for their hobbies. It also shows your child that if they decide to become a parent when they are older a happy relationship with their respective partner might include time for themselves on a regular basis. Whilst what I have written about may not be applicable nor even obtainable for all women and/or parents if it is accessible to you take that time to yourself to go for a walk, go to a museum or simply enjoy a cup of coffee in your favourite café. You will feel 100% better for it and come home feeling replenished and invigorated!
Images: Girl Reading, 1932, Harold Knight (biblioklept.org), Girl Writing, 1931, Harold Knight, Pinterest, The Manicure, 1934, (ArtUk), Portrait of Dame Laura Knight Sketching, c.1930s, Harold Knight, (Christies).