Having the confidence to be alone

Yesterday, I took my girls to soft play. It’s something we’ve started to do quite regularly, because I really see the benefit to their development in terms of climbing and running. I believe it is also good for them socially, since every time we go there are different children there, who they will make friends with and play with although they’re only together for an hour.

So I found it a little odd when I walked into the soft play centre and realised that I was the only adult there on my own. It seems that everyone else views this as an opportunity for the parents to socialise as well as the children. Which got me thinking, what happens if their friends can’t make it, would they go anyway or stay at home?

With this in mind, I took Libby for a drink at a local café today, and the scene was almost identical. Libby and I sat with our drinks, chatting to each other and playing a game together on the iPad. There were other children in there, but again there were no adults on their own. The other parents were chatting while the children squirmed in their seats and vied for attention.

When I come to think about it, even if we go to one of the children’s groups, the adults tend to sit in little packs, socialising with the same people every week. I’m starting to wonder whether the whole thing is a bit of a throwback to school days, when everybody wanted to fit in and nobody had the confidence to be different.As adults, do we ever really grow out of the desire to fit in and truly develop the confidence to be alone? One of the reasons why I’ve always gone out of my way to take the girls to groups and activities that encourage them to socialise, is because I don’t want them to grow up to be like me. I’m not a particularly sociable person, I don’t have many friends and I’m not very comfortable in large groups.

That said, since leaving school I’ve always had the confidence to be alone. I didn’t worry about not knowing anybody at university, being the only English person living in my flat in France or travelling around Australia on my own. The small things don’t bother me either, if I want to go into a pub or coffee shop for a drink, I just get on and do it. Whether anyone will come with me or not doesn’t even enter my thought process.

So now I look back to my school days and think about those children who were always the centre of attention. The popular ones that everyone wanted to be friends with, the ones who were never alone. And I wonder if they are the same people I see at the café, the soft play or the swimming pool who only take their children out if their friends are there.

I wonder if the children who were always with their friends in school ever developed the confidence to be alone. I wonder if they have ever been abroad on a huge adventure, lived alone or even sat by the fire in a cosy pub reading a book.

And I wonder if my desire to make sure that my children don’t grow up to be like me is a little hasty. Maybe my lack of confidence around people has led to a different sort of self-assurance that others don’t have. Perhaps the ability to be alone was one of the most important lessons I ever learnt. And I think it might even be time to accept that being like me isn’t such a bad thing after all.

12 thoughts on “Having the confidence to be alone

  1. Sarah MumofThree World

    Thank you for writing this! I thought I was the only mum who did things on own! Like you, arranging things with other parents has never been on my agenda. It literally doesn’t cross my mind. Yet most people can’t even go to a school concert without saving a place for their friends. I will be going to a school concer tomorrow on my own. Like I always do. I’m perfectly happy that way 🙂
    Sarah MumofThree World recently posted…The girls’ grammar schoolMy Profile

  2. Natalie Streets

    I never thought about it like this!! It’s a great perspective to look at it. I’m often told I should make more effort to get mummy friends, but actually I find it so much easier when it’s just Oliver and I. Even when R & I go out Oliver clearly finds it difficult to sit still while we have adult conversation. I dreaded going out for lunch on my own with him til I actually did it and we had a really lovely time, felt like a proper little lunch date. I’d love the peace and quiet of sitting in a pub by a fire with a book too!! I can dream 😉

  3. Laura - dear bear and beany

    I could really relate to this! I take my girls to places just us all the time and I don’t really think about why. If I feel like doing it, we just do it. Yes, sometimes we meet friends at soft play, but other times we don’t. Every week we will go to the cafe just us, something I have always done. It does feel like school sometimes and people do look over being on your own at soft play, but I think that they are the ones that need to look at themselves as to why they think it’s strange for someone to bring their children and not meet friends! My eldest is super confident like her daddy, but I can see Holly is following after me, being a bit unsure around people. Whilst I hope she grows up to have more friends than I do, I also want her to feel good in her own skin, something I am not so good at. Sorry for the long ramble, this got me thinking! x
    Laura – dear bear and beany recently posted…Alice’s First Birthday…Looking Back #8My Profile

  4. Karen

    I can relate. Totally. I haven’t been to soft play but you know what I probably will now. Or at least when the little one is older. He’s only 9 months. I take him to baby groups not to meet other mums, that’s a bonus, but for him to play in a different setting with little people his age.

  5. Esther @ Inside Out & About

    Nat! I ruddy loved reading this. I am such a loner. I do have a lovely bunch of mum friends (that are amazing) but I don’t think twice about going out alone to a cafe, to the park or soft play area. I too have wondered why I am often then only one alone, but I really enjoy being with just my boys. It gives chance to connect in a way that you can’t when you’re with other people…and it gives you skills too I think. I also have never understood the concept of ‘competitive parenting’. I don’t care what people think of my parenting…and am not nosey enough to get involved with other people. I never feel the pressure to compete – parenting is far too important to get caught up in all of that. I hope I don’t sound too awful! xx
    Esther @ Inside Out & About recently posted…When your kids eat the same thing for lunch every single dayMy Profile

  6. ShireDad (Dan)

    As a stay-at-home dad social options are a lot less forthcoming so 95% of our weekday days out are just my daughter and me. Like yourself, I’m not one for crowds so I don’t mind although I do think that Tilly would appreciate friends to go playing with. She’s not bad at making friends on the fly though although it does depend on her mood!
    Do I feel like I stick out at soft play? Yes, but I’ve been doing this long enough not to bother about it now.

  7. Debbie

    Hi Natalie, reading your post was like reading one I had written myself. When my two were small I used to worry about them being like me; I’m not a sociable person, large groups scare me, in fact people in general scare me. Over the years though I’ve realised one important thing and that’s that there is nothing wrong with being me. So what if I’m different and enjoy doing different things?

    I am very much like my Dad, who used to always be telling me not to be like him. I keep telling him that it doesn’t matter how we are, just as long as we are happy.

    I now hope that my daughter grows up like me, I’ve traveled, had good times and have never felt tied to a group of people. I actually feel slightly sorry for those people who have to be part of a group to feel as if they belong.

    Are you happy with how you are? Then you want your children to be just like you.


  8. Jenny - Monkey and Mouse

    I completely understand! I often go out with just me and the boys, I rarely ask anyone else along if we’re going to a cafe or similar, as I like to spend the time with them and most of my friends are busy/working. If I were meeting up with friends it’s normally in our own houses. I do normally see lots of other adults out with their friends and the kids all trying to get their attention and wonder if I am a bit of a loner. But then I am happy with others too, sometimes it’s nice to just spend time with the kids and enjoy their company. 🙂 x
    Jenny – Monkey and Mouse recently posted…10 Amazing UK Beaches You’ll Want To VisitMy Profile

  9. martyn

    Great post. I find it hard to be alone. Mostly because of the dpd aspect but I find myself alone 95% of the time. Part of me enjoys the space but the other part really hates it. I know the latter is more my dpd than anything else but I’ve just never felt comfortable alone. I think it’s important to let the children be alone though. I find it more so with the fact we home ed because it’s always teh “boys” and never just William or James. They must find the fact they’re always together tedious.
    martyn recently posted…#BreakingBarriers CampaignMy Profile

  10. Natalie

    I enjoyed reading this post lovely, I’m a bit of both I suppose I like doing stuff alone with the girls like softplay or going to a café etc as I feel like I’m with my girls and able to spend time with them.
    There are occasions when we meet friends and it’s more about socialising – I think my girls like a bit of both but I think as I get a bit older I kinda like being on my own xx

  11. Tattooed Mummy

    I can honestly say I’ve never thought about it – I almost always took DD out alone, and so did dear husband when he was in charge. The few occasions we were both around we might have a day out together but in general one or other of us takes the time. I have very very few friends irl…(and virtually none that live close) it has never bothered me, but then I eat out alone (no kids, no family no friends) and go to the cinema alone too. I like being alone. I’m great company LOL


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