This is a typical day around my house: I’m working in my office, and both teenagers are in their rooms doing whatever it is they need to do. I have a vague idea of what that is — homework, writing papers and articles, preparing auditions, getting ready for upcoming performances and commitments.
Really, though, they could just as easily be reading a book that has nothing to do with work or school requirements, writing in a journal, listening to music, drawing, daydreaming, or sleeping. I don’t really know, and that’s the point.
Time alone is valuable, and it can be hard to come by in the frenetic pace of modern life. We are blessed to live in a bustling city with oodles of opportunities, but that doesn’t negate the need for rest, renewal, and reflection. I’ve seen plenty of homeschooling families (including my own), miscalculate and burn out on overscheduling. One of the gifts of homeschooling is the ability to bring our schedules back into balance, and get that much needed solitude back into our lives.
I have a few extroverted children, and one introvert, and solitude has helped all of them. Self-knowledge, relaxation, idea percolation, creativity, and overall health and well-being are all fostered by solitude. Thoreau knew it, Einstein knew it, and so do you, because it’s hard-wired in all of us.
Solitude for kids and teens is underrated, but their humanity cries out for private time as much as any adult. So when your kids are just hanging out, in their rooms, in the backyard, on a walk through the neighborhood, doing nothing much that you can see, just think about the importance of solitude, and the possibilities of things they’re incubating: Ideas. Others. Peace. Being happy. Themselves.
Or just keep this Franz Kafka quote nearby: You need not leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. You need not even listen, simply wait, just learn to become quiet, and still, and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked. It has no choice; it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.
Give your kids have their solitude, grab some for yourself, and let the world start rolling.