I am an expert on this subject. I was born to write this post.
The answer is unless you are blessed with a baby Jesus type child (as apparently my darling husband was when he was small), you are fucked! Yes you are. Add a small person to your life equation and you have one seriously big fly in the solitude ointment, peace might as well be a small town in Alabama with a toddler running around your house.
As an introvert I feel this pain more than most. I absolutely have to spend some time all alone every day otherwise I go completely bat shit crazy. The times are too numerous to count when I have just handed over the baby baton to Darren as he walks in the door from work and scurried up the stairs to the soothing calm of the darkened bedroom leaving him alone to deal with the chaos queen and her bag of intrepid toddler magic.
Single mothers I salute you.
I am eternally grateful also for the famous toddler nap. Betsy still naps, Betsy loves naps. Long may the napping continue. God bless the nap. All hail the lunchtime nap.
Fully two hours of time alone every single day and it is heavenly, I literally am in love with it. I can tidy up, eat some food, do some yoga/reading/crochet/knitting/writing, have a poo all by myself (only those with toddlers know this joy), drink a full cup of coffee, watch something other than Team Umizoomi on the telly and sometimes I will just sit there and be; drifting off, spacing out, unplugging for a bit.
Spacing out is one seriously underrated pastime.
The trick is to really, really enjoy the little parcels of time you get alone. Whether it's a sneaky wee whilst everybody crazy shakes (she loves that Umi shit) or the chance to crochet a row whilst food is being devoured, own that time, flood it with love potion and you'll be on the right track.
When little smellbum wakes up from her lunchtime nap the fun and fury begins all over again but I've got my mojo back, I'm loaded up with coffee, carbs and tolerance and letting chaos reign ain't no big thing.
Just don't ask me what I'm going to do when the napping stops!
ps. illustration by the amazing saskia