I think we all have that friend who seems to have this parenting thing all figured out. They’re always ready to dive into the next activity and seem to have all the energy in the world for kid stuff. If I’m being honest, I’m kind of jealous of those parents. But that’s just not who I am.
After 17 years of parenting, I have often wondered why I have such a hard time getting my act together. I’ve been doing this long enough, I should be better at this. I should be more tolerant and understanding. Right? It has taken me forever to figure out why, at the end of the day, I’m so drained and need nothing more than some quiet. And more importantly, it’s taken me forever to stop feeling guilty about it.
Why am I so drained and sometimes frustrated?
I’m an introvert.
This isn’t some huge secret. I’ve always known this, but I never put it together in terms of how I parent. Then the light bulb went on. I am easily overwhelmed by too much social interaction and when you’re a parent, you are constantly socially interacting with the little people who need you. They demand almost all of your time and attention and if we’re being honest here, not all of those interactions are pleasant. While many are, there is also a lot of demanding, crying, whining, and needing. It just comes with the territory.
While I adore my children and love to hear about the latest song, story, or creation, I’m an introvert. As an introvert, I can’t be ON all the time. I need time alone to wind down. I need it to recharge so I am able to tackle the next task and be a better person and parent.
Does this sound familiar?
Do you know whether you’re an introvert or not? It’s surprising how few introverts actually identify as introverts, but there are a lot of us out there. According to the Jung and Briggs Myers test, not only am I an introvert, I’m an introvert!
You just might be an introvert if:
- Being around a lot of people drains you of your energy.
- You often like being alone.
- You tend to have a few close friends instead of a large group of acquaintances.
- Small talk is difficult for you; you would rather have a meaningful conversation.
- You prefer to work independently. (aren’t group projects the worst?!)
- Reading a book or watching a movie is your idea of a perfect Saturday night.
- You avoid being the center of attention.
- You may appear aloof to people you don’t know.
- Introverts often find large groups of people overwhelming.
How does this relate to parenting?
It’s sometimes hard to find balance as an introverted parent. We need to be there for our children, but we also need our own alone time. As much as we love them, children are often demanding and loud. As I write this, my six-year-old is in the kitchen simultaneously talking to me, the dog, and making popping noises with his mouth. I adore him, but our personality types couldn’t be more different. He is an extrovert and has always been a high needs child. He is smart, fun and funny, but by the end of the day, I need to recover from our time together.
As an introvert, you probably crave your alone time. I know I do! As a parent, that alone time can only come when your children allow it to happen instead of when you need it. Because of this, I stay up far too late each night so I can have time alone. Time to read, catch up on my DVR, or write. This isn’t something that is a luxury to me; it’s a necessity.
When you are a parent, it isn’t just about your kids. There are other parents to deal with on a regular basis. The other parents are there striking up conversations at the school pick up and drop off, asking for playdates, hosting birthday parties, you name it. Small talk isn’t all that fun for most introverts and other parents can make me uncomfortable. I know they are just trying to be nice, but I need to psych myself up for being social with strangers or else I say things that come out sounding awkward and weird.
How to recharge
It’s important that you don’t feel guilty being an introverted parent. I know, easier said than done. But, really, it’s just the way you’re wired and it’s okay. As an introverted parent, it’s that much more important that you take time out for yourself when you can. Don’t be ashamed of doing what you need to do in order to be a better, happier parent.
- Visit the library. This is a great way to wind down because it’s something you can do without finding someone to watch the kids. Your child can play quietly with other kids while you sit down with a book or your laptop for some quiet time.
- Go for a walk. When your significant other is around for parent duty, put some headphones on and hit the pavement.
- Go to the park. Similar to going to the library, your child can play with other kids while you wind down.
- Go for a drive. I don’t know about your kids, but mine are generally pretty quiet in the car. My older one likes to read and the younger one likes to take in the sights or play with his LeapPad.
- Have a cup of coffee. When the kids are napping, don’t mop the floor or reorganize the spice cabinet. Sit down with a cup of coffee and a book or even a game on your phone. Take time for you. The dishes can wait, your sanity can’t.
Take care of you
The bottom line is to take a few minutes for yourself during the day without feeling guilty. If you need to, talk to your partner so he or she knows that you need a few minutes of quiet time. You will all be better off in the end.