How to Parent When You Are An Introvert
Herein lies the problem. I am a parent of two (mostly) lovely children age 3 and 6. I am a SAHM who works part time from home, unless I am at a TV station, meeting or event. What does this mean for an introvert? I am ALWAYS SURROUNDED BY PEOPLE. My little ones crawl, climb and hang on me 24/7. I don't even get to go to the bathroom alone (top complaint of moms everywhere). As an introvert, this produces a level of anxiety that reaches critical mass. Fast.
So, how do you know if you are an introvert? And how do you parent as an introvert?
I'm not shy. Being shy is an outdated definition of an introvert, but this defintiely doesn't describe me. Here are a few reasons why I know I am introvert. This shockingly lined up with an article from Huffington Post that I think many introverts (or people who are close to an introvert) would enjoy reading.
I more have an aversion to small talk. If you meet me for the first time, I might say some shit that shocks you. This is my pathetic attempt at avoiding the "how's the weather" discussion. I want to know what you are all about, and skimming the surface just wastes my time. And I LOATHE wasting time.
I have zero issues being on camera in front of tens of thousands of people. Doesn't phase me a bit. Sound crazy? Yep, shocked me as well. I get more nervous talking to my producer one on one than being on camera.
My husband is a total extrovert. Opposites attract, right? If you know my husband, you know he has a BIG personality. Capital B. Capital I. Capital G. I'm cool with that. I let him to his thing while I remain in my head most of the time.
I can be super social for a couple of weeks then hibernate. One of my best friends would often accuse me of disappearing off the face of the earth after seeing me repeatedly. I just can't handle all the noise.
I run an inner monologue and I am a writer. Both solitary activies but both accomplish different goals. My inner monologue helps me sort out the meat from the gristle. Ugh, that sounds gross. Let's just say it helps me focus. My writing? I never set out to win a Pulitzer. Honestly? My writing was encouraged by my therapist years ago to help me deal with moderate anxiety. So I continue as a theraputic measure (and I sometimes get some REALLY COOL SHIT to review).
So there are the reasons why I know I am introvert. But how do you parent with this personality trait when your need your alone time? I am still struggling with this quandry, but here are my finding so far.
Put your kids into enjoyable, healthy, supportive activites as much as you can. Both of my kids are in full time school Monday-Wednesday currently, and I am a new person. I know that if they were home I would freak out because they are around me 24/7. My threenager is with me all day on Thursdays. By 2pm, I sit her on the couch and let her watch Sesame Street because I can't coexist anymore. Never said I was a perfect mom. I am the okayest. No budget? Arrange kid shares with friends/neighbors. Playdates rule because the kids entertain each other.
Communicate your status. I don't think I even identified the fact that I was an intovert until a couple of years ago. I broke it down to my husband that I was overwhelmed by constant stimulation in my environment. Kids, husbands, other parents, life. He now knows that when I get the deer-in-headlights look and say I need to take a minute, I have to exit stage left NOW. Also, make sure to communitcate your need for a "time out" to your kids. It helps them learn coping strategies for their own emotions.
Schedule regular activities that help you chill. I am on the hunt for a pottery class, jewlery making workshop or photography instuction. I want regular space to feel like I can grow personally without being a charming, engaging personality.
Escape 1-2 times per year. My girlfriends gave me a solo hotel room for my birthday this year at the Four Seasons. I binge watched Scandal, applied a mud mask, got a manicure and gorged myself on pad thai and bubbly. Breakfast? Room service so I didn't have to make painful small talk with random strangers. HEAVEN. Heaven.
Establish traditions. I love mixing it up as much if not more as the next person, but knowing what an event will entail and getting excited for events lets me live in my head a bit. I know what to expect, I am generally not disappointed, and I know who the players in the game are. My traditions include a holiday tea at the Drake, a couple's retreat in the spring, an summer trip to our friend's home in Wisconsin, a blow out St. Patty's Day party, and Friendsgiving.
How have you coped with parenting as an introvert? Any suggestions to help a sister out?
Cheers to learning about who you are and how to help yourself....so you can help those around you!