The Introverted Parent
I was just browsing for inspiration and came across an article that hit home with me. It highlights two perspectives on motherhood from two introverts, who have very different hardships with parenting. I needed to read this to know that I am not alone. Some introverted parents struggle with the physical aspects of raising a child, while for others the emotional aspects are more difficult. But one thing remains the same. It’s extremely hard for an introvert to be available to their child 24/7.
It’s hard being an introvert in this society and it’s even harder being an introverted parent. The most typical image of an introvert is that of a shy person but it goes deeper than that. Some of us are rather high functioning introverts and don’t necessarily appear shy to the average observer. But interactions drain us and we prefer to spend time by ourselves more often than most. Doesn’t mean we don’t have friends or we don’t spend time with them. We do. We just don’t want to be in contact with them every day.
If you ever wondered if you are an introvert, here is an article with some clues.
How does an introvert parent?
So how does parenting a small child work for an introvert? Well it’s tough. I love personal space. I also enjoy having conversations with my husband about anything and everything. And I enjoy the quiet moments I can cuddle up with my animals and just veg out. But from the moment a baby enters your world, your personal space is invaded. You breastfeed, you hold, you cuddle, you play, you baby-wear and so on and so on. The time with your partner becomes more fragmented and less fulfilling. If you’re introverted, you can suffer from not having enough time to recharge. In turn, you feel like you have less to give to the people around you.
I constantly read about how women who breastfeed or have small children don’t want intimacy with their husbands because they feel touched out and like they have nothing left to give. I didn’t understand this until I stopped breastfeeding. Turns out, the anger and irritation I felt was in large part because my personal space was constantly invaded by my son. I was very happy when someone wanted to hold him or spend time with him. It gave me a moment to just exist, by myself. I really was touched out. The physical closeness and neediness was overwhelming to me and was causing me a lot of grief.
Now that my son is a toddler, it’s gotten easier in some regards but it’s still very challenging. I may no longer be as touched out as I was before but I am still feeling drained a lot of the time. It doesn’t help that I’m pregnant and not feeling great physically. I can’t deny that it’s sweet that he wants mama whenever things are difficult for him, he is scared or upset, but it’s also so hard. If it was up to him, he’d have mama all the time. And that is just exhausting. There are days that I feel like I’m drowning and can’t wait for my husband to walk through the door, so I can push our toddler onto him and go hide in another room.
One solution that everyone tries to push on me is to enroll him in more activities and organize more play dates. This may work for the more extroverted parent but for an introvert, it’s not always a great solution. This still forces you to be around a lot of other people and it may be draining for you. It does help your child to socialize and get their energy out but it doesn’t help you solve your emotional overload.
How to take care of yourself when you’re an introverted parent
So how does an introverted parent make sure that their needs are met and they are able to give to their loved ones? For starters, self-care has to be a priority for an introvert. You have to make time for it, otherwise you will crash. Your self-care may look very different than self-care for an extroverted person. For an introvert, making sure you have time blocked off for a favorite solitary activity is very important. Do it daily.
You should also make sure you have help from your partner or another family member, so that you can have quiet time. It may mean that your partner takes the kids out for a shopping trip, playground excursion or just out to the back yard. You need space away from your children to be able to clear your mind and have resources for them when they need you.
Be kind to yourself and realize that being introverted in our world does make life more challenging. And it’s even more challenging being a parent because you have to available 24/7 to another human being. But when you take steps to take care of yourself this task becomes less daunting.
Quote of the day
Mental Health Tip of the Day
When you feel drained by the world around you, take a break. Let someone you trust take care of your baby, so you can relax. Escape into an activity that helps you reconnect with you and helps you be the best you can be.