Self-Care for the Introverted Parent
My boys are my greatest accomplishment. I remember before I had my first, I would imagine little versions of myself lounging around, listening to quiet acoustic music, devouring books as sustenance.
I imagined them wide eyed & thoughtful.
I couldn’t wait to pour into them everything that I held close to my heart. There were so many things I wanted to teach them… so many conversations I couldn’t wait to have.
I’d worked with children my whole life, at one point, believing I would eventually obtain my degree in Early Childhood Education. I knew how kids worked. I knew how much attention and effort they required. What I didn’t realize, however, was how much different it is once you have your own.
Motherhood is challenging for everyone, and I believe even more so for introverts. When Parker was born, I barely had time to complete a thought. He came trumpeting into my life: dirt, snails, puppy dog tails and the like. He needed SO much from me all at once, and there was no one qualified enough in either of our eyes to step in and give me a break.
During this time, we lived in a state that was unfamiliar to me. My family was over 1,000 miles away. We had an amazing support system through our church, but as an extremely anxious momma, I had a really difficult time accepting help from anyone.
So for the first 2 years of his life, he was glued to my side.
This left very little room for “recharging” my introvert battery. I was physically and emotionally exhausted.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve never EVER resented or regretted becoming a mother. Without my boys, I’d be a ship without a lighthouse. It’s just that children demand SO much, and as introverts, it’s much easier for us to be drained dry by their demands.
Not only does this affect our personal well-being, but it can affect our children as well. When we’re exhausted, we have less patience, & we are less likely to engage and be intentional with our kids.
Recharging isn’t optional for introverts, and especially not the introverted parent.
It’s an absolute necessity.
I always feel like I’m somehow cheating my kids. Like they’d be better off with some social butterfly-extroverted-supermom who packs their daily schedule with play-dates, outings and activities.
I see my extroverted friends with their kiddos doing all sorts of things, and my boys and I are lucky to have maybe one outside-of-the-house activity a week.
Thankfully, I’ve been reminded by close friends (I'm looking at you, Kris) that I am my children’s mom for a reason.
I know my boys didn’t just coincidentally fall into my lap. As someone who struggled for years with infertility and loss, I believe strongly that God gave me my boys at the very specific time that He did, for very specific reasons.
I am their mom for a reason.
YOU are your children’s parent for a reason.
They don’t need some other extroverted supermom.
They need you, and only you, at your very best.
YOU are their supermom/parent.
Can we all do better as parents? Of course. There is always room to improve. However, the idea that you are somehow not good enough because you are an introvert, or socially anxious, is just not true.
Give your kids the very best of you by taking care of yourself.
Tell them every day that you love them.
These are the ONLY things that matter. (and, you know, nourishment and whatnot) :-P
How to Balance
I need you to hear what I am about to tell you…
I am talking to YOU introverted mom/dad..
Are you listening?
It is OK to tell people no.
As someone who is a self-diagnosed people pleaser, trust me when I say, I know this can be difficult.
However, I decided a long time ago that I have two priorities:
1.) My kids.
2.) My sanity.
I can not be everything to everyone. Nether can you.
This does not mean I constantly blow people off or hide away like a hermit. There are times I need/want to get out and do things with people who mean a lot to me. Sometimes, I will push myself and go to an event simply because I love the person who invited me and I want to “show up” for them.
A lot of the time, though, I need evenings and weekends to recharge from giving all of myself and my energy to my kids. That’s how I’m able to be the very best version of myself.
"No" doesn’t need a drawn out explanation. I usually say, “This week was rough and I need tonight/this weekend to recover. Thanks for the invite, though!”
The people who know you and know your heart will understand.
To Sum Up
· Finding a good balance as an introverted parent is difficult, but necessary.
· It’s important to take care of yourself and make sure you’re at your best so that you can give the best to your little ones.
· If you love them, and you’re doing your best, you are NOT cheating your kids.
· It’s OK to be picky with your outings and what you choose to say “yes” to.
And above all else, you are enough for your kids. <3