Notes from an Introvert Mom
When I tell people that I'm an introvert, they give me this LOOK, the kind of look like I'm telling them a bold-faced lie.
Here's the thing,
Introversion is not about being anti-social
It's not even about being shy (although some of us can be)
It's more about ENERGY and how we feel after sensory stimulation. For me, high levels of social interaction (i.e parties, networking events, public speaking, a full day at work) need to be followed by some quiet time.
Society seems to tell us that there's something "wrong" with being an introvert. I strongly disagree, but there are aspects of being an introvert MOM that I find difficult - things that I'm still working on, and will probably ALWAYS be working on.
One of my biggest personality challenges is how I feel when I transition from one thing to the next.
In my "ideal" world, I need some quiet time in between activities, to process what's going on around me and to prepare for the next thing.
One of my biggest transition times has always been the hour (or so) after work, when I transition from the office to home. It can feel overwhelming at times.
Even before I had kids, I wanted downtime when I came home from my busy day-job at a local non-profit organization. I would take 20 minutes or half an hour to unwind, think, process, maybe drink a cup of tea, maybe go for a walk.
They were uninterrupted moments that made a HUGE different to how I think and feel.
For anyone who doesn't experience this need, there is a both an internal and external aspect of this process. I can literally feel my body changing and relaxing during this time. My mind slows. If I have the beginnings of a headache, it usually goes away.
Enter children one and two.
I currently have a 5 year old and a 1 year old.
That hour after we get home from work is time for playing, supervising and supper prep. It is also usually a time when both kids get cranky, whiny and upset (commonly known in parenting circles as, the "witching hour").
We haven't even added homework into the mix yet (help!)
My partner shares all of our responsibilities - one of us cooks, and one of us "parents".
It often feels like there is NO TIME for me to have my much-needed downtime.
This has been one of my biggest struggles as a parent.
So, how do I find the quiet moments?
1. I recognize how I FEEL when I need a parenting break, and I take one (even if it's just for 5 minutes)
2. I exercise during my workday (my lunch break or coffee break), no excuses. This helps me keep my stress levels down during the day, and usually feeling less of a need for "downtime" right afterward (there are always exceptions!)
3. I change out of my work clothes when I get home into something less formal and more comfortable. This gives me a few moments to myself and helps me move from one thing to the next. I also often change from contacts to glasses during this time
4. I get outside. This isn't always possible - we live in a COLD climate, but when possible, I walk to pick up my daughter (5 minutes), we walk home. Maybe we walk to the mailbox (I've written about that here). It helps with the transition time between one thing and the next.
5. I talk to my kids about my need for quiet time. They see and hear it. I tell them, "it's important for Mommy to be alone for a few minutes, I will be back soon". It helps them understand my personality and also teaches them patience.
6. I go to yoga class one evening a week. religiously. It's my "me" time and it's very important to me. I treasure my quiet time there and always come home feeling refreshed and rejuvenated.
7. I shift perspective. I remember that if I can't find a quiet moment NOW, I just need to hold on, and there will be one SOON. I remember to focus on what matters most, and that these moments might be the only quality time that I have with them today. These moments are important. These moments are real. They are hardly ever perfect, but they are mine.
P.S. Are you familiar with Susan Cain's work at the Quiet Revolution? (great read!) Her TED Talk is also well worth your time to watch.