Thursday, 8 September 2016

The Introvert Parent

Today I take a break from showcasing my outer world, to share a bit of my inner world with you.

You see, lately I've been struggling as a parent, and just yesterday I figured out why.  I thought I would share in hopes of helping others who may feel the same way, and as an outlet for me to process my own thoughts.  So really, it's like you get to be my therapist, listening in as I talk out what is going on in my life.  Lucky you! ;)

I haven't been feeling too happy with my parenting skills lately.  I love my kids so much.  I think they are so cute.  I would do (and DO) anything for them.  And yet, lately I've been finding myself getting annoyed, frustrated and outright angry when they are clingy, demanding, and do not listen.  This has manifested itself most in their sleeping in the past few weeks.  They push the boundaries, they delay going to bed, they jump and play and make noise when they are in bed, and all around they just do not sleep as much.  Now I know that is developmental and that they probably do not need as much sleep as we have been providing for them... but I NEED them to sleep.

And here is the reason why: I am an introverted parent!  Realizing this has been a huge "ah ha!" moment for me.  It explains so much!

I NEED my solo time to recharge.  I need quiet time to gather my thoughts.  I need space where no one is around and needing anything of me, and where I don't have to keep on "interacting" with my toddler kids.  This is so important for me... especially in this CRAZY stage of twin toddlers who are clingy, whiny, demanding and so. much. work.!!!  Other people may not see the necessity of this time, but for me, it is life or death.  Okay, not literally, but that's how it feels to me.  If I go through 12 hours (7am-7pm) with constant interaction with these two little beings who are constantly in my presence, in addition to the other people I come across in my day, the students we host and my husband...I am burnt out, exhausted, and have literally zero energy to invest in anything I enjoy doing.  I end the day feeling unhappy, frustrated, and like I have lost.  When the kids do nap and I have a few quiet hours to myself (even one hour is enough), I can make it through and somehow I feel successful in making it through my day.  Am I strange?

I came across someone else like me in this article.  She writes,
"My husband and I had our children in rapid-fire succession, adding four kids to our family within four years. I was overwhelmed and outnumbered. The volume of work it took to keep my household running was exhausting. But there was something more to it than physical fatigue: parenting was emotionally exhausting. I felt trapped. I lived for naptime and bedtime. 
She was given the advice:
“Kristen, you’re an introvert,” she said. “There is nothing wrong with you beyond the fact that you need time to yourself to refuel and recharge. You are running on empty. And you need to stop beating yourself up over the fact that you need time alone. It’s how you’re wired.
I never really realized how much this aspect of my personality impacts my parenting, but it really, really, really does.

Now I get the fun task of figuring out other ways to have my emotional needs met, even when my kids don't sleep.  It helps me to see that this is not a lack of my love or care for my children... it is about providing them with the best that I can give by taking care of myself at the same time.  As a counsellor myself, I know how important this is.

So, there you have my confession for the day.  Anyone else care to share an area you struggle with as a parent?  

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