Most people don’t believe me when I say I’m an introvert. I get it; I’m social, I’m outgoing, I enjoy being around people and spending time with my friends. But I’ll let you in on a little secret…it all exhausts me. While the idea of an action-packed, activity-filled weekend with family and friends is exciting to me, it also leaves me feeling like I need to spend some time in sweats under a blanket with a book to recover. Do you know the Facebook feed Sweatpants and Coffee? Yeah, I could’ve written that. I wasn’t always this introverted. There was a time when my Meyers-Briggs even started with an E. I’m really not sure when that changed. Marriage? Kids? Stressful job? Who knows. But I do know one thing, Kitten is anything but an introvert.
Kitten has always had a love of adventure and excitement. She walked early, climbed before she could walk, and has never let anything stand in her way. She has more charisma than almost anyone I’ve ever met. Seriously. Everyone who meets her falls in love. People are naturally drawn to her, and she to them. She also in one of the most empathetic people I know. She talks, a lot. She moves, a lot. She wants to be actively engaged in everything she experiences.
Kitten loves being around people. All.the.time. This may be part of the reason why she still needs a late night (early morning?) snuggle on the regular. She just needs the proximity. My grandmother once described her as someone who would always take a risk as long as she knew someone she loved was standing by. That is a completely accurate description of her. So as you can guess, parenting her as an introvert presents a bit of a challenge.
The two of us are home together for much of the day as she is in preschool four days per week for two and a half hours. We have from about 12 to 3 everyday just the two of us. While I love this time with her and it’s one of the main reasons I am home this year, I can’t help but feel drained at times by the constant daily attention. Just yesterday I told her I needed some alone time and her response was “but I need some people time.” One of her favorite phrases is “I just want to be with you.” And she does. She doesn’t even need to be doing anything with you, just as long as you’re there. How can you say no to that?
So what’s an introverted mom to do? Well for starters I try to squeeze as much alone time into my mornings as I can. I often do my running during preschool time or sometimes I just read or watch a show uninterrupted. I tend to do errands with her in the afternoon which I didn’t think she liked but I bought something recently without her and she was disappointed. I’ve also learned to incorporate her into household tasks. I discovered she likes to vacuum and because she loves math it is her job to count and restock the toilet paper in all the bathrooms. We have a structure and routine to our day and week that helps me, but is good for her too. When the weather is nice we try to go to the park, but Kitten also loves library visits so we make that a regular occurrence too. I have learned to embrace all things Lego, Shopkins, doll, puzzle, game in our afternoons and if all else fails: dance party! I have also been working with her on playing independently a little bit everyday. This usually only lasts about 20 minutes, but it’s enough for me to recharge and helps her develop her independent skills. Although I will admit there are some days when her sister and father come home where I escape upstairs or outside to get some more alone time. I stumbled on this blog post and thought a lot of the insights were spot on. I was also happy to see that I was doing most of the suggested things.
Now that she is getting older I think that Kitten is getting to understand this dynamic a little bit more. She is starting to accept that she is the only one in the family that wants to Go! Go! Go! and that the rest of us are happy just chilling. In turn, she is helping the rest of us embrace our adventurous sides too and be willing to explore with her. Hopefully as she grows older we will continue to find the right balance between sweatpants and coffee and all the people all the time.