When a couple gives birth, it changes your lives. Now you have another life to take care of. Becoming a parent is one of the best feelings in the world. As parents, taking good care of our kids is top on your list. Yet, it is barely as enjoyable or as easy as we make it look. Parenting involves a lot of giving, and getting out of our comfort zone.
I love my child, no doubt. Everyday I hear him playing with his toys, happily watching a cartoon and he most times calls out to me to play with him (he’s an only child). Sometimes, for some reason, instead of leaping out to join in the mutual adoration and laughter, I just let out a big sigh, and wish I would not have to do it.
This is an unpopular position for a loving young mother to find herself in. However, for some of us, parenting is a bit more challenging. My friends would call me a selective introvert, but I did not know how much it would impact my parenting.
Here’s the thing about being an introvert. We are not necessarily shy, socially awkward or nerds. There is no simple stereotype. Sometimes I think no one truly knows me, because I behave very differently around people, than I would by myself. What we can agree on, however, is that we have slightly different brains than our extroverted opposites.
Introvert’s brains also have a higher level of activity than others. This means that introverts tend to limit input from their environment. They may seek to avoid crowds (shopping with a toddler) or high-adrenaline situations (playing with toddlers), as their brains are already pretty well activated. So, when you add an excitable child to a brain that requires solitude and is easily overwhelmed, it ends up being challenging.
I have compiled 5 hacks that i discovered in my motherhood journey and that have found to work. While you do not have to pretend or change who you are, be careful that your actions do not make you and your child miss out on critical bonding time.
1. Wake up earlier
In my almost 5 years of parenting, I have noticed that I tend to feel more overwhelmed and grumpy if my son woke up before me and I had to wake up because of it. When I begun waking up earlier than everyone in the house, I realized that that extra 30 minutes to 1 hour of time alone was a peaceful moment of meditation and introspection.
By the time the kids are waking up, you will have had some peaceful time alone, and you won’t feel overwhelmed.
2. Host a play date
It may seem exhausting, but hosting a play date might make your day less stressful. If your kids fall on the more extroverted end of the spectrum, it is important to acknowledge that they need social interaction as much as you need alone time. Inviting friends over takes pressure off you as the kids will mostly entertain each other. Believe me, all that playtime will wear your kids out, and they will be ready to sleep and relax later.
3. Schedule independent quiet play
When my son outgrew nap time, (that didn’t last long) I felt bothered. He may not have needed to rest, but I certainly did. That is when I began to schedule a daily hour of independent quiet play.
I know in our African setting this might be a challenge, (with work and all) but I did direct him to play quietly in his play area in the house. I realized that by doing this, my son was able to learn to appreciate solitude and enjoy his own company, which is important for raising creative and confident kids.
4. Catch a break and do not be too hard on yourself
Working moms, stay-at-home moms, every parent needs a break sometimes. Do not be embarrassed to ask for help either. If you have a partner, parent, or babysitter who can help, take advantage.
When my child got older, I started taking some time off, especially on weekends, to recharge and find myself. It is important to always remind yourself of the person you were before you became a parent. Take solo trips, connect with friends and grow yourself. Make sure you can define yourself outside of being a parent.
5. Implement a consistent bedtime routine
A regular bed time is a life saver for exhausted parents. After a while, your children adapt to the program and automatically go to bed at around that time.
When they sleep you have the chance to catch up on that movie you like, get that much needed sleep, work on that project, or sip on some wine. Or tea!
Please keep in mind that taking a little time for yourself throughout the day is not selfish, it is self-care. For an introvert, or someone dealing with anxiety, alone time is a necessity. These small breaks will likely make you a more energetic and patient parent.