Sunday, January 4, 2015

Finding the Energy To Cope

There has been an ongoing challenge with Ayden for his whole little life. The child LOVES to be with me. Right by my side and all up in everything that I am doing. As I am writing this down I am thinking, "How wonderful!  It's great that he enjoys my company and likes to be involved with household tasks and my interests."  The reality, however, is much different. As I have stated many times here on this blog, I am an introvert. I need QUIET alone time in order to recharge, play nice, and be on my best behavior. I need space to have thoughts and reflect on them. Pulling me away from my thoughts and tasks too many times is a sure fire way to make me irritable. Nap time usually gives me an adequate mid-day recharge so I try to plan our whole day around being home for that. For the most part, I make it work. There are days, though, where if I had a nickle for how many times I think, "I just need some SPACE!" we'd be rich and David could quit his job.  Being an introverted mama to an extroverted child is a challenge in and of itself, aside from the typical child rearing challenges that parents face. I have been giving this issue much thought for months and then I get to this chapter in my current parental growth book:

It was everything I needed right there in black and white. So I am not crazy and I am not alone. This dynamic really is a thing. There are plenty of families with a mix of introverts and extroverts who are dealing with the same potentially draining parent-child relationships as me!  This chapter helped me understand the dynamic between Ayden and myself. It explained why he so rarely goes off on his own to keep himself occupied and it explained why some days are more rough than others. 

Ayden needs external input in order to recharge. During all of our Christmas and New Year festivities, David and I were surprised at how few meltdowns Ayden had even though our schedule was off and he was riding on a pretty big sugar roller coaster. The reason is as simple as the fact that all of the extended family time and cousin play was recharging his little batteries; making him a little energizer bunny and giving him the energy to hold himself together. He was thriving in the midst of all of the hustle and bustle. I, on the other hand, was completely drained and exhausted. Perk #683,793,782 of havig a nursin baby: introverted mama has a very legetimate excuse to hide away in a dark and quiet room in the middle of a party. But, I digress..

What I took away from this chapter today was that I have to take the time to let Ayden pull from my energy to renew his own during the day. I haven't quite figured out exactly what will work best so I'm going to do a little bit of experimentation over the next few weeks. Using a timer to help me make sure I make myself available to him for at least 15 minutes every hour? Inviting him to do everything with me all day long? 

On the other hand, I still do not want him to require me for entertainment. He needs to learn how to be by himself and to keep himself occupied. Introverts and extroverts alike need space and a chance to have their own thoughts and form their own opinions. I read another very interesting article recently that talked about how children have to first experience bordem before they can truly dive into their imaginations.

 As good as it will be to make myself available to him more, it will still be important for me to tell him he has to play by himself. 

I want to take care that we don't completely deplete myself of energy, thus making me an irritable and cranky mama, while making sure Ayden is recharged. And that's not even taking into account the rest of the living creatures in our household, extroverted hubby included, who also need me. To be honest, it can be a little overwhelming to think about. 

I sure wish there was a right and wrong here, though I know there isn't. Ayden is so unique, as all children are, and we just have to find his balance in this area, while maintaining a balance of our own. All I can say is, challenge accepted. 

Reading articles and books to help me better understand myself, my spouse and my children is an invaluable pastime. It really does make life richer because knowledge is power and understanding is half the battle. I am only half way through this book but I highly recommend Raising Your Spirited Child to any parents who are havig a challenging time with a child. It helps put a positive spin on things and gives you some tools for strengthening your relationship with your children and only good can come from that. 

All of this makes me wonder what type of  personality this little one will have...

(sorry it's upside down.)

Introvert like his mama or extravert like his brother and daddy.

Here is the house progress for the day!

Anyone else in this boat with me?  Do share!


Flashback!  Here's what we were up to one year ago today: "Plant A Tree Or Three"
And two years ago today: "Moving Forward"

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  1. Same here with me and my 2 year old son. I definitely need quiet time every day and like you it's usually during his nap time but sometimes that's just not enough. I've found though thanks to my husbands recommendation that just getting out of the house a couple hours a week to just have "me time" does wonders for me! Usually it's just walking around Target with a Starbucks coffee, but it really recharges me and gives me time to miss my children. Kind of the "absence makes the heart grow fonder" approach lol I like your idea of giving them undivided attention 15 minutes every hour because I think that would help my son as well. I'm learning that by taking a little time to take care of myself benefits everyone.

  2. I agree with Hannah. I am like you, Sarah. I am an introvert and my 19 month old daughter is an extrovert. My daughter still nurses and enjoys it. She does not want to stop at all and even though I am drained from her nursing often all day and about 3 times in middle of night, I am allowing her to choose when she wants to stop. When she sees me throughout day and becomes bored (she's an only child) she chooses to nurse. If I reject her, she has meltdown. She becomes bored often and therefore chooses to occupy herself with nursing. I feel I do need my space and alone time or I become irritable as well. She doesn't like to entertain herself always and does rely on me at times for entertainment. Some days are better then others. On days I feel overwhelmed, putting the baby channel on tv really helps me gather my thoughts.

  3. I'm with you as an introverted Mama. Having constant demands and little space has been one of my struggles into motherhood. My husband is an introvert as well, and so finding time to recharge ourselves in the midst of raising a child (and soon to be two children) is challenging. Somewhere there's a balance.

    I also find books to be very educational and encouraging. I'd love to know what's on your bookshelf, particularly on parenting. Would you mind sharing sometime? :)

  4. I have "attachment parented" my almost 2 year old, and guess what he is attached completely to me! this can be really draining when you need some alone time. I understand completely

  5. Reminded me of this Reddit Parenting discussion from the other day