Being an Introverted Parent
The last two days have been particularly challenging for me as a mother. I have not felt like being around people, and just want some time to myself to relax and think. My patience has been tried, my tolerance for noise and activity has been low, and I've had to work on my own ability to parent when I just don't feel like being much of one.
This is nothing new to me or our household. You see, I'm an introvert. We just spent 3 days with a house full of company. While I love that time with family and friends, I just want to wall myself up in the house and not do anything “social” for days after a particularly extroverted undertaking. That's not exactly possible as a parent, especially not with three active boys underfoot.
Being an attachment parent and an introvert is a challenge, but it's certainly doable. It takes frequent reflection on my part, learning how to balance what I give to my children, and how to recharge my own self. And for me personally, it has taken a great deal of partnership with my spouse, who has bonded just as deeply with our sons as I have, and is willing to step in as co-parent when I am feeling overwhelmed.
One of the most important parenting lessons I have learned was through API's eighth principle: balance. Not purely that I needed to strive for balance, but that I didn't need to feel guilty for making personal decisions to nurture that balance. Without balance, I don't think that any of the other principles of attachment parenting could stand.
For me, that balance comes first with taking time out for myself. Time to relax, reflect, and just be. Whether it's a 30 minute walk in the park, or a cup of tea in a quiet room while dinner is cooking. I need solitude.
But, it also comes through giving my children the time and attention they need, before they begin acting out just to get my attention. Even just 20 minutes here and there throughout the day to play with them, talk to them, read to them, and just be with them, fills their tanks enough so that I can get some much needed down time. They are more willing to give me what I need, when I have given them what they need.
When all of our tanks are feeling empty, I try to come up with activities that give my kids what they need, while still allowing me to recharge from over-stimulation: A cuddle fest on the couch, with a big bowl of homemade popcorn and sliced apples, and a family movie; Or, a trip to a local park that is less frequented by the public, where the kids can roam free and I can sit and relax.
When we all feel as if we are getting what we need from each other, is when our bond is the strongest.