To the introverted parent…

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My blog is typically about food, healthy eating and living, but there has been something on my mind that I thought I should share with some other mommies, maybe even daddies, guardians, caretakers etc.

In the last two or so years my fiancé and I have learned a lot about personality types. We have followed the Myers Briggs personality system and discovered so much about ourselves and others around us. I am an INFJ and my fiancé is an ENFJ.

When we became parents we were so curious what this information would mean about our parenting. We learned some interesting things about ourselves (I should say myself because my fiancé felt like he knew himself and his personality very well.)

I think the most surprising was to find out I was an introvert. Some of you who may know me might be going “oh yeah you totally are” or like me going “no way, you? An introvert?” It was weird because my biggest critique from many is that I’m too pushy, or that I over-react, I don’t like things unless they go my way, that I am too over sensitive (which I often was confused about) So to hear about my introverted self and my needs, how to recharge, it was like meeting myself for the first time.

Anyways, my point in bringing this up is, with parenting, being an introvert, it can be tricky. The first thing I want to say is, I love my son so much words can not explain, I love him more than I ever thought I could love. From a very young age I knew I wanted to be a parent and there were certain things I would not let happen to my child. I didn’t grow up in a very mentally healthy environment. I don’t feel as though my parents understood my mental needs, they didn’t check to make sure that I was learning to tackle the world in a way that would allow me to flourish.

Now that I am a parent, my main focus is my baby. I want to make sure he is being challenged, I want to make sure he feels heard and listened to, I want to make sure he knows that when he needs me I will be there EVERY TIME. All of this plus working through the day as much as I can, interacting with friends and family who need and want our attention, at the end of the day leaves me mentally exhausted. I only have one child I cannot even fathom the average day for those of you who have maybe three, four or more small children.

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So being introverted as I am, where is the recharge time? Part of what makes me, me, is that I need time to focus back in, I need time to withdraw from the stress and business of the world and collect myself. I do this most often while accomplishing something creative. Where is there time to just have a cup of coffee and read, maybe knit, draw a sketch or paint? I’ve been told by some parents… “oh you don’t get any time for that, good luck with that!” I’ve also been told by family… “welcome to parenthood it’s not about you anymore!” I guess maybe for some of them it’s not essential to their mental health to have that time and space. Or they could possibly be neglecting themselves and thinking that it’s normal.

Then I get to this point where I feel guilty, I think many of us do. There are families out there without food or shelter and I’m whining about down time? I think about those families all the time, now being a mommy, seeing a child in need makes me quiver with anguish thinking “what if that was my baby?” I donate to whatever I can and have even hosted events in the past to raise funds to help children with malaria and other ailments. These small things done by many, make a difference and we intend to do more as often as we can.

Nonetheless, we can’t let ourselves go without proper self care just because others are suffering because then who can we help? If you run yourself down can you help anyone else then? I believe in a small amount of self care comes ample opportunities to help others around you.

So being partners in life and parents raising a baby we have found ways to help one another recharge and have time to ourselves. My fiancé, he isn’t an introvert so he cares for his mental needs in a different way than I do. So we both have to be understating of the others needs and give each other ample time and means to recharge ourselves. Sometimes it’s even going out together. Finding a babysitter for a movie night or some dinner. Those things are so important.

Some days though, he comes home and I look at him and just say “I need some time.” Maybe it’s teething and the baby has been wanting to nurse and crying all day, maybe we went out to do errands and he was a mess the whole time fussing and crying. He gets it completely, either he will take the baby in for a shower so I can go have a break, a cup of coffee and some fresh air. Or maybe I just need to go out, take a drive, go to the grocery store alone (that’s a real treat for me) or poke around the book store by myself.

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I feel so grateful to have the partner that I do, and that he gets me. He knows that in order for me to lead a happy life I need that time. It’s not always that I need him to provide that time for me though, I find ways to get in a little quiet me time. During the day, nap time is a must. Many times during the bustling summer season I have to work during that time to ensure anything is getting done, but sometimes I just endulge, sit with a fresh cup of coffee, maybe look at Pinterest for a little while to get inspired, work on a project I’ve been trying to finish or start a new one.

I also find time in the evenings, many nights baby and daddy will fall asleep simultaneously at about 9pm leaving me sitting there like “what do I want to do?” I have stayed up way too late many a night trying to complete an artistic project that I started and although I’m bleary eyed in the morning it feels good to be having that me time and accomplishing my artistic projects.

I post many of my artistic accomplishments on my Etsy shop for others to enjoy, you can view them here. https://www.etsy.com/shop/LexaJohnsonPhoto

So to all parents out there, you’re doing great, keep doing your best and that’s all we can offer our kids, our best. To introverted parents out there, I understand. It’s so hard to be fulfilling that child or those children’s every need all day. You count, you matter and you deserve time for you. Don’t feel guilty leaving the kids with a trusted babysitter to go out or to even do something alone. Find ways to take care of you.

It’s not selfish if you don’t go to every play date invite, or if you don’t want to go to the big family outing on a week night because that’s the only time your significant other is home and you just want to watch a movie and relax. Not everyone is going to understand why, not everyone is like you, but if you’re caring for yourself then soon you will be back out enjoying their company and doing those things with happiness because you’re taking care of you too, you’re leaving time for your needs and everyone (including your kiddos) will be happier for it.

Until next time…. -Alexa-