Introvert

January 1, 2018

Introvert


Recently I was invited to speak on a podcast about being a stay-at-home dad. It was super fun and I encourage you to check it out at that link, or below!

In the conversation, the concept of introversion/extroversion came up, and how that relates to being a stay-at-home dad. I said it was good, because in my 2+ years of doing it, I have spent a lot of time by myself or with only Ellie, much of it being when she could not speak in sentences. I remember telling Katie that I could really spend about two full days at home without leaving (save a walk to 7-11 for coffee or a trip to the park) and still be content. By the end of that second day though, I needed to get out. Katie, on the other hand, being an extrovert, could barely make it a day before needing some interpersonal interaction. As I have frequented parks and playgrounds, I have noticed that women tend to be alike in this (with exceptions, of course), often congregating at parks, making play-dates, etc. But without that intentional community-building, stay-at-home life can be quite solitary. As a result, I commented in the aforementioned podcast that being an introvert can be a very good thing in my case.



Lately, however, I have been struggling with my introversion, as I am rarely ever alone! The best definition of introversion that I have been told, is that an introvert recharges when alone, while an extrovert recharges when around other people. This certainly matches my experience, and so things like nap time, or letting Katie go out after Ellie went to bed have helped fulfill this need in the past. I would pour a nice scotch and whip out the computer for a good writing session, or maybe just watch Gotham. Either way, she would come home from a game night with friends and we would both feel rested and recharged.

At this point in our children's ages (2 and 3), I think that I have developed an expectancy that they should be old enough to play together, or even alone at times. Both have showed these tendencies, and when they do, it is kind of nice as I can catch up on things, maybe write a blog or pay some bills. However, these restful times are still the minority of our day, if they happen at all, and so I am finding myself rather spent when Ellie is hanging on my leg and wanting to play, even when Waverly is napping. Like a good introspective person, I was asking myself why I have been so stressed when all Ellie wants to do is hang out with me -- I should be flattered and heart-warmed! Two things occurred to me: first, Ellie is only 3 and friends are not coming over to knock on our door yet, asking if she can "come out and play." (Kids will likely text that request instead of walking over by the time she reaches that age anyway, sadly...) Katie, Waverly and I are her best friends, and so naturally she is going to want to hang with us all the time (Ellie is definitely an extrovert, like her mother). The second thing that occurred to me is what this whole post is about: I am an introvert and without my "recharge time," I will naturally become exasperated.

Does this look like a rested father to you?

And so the solution is also two-fold: first, exercise patience with my little ones. After all, they just want to spend time together, which is something I will long for some day. Second, I need to be more vocal about my needs to be alone. Sometimes it is easy as a parent to just give and give and give, because why not? That's what we're here for. We are grown ups and we can deal with a little stress and exhaustion if it means sacrificing for our families. However, this just isn't healthy, and at these levels of fatigue, I am simply not the best parent I can be. Though for folks like me, there is a certain level of guilt associated with these requests, it is okay to ask for time alone; for a surf or a skate session, or maybe to sit in a back room and read a book.

So if you are an introvert like me, I want to encourage you to be vocal! The request for solitude may just make you a better parent in the end.

2 comments :

  1. Getting much needed recharge time is essential for any parrent. Maybe an afternoon babysitter every once in a while would be a good solution? Y'all begin to develop a relationship with a reliable and responsible babysitter, and you get your skate sesh or writing time.

    Although the guilt is probably unavoidable (I have it and I only have a dog!), alone time is crutial and everyone needs it! :)

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    1. Are you offering your babysitting services?!? haha. Thanks for reading Rach

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