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As an introverted mom, it’s hard to find time for self care with kids. Not only do we struggle with the constant chaos of motherhood but also the need to disconnect from everything to recharge. Even going to the bathroom for a few moments of peace is met with knocks on the door or, in my case, watchful eyes. Sometimes I feel like I’m walking in a foggy tunnel of exhaustion where being a mother is all that matters.
Since becoming a mother, I’ve changed. I don’t mean in the “I’m a mother now so my kids are my life” kind of way. While this is true, the very core of who I am has been altered. In my younger days, I was very interested in natural healing, new age thinking, connecting with nature, reading fantasy novels (I even wrote a first draft of my own novel) and finding the joy in a single moment (my mantra was “in this moment I am happy”). Now, I’ve lost the desire and ability to enjoy many of the things I used to. Is this because of postpartum depression? Possibly. Is this because my marriage has been utterly shaken? Partially. Whatever the cause, there’s a part of me missing, an integral part of my soul that just can’t connect with the old me.
The very root of this change is because my needs as an introvert have taken a complete back seat to the needs of my family. If I get overwhelmed, I can’t just go read a book or take a hot bath for self care. Tiny hands and eyes will be there. Everywhere I go, everything I do is watched, commented on and just plain intruded upon. Don’t get me wrong, I love being a mother. I wouldn’t change it for anything. But, being a mom is far more consuming than I ever thought possible.
Maybe some day when my kids are older and don’t need me as much (a bitter-sweet thought), I can discover a little more about who I was and who I am now. But every single day I find it harder to connect with the person I was before having kids. Maybe this is due to 3+ years of sleep deprivation. Maybe this is due to marital issues brought to the front as priorities change with kids. Maybe this is due to just getting older. Who knows?
When it comes to self care, I’ll be honest: I SUCK at it. I’ve never been good at taking care of myself. But throw in a couple of kids that need me to take care of them full time, and my ability to remember myself becomes almost non-existent.
And don’t forget I’m a wife. I also have a husband to support. By the time he gets home from work (he’s gone from 8am to 6-7pm), I am exhausted. But that ultimately doesn’t matter most nights, because there’s a relationship to maintain and another person who wants and needs to feel loved. So I get a little help with the kids, they go to sleep an hour later, and then I need to go into wife mode. We have maybe an hour a day where we aren’t actively parents (or working) before we need to go to sleep and start it all over again.
With a toddler in need of socializing to learn how to get along with other kids, I make sure to take him to play dates. As a socially awkward person, I find these to be very challenging though they are getting easier to handle. Since we moved in December, I lost my “tribe” due to travel distance competing with traffic and nap times. I’ve had to try to form new mom friends in the area all over again, something all introverts will understand is a huge undertaking.
I’ve also always been sensitive to noise, struggling in settings like bars with a constant hum of voices, music and clinking glasses. Now with the unending chatter, crying, tantrums, giggles, electric toys and screens, the need to disconnect has become an even greater need thats harder to fulfill.
Without the ability or time to recharge, I’m quicker to anger, I put up with less “BS,” I have less patience (in general) and a lot of the time I am fighting not to cry by the end of the day. There are little moments when both the kids are sleeping or they are both occupied with toys that I can just sit and breath (or blog about all of this apparently).
Although it’s challenging for my husband, the weekends are the times when I can have a little more time to myself (though I always have the baby with me since I’m his food and he only naps on me currently). He desperately wants some family time when all I want to do is sit and relax for a change. It has caused (and I’m sure will continue to cause) issues in my marriage. Although he is also an introvert, he loves to do family outings on the two days a week it’s possible. However, I know these outings are generally a lot more work than we want them to be (my eldest is 3 and loves to run as far away from us as possible, and is a very opinionated “threenager” right now). But what is the “right” solution for squeezing in what I need? How do I get time when there is none?
My husband calls it weird and strange, but there is one thing I do that he just doesn’t understand: I take what I call laps. If my husband is home to watch the kids, I grab my purse and take a drive for about 10 minutes. Sometimes I’ll take a lap because there is a free moment when both kids are happy and distracted, a major tantrum from my son sent my nerve endings into overdrive, a fight with my husband happened or was on its way, or if I just want a moment in the quiet to myself. Disconnecting from the chaos is very hard for me in my desire to be a good mom and an active wife. So I physically move myself away for alone time. Just 10 minutes. It’s not a lot, but sometimes it’s enough to perk me up to handle it all a little more clear headed.
There are a few things I’m now doing that seem like no-brainers, but these help me remember I am a person not just a mom:
- Get dressed like you are leaving the house every day: I used to wear my pjs all day. Getting dressed really makes you carry yourself different, like your day is full of possibilities.
- Take a shower regularly: I am lucky that I don’t have oily skin and I can get by on one to two showers a week (unless I do something that makes me need a shower). Taking a shower more regularly makes me feel more human (even if little eyes are watching).
- Remind yourself you are normal: there are tons of introverts out there that are moms. What you/we are feeling is not new, strange or weird. You can absolutely love your kids and being a mom and still feel overwhelmed and need to recharge.
But, all of this, the craziness, the lack of sleep, the hardship on my need for alone time, the challenges in my marriage. All of it. Worth it for my boys. They are the greatest thing that has ever happened to me. The finest possible outcome to my life. They bring wonder, magic, imagination and joy like I never thought possible. It’s. ALL. Worth it.
If you are an introverted mom like me, you understand the struggle: needing alone time but not being able to get it (especially in the middle of the day). Everybody has different ways they can recharge, and I hope you find your quiet time alone to do so. If you have any advice for your fellow introverted moms, please leave them in the comments.