When my youngest son entered kindergarten a few years ago, my husband turned to me and said, “Awesome! The kids are in school full-time now. You can add more work hours. See clients five days a week? Right, honey?”
I almost laughed in his face. Didn’t he realize that I had been waiting and waiting for the day when I could have the entire house to myself – no sound, no chaos, no mess-making-creatures-hanging-from-my-clothing – for a longer stretch than a two-hour nap time?
Well, I had. And no job or guilt-trip could wrench that newly-acquired, quiet day of free time away from me.
That is because I am a true blue introvert. Yes, I have plenty of friends. Yes, I love a raucous girl’s night out or an Instagram-worthy theme party. But when it comes to refueling my gas tanks, I really do crave quiet, alone time. What I do with that time doesn’t really matter. Sometimes I clean house. Sometimes I write. Sometimes, I sit in my pajamas, sipping freshly-microwaved coffee and listening to NPR.
When I talk to other moms about self-care and recharging their batteries, the conversation almost always goes to the question of whether they are an extrovert (E), an introvert (I) or something in between. My extroverted friends and clients can’t wait for school to get back in session so they can meet their squad for lunch and sip on congratulatory margaritas. I, on the other hand, can’t wait for school to start so I can sit in silence for 10 minutes before I attack the ten loads of laundry. For me, housework and catching up on e-mail, in solitude, truly feels like self-care.
Of course, there are times when I organize an impromptu dinner date with the ladies. And, there are times when my more extroverted friends crave a little alone time. My suggestion is to customize your self-care in a way that feels restorative to you. Don't feel pressured by anyone, or even society, to recharge your batteries in a certain way.
It might look like going to a Crossfit session, or binge watching Netflix, or cleaning out the garage. Take a good hard look at what makes you tick and what makes you smile. And then do more of that! Without the guilt. If you work full-time, and you think you are an introvert, be sure to find pockets of alone time wherever you can. You may absolutely adore your kids. And yet, you may squeal with delight when they walk out the door in the morning. And that is perfectly ok. When they walk back in each afternoon, you will be better equipped to mindfully parent if you’ve devoted time to your own special brand of self-care during the day.