Lately I’ve been feeling burned out even after taking time off over the summer to spend with my kids full time and travel. At first I chalked it up to working too much and having too many side projects. But while spending some time alone last week, I realized that I wasn’t burned out because I’d been working too much; I’d been feeling burned out because I have virtually no alone time. We live in the middle of a resort so there are staff and guests around 24/7, I don’t have any days off, and my kids are homeschooled. That translates into me interacting with people all day every day, and as an introvert alone time is an absolute necessity to recharge my batteries.
Extroverts get energy from being around other people while introverts get energy from being alone. At the end of a busy day talking to people all day long, I’m emotionally and physically drained. My kids have a very late bedtime, and the last thing I want to do is deal with their bedtime shenanigans because by that point I’m completely depleted, and I take it personally when my kids won’t listen and go to bed. I hate that I get so frustrated with them when it isn’t really their fault. I wondered why I got mad at the kids so much more often than Mr. Bee. Was he just way more patient than I was when it came to parenting? I finally realized that I need way more alone time to function than he does, and it was an aha moment.
I prefer to do most things alone — shopping, running errands, cleaning, etc. I don’t mind eating at restaurants, watching movies and traveling by myself. I not only crave alone time, I need it. But in the daily grind, it can be hard to carve out time for myself when I prioritize family, work, friends, pets, the household instead. In New York, my kids were in school most of the day and I worked at home alone, so I had lots of time to myself, even if that time was spent working. Work was a welcome respite from parenting, which always required a lot of energy for me, and it oftentimes caused me guilt because I wasn’t enjoying it more.
I now believe that introverts need some form of alone time every single day. When I spend time away from my kids, I don’t feel a single ounce of guilt anymore because I know that I’ll come back and be a much better mom. It’s hard for busy parents to find even a little bit of alone time everyday, but these are some of the ways I recharge my batteries in my daily life:
1) Wake up early. This is difficult for me as I’ve always been a night owl. But whenever I wake up early, take my dogs for a walk on the beach, and enjoy a cup of coffee, it sets a relaxing tone for the entire day.
2) Get a pet. Yes it’s another responsibility, but pets add so much to my life. I attribute them to greatly reducing my anxiety and I think every introvert needs a pet! They don’t talk and they love you unconditionally.
3) Go for a walk. Everyone always feels better when they’re in nature, even if you’re not alone.
4) Screentime. We don’t have a tv and the kids are only allowed to play games on their ipads on the weekends. My kids are older and they’re great at independent play, but I always use that time to work. If you need a 30 minute recharge and screentime is the answer, do it.
5) Have your spouse take the kids while you clean the house. This may not sound like a lot of fun, but it seriously recharges my batteries to accomplish something (cleaning the house) and doing it alone. Mr. Bee would much rather play with the kids than do chores so it’s a win-win.
Fellow introverts — how do you recharge your batteries as a busy parent?