You’re a good parent. You’re an involved parent. You have high expectations of yourself. Those are all great qualities about you. But how often are you experiencing that burn-out feeling?
Moms and dads, do you know what feeds your soul? Without stopping to think, can you name three activities that relax you and recharge your energy supply? If you didn’t do well on that little test then I’m here to encourage you to reclaim who you are – in addition to being a parent.
A Random Moment that Reminded Me of You Parents
Tonight I’m sitting in a quiet house. I’m the only one home. For dinner, I prepared myself some junky comfort food – my favorite brand of frozen lasagne and a soda. (Yeah, I know. I don’t eat this way all the time.) There’s no music playing, no television on (mine only turns on when my husband or kids are home.) All I hear is the hum of the refrigerator and the clicking of my laptop keys. I’m super relaxed! This is fuel for my introvert self. This same scene might be torture for someone else, but I know it makes me happy.
I wasn’t even planning on working tonight – as in I wasn’t planning on writing this post. I was planning on completely relaxing while I have the house to myself. But I noticed such a difference in myself, I felt inspired to write this message to you- get to know yourself better – so you can have more moments of relaxation too.
How Well Do You Know Yourself?
Odds are that if you’re a parent, you focus your thoughts on your kids more than yourself. What do your kids need? What changes are your kids struggling with? What would help you child become a better person? What can you cook for dinner that your kids will eat?
I’d like to suggest to you that you start paying more attention to yourself. Just a little. If you’re reading my blog, my bet is that you’re not the kind of parent who will become self-absorbed, so I’m not worried at all about you turning into a slacker parent. And if you’re concerned about what your neighbors or friends might think, just don’t mention that you’re trying to be a better parent by focusing on yourself a little.
I’d like for you to get to know yourself better so you’ll be able to choose some effective self-care strategies in the future. You know, the next time a random moment arises that you get 30 minutes to yourself and you don’t even know what to do with it.
Are You an Introvert or an Extrovert?
If you don’t know the answer to the question above, there’s a easy way to find out. Do you feel recharged from being around people or from being alone? If you get recharged from being around people, you’re most likely an extrovert. If you feel relaxed and calmer after being alone, then you’re an introvert. This is a simple but important step in knowing yourself and discovering what will truly refuel you and give you more energy.
If you’re an extrovert, your self-care plan might include going out with friends, having friends over or simply phoning a friend for a chat. If you’re an introvert, then nurturing yourself might look like soaking in a tub with the door locked or curling up with a good book in a room alone.
There are tons of short quizzes on-line that you can take to find out whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert. Here’s one quiz by the author of the book, Quiet [Broadway, 2013]. I’m only slightly introverted. I do enjoy people tremendously, but when I don’t get alone time for a while, I notice that my stress level rises.
Remember that You Don’t Have a Fairy Godmother
What Activities Calm You and Recharge You at the Same Time?
After deciding that you’re either an introvert or an extrovert, work on pinpointing some specific activities that might refuel you. This can be as simple as brainstorming and writing a list and then trying out the activities to see what works. You may discover that your favorite activities from your pre-parenting days still work well for you or you may find out that you crave something a bit different. But you won’t know until you start trying.