Yesterday, I talked a little bit about how the difference between introverted and extroverted personalities can impact family life. Today, I will go into a little more detail about how parents can meet the temperamental needs of their children without ignoring their own temperamental needs. As I mentioned yesterday, I am an introvert. However, as a stay – at – home mom to a three year old and a ten month old, I am almost never alone. Ever. Because I need time to myself in order to feel my best, it is no wonder that I often feel exhausted and sometimes even grouchy by the end of the day.
I have identified a couple of ways that I can get the alone time that I need, in ways that work with my family situation and responsibilities. I try to do a couple of quiet activities with the boys over the course of the day. Things like reading to them, sitting quietly in the play room and watching them build with blocks, or watching something on television with them may not give me time completely alone, but the break from the typical boisterous scene is refreshing. Once the boys are in bed, I can get the alone time that I need. In order to make it truly restorative, I have decided to give myself an hour of time each night just for me – that means no chores and no work for a full hour.
My three year old son, Dylan, is an extrovert. Extroverts are energized by interacting with other people. Too much alone time makes them unhappy. They need time with people, and they crave interaction and feedback. There are things that I can do throughout the day that can fulfill Dylan’s need for lots of interaction. He loves to see people, so I try to get us out of the house at least once every other day. It does not matter if all we do is go to the grocery store to buy one or two items, the simple act of going out benefits him. I can also maintain a close connection to him throughout the day by spending plenty of time right by his side, and talking with him. If I am cooking in the kitchen and he is in the playroom, I go in there every few minutes to “check in” and chat with him.
Of course, you may be wondering where Blake fits into this equation. Since he is ten months old, it may be too soon to tell whether he is an introvert or an extrovert. He does like to play by himself, and keeps himself happily occupied for what seems like a very long time for such a small person. He’s also happy to play with me, or with Dylan. By meeting my need for personal space and Dylan’s need for interaction, I seem to meet Blake’s needs by giving him the space that he needs to explore and play independently as well as the attention and connection that he needs to thrive.