Single parenting as an introvert.

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I never considered myself an introvert until recently. Before I had my baby I was a social butterfly. My social and professional calendars were full. It was legendary (in other words I still get teased about it by friends who have known me for a while). After I had a baby, I think I coasted for a while without it being an issue. The baby slept a lot and didn’t need quite as much interaction as he needs now as a toddler – so I got plenty of quiet/down/alone time. But in the past year I’ve noticed that as I have less and less of that quiet time to recharge that I’ve become much less interested in working in an office, less interested in saying yes to all of the social invitations that come our way and less interested in having my own social life after my son goes to bed. I’m drained. And the best thing for me is to quietly recharge my batteries at the end of the day.

I recently stumbled on this article: http://www.quietrev.com/surviving-as-an-introverted-mother/

In addition to the writer’s four tips, I’d add:

– Try trading childcare with another parent (bonus points if they are introverted, too. Then they will know you don’t want to chat for an hour at drop-off and pick-up). Everyone deserves a break so if you can either afford to hire a sitter or can find someone to swap with – it’s such a good investment.

– When it is time to reenter interacting with people, sit for five minutes and be really mindful that you are sitting there and giving yourself that transition time. Do some breathing exercises. So even if you feel like you are racing from thing to thing you at least get those few breaths to center yourself (Like sitting in the car 5 min before picking up your daughter from childcare).

– Try visualization and/or ”energy” work. May or may not sound a little out there to you, but I think it’s worth a try. This would be something like guided meditation.

– Can you get a sitter and check yourself into a hotel room one night through morning per month?

– Can you do some activities that don’t require so much talking/interaction with your child? For us, going to the beach or a nearby meadow is almost like alone time for me because I can sit and think and my toddler is nearby digging holes or collecting sticks.

– Sometimes a good stroller walk can calm things a bit.

Are there any other introverted single parents out there? How do you cope with it?

– Is there anything you are doing that you could cut out. Is perfectionism in work or in life adding to your feeling worn out? Are you volunteering too much to help others out or to attend play-dates that sap you of energy?

– Check out this book called The Ultimate Parenting Guide for Introverted Moms. http://amzn.to/1G7V9Tt

Are there any other introverted single parents out there? How do you cope?

They just want YOU!

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My house has been a MESS lately. It’s been hard to keep up on since my child was born over two years ago, but harder recently because I’ve been sllllllllowly launching two businesses and because, dang, it’s been a really fun spring and summer so far. The mess = a sink (so) full of dishes, a case of diapers sitting in the middle of the living room, toys eVeRyWhErE, raisins eVeRyWhErE, garbage that needs to be taken out, food splatters on the entire wall behind where the toddler eating happens, toilet paper everywhere (its like he is practicing tp-ing!), etcetcetc.

It gets me a little down I guess. It’s not relaxing to come home to a mess. But it was relaxing to have a picnic yesterday evening. It was relaxing to go to a new spot in a giant local park – a spot I’ve never been to. It was relaxing to go get an amazing pint of ice cream and continue the picnic in the warm car, where my child pretended to drive the car and climb all over our friend, who played DJ letting us in on an interesting new band (dang I’m so out of the loop), all while I people watched (we parked in an awesome spot!) from the back seat. I wouldn’t trade that evening for a clean house.

It reminded me of what I used to tell myself when my baby was first born. I would see all these other babies with expensive things: muslin swaddle blankets, top of the line strollers, super nice diaper bags, all the latest wooden toys that are guaranteed to make a child a genius. And I felt a little inadequate and a little bit jealous. I realized though, that all my baby wanted was me. He did not care one bit what the names Aden & Anais or Bugaboo meant. He just wanted me. I was his favorite swaddle. I was his top-of-the-line stroller.

I’m trying to remind myself of that now as I continue to provide for us and in more creative and freeing ways. It’s scary, it feels a little [or a lot] risky sometimes. But I’m giving him a more relaxed, present, calm mom. And that is what he’s going to remember when he gets older. Not whether our place was award winning tidy or full of the nicest things and a mom strung out from making that all happen. He does not care about my job title. He cares that he had a mom who had fun with him, who looked in his eyes as much as possible, who was not strung out from stress and exhaustion. There are a million ways to be this kind of mom and I think I’m zeroing on on how to be my version of that.

Bonus single parent tips! Yeah!!!

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Remember way back last month when I posted single parent tips each day? Well after day 31 a friend joked about the next tips:

#32: Start smoking cigarettes.

#33: Drink every night if you can afford it. If you can’t, then just cry.

It’s true. Single parenting is hard. It does make you want to cry into your beer, or tea, or pillow, or shower-head sometimes. And it can make you want to smoke an entire pack of cigarettes in one sitting. And if you feel this way – there is nothing wrong with you. You, my friend, have a hard job. A harder job than you realized you were signing up for. I don’t have all the answers. I’ve only unlocked like “mom game level 2” or something. In case you want to try out a few more tips, here you go. And let’s unlock “level 3” together!

#32: Turn up some music and dance, dance dance.

#33: Eat vegetables with every meal. Try to eat every color of the rainbow in veggies.

#34: Buy all new underwear. A new lease on life, I tell you!

#35: Get out your child’s sidewalk chalk and walk around the neighborhood writing compliments everywhere.

#36: Send someone a card. Any card. To anyone. Your best friend, your great aunt, the President of the United States. The options are endless.

Ok, now that’s really all I got! Got any others?!

Article Review: I think I know why you’re yelling

single parent life hacks

When my baby was born I think I did about one week of carrying him with me every moment. To the kitchen to make a PB&J, out to the mailbox, to use the bathroom. Very quickly did I realize not all of this was going to work for me. Starting with taking him with me every time I needed to use the toilet. So I decided that he would have to learn that sometimes I would need to leave him for a moment to take care of a need – but that each time I would be right back. It felt odd at first (let’s be real, everything about new parenthood is odd and sort of like an epic DIY experiement). But it quickly worked for us. We began to get to know each other’s needs in those small ways.

Fast forward about a year and a half. I went out to lunch with another single mom and our two 1.5ish year olds. At one point my toddler started screeching about something. I hadn’t had a second to eat that day and I was beyond hungry. I told him “I hear you but I need to eat right now. It’s called self-care.” And then I took a bite and smile/grimaced at the other mom. She just raised her eyebrows and went back to being 100% attentive mom (who 1. is absolutely part of her own fully perfect mom-child dyad – a truly lovely pair, but 2. did not get to eat her whole meal – just sayin’). That moment burned on my brain and made me feel…sort of crappy – even though I knew that I truly, deeply needed a bite of food (and that my child needed a mom who could have a bite of food). But it got me thinking. Was I supposed to forgo things like eating until my child was perfectly contented, and be attentive to every possible peep? Was I completely fucking this whole thing up? Was I just failing harder and harder everyday??? Deep, deep, deepest thoughts.

Fast forward again almost another year later. An awesome friend, let’s call her Saint Rachel, sent me this article. Woohoo! Victory lap!!! The way I parent is an actual thing! Ahhhh, the sun rose in the forest! What. A. Huge. Relief.

From the article… “Parenting Fact: Our babies and toddlers will never give us permission to take care of our needs.” Mind = blown. This whole time I thought it was just me. I have to thank Janet Lansbury for this tiny piece of permission to stop feeling like I need to be an “egoless” parent. And to thank Saint Rachel for always hooking me up with one life preserver or another. May everyone have a Saint Rachel. Amen.

If you are the parent of a young child this article is probably going to blow your mind, too. If you are a parent of an older child you probably have this down already – but a reminder of what “self-care” actually is (hint = it’s not a candlelit bubble bath) is always good! Plus you are going to want to click around her site for a while. It’s a goldmine.

Book Review: NurtureShock

single parenting books

Well, so much for the book review per day idea! June is just becoming too much fun for us! Today though I want to post about the most-mentioned book on this blog: NurtureShock.

This is my favorite “parenting” book so far. It’s the latest research on parenting and has chapters on praise, race, lying, learning, and more. I read this book when my child was about 6 months old and it really changed how I viewed him and also really changed my mind on some of the plans I had for my parenting. To say I’m glad I read this book is an understatement.

Ok, well June is now beckoning again in the form of my favorite little person in the world yelling “Mamahhhhh!” from his bed! Got to run!

Have you read NurtureShock? What’s your favorite chapter?

The weekend is here!

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Dang. We are just having such great times lately. I almost can’t believe how sweet life is sometimes! Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of frustrations in the background, but…

picnics with friends + a five hour stream wading session with a really wise lady and her toddler + hanging out with fellow parents who are truly engaged in the struggle of making the world a better place + getting to see our pretty much favorite person in the wide world (who works at night so is harder to schedule with) TWO days in a row?!?!?! + afternoons on the beach + pine cone hunting strolls in the woods + legit steam train rides + a child who wants us to twirl like ballerinas together in the living room + finally getting some tiny slices of time to myself thanks to the awesome people in our lives + hearing my child whispering something as he drifts off to sleep and realizing he is whisper-singing “take me out to the ball game” = we really have it good.

Thank you you special people that are in our lives. I kiss the ground you walk on.

On failing. Plus some great links.

Well…it looks like I broke my posting streak. I went 41 days straight. And it felt really good. Missing yesterday made me think about what it meant to fail. Obviously not posting yesterday is like the tiniest fail in the history of the world – but it brought to mind an anecdote I heard recently. I read (somewhere…I have no idea where) that every night at the dinner table when she was growing up, this woman’s father said: “So, how did you fail today?” And they would talk about big failures and small ones and what they learned. I love that idea. What do you think about it?

And here is some bonus reading material for today in case you feel cheated for yesterday. 😉

Funny (and helpful) tips for the toddler years.

Preventing adrenal fatigue. Something all parents could use some tips on! The extra link within that article is also worth a read.

And and easy and inexpensive tuna recipe.