Here’s a secret I didn’t know about myself until I became a parent. I am an introvert, in the truest sense of the word. I crave time alone. I usually need “downtime” to recharge after a lot of group interactions.
I really love quiet.
Strange, right, that I didn’t realize this about myself until so late in life? But it’s true. At the end of each day, I felt drained. And, not just physically; but emotionally. When my partner came home each day from work, I would seek out a small bit of time to just sit in a quiet room, alone (okay, so, yes, that quiet place was often the bathroom, because I was guaranteed to be left alone for a bit!).
How was this possible? Why would I feel this way? I was a stay-at-home mom, who spent her days hanging out with a giggly, snuggly, cooing baby. Surely, I had the energy to converse with my husband, right?
It took a few months into motherhood before I figured out why I felt so depleted all of the time. That cooing, lovely baby of mine… she was attached at my hip (literally!) all. day. long. Suddenly, my days were spent in the company of someone else, and this someone demanded my full attention all of the time. It was draining me! I was “touched out” and “talked out” by a human who couldn’t even talk yet! What kind of mother needs time away from her own baby?!
Introverted mothers do. And as it turns out, most of us do.
As a doula, I see this a lot with new mothers, who are also introverts. They sometimes feel guilty when they ask to spend a little time by themselves, or ask their partners or family to take over for a bit.
Here’s the thing. As introverts, that time alone is vital for us. It helps recharge our social batteries so that we can be mentally and emotionally available for our families. Actually, self-care for all parents, not just introverts, is one of the most important things we can do for our children.
If you’re in the beginning of your journey with your baby, please hear this: It’s okay to take time for yourself. Really. It is.
Finding twenty minutes each day to do something that truly brings you joy is okay. Whether that thing is sitting in a quiet room (in a room that’s maybe not the bathroom, okay?), reading a trashy book, having a relaxing bath, going for a walk (alone), or getting coffee with your best friend, it’s all okay.
You’ll be a better mother, father, parent for it, I promise.
Have honest conversations with your partner about what you need. Tell them how they can support you and specific things help you replenish yourself. I bet they’ll be very willing to do so. Because, as author Eleanor Brownn puts it:
"Rest and self-care are so important. When you take time to replensish your spirit, it allows you to serve others from the overflow. You cannot serve from an empty vessel."
This month’s New Moms Group is all about Self-Care in Motherhood. If you’re searching for new ideas to add to your self-care bank or have a few to share, we’d love to see you on Saturday, March 19 at 2. Likewise, if you’re simply searching for a place to say, “Y’all this motherhood gig is hard work”, you’ll find a group of welcoming ears ready to listen.
Join us won’t you (with or without baby).