We spent a week of summer out of town with family. We traded rest time every day for the pool, cousins, games, playgrounds and science camp. It was fun for everyone and felt like a vacation from the normal schedule which helped us welcome summer in with a bang.
But, I noticed something in my 6-year-old homeschooled child. He needs quiet and time alone.
He was sleep trained as a newborn and until this week away had consistently napped or had rest time for his whole life. Yes, of course it would be skipped from time to time but never for ten days in a row. Not being enrolled in school allowed for our schedule to include rest, quiet, play, friends, and activity. It also masked his introverted tendencies.
In her book, Raising Your Spirited Child, Mary Sheedy Kurcinka explains introverts as people whose energy is depleted by time spent with others. “They need a break, a chance to energize by having space and quiet.” Alternatively, she explains that “Extroverts, draw their energy from people.”
So often my very social child convinces me into believe he is an extrovert just like me. He is fearless to ask people to play and invite friends or strangers over to our house for dinner. He regularly swaps phone numbers with kids at the playground or drags me over to another mother to ask for hers. Being introverted does not mean you are anti-social.
For so long I didn’t see or understand why he could bounce between extremes of asking to play with friends and then be content playing alone. I assumed he was tired or hungry or just a grumpy toddler when he threw a fit because we weren’t leaving the playground.
As an extroverted homemaker I can pack us up for the day and run us from playdates, to errands, to more playdates and get home with three whiny kids and one tired but emotionally full mom. I easily think we need people and activity to be content or well-rounded.
Making the effort to stay home in the quiet is scary for me. But it has taught me…
- That needing time alone is not something you can get over. You also shouldn’t be forced to or asked to for hours or days on end.
- That there is a real need for rest in our hearts, minds and bodies.
- Introverted and extroverted has more to do with what gives you energy and what drains you then whether you like people or not.
- Being introverted doesn’t mean you are a hermit.
- That having limits is a good thing.
- Overstimulation can be noise, light, crowds, activity or a combination
So we are building rest back into our summer routine. When we go out, we stay for less time. This challenges me and my other two extroverted children who would stay longer. But, it also teaches us how to be family and take care of each other.
I am thankful for a child who is different than me, who has shown me that I also get overstimulated and shrink into myself if there are too many days of social butterflying. I have a greater understanding of who I am and feel more confident to give myself a break in the quiet from time to time.