Tag Archives: Kids

Alone Together (Or Not)


Normally Kathy and I “write blind” – that is, we select a topic, write our pieces, and then compare notes. For this post, however, I read hers first. And I am so glad I did because our perspectives could not be more different.

With two small people the challenges of keeping them both happy multiply. Don’t get me wrong, there are times when I’m doing a puzzle with Lunchbox and Slim is playing in her room, or when Slim and I are working on her homework and Lunchbox is playing on his iPad or goofing off with Dreamy. These bursts of relative contentment last only as long as someone’s good mood, unfortunately, and Dreamy and I constantly drift back and forth between the two kids. Thus we don’t have the same type of togetherness as what Kathy describes; ours is more fluid and free-flowing.

Together time can be better managed by splitting up – a way for parent and child to bond without completely wiping out said parent’s energy. While not ideal, it is a good strategy for some activities and errands. Dreamy will take Slim to a Girl Scout event, for example, while Lunchbox and I go to the park or to get the groceries. They each get a parent to themselves (win!) and this sort of concentrated one-on-one time works best with my introversion (win!). Plus, sometimes I find it overwhelming doing things as a foursome given the age, gender, and temperament differences between Slim and Lunchbox (and shoot, let’s be real here, sometimes between Dreamy and me).  But that’s a subject for another post.

The idea of “alone together” time is lovely in theory but in practice it often doesn’t work at my house. Sometimes, though, particularly with Slim, we can pull this off, such as cuddling in bed at night, each engrossed in our own books. And I as I write this, Lunchbox is jamming away on the Wii. So even though the Mario Kart music is blasting in my ear, he’s happily in his own universe while I’m toodling along in mine.   

This gives me hope for the future.  As Slim careens towards the Tween Years, I want for us to do things together, to have a shared interest. We both like baking and maybe a cake decorating class is in our future. Same goes for Lunchbox – he and I can resume our mini-nature hikes in the spring if he decides to begin wearing pants on the regular.

Until then we shall muddle through. With earplugs, because I really hate Mario Kart.


The Paradox of Summer

August is almost over and that means the end of summer.  We’ve got some thoughts on guilt, meltdowns, and how our months off might look different next year.

KathySummer Guilt, 2015 Edition

There is no question that Doodlebug learns something important every summer at camp. I don’t mean things like facts about rocks or a new art technique. I mean something about Life. One year, it was that new things are always easier with a friend. Last year, it was that sometimes you have to try new things on your own, but that you’ll survive and maybe even have fun.

This year, she learned that things sometimes look good on paper but turn out to be boring in real life. Also that some kids are just mean.

So yeah, camp didn’t go so well this time around. It didn’t help that iDad and I knew Doodlebug would much rather be home, doing Minecraft or reading or playing with Shopkins. Or, you know, spending time with us. Nothing like a tearful conversation about why parents still have to work all summer to make you question your priorities.

And part of me says, look, we do still have to work. She’s old enough to get that. We did all kinds of things together this summer. Two weeks of half-day camps—thirty hours out of an eleven-week summer—is not cruel and unusual. Yes, she had some rocky moments, but she made it through and I’m proud of her.

Another part of me says, yeah, but it’s camp. You always hated it yourself. Remember Vacation Bible School? Remember the Girl Scout day camp? <shudder> I’m an introvert raising an introvert. I know that camp might turn out to be fun, or it might be a giant drain on your energy tank. That’s the opposite of what summer is for.

So this, I’ve concluded, is the paradox of summer: I feel like I can only gain time for myself by taking it away from Doodlebug. The two weeks of camp were great for iDad and me. We both got much more done without having to scramble around and cover each other’s work time. I felt like I could think straight again after being pulled in a million different directions for weeks. It was a good feeling. But it came at the price of an unhappy kid. Why hello, guilt. So nice of you to join us.

I never feel guilty about sending her to school, just like I never felt guilty about putting her down for a nap when she was two—those are things that have to happen. Learning and sleeping are her jobs, jobs that just happen to come with a side of alone time for me. But camp is different. Camp is optional, and so who is it for? Her, or me? And if it’s for me, is that okay? My head says yes, my heart says no.

So next year, we’ll see. Maybe we’ll try going camp-free, and maybe she can have some sort of long-term summer project to give us some structure. You know I love structure. I’m sure we’ll be able to figure this all out before she turns 18 . . . right?

— Kathy


Mega Monster Meltdown

Or, the Afternoon I Wished Parenting Weren’t One of My Core Personal Projects

“We’ve all been there,” she said, looking at me with sympathetic eyes. I muttered something like “Thanks” or “Do you want him?” as I walked by her, struggling to contain Lunchbox.

What started as a small disagreement had escalated to a meltdown; I calmly told him it was time to leave the pool. He lost it and suddenly we were at DEFCON 2 in terms of his behavior.  I slung him over my shoulder like a sack of potatoes while he kicked and screamed “Nooooooooooooo!!” at the top of his lungs. I was mortified. All eyes were on us as we trudged toward the exit.

After fighting to buckle him into his carseat, I turned on the car and took a deep breath. My hands were shaking and I felt like barfing. This was my worst fear — that my first summer with the kids would be filled with these types of episodes. Could I handle them? What would I do if I lost my temper completely and did something I’d regret? I knew the tantrum would eventually fizzle out and that a cocktail (or four) would help calm me down, but what, if anything, could or should I do to prevent this type of situation? Both Slim and Lunchbox had had their moments, but this was one, if not THE, worst one yet.

Developing a strategy for my first Teacher Mom Summer (TMS) had taken some time. Dreamy and I decided not to enroll the kids in any camps, hoping to save money, and I wanted them to sleep late, eat breakfast in their pjs, and, in general, be lazy. I asked Slim and Lunchbox about things they’d like to do and we came up with a list. We’d do one Big Thing each week (a movie, a museum trip, Lunch with Daddy) and divide up the the rest of the days with visits to the pool, the park, and play dates. Chore and Screen Time would be worked in as well.

This worked for a few weeks. The routine was nice but interrupted by some bigger projects I had hoped to accomplish during the break (such as cleaning, redecorating, and organizing Slim’s “Hoarders” episode-ready room). The kids were frustrated and acted out accordingly; I felt guilty and selfish for not making our plans a priority.

So, old conflict, new circumstances: where’s the line between your own goals and Mom responsibilities? Crossing things off my To Do list helps me feel accomplished, and usually my projects provide much-needed time to myself as well. In an effort to recalibrate I tried working on my stuff in the mornings and doing our planned activities in the afternoon. The result? Progress on Slim’s room slowed and both of them spent waaaay too much time staring at screens. I don’t have an answer but am thinking that my TMS flow will take time to evolve, much like my school-life flow (see my previous post).

As we hurtle towards a new school year, I already know next summer will look a bit different: one or two camps per kid; two or three dedicated afternoons to myself each week; and perhaps better expectations management on my part. Maybe such a plan will help us avoid mega monster meltdowns and me wishing for an extended and semi-permanent break from motherhood.

Thoughts please, fellow Introverted Moms!

— Tiffany

Book Review: Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain

KathyHi all, welcome to our first book review! We wanted to share some of the books we’re reading as we explore our roles as introverted parents, and we’re starting with Susan Cain. You’ve probably heard about her book: Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking.

If you know me in real life, you’ve definitely heard about this book because I won’t stop telling people about it.


quiet2_smallerThis is my copy. I think it’s safe to say it spoke to me.



There’s a reason the title starts off with “Quiet” and not “Introverts” – Cain isn’t a psychologist (she’s a lawyer-turned-writer) and she’s exploring more than just the strict definition of introversion as a personality trait. She’s also looking at a group of traits that are often connected, including being risk-averse, introspective, shy. These types of people, and their strengths, are often overlooked in American society, Cain argues. She traces the rise of what she calls the Extrovert Ideal, pointing out ways our society prizes gregarious, assertive, bold, LOUD people.

Through profiles of famous (and not-so-famous) introverts, examinations of different psychological theories, and an exploration of the connection between solitude and creativity, Cain gives introverts permission to be themselves. Being an introvert isn’t just okay, she tells us. It’s important.


Why Introverts Should Read This Book:

So you can say “So there!” to everyone who’s ever told you you’re too quiet. Just kidding. Kind of. I’ve heard about so many people who feel empowered by this book, who didn’t even realize that being an introvert was normal. And even though I already knew my personality type, it never hurts to be reminded that, no, our society really is not geared toward people like me. If I feel out of step sometimes, that’s why, not because I’m doing something wrong.

Other takeaways: Introverts and extroverts need different levels of outside stimulation, and I like Cain’s idea of “sweet spots” – figuring out your just-right level and seeking out experiences that fit. She also makes the point that even introverts need to keep adjusting, which explains why I can sometimes get stir-crazy on a Sunday afternoon at the end of a laid-back weekend.

For me, Cain’s discussion of Elaine Aron’s research on highly sensitive people was eye-opening. Not all introverts are highly sensitive, but I think I do fall into this category. It’s giving me insight into why I get overwhelmed so much more quickly than iDad, even though we’re both introverts. Expect more banging on about this one from me in the future!


Why Extroverts Should Read This Book:

To get a better idea about how the other one-third to one-half of the population lives. I think this book should be required reading for extroverted managers and teachers, or for any extrovert who’s in charge of a group of people.

Cain also examines the benefits of working solo – turns out creativity is harder to come by in a group environment. Many introverts already know this (group projects, blech!), but it’s startling to see how our schools and our workplaces have embraced what Cain has named the “New Groupthink”. I read here that she’s working on a curriculum to help teachers reach introverts in the classroom, and I think that’s a fantastic idea.


Why Parents Should Read This Book:

If you’re raising an introvert, Chapter 11 of Quiet is for you. While Cain encourages parents to enjoy their kids for who they are, she also has great tips for helping them feel more confident and comfortable in this overstimulating world of ours. Don’t throw your kid into a new situation with a “She’ll be fine!” attitude, help her find ways to get used to things at her own pace. Check out a new place ahead of time if possible, arrive early, don’t push. And, instead of criticizing your child for acting shy, praise her when she stretches herself.

Parents, too, should carefully read the sections about school. I am not (NOT!) encouraging helicopter parenting, but it’s worth considering whether your kid’s classroom environment is geared more toward extroverts. At Doodlebug’s school, I was surprised to find that her first grade class didn’t use desks — the kids sat at tables together like they did in kindergarten.

There’s a great list of factors to consider if you’re in a position to choose a school for your kids (Small classes? Anti-bullying program? Subjects or extracurriculars your child is drawn to?). But Cain has good suggestions for helping your kids thrive at any school. Also, she makes the excellent point that your introverted child might need time to decompress at the end of the day, so give them time to do that before you start peppering them with questions. You just might get more info out of them that way.


Bonus materials:

Cain gave a TED talk in 2012 that touches on the main points in her book. Definitely worth 20 minutes of your time.


So have you read Quiet? What did you think? I’ve started leaving my copy in our guest room – maybe all our visitors will pick it up and learn something about themselves (or about a favorite introvert). Muahahaha!