I’ve beating myself up since preschool ended and my 5-year-old has been home with me all day.
Every night after the kids are tucked into bed, I blurt out my parenting insecurities to my husband. I’m a bad mom. He needs more attention. I wish he would stop touching me. I just need space. I have to get some work done.
The first full week that Jaxson was home all day with me, it rained every day. The second week was just too hot and humid to spend more than a few minutes outside. Working from home with an extroverted, exuberant 5-and-a-half-year-old is exhausting for any parent. More exhausting if you’re an introverted parent like me.
My husband understands my frustrations and always listens intently. Even if I did sound like a broken record every night. Why? Because he knows I’m an introvert. Yes, I’m outgoing and social when you meet me at conferences, but I prepare myself for it. Most days, I’d rather just be a hermit in my apartment.
After the first few days of frustration, I stopped to look at the entire picture. My son wasn’t acting out. He wasn’t trying to make my life harder or crazier. He’s just being himself. Jaxson has always needed to be physically near me or his father. Near people who make him safe and secure. He needs to be touching us. As for me, I get “touched out.” I enjoy physical touch, but I also need time in my own non-touching bubble. This is true whether I’m with my kids or my husband.
When I first heard parenting coach Meghan Leahy speak about the different stages of attachment back in January, a huge light bulb went off. HUGE.
All my kids want from me is feel connected. To feel that we are attachment emotionally. My father and I are their sun. We are the constant in their lives and they come to us when they feel a little lost or just need reassurance that everything is good. For my son, this means plenty of hugging, kissing, and sitting on my lap. It’s definitely appropriate for his age. Sophia still wants hugs and kisses, but on her own terms and not as frequently.
Meghan helped me recognize that emotional attachment takes many forms. My son’s need for physical connection might not mesh with my need for physical connection. If I reject his need for touch, I’m rejecting his desire to feel connected to me. So I find ways to make this work for both of us.
Meghan reminds us that as parents, “We are condition setters every day.” So one morning, I changed our “conditions.” Instead of eating breakfast and heading straight to my desk to work in the mornings (don’t worry, Dad gets up early to feed and water the kids), I sit on the couch with Jaxson. He sits in my lap and we watch PBS Kids together for an hour or so. We discuss the shows together. He hugs me, kisses me, and tells me over and over how much he loves me.
He’s connecting with me. And I’m being mindful of our time together. I don’t check my phone for emails. I don’t read a book. I’m with him 100%. After our hour together, I tell him that it’s time for me to work until lunch. He’s allowed to play games on the computer or tablet while I work. Then we have lunch together.
The days where I slow down to truly connect with him have been our best days. He does’t act out or trash the bathroom (instead of washing his hands). I notice a differences in my attitude too. I’m less cranky. I’ve set some boundaries for myself so I don’t get “touched out” and annoyed when he wants to be right on top of me (literally).
I’m more honest to him about my physical needs too. I tell him when I need some space. “I’ll sit with you on the couch, but can you just sit next to me instead of on my lap?” or “Mommy needs a little space, can we just sit next to each other?” He knows that eventually, I’ll be ready for more cuddles and hugs. Being open with my kids about my need for some space is important. I want them to know that I’m not cranky because of them, but because my well has been depleted. I just need a little time to refill it.
Not everyday goes well. I’m working on not beating myself up about it. Parenting is challenging. We all have good days and bad days. When I’m mindful of my kids needs and balance it with my needs, it’s good for all of us. Connecting with my children with physical touch helps them feel more secure. And to quote Meghan again, “Secure children grow (like an acorn) into the natural, beautiful children they are born to be.”
Thank you Meghan, for my big aha! Learn more about Meghan Leahy on her site Positively Parenting.
Are you an introverted parent with extrovert kids? How do you stay connected with your kids?
This post is sponsored by Responsibility.org. I am working with them as a #TalkEarly blogger. All opinions and stress are my own.