I cannot feed his need to be with people all by myself, nor can he give me enough down time if it's just the two of us (well, three now with Robin). We seem to constantly be a sad couple, and I want to change that. At the end of the day, he resorts to being naughty because it's the only way he can get enough energy from my run-down batteries. It's a terrible pattern for us both and I feel squeezed dry.
So here are the million dollar questions: how much is enough and how do I make it happen?
"I aim to fit in my writing time as well as reading one chapter of fiction each day. If I get those two covered, I’m usually equipped to handle whatever twists and turns come my way," says Jaimie Martin at Simple Homeschool.
This is another great post on the topic - Grace for the Introverted Mom (favorite quote: "I won’t be able to sleep until I think about it.")
That sounds about right. But explaining this to my husband, also an extrovert, is difficult. "Why can't you handle just one child?" he used to ask me all the time when Raccoon was younger. Filling my needs can appear to him like I am being neglectful of our kids, or lazy.
As part of this post, I just have to mention that I love type talk. I am an INFP, my husband is an ENTJ, Raccon is an E_ _ _ (maybe SFP? N?), and Robin is still undecided. (Sidenote: understanding type has been very illuminating for my marriage. The two middle ones are personality and here is where my husband and I are similar, we are both Ns and our F/Ts are more middle than extreme. But our living preferences are exactly opposite - EJ (outgoing and structured) and IP (ingoing and unstructured). This is the secret to why we get along really well but have trouble living together. lol.)
Our conflicting sources of energy are my biggest fear about homeschooling; how am I going to make it work for both of us? And throw in the fact that my little extrovert has social anxiety and needs very particular types of people interactions (small groups, a buddy, older kids).
Then we'll be adding in Robin once I figure out what she needs... which right now is not more than one car trip a day.
What am I doing that's working?
An outside preschool class for three hours two days a week. (We just started so I hope this works)
Stories on CD in the car (he usually wants me to talk nonstop in the car which drains me)
Projects for us to work on together at home (he gets my undivided attention and we're doing something we enjoy together)
Jumping on the trampoline together with Robin on a blanket on the grass (harder now that it's colder and wetter outside)
What it boils down to is outsourcing some of his energy needs without compromising mine.
What isn't working?
Finding enough kids for Raccoon to play with. Where can I find more opportunities for him that don't drain my energy? Outside spaces work best for us, but often there aren't any other kids there. We both get stressed at the play areas at kid restaurants (too busy and loud). Raccoon doesn't like structured activities like classes (too much sitting or waiting).
I can't save up my needs until nighttime. By evening I am empty and cannot cope with more demands. To stay sane, I need small breaks throughout the day with one long stretch (one to two hours).
Which of my strengths can I apply here?
What am I good at? Finding new places for us to explore.
* Some sort of sport activity - it would have to be relatively unstructured and flexible with scheduling since neither one of us does that well with predictability. Maybe some sort of open gym? bouncy place?
* More playdates at home - I like having people come over because then I don't have the stress of driving, trying to get somewhere on time, and managing Raccoon's food allergies. These are usually a win-win for us. The problem is that Raccoon prefers children his age or a few years older, and everyone we know is busy at school.
* A homeschool coop - get-togethers yes, classes no.
* A membership to a kid's museum - we'd have to go at times when there aren't many children there, or it's the same overstimulation problem as at kid restaurants.
* A gym with childcare - I wonder how much this costs.
Possible solution (or first try at least):
Our win-win - unstructured play time with slightly older kids at our home, with a few special outings a week. I need a boy with a specific profile - extrovert! imaginative, energetic (but not out-of-control), playful, outdoorsy, and independent. Maybe I should advertise on craigslist:
"Introvert mother looking for extrovert playmate for her extrovert son.
Would prefer a homeschooled child (of any age) with flexible hours."
Or as Raccoon suggested, we could just adopt more children. He said he wants five brothers and sisters. Sorry buddy, unless God steps in, that's not going to happen.
I've also considered getting him a kitten...