I have three children. If children are part of your life in any way (i.e. as a parent, aunt/uncle, grandparent, friend, work-related, etc.) you know that children are beautiful, energetic, powerful forces of nature.
When I look at my children, my heart sings. I literally feel a warming in my chest and a sense of peace and gratitude settles over me.
But they, like many of their peers, are in a massive amount of activities. And sometimes they are so busy I step in to help with chores, homework, basic simple functions to help them get through the day. And this is often at a detriment to my own sense of peace and well-being.
Well, no more, my friends.
I’m taking a step back, inhaling a deep breath, and I’m declaring, Not my problem.
I tell this statement to my children several times a week. It’s my attempt to break free from this hovering, smothering parenting and to instill a sense of responsibility, independence and confidence in my children. If I take care of their every need, from putting away all their laundry, to cleaning out their sports bags, to finishing their homework when they’re too tired, am I really doing them any favors?
I think not.
I’m definitely not doing myself any favors.
Okay. But what does this have to do with being an introvert?
Raising children is a noisy, boisterous job. It is a 24 hour, 7 day per week, non-stop roller coaster. We introverts need quiet and time alone. When an introvert has children, meeting our own needs can become too difficult to even fathom.
So my children are older…which means they’re busier. Our front hall is riddled with sports bags and stuff to donate to Goodwill.
In this picture are bags/equipment for 3 baseball teams, 2 lacrosse teams, swim and soccer, plus five bags of stuff to donate.
I can’t handle the mess. They expect me to clean out their bags, clean all their laundry and have everything in place for their next event, whether it be a playdate, a sporting event or school.
And guess who’s fault it is when something goes missing?
I simply can’t handle the nagging, the constant need to care for, the incessant demand for me to make their life easier.
So, I stopped. They have to clean out bags and put dirty laundry in the hamper. If they have not done these things, I refuse to go behind them and do it.
My son’s room is a disaster. He can never find his gym uniform shorts. What did I say to him? “I did laundry yesterday. If they were put in the hamper, they got washed, dried and folded. If they didn’t make it to the hamper? Not my problem.”
He has to figure out a solution. In this case he had to wear his younger brother’s too small shorts. And when he gets home from school, he has to clean his room.
With this approach, he is held accountable for his belongings. I am not his maid. And this works for me because it takes me out of the flurry. That flurry makes me anxious and yearning for a deep, dark hole to crawl into. I can’t stand noise. Once I say, “It’s not my problem,” I pull myself out of an overly stimulating situation that threatens my sense of peace and I teach my kids a lesson in responsibility in the process.
This approach may not work for you. That’s cool. I’d love to hear how you handle having children in your life. And because I have one parenting suggestion doesn’t mean I’m an expert. Mostly I suck at this job but I do the best I can.
And expecting my children to take care of their own belongings is certainly not revolutionary, but it is important. In this age of ‘our children must not suffer any ills or hardships at all!’, it’s important to get back to the basics. They don’t like it? Not my problem.