I Love My Life (but sometimes this…)

For, tomorrow, he knew… All the Who girls and boys would wake bright and early. They’d rush for their toys! And then! Oh, the noise! Oh, the noise! Noise! Noise! Noise! That’s one thing he hated! The NOISE! NOISE! NOISE! NOISE!”  Dr. Seuss, How the Grinch Stole Christmas

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Homeschooling as an HSP (and how to survive)

Sometimes homeschooling wears me out, but not for the reasons you might think.  For instance, you might imagine that being responsible for overseeing three kids’ educational journeys would be exhausting–all those math worksheets and field trips.  But those things aren’t that big of a deal, really.  Believe me, we take life slowly around here.  Our mornings creep by no matter when I wake up.  So it’s not the schooly-type things that get me.

It’s everything else.

Today I read an article that describes people like me, people who get tired out by the oddest of things, and offers suggestions for how to navigate your day when you find the act of, say, talking to be annoying.  It’s worth the read–even if Wal-Mart, disco balls, and two or more people conversing at the same time don’t get you down.

How to Survive Your Life As an Introvert

Are you an introvert?  A creative? A homeschooler?  Some or all of those?  It may be that you have a day job that doesn’t include your offspring, or it could be that you’re an extrovert and love tons of contact with people, your kids included.  Or maybe you are more of a math person and don’t paint or write stories or play music.  But just in case you are somewhat like the person I described above (who’s, uh, a friend of mine), I have a few survival tips for doing your work, loving your people, and keeping your sanity.

Get up early.  This has been my Achilles Heel ever since I gave birth to my first child and started worshiping sleep.  I hate to wake up.  I find it truly horrible most days, like coming off Demerol.  Truth is, I think I’m hardwired to be a night owl.  I love the dark quiet when everyone else has slipped into their nightly coma.  It’s my time to think and be alone.  It feels like cheating the system, somehow.  Unfortunately staying up late and sleeping in is not conducive to my actual life.  My kids want to get up and start the day, even as middle schoolers.  And if they do that, and I’ve only been awake a few minutes before they come downstairs, and I’ve had no time alone, no time to deal with personal stuff, I feel pushed and unprepared for the rest of the day.

  It never gets any better. 

So this school year I decided to get up very early and stare off into space, then read my Bible and pray, and then write for a long time, before I tackle my day job (homeschooling/mothering/homemaking).  This means that I have to go to bed earlier, which is hard.  So hard.  Otherwise I’ll be very tired the next day, which might be worse.  I’ve been doing this waking up early for a while now and I’m happy to report that it’s working.  All that alone time to think, to process, to pray, and work on my craft is balm to my soul.  I think it’s making me a better mom and a better homeschooler.  I think it’s making me a better writer, too, as it’s guaranteeing me daily time to write.

Take breaks in the day.  Introverts love people, but they find them exhausting and depleting.  We need to take time to be by ourselves and recharge throughout the day.  In college, I took bathroom breaks between classes, even if I didn’t have to go, because it meant a few seconds when I didn’t have to talk, smile, interact, etc with others.  Weird?  Maybe.  I don’t know.  What I do know is that being home with my kids can sometimes feel just as depleting as being at a party, even though I love them dearly and they’ve learned to avoid pushing my buttons most days. 

These days, I go into my bathroom (I see…a pattern) and shut the door.  I lock said door and I stare off into space or pray.  Sometimes I bring my laptop in there and check my email or text a friend.  (Sorry, friends, I’m communicating with you from my toilet).  I have noticed that if I take these five minute breaks throughout the day I feel tanked up to tackle math or endless discussions about Minecraft better.

Build in treats.  I soothe my subconscious by telling myself, and my kids, that we have fun moments planned for later.  By fun moments I mean time on the XBox for them, or maybe a trip to the library, and food items and Netflix for me.  This might not be an introvert thing now that I think about it.  It might just be a person thing.  Anyway, my kids and I know that we’ll work hard when we have to and then we’ll do treat-ish things, even if they’re small.  Sometimes my treat is closing my bedroom door and working on my manuscript a little longer.  Sometimes it’s driving to Starbucks by myself.  Whatever.  Letting my mind know that it’s OK to feel exhausted now, and that I plan to soothe it later, helps me as an introvert to keep going when I feel like disappearing into my hidey-hole prematurely.

Life is not easy, I don’t care who you are.  But understanding your personality and leveraging this knowledge to maximize your effectiveness in your daily life can help.

What do you do to recharge and replenish?

Earth

This morning I returned to earth at 9:21 a.m.  The sounds of a made-in-the-eighties cartoon pressed through the doors of my bedroom, elbowing past the hum of my floor fan, and tapped my subconscious on the shoulder.  One of the dogs had curled himself next to me, wedging me on my side.  I suppose it was my tingling right arm that brought me back in the end.  I felt for the dog’s back and pushed him over, sitting up halfway. I blinked away eleven hours.

The first day of getting back to things.

It has been eighteen days since I’ve truly slept, paid attention to the kids, written, or been quiet for that matter.  I’m worn.  Every day I’ve spent with family (first husband’s, then mine) has been a gift.  I am reminded that, other than my faith, my family is really all I need in the end.  And if I had the choice to surround myself with my sisters and their children on a more permanent basis, I would.  I’d wrap them around me like a mink coat, aware of the luxury.

But I am a girl who longs for quiet, who craves routine.  These things are important for my long-term survival.  I’m ready to slip back into the familiar warp and weft of my life, such as it is.  Ready for the odd moment of fruitful nothing.

Husband leaves for Africa next week so life won’t be strictly normal in the days to come.  But I will spend many night hours staring and thinking hard and writing when he’s gone.  When he arrives home he’ll recognize me.  I’ll have put myself back together, one word at a time, and returned to earth for a longer stay.