It’s crucial to make time for yourself, despite the around-the-clock needs of your newborn.
Toward the end of my pregnancy, I was both excited and worried. I was excited to finally hold my little baby after a worrisome pregnancy journey, and worried about the boatload of parenting responsibilities.
For a first-time parent, it is common to be a little scared before the exhilarating journey with a newborn begins. For any individual, introverted or extroverted, this new phase can be daunting, and the reasons may vary. As highly sensitive introverts, however, our challenges can be different, given our more emotional and reserved nature.
(Are you a highly sensitive person? Here are 27 “strange” things sensitive people do.)
A lot of alone time to recharge and certainty are the two sacred things we probably seek the most. As I welcomed a tiny human into my world, I had to part with both of these things, the very ones vital for my survival.
However, if you find yourself in this situation, don’t lose hope. As philosophers say, “Seek the solution within” — and my experience is proof that this cannot be more true for introverted parents navigating the roller coaster parenthood journey.
Here are five things you should keep in mind before starting the journey as a new parent, especially if you’re an introvert, highly sensitive, or both.
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5 Things Sensitive, Introverted Parents Should Know About Raising Newborns
1. Do your best to create a routine for yourself and your baby.
With a newborn, you are on call around the clock. Be it breastfeeding, diaper-changing, putting the baby to nap, you name it — the parents are in charge.
A little more than two months into welcoming our baby, my husband told me, with admiration, “You know, I never thought you could do it all.” It is funny because even I never knew I had so much energy within me to cater to the never-ending needs of my little one as an introverted mom.
After the first few exhausting weeks, I figured the only way to balance the needs of my baby and myself was to create a routine. I figured I would build a routine for myself around the baby’s sleep and wake schedule, and here was how.
I observed my baby’s sleep and wake-up patterns for a couple of days. I figured out how long he was awake after each sleep period, at what intervals he fed, the duration of his naps, and so on.
If you do this, too, the only thing you have to make sure of is that the routine is flexible, because the activity patterns of babies change as they grow. The aim is to make the most use of time when the baby sleeps, whether it’s taking some time to catch up on texts or sleeping and relaxing.
Before building a routine, I used to get so overwhelmed and overstimulated with all the work. But now, I have started having a lot more fun. (Yes — I said fun!)
2. Playing with your baby might bring out another side of you.
Picture this — someone who is known to family and friends as being quiet, reserved, and boring… yet they are now playing peek-a-boo, singing songs, imitating the cooing sounds made by the baby, or making funny faces. This “someone” is me and the rest of my family still can’t come to terms with the person in front of them. (To be honest, neither can I.)
Growing up, all I have heard as an introvert was, “Go out, talk to people,” “Don’t be a recluse all day,” “What kind of behavior is this?” and so on… Suddenly, it’s such a shock for others to see me having a lot of fun with… who? A newborn baby? Someone who is a poor communicator, listener, and the most demanding one of all?
Trust me, initially, it was not easy. I used to feel disheartened seeing others yakking away like a chatterbox to my baby. Even though he and I spent a lot of time together, my conversations with him used to be the bare minimum. It would be a handful of general queries like, “Are you hungry?” or “Are you sleepy?” or “Shall we take a bath?” You get the idea.
All my effort to interact and make small talk were in vain. (I mean, have you tried making small talk with a baby?) I was even getting a bit worried because, as a mother, I couldn’t find a way to get my kid’s attention.
That is when singing came to my rescue. I realized I could grab his attention through rhymes and lullabies. Now I sing to my baby with animated faces all the time, and he likes it so much that he expresses his interest by making small cooing sounds. More than half the time, our interactions are through songs. (I know… me!)
3. You will need to ask for help.
Yes, we introverts may cringe when we actually have to speak up. I used to be the kind of person who never asked for help, no matter what. Asking for help made me feel dependent and incapable. However, things changed after the birth of my son.
Childbirth is a life-changing experience and it takes a lot of time to recover, both mentally and physically. As you are recovering, it is extremely difficult to take care of your baby without someone’s help. Despite being a highly sensitive introvert, in order to take a break from my parenting duties, I asked small favors from anyone who visited me.
It is not only limited to getting help from acquaintances. I had been a frequent visitor to my son’s pediatrician during the first two months. Going to the doctor with every slight concern used to be quite unsettling to me. But things changed when my son came along. Soon, I even found myself having to take pictures of his poop for the doctor!
The innate nurturing characteristic of introverts becomes evident when they become parents. In the process of doing your very best for your kids, you may find that you overcome any limiting beliefs and introvert misconceptions.
Is the chaos of life overwhelming you as a highly sensitive person?
Sensitive people have certain brain differences that make them more susceptible to stress and anxiety. Thankfully, there is a way to train your brain so you can navigate the challenges of sensitivity, access your gifts, and thrive in life. Psychotherapist and sensitivity expert Julie Bjelland will show you how in her popular online course, HSP Brain Training. As an Introvert, Dear reader, you can take 50% off the registration fee using the code INTROVERTDEAR. Click here to learn more.
4. You will still need alone time.
From the outside, our calm demeanor might give the impression that we have it all under control. If only others could get inside our brains to know how chaotic it is.
With a baby, what comes along with extreme happiness is extreme chaos. Since we are highly sensitive creatures, the slightest concern can rock our world. Imagine the pandemonium a newborn can cause in our lives. Our world will turn upside-down for sure!
Getting some alone time may seem like a luxury, but with support from your partner or family, it is possible. I, for instance, go for a walk — alone — almost every day. You might feel guilty for wanting to be away from the baby. But trust me, it will give you some much-needed “me time” and you will be supercharged for the baby once you are back. Plus, everyone will love the more sane you.
Don’t forget to use any and all free moments to rest and decompress. I already mentioned making maximum use of your time while the baby is asleep. Then your brain might start thinking: What about the dirty dishes… or the laundry… or all the errands that need to be done?
Well, they can wait. First, you have to pull yourself together. Prioritizing your mental) well-being and emotional health will make your life a lot easier.
5. You will find your own way to parent that is right for you.
When my baby cries uncontrollably, I do not try to soothe him right away. This is unlike my family members, who are swift to take him into their arms and start rocking him, talking to him at a high pitch as if to drown out my baby’s voice.
I, on the other hand, wait a moment to try and understand what’s going on. Once I find the reason, I take him away from whatever is stimulating him and sing to him in a soft voice. My approach may draw criticism, because I let him cry without jumping into action as soon as possible. But he’s my baby, after all.
In essence, the parenting style of introverts is quiet, thoughtful, and intuitive, similar to our nature. These characteristics can make us empathetic, good listeners, and problem-solvers. Isn’t that what matters when it comes to newborns who cannot communicate properly?
In the End, It’s All Worth It
Have I figured it all out? Absolutely not! There are days when the whole routine goes awry. At times, I can’t control my overthinking brain and panic about my baby’s weight, his developmental milestones, or the color and texture of his poop. Not to mention, I am exhausted as hell every night when I put my baby to sleep.
But, like clockwork, when I see the smile on my little rascal’s face each morning, I forget the previous day’s toil and get pumped up for the day’s adventure. And you will, too.
You might like:
- How to Prepare for Giving Birth When You’re an Introvert or Sensitive Person
- How to Survive Parenthood When You’re an Introvert Who Needs Alone Time
- 27 ‘Strange’ Things You Do Because You’re a Highly Sensitive Person
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