Lazy Person’s Logic

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Introvert Monday: Keeping Sane as an Introverted Nanny

introverts and children

Aside from the chirping birds outside and the fridge humming, my boss’s house is quiet.  I lounge in the armchair as I wait for the children to awake, rotating between gazing out the window and reading.  I soak up the solitude and silence now because I know that once the kids are up, it will be hours before I experience quiet again.  I glance at the clock.  7:55, I should really wake them up, I think to myself.  In less than 10 minutes, I have the kids seated at the table to eat breakfast.  They quickly shake the slow sleepiness of the night and move into the high energy of the day.  Before I know it, they are happily talking over one another and wrestling in the living room.

It’s loud.  It’s chaotic.  It’s everything that the introvert in me tries to avoid.  Why am I doing this job again?

Believe it or not, I do actually like children.  They’re funny and enthusiastic, and I enjoy teaching and helping them.  While I didn’t go to college to become a nanny, there are certainly other professions I could have pursued to help pay the bills while my husband is in seminary.  Nannying has simply worked out to be the best option for me for the time being.  Consequently, I find myself in conflict with two parts of me:  One who enjoys the world of children and the one who thrives in a world of structure and calm.   Obviously, both parts need to compromise with one another in order for me to keep my sanity.  The two biggest helps I have found in balancing my life as an introverted nanny are quiet zones and quiet time.

Quiet Zones

I am acutely sensitive to noise.  The inevitable roar of a large crowd makes me cringe and I have to put my dress watch in my jewelry box so I can’t hear it ticking at night.  When by myself, I often choose to do my hobbies in silence rather than turning on the radio or television.

However, children are noisy creatures.  Whether it’s by increasing their volume during play or making odd, unconscious sounds during quiet activities, kids suck the silence out of any situation.  That’s just the way they are.  I realize it would be unfair of me to expect them to keep their play quiet.

To find a compromise between my preference for quiet and the needs of my nanny children, I try to ignore the reasonable noises they make.  Sounds like a happily raised voiced or an occasional burst of loud bangs or crashes should be tolerated.  However, if they start getting rowdy or continue a loud noise for several minutes to the point where I can feel my nerves tingling, I give them choices.  Either they can switch to a different activity or go play somewhere else, like the basement or outside, where they can make all the noise they want.  Sometimes they choose to find a different activity, sometimes they choose to go elsewhere, and sometimes I wind up choosing for them to go elsewhere after they have been already warned to keep the noise down.  Usually they sulk for the first few minutes after I choose for them, but soon they are happily being noisy again in a place where they won’t get into trouble.  After a few minutes of quiet for myself (often I’m doing something like cleaning the kitchen), I’ll go and join them, able to participate another round of loud, rowdy play.

Quiet Time

Like a stay-at-home-mom, I don’t have a real break .  Since I am the only adult in the house, so I can’t punch out for an hour and tell the kids to leave me alone. This can make for a very long day.  Consequently, finding some sort of reprieve from childcare duties for at least an hour after lunch is vital for me to keep functioning at my best (or at least keep me from become a blubbering mass before a parent comes home).

Naps are a useful way of making quiet time.  Ideally, you tuck the child in and they’ll sleep for a couple of hours.  Of course, no child likes taking naps, especially as they get older.  This means some compromises maybe  needed to create a quiet time in the house.   For kids not yet in kindergarten, sometimes I put them in bed with a couple of books to look at (sometimes they’ll even fall asleep reading!).  For older children with their own bedroom, I’ll let them play with quiet toys in their room.  This year I have permission to show a movie for the older kids while the younger child naps.  While this isn’t as the quietest option, it still gives me a chance to drink a cup of coffee and stare off into space for awhile.

This quiet time can be good for children as well as introverted nannies, even extroverted children.  Marti Olsen Laney, Psy. D., explains in her book The Introvert Advantage, “Many extroverted children don’t want to miss out on anything, which can really be exhausting for parents, even extroverted parents.  Schedule quiet time even if your children don’t want to slow down [. . .] Even every extroverted children can do too much.  They need opportunities to practice introverting,” (pg. 148-149).  Just like children need adults to help them understand how their bodies need healthy foods and when their bodies are telling them to use the bathroom, they also need adults help to teach them that their bodies need rest.

Preparing for the Future

While nannying isn’t exactly the same as parenting, there are some things that overlap.   Consequently, I feel that learning how to handle my days as an introverted nanny will help me when I become an introverted mother.  Of course, this could be an overconfident delusion, but one can always dream.

What tips do you have for other introverted nannies?  Do introverted parents have any survival tactics they would like to share?

Here’s another nifty list of how to handle being an introverted parent: http://creatingafairhaven.wordpress.com/2011/11/22/10-survival-tips-for-introverted-parents/.  I’m not saying that I would implement every rule she has created, but I admire her for realizing that she needs to care for her introverted nature in order for her to function as a mother. 


Adding a Bit of Excitement to the Athanasian Creed

Today is Trinity Sunday, the Sunday when Lutheran Congregations typically recite the Athanasian Creed.  It’s the longest of our three creeds, so I came up with an idea to make it more exciting to recite.

You know the children’s song “Allelu, Allelu, Allelu, Alleluia”?  It’s a simple, repetitious song that doesn’t really teach anything.  No, the fun in this song is that the children are divided into two groups:  The Allelus and the Praise Ye the Lords.  Every time the respective groups sing their parts, they stand up and belt out the words as loud as they can.  When they aren’t singing, they sit down.  The idea is to do the song several times, each time going faster and faster until the children are hopping up and down to sing their part.

Okay, so it’s a little hard to explain in writing.  Perhaps you should just watch it:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ag5l9u4h4eU (note:  These kids are a bit confused, so they aren’t going up and down like they’re supposed to.  For some reason, there aren’t many videos of kids screaming out this song on YouTube).

Anyway, I suggested to my husband that we should do the Athanasian Creed in a similar fashion:  Divide the congregation into two groups, one group saying the odd “verses” and the other group saying the even “verses.”  Likewise, I told him we should see which group could do it the loudest.

A Creed Sunday

He didn’t use my suggestion for some reason.


My Parents Are Visiting!

My parents are visiting my husband and me this weekend.  I’m so excited!

mom and dad


Why I Hate Shopping at Walmart: The Great Chalk Search

Sidewalk chalk is something that falls into my “Amazingly Cheap, Not Messy, and Fun” toy category.  What’s not to like about it (well, besides when i love chalkthe dog eats a piece and proceeds to drool pink slobber over everyone)?  It’s fun for toddlers and children, and you can make games like hopscotch.  Consequently, chalk is something I feel should be in every family’s toy collection.  Since my current nanny family’s sidewalk chalk had gone missing over the weekend, I decided to buy some more at Walmart.  Little did I know that I was at the beginning The Great Chalk Search.

When I arrived at Walmart on my work day, I easily found the first few toiletries on the list.  I felt optimistic that I could get the shopping done quickly as I headed to the toy aisles to look for chalk.  However, I could only find one type of chalk in the seasonal toy aisle–a stupid package that had the chalk stick in 3 or 4 different colors so that you can draw in rainbow colors.  All I wanted was some plain, single colored chalk.

stupid chalk

Puzzled, I wandered over to the outdoor toy section.  There wasn’t any chalk among the bicycle helmets and baseball mitts.  I then wandered over to the seasonal items section.  Again, no chalk mingled in with the picnic supplies and pool toys.  Starting to feel frustrated by my lack of success in finding simple sidewalk chalk, I (finally) found an employee to ask.  She replied, “I’m pretty sure that it’s in the toy section.  If not, it should be with the seasonal items.  Or the garden supplies.”

“Are you sure?”  I asked incredulously.  After all, I had already checked the toy aisle and seasonal items.  On the other hand, I did have a tendency to not find items nestled in the rows and rows of stuff.

“Yeah, I think so,”  the employee said.

Gritting my teeth, I pushed the cart back to the toy aisle.  I then proceeded to walk down all four sections of the toys.  Not only was there still no chalk, I realized that the toy section’s organization made absolutely no sense!  Toy groupings didn’t match, some toys were found in multiple locations, and giant, expensive toys easily overpowered basic, cheap toys.  The perfectionist in me started feeling twitchy.

toboggans

Seriously, they were still selling toboggans. Never mind the fact I couldn’t find a hat to buy in March when I lost my good one, at least I can buy a sled at the end of May!

I gave up on the toy aisle and went to the gardening section.  Once again, I walked down all the sections–still no chalk to be found.  Now starting to clench my jaw with annoyance, I walked back to the seasonal items section to check every aisle.  I could find pool noodles, lighter fluid, and giant bubble wands but not a single piece of chalk.

Really, I should have given up at this point.  But I wanted to have chalk when I  played outside with my nanny kids and I didn’t want to disappoint the toddler who so sweetly asked me last week, “Iaeij e sojiea calk?” (that’s in toddler-ese.  The translation is, ” May I play with chalk?”).  Plus, it was  ridiculous  that I couldn’t find something as basic as sidewalk chalk.

By this point, I was rapidly becoming less annoyed and more flustered.  I had now wasted 15 minutes in Walmart–15 minutes that I was getting paid to work–looking for sidewalk chalk.  I had already asked for help.  I wanted that chalk!  Trying to cling to my dignity and not throw an adult sized tantrum under the florescent lights, I headed to the last section I could think of that would have sidewalk chalk–the office supplies (not to be confused with the craft section.  I had checked that aisle the week before for sidewalk chalk).

temper tantrum

I found the children’s art supplies in the office section.  I carefully scanned the various colored writing instruments.  There, nestled among the colored pencils and markers, was a solitary pack of sidewalk chalk.

crayons

It wasn’t what I really wanted since it only had 5 pieces.  However, I knew at that point, after spending nearly 20 minutes searching aisle after aisle for simple sidewalk chalk, that I should just grab it and get out.  Of course,  I still had the entire grocery section of my shopping list to complete.

And that’s how I wound up shopping at Walmart in a flustered, unfocused haze–which I’m sure was the layout designers plan to begin with.

CEOs


Sitting in Church

At some point during my husband’s field work years, I got used to sitting by myself in church.  At first it was lonely feeling isolated in a sanctuary full of people, but then I got used to it.  I found that while people mean well by asking if you would like to sit with them, nothing can replace the comfort of having your family beside you in church.  Sitting by family is natural.  You don’t have to ask if you can join them, it’s just expected that you will.  Sitting by well-meaning congregation members isn’t instinctive and there are many variables that can affect possible seating arrangements.  What if they are gone on a Sunday and forget to tell you they won’t be there?  What if their extended family is visiting and there isn’t any room for you in the pew?  What if they choose to sit in a part of a church that you don’t like?

No, after sitting by myself on and off for the last three years, I have found it’s less awkward to simply find my own pew section and sit on my own.  Plus, I don’t have to worry about sharing the hymnal with others or keeping my things organized.  I can stretch out.  I can fidget.  It’s become my preferred way of attending services.

happy pew

However, some weeks this plan doesn’t work.  Some weeks church is full.  And some weeks, for no apparent reason, people decide that my pew is the perfect place to worship and sit right beside me.  Gone is the freedom to fidget.  Gone is the space to stretch.  And thus begins the awkward jerks and leans as we try to figure out who gets what hymnal.

I don’t like it.

sad pew

Tada, another example of me being antisocial! Usually I’m okay with people sitting beside me if I know them on a more personal level, but sitting next to strangers and distant acquaintances? *shudders*

How do you figure out where to sit in church when you are on your own?  Do you prefer to sit by others or keep to yourself?


Introvert Monday: Awkward Social Encounters

I’m currently working on an introversion post that will take some time to write (and by “working on,” I mean “I have an idea and it sounds cool but I’m too lazy to sit down and write it.).  Anyway, I thought I would encourage you to read this post:  http://www.hyperboleandahalf.blogspot.com/2010/09/four-levels-of-social-entrapment.html.  I realize I’m a little late on the Hyperbole and a Half bandwagon but her posts are hilarious.


Being Creepers

My husband has recently started a four-week Bible study on depression at our vicarage church.  Consequently, mental illness has been a common conversation topic in our home for over a month now as my husband researches and plans his studies.

Yesterday, my husband and I went to a coffee shop.  Since it was Saturday afternoon, the shop was fairly full–an excellent time for people-watching.  One of the patrons that caught my attention was an older man studiously reading a thick textbook.  Settling onto my stool, I tried to figure out what he was reading and I saw the words “addiction” and “co-occurring disorders”  printed across the cover.  Intrigued, I cocked my head and squinted to better make out the title.  After doing this for about 30 seconds, I realized I was staring intently at the man.  I glanced over at my husband and realized that he had his head cocked to the side and was trying to read the cover of the man’s book as well.  Despite knowing that our interest was to only know what the man was reading about mental illness, we looked like a couple of creepers gaping at some poor fellow trying to mind his own business.

This is a good reason why we can’t go anywhere nice.

creepers

Fortunately, I don’t think the man noticed us.


Hymns Can Be Creepy

As Lutherans, we’re not afraid to talk about death.  Death is inevitable, death can come at any time.  We cannot teach the full sweetness of the Gospel without talking about death (Why did Jesus die on the cross?  To save us from our sins and eternal death.  Why is Jesus’ resurrection important?  Among other things, it’s because it shows that He conquered death).   Likewise, Luther’s explanation of the seventh petition of the Lord’s prayer includes praying for a blessed end, that is, a death in the faith.

This acknowledgment of death is apparent in many of our hymns.  The last verse in “Abide With Me” states,

"Hold Thou Thy cross before my closing eyes;
Shine through the gloom, and point me to the skies.
Heav'n's morning breaks, and earth's vain shadows flee;
In life, in death, O Lord, abide with me." LSB 878:6

Another example is found in “Let Us Ever Walk with Jesus”:

"Let us gladly die with Jesus.  
Since by death He conquered death, 
He will free us from destruction, 
Give to us immortal breath.  
Let us mortify all passion 
That would lead us into sin; 
And the grave that shuts us in
Shall but prove the gate to heaven.
Jesus here with You I die,
There to live with You on high." 
LSB 685:3

Now look at “In God, My Faithful God”:

"If death my portion be, 
It brings great gain to me;
It speeds my life's endeavor
To live with Christ forever.
He gives me joy in sorrow,
Come death now or tomorrow." 
LSB 745:3

There are many more examples in which Lutheran hymnody acknowledges and embraces the inevitability of death.  For the most part, I find this openness about death comforting, especially when facing the life’s constant sorrows.

However, a couple of weeks ago my husband and I were looking at “God’s Own Child, I Gladly Say It” (LSB 594).  It’s a wonderful baptism hymn filled with sound teachings of what it means to be a baptized child of God.  Then we get to verse 5:

"There is nothing worth comparing
To this lifelong comfort sure!
Open-eyed my grave is staring;
Even there I'll sleep secure.
Though my flesh awaits its raising,
Still my soul continues praising
I am baptized into Christ;
I'm a child of paradise!"

Opened-eyed my grave is staring?!  That’s a creepy image!

openeyed grave

Really, I’m not a great artist so I can’t capture how eerie a staring grave would look!

What adds to the creepiness of this phrase is the fact that the setting in the hymnal is very bouncy–it’s such a happy-sounding song!  Go ahead and listen to it if you want (this video is from a WELS church, hence the different hymn number).  Despite the spooky image, “God’s Own Child, I Gladly Say It” is a great hymn that teaches what baptism gives us, tells of Christ’s death and resurrection, beautifully explains what happens when we die, and provides comfort as we face sin and death.   I love this hymn, open-eyed graves and all.

What is your favorite “creepy” hymn?  


Introvert Monday: Why Finding Alone Time is Vital

It’s been a couple of weeks since I’ve written about introversion, but I finally got my act together and wrote a post.  Sorry it’s late again!

alone time

Today I will be discussing alone time for introverts.  A common trait among definitions of introversion includes the need for alone to time to regain lost energy.  Often the need for alone time is likened to recharging a battery.  As a reminder, introverts expend energy in social encounters while extroverts feed off the energy of other.  Marti Olsen Laney, Psy. D., writes in The Introvert Advantage, “Introverts are like a rechargeable battery.  They need to stop expending energy and rest in order to recharge.  This is what a less stimulating environment provides for introverts.  It restores energy,” (pg. 20).  A less stimulating environment often means someplace where you can be alone.

I’ve already briefly written about why introverts feel drained by social interactions, but happens when they are drained of energy?  Unfortunately, I have learned the hard way numerous times about what happens when I don’t take the time to properly recharge.   While I have many examples of times that I exhausted myself by taking on too much, one night in college particularly emphasizes what happens when an introvert doesn’t have proper alone time.

The Night I Caused Myself to Fall Apart

Every year, my church in college hosted a weekend seminar on a theological issue.  I loved having the opportunity to spend several hours of study on a specific topic taught by a guest pastor or professor.   During my time as a student, our church started inviting students from another Lutheran campus ministry program to attend the seminar.  Consequently, the weekend was jammed with activities.  Friday night was a social time for all the college students, all day Saturday was filled with the sessions, Sunday morning had the final session as well the church service, and finishing the weekend with a luncheon after church.  It was a busy weekend that took a lot of energy, but like I already said, I enjoyed going to this event.

Unfortunately, during my junior year this event landed during on of my hell weeks (you know, one of those weeks when several exams and papers are due).   I spent the week juggling studying and work.  Consequently, I was already exhausted by the time Friday arrived.  However, in my stubbornness I decided that I could work my full shift, attend the much-needed study session for my exam on Monday, and still go to the social event that night.

Big mistake.

By the time I got home that night, I felt irritated and tense.  I could also feel waves of overwhelming exhaustion coursing through my body.  I walked into my blessedly empty apartment (which was a bit of a miracle since I had three roommates), curled up on the couch, and started to sob.  In that moment, the world felt like it was too much for me to handle and I wanted to quit everything that had drained me that week:  school, work, and church.  At least I had enough sense to drag myself to bed where I promptly fell asleep.

Fortunately for me, I am a morning person, so I felt much better after sleeping off my emotional breakdown.  The rest of the weekend went well:  I enjoyed listening to the guest speaker, I decided to forgo going out to lunch with everyone else so that I could quietly study for my exam, and I enjoyed spending time with people again.

Unfortunately for me, I’m slow at accepting that I am not invincible.  Despite the obvious agony I put myself through by attending that social event on that Friday evening, I simply thought of my fit as being tired.  I continued the cycle of pushing myself to do everything and be everywhere until an exhausted sobbing fit would overtake me and force me to take a break.  It took me another year to realize that it wasn’t healthy for me to push myself to an emotional crashing point.  It’s taken me until this year to realize that I need alone time to recharge; it’s just part of being an introvert.

Signs that You’re Not Getting Time to Recharge 

Not every introvert has an emotional breakdown if they don’t get enough alone time.  Other signals that an introvert is feeling drained include:

  • Feeling unfocused
  • Feeling unmotivated
  • Feeling withdrawn
  • Being self-critical
  • Feeling anxious

Finding Balance

While it’s easy to know that introverts need alone time to recharge, it can be harder to find that alone time.  In a perfect world, we would never have to go to events that we didn’t want to attend and would have the energy to do all the things we want to accomplish.  However, life doesn’t work that way.   The Introvert Advantage explains, “We grow up in a society that promotes ‘having it all,’ ‘doing it all,’ without limitations.  But the fact is, we all have limitations–introverts in particular.  We do not have boundless energy,” (pg 225).  Consequently, we have to make choices about what we can and cannot achieve.  Again, The Introvert Advantage states, “Our energy is limited, and we need to think carefully about how we spend it.  This can be a hard pill to swallow.  However, it can also make our life more precious.  When we make conscious choices, it allows us to really appreciate what we can do,” (pgs. 225-226).

It does take some rethinking to appreciate what you can achieve with limited energy.  In my story above, I could have very easily skipped the Friday night social event and saved myself from falling apart.  But I wanted to go; it sounded like a fun evening.  I didn’t want to miss out on what many of my friends were doing.   However, if I would have taken the time to think about how the evening would actually make me feel (which I can now do with my 20/20 hindsight), I would have realized that I was too tired and drained to enjoy myself.  While the event itself was fun, I couldn’t have fun.  If I would have accepted this part of my personality, I would have saved myself from feeling irritated with my friends and completely overwhelmed.

Again, it can be difficult to admit that you can’t do everything.  Students can be envious of classmates who can socialize all weekend and get straight A’s during the week, adults can feel frustrated that they don’t have the energy to be the star employee at work, and parents can feel inadequate because they struggle to juggle the demands of child-rearing.  However, Laney explains how to start accepting our energy limitations:

“One of the quickest ways to accept the absence of something we wish we had–but don’t–is to acknowledge disappointment.  Many people want to skip over this step.  It’s called denial.  But if you pretend you don’t mind not having an energetic body or the ability to spit out snappy repartee, you may be secretly mad–critical of yourself–or feel that you have a serious flaw.  And you may keep expecting yourself to be different.  We are given feelings to help guide us through life.  It is disappointing not to be a giant ball of energy.  If you let yourself feel the loss, the sadness will pass.  In its place will be appreciation for the efficient energy you do possess,” (pg. 227).

I still struggle to acknowledge my disappointment when my energy fades and to accept that I need to say no to something I feel obligated to do or an event that I want to attend.  But I’m also starting to realize that life will be much more gratifying when learn to enjoy what I can do and that being properly charged is the best way to find this enjoyment.

Are you diligent in making sure that you have time to recharge or do you often push yourself too hard?  How do you find a balance between things that need to be done and finding time to recharge?  For extroverts, how often do you need alone time?