Thursday, June 19, 2014


My sophomore year of college I shared an apartment with three girls.  It was a hard year for lots of reasons, but after I took the Myers Briggs test during my spring semester I discovered one of the reasons I was pretty unhappy.  The test said I was an INTP with pretty strong introversion.  My immediate reaction was that I couldn't be an introvert because I was so outgoing and social. Then I learned that introversion was more about how you get energy and that I was likely drained (rather than energized) by social interaction.  And it totally clicked why living with three girls was exhausting me.  After that year I mainly lived alone (until I got married) and absolutely loved it.

My husband Blake and I are both energized by alone time, which is definitely challenging now that we have children.  As I've reflected on parenting choices over the last two and a half years, I've thought a lot about what I want to teach my children.  One thing I emphasized a lot with Jackson was learning to enjoy his own company.  While I could care less if he's an introvert (and actually think life is easier in some ways an extrovert), I want him to be able to entertain himself and not need constant companionship--plus I knew we'd have another child, and he would need to be able to function without my constant attention.  And wow, whether it's what I've emphasized, genetic, or just by chance, Jackson loves being alone.  After two hours at the Discovery Museum yesterday, Jackson played outside by himself for almost 30 minutes--mainly sitting in a chair and surveying our yard.  He loves to "read" alone and work on his projects (moving dirt, cutting the grass, organizing various things, etc.).  This picture is what I saw when I looked out the window yesterday; Jackson just sitting in a chair.

With a second child, it's been much more challenging to give her opportunities to be alone.  I've started putting her in her crib with toys for 5-15 minutes stretches, but her brother usually ends up wanting to be with her or giving her toys and interacting with her.  When her brother isn't home she'll play alone for a few minutes but is definitely accustomed to having him around to help entertain her.  Now that she's walking 99% of  the time she's seeming more independent and exploring more on her own.  Of course, different personalities are what makes the world go round, and we love seeing their individual personalities emerge.

p.s. I'm thankful for our new family routine of taking walks in the morning.


lisacng @ said...

Jackson is adorable just chilling in his chair. It's nice that you have a fenced-in area where he CAN be on his own. Being a doting first parent, I think we didn't give our son enough opportunity to be alone. Nevertheless, if he's into something, like a water table or playing with snow, he can be entertained for also very long. It's wonderful. We're lucky that our daughter is already pretty independent, playing in her crib after she wakes up (don't really here her over the monitor) or just playing with toys by herself or crawling around, exploring.

lisacng @ said...
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lisacng @ said...
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Laura Anne said...

It's a really interesting thing. My friends who are a family of 4 (Mum, Dad, brother and sister) were the ones who taught me about Myers Briggs (I'm an ENFP or ENTJ - I seem to swing) were telling me about the parenting challenges as all of them are introverts except the sister. So they would all go off and have alone time and she'd be left on her own going a little nutty. They then realised that the best thing was for them to take turns being alone to help the extrovert in the family!

I was always very independent - my mum worked full-time, I was an only child for seven years and my grandparents were fairly old by the time I came along and were looking after me all day every weekday and occasionally on a weekend. So I had to learn to entertain myself! But I think a sign of an independent extrovert is when as a kid you don't just have an imaginary friend, you create a whole imaginary gang (or school) when you are on your own too much! :)

Trisha Hargrove said...

Allison, I love this! I love how he can entertain himself for a while, that's so important! My girls don't get much of an opportunity to be alone, but now that they have their own rooms they do enjoy taking moments to themselves. I also think the personality tests are interesting...I am INFJ which is speculated to be the same as Jesus...and Hitler?! lol