What’s an ambivert, you say? It’s someone who can be both introverted and extroverted, when they want to be. But sometimes it’s something that they can’t control either. For when my wonderful, social butterfly husband needs to recharge, it’s very obvious — to me anyway. There’s not a lot of in-between; it’s either on or off. And maybe that’s a guy thing, but I appreciate the directness. I, however, am less direct nor do I know when I need to rest until it’s too late and I’ve overcommitted. So here are my five tips for surviving the holidays with an ambivert, if you happen to live with one, realized or not.
We Can’t All Be the Energizer Bunny
Think about your level of exhaustion and what it takes to wear you out each day. Then multiply that by about 300, and that’s where I exist most days. I’m grateful to have lots of energy, even more when I have that extra cup of coffee or God forbid energy drink, to tackle homeschooling, a part-time job, meal planning, two kids in sports, church, and Bible study… and that’s just each week. We all know how quickly the social calendar fills up, especially this time of year. And I have learned to be more selective in which ones are “required attendance” by the hubs and which ones he can take a pass and recharge at home. With age, the COVID era, and our move further out into “the burbs,” I’ve even learned to become more of a hermit myself, taking more passes at play dates or girl time simply because I’m tired. And I’m becoming more and more okay with it. So my advice here is not to sign yourself or your significant other up for something until you are committed.
Prioritize the Important Things
For us, family time is number one. Coming in at a close second is church, followed by commitments like sports teams. Of course, school and work during the day are implied musts. Trying to fit in play dates with other friends with kids, and sometimes more importantly date nights and girls’ nights, it can be difficult to know which should come first. My advice to you, having hurt some people by my thoughtless actions before, is to keep in mind the friend pecking order in your head (c’mon, you know we all have it) and also keep in mind the first come, first served rule. If you committed to something already and another opportunity comes up, whether it’s more appealing because of distance, cost savings, time commitment, or just the fun factor, hold fast to that first commitment. It’s only fair, and you are really putting yourself before others if you are not doing so.
Pick and Choose
Sometimes the hassle of getting a sitter, possibly picking them up or coordinating drop off, providing dinner for them and the kids, communicating your wishes for the evening including bedtime instructions (even if they are one of your regulars), not to mention the cost of gas these days, paying for said childcare, possibly buying or making a dish or even outfit requirements… it can be too much. If you decide you both want to attend the event, more power to you. Or maybe one of you just goes; we do that sometimes and that’s okay, too. But it’s also okay to know when something is just not worth the effort for both of you to attend. Like that work Christmas party with coworkers you don’t even like where you’ll drink way too much anyway so you don’t have to remember the awkward conversations, for example. But I’m sure no one can relate to that.
Create Your Own Traditions
Don’t feel like being around friends or extended family during the holidays? Create your own family traditions, like Black Friday shopping at 5 a.m. with hot cocoa or making popcorn on a string and blasting Christmas songs while you decorate the tree. And it doesn’t have to be extravagant or expensive! Maybe it’s just watching A Christmas Story while making brunch together after opening presents. For us, sometimes Sunday evenings are just a family bike ride to the pond nearby to fish. It brings me a lot of joy when we come up with something that we can do as a family that fills my cup but doesn’t zap his energy either.
Respect Their Boundaries
My ambivert husband has his recharge place, which also happens to be his office. But when it’s not working hours, sometimes he is listening to a podcast, playing guitar, listening to his records, or video gaming. Either way, it’s his safe space. I often come in and chat with him; I even have my own dedicated spot where I sit. But sometimes, and this may sound silly at first, if he’s in the zone I ask if I can ask him a question. Or sometimes I’ll just save it for later at dinner if it can wait and he’s in his happy place. You see, I’ve learned through 13 years of marriage not to mess with that Zen! Ambiverts need that recharge time to turn on their extrovert self when the time is right. And I’ve been learning that we all truly need this downtime. For me, sometimes it’s hot yoga or a walk with our dog. Or I’ll hide in our bedroom and watch old movies while folding laundry. Our boys even have their spot upstairs where they wrestle, cuddle with the dogs and play Mario Kart.
We all need alone time and our own safe space and I think that’s the ultimate key to living with an ambivert. Best of luck to you and Godspeed for this upcoming busy holiday season!