At nearly 32 weeks pregnant, the excitement and worry about the upcoming arrival of Baby is heightening. One of my bigger concerns is the fact that motherhood is a 24/7 job. I’ve worked with babies and toddlers through my daycare and nanny jobs. I know how demanding and exhausting they can be. On especially hard days, knowing that I could leave got me through quitting time.
But motherhood has no punch-out card. Motherhood has no guaranteed breaks. This is unsettling for my introverted self. What if I can’t find the quiet time that I need? How do I find that balance between caring for my child and having alone time?
Thankfully, I won’t be the only introverted parent on the planet. Many introverted mothers have and currently are lovingly raising their children.
Obviously I can’t speak from experience about balancing motherhood and introversion. However, I have been looking for advice on introverts surviving (and even enjoying) child-rearing. Here are some of the top tips I’ve found so far:
1. Carve out alone time into every day. Since introverts need alone time to recharge, it is vital that they get this time every day. According to Marti Olsen Laney in The Introvert Advantage, “Focusing twenty-four hours a day on the needs of another being can be extraordinarily taxing. Introverted moms need to find ways to take breaks and be completely alone or shift into a relaxing adult activity,” (pg. 135). Making children’s nap time/quiet time a priority is a good way to make this happen.
2. Don’t be afraid to tell your children “No”. Sometimes keeping up with kids’ schedules, especially when you have several children or an extroverted child, can be exhausting. That means to keep your sanity, you have to say “no” to some activities. It could be a long term activity–like joining another sports team, or a one time thing–like playing tea party when all you want is 10 minutes of peace and quiet.
Sometimes this also means that you have to create rules that may seem strict to others. I liked this author’s rules about no unnecessary noise.
3. Find social outings with your children that you are comfortable with. Not to say that introverted mothers should never try something out of their comfort zone. However, if a specific activity or social situation makes you perpetually uncomfortable, don’t force it.
One introverted mother stated in this Today Parents post, “It is somewhat selfish of me, but for the most part, my daughter only has play dates with kids whose moms I also connect with.” Since the new norm in the world of playdates is for the mothers to socialize while their children play, this can be draining if you don’t connect with the other mother. She also advises bringing something like a book to activities to signal that she doesn’t want to make small talk.
4. Don’t feel guilty about needing time away from your children. Parenting requires sacrifice. Your children need you, and that means giving up or cutting back on some things you enjoyed before children. However, as an introvert, having time to quietly recharge will make you a happier, healthier mom. That alone time may need to look different than before you had kids (i.e.–it’s at a different time of day, the location changes), but it still needs to be there.
And as your children age, “It’s important to explain to your children that you feel drained by too many activities, that you need breaks to recharge your energy in a way they may not,” (The Introvert Advantage, pg. 149). Even if they don’t understand immediately, you’ll introduce to them the fact that people have different temperaments.
Introversion and motherhood can coincide
Being an introverted mother can have it’s challenges (as does extroverted parenting). However, introversion can also help with parenting. Introverts may be able to better listen to their children when interacting with them one-on-one. Likewise, they may overall take better to the enclosed world that parenting small children create.
Hopefully I can take my own advice come October. 🙂
Are you an introverted parent? How do you find a balance between your children and your introversion?
Well, it’s been in a year since I’ve consistently posted on Introvert Monday. Apparently working full time took more out of me than I expected!
At any rate, I’m hoping to restart this series and find exciting facts and stories about introversion. Yay! But since I haven’t written much about this topic in the last year, I thought I would spend today doing a brief overview of what introversion is.
There are many definitions of introversion floating around, but the general gist of introversion is this: “What constitutes an introvert is quite simple. We are a vastly diverse group of people who prefer to look at life from the inside out. We gain energy and power through inner reflection, and get more excited by ideas than by external activities. When we converse, we listen well and expect others to do the same. We think first and talk later,” (Laurie Helgoe, Introvert Power, pg. 13).
2. Introverts need alone time
Introverts regain energy by having time to themselves to think, dream, ponder, etc. This is compared to extroverts who get their energy from interacting with others.
3. Introversion and extroversion are traits that are found on a spectrum
I’ve had many people comment that they thought they were introverted, but they enjoy so-and-so activity. This is partly because no one is 100% introverted or extroverted. You’ll meet introverts who work in fields that require a lot of social interaction and you’ll meet extroverts who occasionally retreat from the world. In fact, even introverts need social interaction and even extroverts need alone time. The key is how much an introvert or extrovert need.
In fact, some people may fall close to the middle of the introvert-extrovert spectrum. They’re called ambiverts.
4. Introverts aren’t necessarily shy!
This is a mix up that happens a lot. Just because a person is introverted doesn’t mean they struggle with severe shyness. Many introverts have no problem talking to strangers or public speaking, they just have to find time alone to regain their energy. Likewise, extroverts can be shy. This can be extremely difficult for them because they desire more social interaction but may have problems finding it.
5. Introversion/extroversion is only one aspect of personality
People are complex. To try to define them by one personality trait is ridiculously simplistic. However, I’ve chosen to write about introversion because it is an often misunderstood aspect of personality.
If you would like to know more about introversion, check out my “Resources for Introverts” page. I would love to hear if you have any suggestions for further reading!
If you aren’t sure where you fall on the introvert/extrovert spectrum, you can take a quiz here.
My sister linked me to this comic the other day. Her depiction of introversion is spot on and her drawings are, well, actually drawings instead of doodles. And her character even has red hair!
In other news, I finally bought The Highly Sensitive Person by Elaine N. Aron, Ph.D. I’m very excited to reread this book! I hope to highlight some of the important points from her findings and share them with you.
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.