From what I understand, it’s fairly common for parents expecting their second child to have some worries about how their oldest child will react to a new sibling. My husband and I have had the same concerns about Babykins. After all, she will be just over 2 years old when Sweet Pea arrives–there really isn’t a way to talk to her about her new little brother or sister. I realize that we aren’t the first family to have kids close in age and we’ll find a way to make it work, but doubt still lingers.
However, I have moments of hope that Babykins will easily slip into her role of big sister. Recently she has started to play with her baby doll more. She can be very sweet with Dolly–she rocks Dolly, pats Dolly, pushes Dolly in a stroller, and (attempts to) swaddle Dolly.
“Ah,” I think to myself during these moments, “Babykins is naturally so caring. She’s so sweet! Maybe we won’t have many issues with her adjusting to the new baby.”
Of course, these moments are usually followed with scenarios like this:
And, with the promise of food, Babykins’s “natural” care promptly disappears and Dolly is left abandoned on the floor.
Conclusion: There’s a reason why toddlers aren’t in charge of another human life.
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?