Update: I wrote this post two years ago, but it seems especially relevant given our current situation with the global pandemic. I don’t know about you guys, but I am struggling as an introverted mom right now!
I am a serious introvert. While I love people, I definitely need quiet time throughout each day in order to recharge and regain my energy. I am also a highly sensitive person (HSP), so I am easily overstimulated by activity and noise. These are both good things–part of how God made me.
However, it can make parenting a bit of a challenge. You see, I also get overwhelmed by my own children. The mental and physical energy that it takes to be with them (as much as I love them) still wipes me out. I can get what Anne from Modern Mrs. Darcy called a “kid hangover.”
This is especially true in the summer when I am home with my kids full-time. I am a teacher, so I have the wonderful privilege of spending the summers with my children. We have some wonderful times together, but I also have to keep an eye on my needs as an introvert and HSP.
I have found that if I don’t get the quiet times that I need, I am much more quick to yell at my children. I lose my joy and don’t have as much fun with them. In other words, I need to take care of myself so that I can be the best possible mother that God has created me to be.
While I am still learning and growing in this area, I have learned a few things over the years that have helped me as an introverted mom. I thought I would share them with you today.
The Introverted Mom’s Summer Survival Guide
1.Mandatory Quiet Time
Each day in our house, we have mandatory quiet time. It’s a non-negotiable part of our schedule! Here’s what this looks like for us:
- From 12:30-2:00 all kids are in separate rooms.
- The kids can read, play quietly on their beds, or take a nap.
- Typically, my four-year-old son, George falls asleep.
- Andrew (age 9) curls up with a good book while Ella (age 5) plays with dolls or puzzles on her bed.
- I will read, write, or take a nap.
Because we have been doing mandatory quiet time since the kids were born, there is no arguing or whining about it. They know the rules–on your bed, no talking, you may get up at 2:00. And, honestly, I think we all need it. It helps us calm down and recharge for the rest of the day.
2. Book Bag Time
We go to the library A LOT during the summer! Like two or three times a week! We are constantly checking out new books, getting new movies, and attending library programs.
I keep all of our library books on designated book shelves in our living room and in a bag by the couch. If I feel that I need some introvert time, if the kids are arguing, or if we all just seem exhausted, I will declare “Book Bag Time.”
I set a timer for 30 minutes, and we all pull out library books and read. Andrew is becoming a serious reader, so he always has a series going that he loves to jump into at any time. Ella is able to read quietly to herself now, which is wonderful! And, George can look at pictures in his books for quite awhile. I pull out my current read and sit down in the living room to join them.
A variation on Book Bag Time is Audio Book Time. We always have an audio book going and enjoy a quiet half hour listening to it.
3. Strategic Play Dates
Just because I am an introvert does not mean that I am a hermit. I do enjoy talking to other people, especially close friends whom I already know well. Going to public places frequently or having conversations with people I do not know well, however, can quickly exhaust me.
This is where strategic play dates come in. I have a few friends with kids who are close in age to mine. Getting together for an hour or two with them is a wonderful way to pass an afternoon. I can have a nice conversation with my friend while we watch our kiddos play together.
4. Trading Play Dates
Another option for the introverted mom is trading play dates. It’s simple to set up:
- Find another mom who is willing to swap play date hosting duties.
- Set up a schedule–perhaps every Tuesday afternoon your kids will have a play date together.
- Agree on a set amount of time. I have found that two hours is generally long enough but not too long!
- One week you will watch all of the kids for the two hours while the other mom gets some alone time.
- The next week you get your turn to drop the kids off and have two whole hours to yourself!
Those two hours can be used to do errands alone (oh, the bliss!), go to a coffee shop and read a book, go to the gym and catch a class, or just to go on a walk alone and pray.
5. One Day Out–One Day In
This is a trick that I learned from an older mom and have since latched onto! The idea is simple: if you have one busy day where you are out of the house for much of the day, then you will spend the next day at home. One day out, one day in.
Such a simple idea, but it has been a game changer for me! For example, this past Wednesday I took the kids to a new park in the morning, had a play date in the early afternoon, and went to a splash park in the late afternoon. By the end of the day we were all exhausted, and I was “peopled out.”
So, on Thursday we stayed around the house. The kids played in their rooms, rode their bikes, played outside, and read books. We made cookies together and did an art project. It was quiet, it was peaceful, it was blissful. And, I felt like I restored my introvert balance. Sigh.
6. Tag, You’re It!
Finally, an introverted parent needs the help of a co-parent. My husband is also an introvert, so he completely understands my need for quiet time each day. During the summer, I am the primary childcare giver since I am not teaching. However, when he gets home from working or on the weekends, we often play, “Tag, you’re it!”
That means that if I have reached my limits of noise or activity and have a “kid hangover,” I can ask him to take over for a set period of time. For example, I might ask him to play with the kids for an hour while I go to the grocery store, go to a weekday Vespers by myself, or just close the door to our bedroom and read.
And, I will do the same for him. After all, we’re in the parenting thing together!
Taking care of yourself as an introvert and recognizing your limits and limitations is an important part of being a good parent. I have come to realize that self-care is not selfish–it is life-giving and enables me to pour love into my children.
I’d love to hear tips that you have learned! How do you parent your children as an introvert?