Personality types, Enneagram, Myers-Briggs and books, TED talks, podcasts about what makes you the way you are, are everywhere these days. It’s the new trendy topic, and while it may be a fad, it has spurred me (and millions of others) into learning more about what makes me “me.”
My main interest has been in the copious material available on introverts vs. extroverts. And I am, without a doubt, an introvert, which doesn’t mean that I don’t enjoy being with people or that I can’t function normally in society. According to my research, the main difference between these two personality types is this: extroverts fill their cups, and feel happy and energized, by interacting with other people. Introverts are the opposite.
While, as an introvert, I love my friends and family and enjoy being around them, I find too much human interaction to be draining. Every introvert has their own threshold when it comes to how much interaction they can tolerate before longing to retreat to a quiet place.
As a stay-at-home mom, this has been a challenge! Before I had children, I always needed time to myself, but I never thought much about it because it was always available, at least for a little while each day. But once I had my babies, and they started to grow bigger and more wonderful and more mischievous and louder and more demanding, I began to feel the strain.
Simply put, children, and especially young children, require near-constant interaction. They don’t want you to leave the room for any length of time, or at least mine don’t. Someone always wants a snack, is punching someone, needing a hug, a Band-Aid, a book read to them. Someone is always touching you, always needing you, ALL of you.
Yeah, I’m sure a lot of you are saying, that’s parenthood. And I totally agree – this is not a list of complaints. This is just reality. And as an introvert, as much as I love staying home with my children, I find it challenging.
So what can we introverts do to maintain our sanity when we are blessed with beautiful children who never give us a moment’s peace?
Here are a few things I’ve found that work for me:
Change my thinking
At times, I find myself easily frustrated when my kids are being extra demanding and I just want a moment to myself. But what makes a big difference is when I step back and tell myself to manage my expectations. Ok, self, I say, the kids need you right now. I know you need some breathing room, but if you settle down and focus on what’s happening, instead of constantly looking for a break, you’ll feel better. And it’s true. I tell my little introverted self that there will be time to recharge later, but for now, the boys need me, and this is what I’m here for.
Carve out time alone
This is key. I have a couple of blocks of time during every weekend, when my husband is home from work, which are designated “me times.” Every Saturday morning, he takes the boys out for a couple of hours, usually to bounce at Area 51 and get smoothies. I use that time to either go to a coffee shop to read and write or catch up on chores while listening to an audiobook or a podcast. Then he usually takes them to his mother’s house on Sunday evenings and brings them back for bedtime. I usually use this time to straighten up the house and get everything ready for the week ahead, and I make sure to build in a little time to relax as well. This summer, these breaks have been incredibly important for me because I have had at least one (usually two) kids with me at all times since school got out.
There are definitely times I would rather stay at home than take my kids out somewhere. But I never want my children to miss out on opportunities because I would rather be alone or be somewhere quiet than take them to that birthday party, to the zoo, or on a trip. So even if I’m not feeling super social that day, I try to suck it up and ensure that they have a good time. And often, in doing this, I enjoy myself maybe more than I thought I would.
So if you’re an introverted parent, trust me – you’re not alone! This year I’ve learned to embrace this fact about myself and learn more about it as a way to take better care of myself and be there for my family in the best way possible. So here’s to us, introverts – kick back and treat yourself to a little alone time!