This guest post is filled with one mom’s account of living life as an introverted mom. She shares encouragement for moms in her story.
Introverts and extroverts are very different. One of their main differences is how they like to interact with others. Extroverts like to be around a lot of people and tend to draw their own energy from the energy of others. They tend to get cabin fever pretty easily, and they love interacting and talking to other people.
Introverts are another story.
I am introverted (Like a lot. My Myers Briggs has me at about 90% introverted), and I have found that a lot of times that is misunderstood. I am not anti-social. I am not overly shy. I am not a blind follower who lets others push her around. But as an introvert, I feel rejuvenated and energized after quiet time by myself. I am completely capable of being in the fray of things, being a leader, or being energetic, but those things are draining for me. I need time to recuperate by just being alone. I feel the most energized and alert when I have had time to quietly reflect or work on something without being interrupted.
I think introverts and extroverts need each other. We have different qualities that compliment each other and balance us out. I’m not going to get into all of the intricacies of all of that, but I did want to talk about something important.
Parenting is Extroverted Work
Being a mom is an extroverted job.
That does not mean that an introverted mom cannot be a good mom! It just means that we need to be aware and embrace our personalities.
I’m going to get personal for a minute. I have been trying to be an extroverted mom since my 4 year old was born. It has been awful. I kept thinking to myself, “Maybe I was not supposed to be a mom. Maybe I’m not cut out for this.”
Then I read a book called “Quiet” by Susan Cain. It has completely changed my life. I’m not trying to run from my introverted personality anymore, and have learned how to embrace it. Since it is making such a huge difference in my life, I wanted to share some things I am doing differently that are really helping me be my best self.
Moms Don’t Get Breaks
Moms don’t get days off (or lunch breaks, or bathroom breaks, or time to sleep….you get it). We are on call all. the. time. And young kids demand a lot from us of our time, our energy, and our emotions. That is hard for everyone, but it is especially hard for us introverts who need to be alone occasionally to function properly.
Related: No Work Life Balance for SAHMs
Leonard Nimoy, best known for his acting role as Spock on the old Star Trek series, was a method actor. That means that he never broke character when they were filming. His character’s defining characteristic was that he didn’t show any emotion. So he didn’t show any emotion the entire day when they were filming. No breaks. After they were done filming for the day he would just break down and sob for a while because holding in all your emotions is hard work and your body needs to let them out. Does that sound familiar? I hope I’m not the only one, because I heard that story and said, “Yep, that is basically my life.”
I am a huge believer in Peaceful Parenting. You can read more about it in my post The Truth Behind Peaceful Parenting. The gist is that our interactions with our children are peaceful. There’s no yelling or spanking, and we use misbehaviors as opportunities for teaching correct principles. That is a lot of holding in of emotions to discuss calmly issues that make us want to stomp our own feet and yell a little. That goes up ten-fold when you have a child with special needs (like me) who demands more attention, has more behavioral issues, and who needs therapies and instruction at home.
Find Small Moments
Doing this is going to be hard no matter what you do (take a deep breath and say, “this too shall pass” with me), but in her book, Susan Cain talks about finding time for “restorative niches” during the day if you find yourself working in an extroverted job. Finding small moments during the day and claiming those for yourself will help you to get your little bursts of rejuvenation that will keep you sane.
This is going to be trial and error, but find the things that make you feel calm and more like yourself instead of someone trying to be someone else. Maybe it is reading a book, maybe it is journaling, maybe it is sipping hot tea on your deck, maybe it is yoga, maybe meditation, maybe anything else that makes you happy and lowers your stress level.
Then you have to make the time for those things. I know, I know, you are probably saying, “But there is so much that I need to get done! I can’t add one more thing to the list!” And you are right, we have so much that we need to get done. I am not going to even pretend I can list it all because that just seems like it would be exhausting and we all know.
All of the things that we are in charge of are so important.
But do you know what?
So are you.
Your mental health needs to be a priority, so treat it like one. You cannot draw from an empty well. If you stop refilling yourself with the things that you need, you are not going to be the best mom or wife (or anything really) that you can be. So it is not selfish to sit and read a book for a few minutes. It is not selfish to not multitask while you drink your tea, but just to sit and enjoy it. It is not selfish to take care of yourself.
So the next time the kids are playing outside by themselves for 15 minutes? Claim that time for yourself and leave the dishes for later. Kids are glued to Paw Patrol? Claim that time for yourself and sweep up the cracker crumbs later. Have some work to get done after they are in bed, but you kind of feel like crying? Claim that time for yourself! And don’t beat yourself up for the things you didn’t get done during that time!
The first step on being a healthy you is to embrace who you are. If you are an introvert, that means claiming those needs and recognizing them as valid. Don’t be ashamed by needing something different than someone else. And stop with the comparing yourself to extroverted moms and trying to be them. (And if you are a special needs mom struggling with this, please read my post on that subject). You have so much to add to this world and so many great strengths that extroverts don’t have. You will be amazed at the difference it makes when you love yourself for who you are and give yourself what you need.
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Mary Winfield is the media manager and blog editor at SPED Homeschool and blogs about special needs parenting and homeschooling at www.growingastheygrow.com. She is the mom to 2 rambunctious toddlers who are more dirt than boys most of the time. She is an avid reader and loves to write all kinds of genres. She especially loves connecting to other moms so she can learn from them and maybe even offer a little help in return.