Parenting is hard. It can be even harder if you’re an introvert.
There are little people clamouring for your attention 24/7. Your day-to-day life thrusts you into social situations where you’re surrounded by big groups of people. And a lot of noise.
It can be hard to find enough of the quiet time you need to thrive.
What is an introverted person like?
It’s a common misconception that all introverts are shy and socially awkward.
In fact, we can be self-assured, chatty and even the life and soul of the party. It’s just that we need enough down time to be able to sparkle.
If we don’t get it, we can easily feel overwhelmed.
Being an introvert is all about how our brains are wired and how we process information.
Scientists have found that introverts are more sensitive to overstimulation. We take in more information from our surroundings and need time alone to process it.
Extroverts thrive on the energy of being in a loud and sociable environment.
Introverts get more of a buzz from turning inwards and reflecting on our inner feelings.
People empty me. I have to get away to refill. Charles Bukowski
Parenting pushes introverts out of their comfort zone
As an introvert you know your own needs and tend to limit putting yourself in situations full of people and noise.
You also make sure you’ve lots of time alone to recharge your batteries. But, once you become a parent, this becomes a lot harder.
From the moment you hold your tiny newborn in your arms your life changes forever. Your baby wants and needs you to be close by all day (and much of the night). All the chances to be alone and still suddenly vanish overnight.
As a parent you’re switched ON. All the time. Tiny humans need feeds and cuddles. They need your time and attention.
You can’t even go to the loo without a little body clamping itself to your ankles or a small voice yelling at you through the door.
Being a quiet parent in a loud world
Society is often set up to favour extroverts. Parenting is no different.
We are told to savour every precious moment we have with our children. We’re told that ‘good parents’ play with their children all the time (and relish it); they take their children to loads of activities; they join groups and make friends and get involved.
If you don’t fit into this ideal, it’s easy to feel guilty.
Introvert parents are awesome
Introvert parents are not lesser parents. We’re just different.
It’s harder for us to shine in a world that favours louder people. But we’ve got qualities that makes us awesome mums and dads.
We’re more likely to be able to tune into our child’s moods and understand them on a deeper level.
We’re great listeners.
We take the time to notice and talk to quieter kids on the fringes of a group or party.
We teach our children to relish the simple pleasures in life. Like lying on the grass to stare at the clouds. Or snuggling on the sofa with a good book.
The secret to life is to put yourself in the right lighting. For some it’s a Broadway spotlight, for others, a lamplit desk. Susan Cain
10 ways to survive as an introvert parent
If you’re an introvert parent there are things you can do to recharge and re-energise.
It’s not about changing yourself – it’s about changing what you do.
Banish the guilt
The first (and possibly most important step) is to recognise that you’re an introvert and stop beating yourself up about it.
It’s OK to be a quiet person in a loud world. Stop judging yourself for needing some time alone.
It’s not selfish – it’s self care. And it’s one of the best things you can do – for both yourself and your children.
Take some early morning time
We all know how precious every minute of sleep is but even setting your alarm 10 or 15 minutes earlier can make a world of difference.
Start the day by drinking in the peace of a still house. Sit on the step and feel the sun or the wind on your face.
Doing so will set you up to cope much better with the instant whirlwind of activity that begins as soon as your kids arise.
Hit the great outdoors each day
No matter how hectic your day is, things always feel better when you head into the big outdoors.
Even if that’s just a quick walk in the park. Take the time to breathe in the air as you push the buggy or walk along with your kids scooting or skipping along beside you.
Carve out time alone in the house
If you can get a babysitter, ask them to take the children out so you can have some time alone at home, revelling in the peace.
If your children are at playgroup or nursery don’t fill the time they’re away with chores and running errands.
Use it to find solitude and just to be at home. Again, banish any guilt for taking time to recharge.
Don’t think of introversion as something that needs to be cured… Spend your free time the way you like, not the way you think you’re supposed to. Susan Cain
Enjoy some calm activities with your kids
Try to work in quiet and calm pockets of time each day with the kids.
It might be doing gentle arts and crafts round the table. It might be curling up on bean bags with a pile of books.
It might even be watching the telly for half an hour. It’s not just you who will benefit from stepping away from the busy pace of the day – your children will too.
Build in ‘quiet time’ to your day
Even when the children are with you, you can still create some down time. You just have to make it a routine that they come to expect.
Begin by setting them up with toys or a quiet activity and explain that you will be enjoying some quiet time too on the other side of the room.
Tell them that after quiet time is over you can all play together again.
With older children, make the most of playdates
It might sound counteractive to invite more noisy kids into your home when want to you carve out peace and quiet.
Sure, you’ll have to be on hand to supervise extra children (and possibly feed them too).
But you’ll probably find that your child and their friends are so wrapped up playing together that you’ll also get moments to breathe or carve out a little time for you too.
Embrace the chaos (but find time to breathe)
There are days (and bits of days) where everything is complete carnage. The noise, the neediness, the mess…
In these times, embrace the crazy and just go with it. Then try to find a little time to breathe.
That might be as simple as strapping the kids into their car seats and pausing and taking some slow breaths before you get into the driver’s seat.
It could be something as simple as stepping into the garden for a few seconds to feel the wind on your face.
Be strict about bedtimes
Make bedtime sacrosanct. That way you always know there’s a cut off time where you can get some peace and solitude to recharge.
When the kids are older, stick to strict bedtimes and, if they are not ready to sleep, they can read quietly until lights off.
When you get overwhelmed ask for help…
…and don’t feel guilty about it.
They say it takes a village to raise a child. An introvert Mama might need this village more than others.
It might take you a bit of extra bravery to ask but, if you do, all the extra help can make a whole lot of difference.
Being an introvert parent can be challenging, but by accepting yourself as you are and finding small ways to cope, you can make a big difference.
Remember that you’re awesome! Don’t try and change. Just adjust how you go about your day-to-day as a parent.
By relishing the quiet times in a noisy world you’re teaching your children valuable lessons too. That it’s OK to stop and reflect. That good things do come out of quiet time and that you don’t have to be loud to succeed.
Here’s to embracing the quiet parenting revolution.