One of the most notable challenges of the past several months has been the amount of time spent at home with the entire family all day, every day.
I feel a little ashamed to admit that. I love my kids, I really do, but there was something about the constancy of our presence with one another that really bothered me. I understand that most all of us grew tired of our families to some degree during our quarantine, but for me, it was a deeper sense of struggle.
After chatting with a few other moms about the difficulty I was having, I realized the core of my frustration: I’m an introverted mom raising two extroverted kids. (Blessedly, I have one introvert-in-the-making as well, but this blog isn’t focused on him.) The clashing of these personality types was magnified while we were all at home, and I had nowhere to hide (literally).
What I’ve noticed about my oldest and youngest (the extroverts), is that they are constantly wanting to talk to me, have my attention, show me something, play with me. They want me to be with them, physically and mentally, in whatever they are doing. I, on the other hand, need some space. I need to sit in a quiet room from time to time.
So, how does an introvert raising extroverts survive? I’m sure there are many tips out there, but I’m learning that the following work pretty well for me.
Create Some Alone Time for Yourself
This is no easy task for a mom, especially a mom of littles, but I’ve found that it is truly the only way I stay sane.
I try to find a pocket of time each day to get me through the 24 hour period. My preference is to have half an hour to myself in the morning before everyone else is awake, but that doesn’t often happen. My backup plan is my lunch break or commute time.
My husband and I also have to work together to schedule a couple hours a week for me to be by myself. During my alone time, I’ve found it is important for me to not do any real work, whether “work” work or housework or life management work. I need to be still, be quiet, and recharge my mind and soul.
Schedule Time to Be With Your Kids
This has been especially helpful with my six-year-old daughter. We are alike in many ways, but I can tell that she does take after her dad on the introversion/extroversion spectrum. She is also old enough to understand when I say that I can’t engage with her at that moment, but can in an hour or so. She also loves when we do plan to do something together. It gives her something to look forward to. But once I’ve scheduled the time, it is on me to show up, and to be fully present for her – mentally and physically. She knows when I’m “there” but not really “there”. Having the time set aside also gives me time to mentally prepare so that I have the bandwidth to give her all of my attention. During this time together, I try not to have my phone in my face, or any other distractions. It is important for both us that my full attention is being present with her.
Celebrate Your Differences
It is easy for me to wish my extroverts to be a bit more introverted. They probably wish I’d be a little more animated. Instead of focusing on the challenging aspects of our differing psychological traits, I focus on celebrating them. I want my kids to enjoy and appreciate their love for people, and to create ways for them to be around others since that is where they get their energy from. I’m also teaching my little extroverts that it is okay and good for Mom to need time to herself, to recharge and refocus, since that is how I rest and replenish.
I’m so thankful that each of us is created to be our own unique people. I am learning more about myself and growing and maturing as I learn to parent and relate with these little personalities developing in front of me.