5 TIPS FOR THE INTROVERT MOTHER
Balancing your needs as an introvert with those of parenting a growing family can be a juggling act. Here are 5 tips for the introvert mother to help you find space and calm amidst busy family life!
It took me a while to realise why I felt so drained after being in social situations or when I spent lots of time around other people.
I used to dread going to parties because I’d get worn out really quickly and just wished I’d made my excuses to not go or wanted to leave early. It wasn’t because I didn’t love spending time with my friends but I just preferred to do it in a different way, with one person or small group at a time.
I used to think I was weird, then I just realised I was an introvert.
Extroverts feel energised by spending time with others, but introverts like me can just end up feeling drained and need to recharge before we’re ready for more! We feel energised by silence and solitude.
THE CHALLENGES OF MOTHERHOOD
I have two little girls of my own and every other weekend I also have my step-kids to stay.
We have a small house that fits the four of us just about fine, but filled with my step-kids (fast-growing boys), it suddenly feels very busy and crowded. There’s not a lot of space for us all to do the things we want to do, whether it’s games of make-believe and Lego, or xBox and computers.
Each room seems occupied, whether it’s the living room, the bedrooms, the office (where they play the xBox), the kitchen (somebody’s always there raiding the fridge or getting a drink!) or the bathrooms.
I love having our family all together but I’ll admit that sometimes I find it difficult. My introvert self struggles with the noise, movement, mess and lack of space.
By Sunday evening I feel totally drained and then Monday rolls around and the busy week begins.
BALANCING ALL OUR NEEDS
In all honesty, I think that being an introvert is so much easier when you don’t have children! You’re more likely to have the flexibility to create your own space and time to focus on your own needs, without feeling guilty or selfish.
You can lock yourself away or seek silent solitude for however long you need to feel rejuvenated and ready to take on the world again. Although I believe self-care is vital and that parents need and deserve time to themselves, being realistic, there are some options that just aren’t so readily available to parents with little ones (at least, not without a lot of planning!).
Over the years I’ve found ways to balance my needs as an introvert and my responsibilities as a mother. I’d like to share my five top tips here in case they might help you too…
5 TIPS FOR THE INTROVERT MOTHER
Try these 5 tips for the introvert mother and see if they can help you find a little more space and time for you.
1. Develop rhythms and routines to help create free time during the day
Carve out some extra free time for yourself during the day which you can then use to spend time for yourself or by yourself, whichever way helps you recharge your batteries.
Creating this extra time means that you won’t be feeling guilty or selfish for having time for you when you perhaps feel you should be spending time with the kids, your other half, working or looking after the home. You’ll already have done these things as part of your normal day so the extra time you’ve created is purely yours.
Rhythms and routines which you do on a regular basis help you keep on top of things by doing just a little bit often, rather than having to spend hours catching up. Here are some examples:
- Laundry – do this once a day (or whatever suits your household) to avoid a massive pile-up which you have to spend hours sorting out. Put a wash on each morning and make sure it’s folded and put away by the end of the day and it’s no big deal.
- Dishes – wash your dishes after every meal or put them straight in the dishwasher. Wipe the table and floor down, clean and tidy your worktops after every meal preparation. It takes five minutes or so, rather than a massive clean-up operation at the end of the day.
- Get up earlier – make it a habit to set your alarm early so you can get up before the rest of the house. Spend this time doing what you want before the rush of the morning begins. Read these ideas for a great morning routine.
2. Encourage independence in your kids
Why spend time helping your children get dressed in the morning or showering in the evening if they’re old enough and capable of doing it for themselves? It may take practice and perseverance but it can create some precious extra minutes of space for you.
Of course, this is different for every family and depends very much on your own individual children and what you feel is appropriate for them in terms of age and ability but it could be something to consider?
Here are a couple of examples:
- You could lay out their clothes the night before so little ones can get dressed more easily without your help.
- Teach your children to tidy up the toys and their bedroom before bedtime so you don’t have to do this yourself.
- Get your kids to help put the laundry away. Put their clean clothes in separate piles or boxes ready for them to sort into drawers and the closets.
These are all important life skills that will help your kids as they grow up and they’ll soon become second nature (with a reminder every now and then, of course!). Read more about kids and chores.
3. Say yes to offers of help
How many times have you declined an offer of help because you think you should be able to do it on your own, you thought it was a sign of weakness or not being a good parent? Think again!
If you run yourself ragged, give yourself no space or time when you desperately need it and end up being irritable or shouty with your kids, ask yourself whether that’s being a good parent?
It’s better to take up an offer of help from someone you trust, even if it’s ten minutes, just time for a cup of tea sitting on the sofa, than nothing at all. Ten minutes might be all you need to reconnect with yourself, savour the silence and finally drink a cup of tea without having to reheat it three times!
4. Practice regular self-care
After I’ve finally got my kids into bed after dinner, bath, reading a book and general quiet time, it’s normally about 8/8.30pm.
After many weeks, if not months, of habit-forming perseverance they now understand that the time after their bedtime is my time. Unless they’re ill, or the world is about to end, they know to stay in bed and go to sleep (generally!).
Yes, of course, it sounds too good to be true and they do still try it on with an endless list of excuses – needing a drink, the toilet, forgotten homework, monsters under the bed etc. But, invariably, they get sent back to bed with a kiss, an ‘I love you’ and a reminder that this is my time.
I’ve explained to them that I’m on the go throughout the rest of the day at work, at their beck and call at home and that I’m happy to deal with anything, but it can wait until morning.
After the kids are in bed, everyone is fed, the house is tidy, the dog has had an evening walk, then it’s Mummy’s time when I can read, have a bath or dance around my bedroom. Whatever it is that makes me happy and brings me joy, peace and calm.
I’ve explained to them that everyone needs time for themselves and now they even turn the tables on me. When I ask them to do something they’ve once or twice told me that it’ll have to wait as they’re having ‘me time’ themselves. I guess at least they’ve taken the concept on board!
5. Set your home up to give you some space
When my small house is full of children it’s very difficult to find a space for me. In the past I’ve resorted to locking myself in the bathroom or sitting in the car on my driveway!
However, I soon realised that I’m the adult, the glue that holds my home and my family together, so why do I deserve to shut myself away in such ridiculous and uncomfortable places?!
So, I made my bedroom my safe haven. The decor is calming, peaceful and I have everything in there that brings me peace and happiness.
If I need quiet time, then I go into my room, push the door slightly closed and read a book, listen to music or do some yoga. I know the kids will knock before they come in and usually they don’t interrupt until I open the door wider.
I don’t spend a long time in there, unless the kids are still happy and occupied (I always keep a watchful ear and eye out for them of course), but it’s long enough silence and calm to gather myself again. The children know that my room is out of bounds when they have friends over so my space doesn’t get invaded like the rest of the house.
BALANCING THE NEEDS OF MY KIDS VS MY NEEDS AS AN INTROVERT
Motherhood is a constant juggle. On top of that, being an introverted mother is a delicate balancing act and one that’s very easily tipped off balance.
Don’t be hard on yourself, recognise when you need time and space and allow yourself to find it. You’ll be a better, more present and more calm parent for it and, in many cases, you’ll be teaching your children how to care for themselves alongside caring for others.
FURTHER INFORMATION FOR INTROVERTS
If you’d like further information and resources on being introvert then check out Introvert Spring. It’s a great website which I guest-posted on a while back.
FURTHER RESOURCES ON INTENTIONAL PARENTING AND SELF-CARE
- Minimalism and motherhood – How living a clutter-free life can support you to embrace the ups and downs of motherhood
- How to declutter your home and life – A complete guide to creating space in your home, heart and mind (with tips if you’re trying to get your family on board, tight for time and just don’t know where to start!)
- How to find calm when life gets busy – Tips to help you press pause and reconnect with yourself
- The Ultimate Self-Care Toolkit – A helpful and practical resource to help you plan a consistent and effective self-care routine that fits around you and your family life