10 Survival Tips for Introverted Parents

Being an introvert can make parenting a challenge.  As I’ve mentioned in an earlier post, I had a personality/giftings expert tell me that, based on my personality alone, I should never have kids.  I function best with plenty of solitude, being able to start and complete a task in one sitting, and to have my day structured and organized.  In short, I am an introvert.  In this expert’s opinion, child raising and introvertedness create a difficult pairing that is almost too great to overcome.

While I wholeheartedly agree that being an introvert and being a parent create unique challenges, I also believe that it is absolutely possible to do, all the while remaining sane.  There are a few strategies that I’ve found can be put in place to help the process go more smoothly.  I wanted to take a minute today to submit several ideas that I’ve found that make parenting as an introvert a bit easier.

#1  Require a no-unnecessary-noise zone.
One way for me to cope well is to keep noise to a minimum.  I recognize that having kids around intrinsically means there will be noise, and often times fun and noise go hand in hand.  I realize that I can’t have (and really don’t want) a completely noise-free zone.  However, we do have a rule that there will be no unnecessary noise.  Unnecessary noise means things like tapping, yelling, repetitive mouth sounds, loud singing, etc.  The phrase, “No unnecessary noise…” is heard often in our home.

#2 No two noisemakers going at the same time.
This relates closely to point #1; however, it zeros in specifically on things that make noise that might compete with one another, such as:   TV, computer game sounds, radio, toys that make noise, instruments, videos, singing, etc.  In our home, no two noise makers are run simultaneously.  And yes, there have been many fights discussions as to whose noise maker wins out – but in the end, it is better for me to wade through the dispute and have a relatively quiet place to reside.

#3 Mandatory nap/quiet time.
This suggestion incorporates creating emotional and physical moments of rest. When my four were little, we had mandatory nap time.  As they grew older, we shifted to enforcing a mandatory quiet time.  That time included reading books, resting in bed, or drawing.  Any activity that involved me or involved a potential fight between the siblings was nixed.

#4 Early bedtime.
Of course the time is negotiable, but having your kids go to bed early gives you space to rebuild your reserves for the coming day. My kids’ bedtime was always 7pm.  Even as they got older, we still maintained that time.  (Even until they were 10 or 11, they still went to bed at 7.) They could read in bed, listen to tapes in their rooms or play quietly, but they knew that I was “off duty” at 7pm. Since the time that my kids have barely been able to have real discussions, we have talked about how their early bedtime was much more about my need for replenishment than their need for rest.  I explained that it was motivated by my personality, and that I would be a better mommy if I had time in the evenings to recharge and refuel.

#5 Having kids stay in bed in the morning until an agreed upon time.
Even from the youngest of their ages, my kids have had a set time when they could get up.  When they were really little, they were to stay in their beds until we came to get them.  As they got older and could tell time, they knew to stay in their rooms until the designated time arrived.   That gave me a predictable beginning to my day, and allowed me to get mentally and physically prepared to handle the busyness that was to come.

#6 Have the day planned.
For me, having a structure/schedule is essential to my peace of mind.  Looking at the day as a blank slate is paralyzing; therefore, having a general agenda planned is so helpful.  Taking the few minutes that it takes to plan out events is well worth the mental energy saved throughout the day.

#7 Plan quiet activities for yourself (journaling, walking outside, etc).
Having activities that provide refilling, that fuel the introvert within you, are so key to being able to stay positive and pleasant throughout the day.  Find those things that restore your soul and regularly participate in them.  Plan your day with those elements included.

#8 Find activities to do with your kids that replenish you.
It is important that you recognize which activities throughout the day fill you or drain you.  The activities that both entertain my kids and replenish me are reading to them, playing board games, going on walks, etc.  I encourage you to think through the activities that you do with your kids and pinpoint which ones have a better chance of being replenishing to you.  When you plan your day, plan more activities that fall into that replenishing category.  Recognize which activities are draining, and if trying to creatively craft (or something like that) stresses you out, schedule it in very limited amounts.

#9 Use your introverted strengths.
As a whole, introverts are good with attention to detail and researching. Schedule your day so that most of your energy is spent moving in your strengths.  In one of my previous posts, I talked about how one of my daughters wanted Valentine’s Day cards handmade.  Not considering myself very creative, I realized that I could use my strengths of research to look up what handmade crafts might be available on the internet.  Instead of stressing over completing a task that took me out of my natural abilities (which is always draining), I found a way to use my strengths to see her project completed.

#10 Be intentional about face time with your kids.
If you spend quality time with kids – make eye contact and listen actively – they will feel really heard and connected to.  Parenting children who truly feel heard makes the parenting interaction so much easier.  Throughout the day when they get annoying, try to stop and intentionally listen to them (instead of brushing them off or making it clear how busy you are).  You might just see that the escalation of distress will cease.

Your unique personality, whether it be a demonstrative extrovert or a reserved introvert, is a gift from God.  As a parent, you have unique gifts that you pass on to your kids, and understanding your personality and working with the gifts that you have make you more effective in your role as a parent.

Let me know what other techniques you use to thrive as a parent!

 

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34 Comments

Filed under Family and faith, Parenting

34 responses to “10 Survival Tips for Introverted Parents

  1. Great post. 2# is vital as people tend to play off each other, making it louder. Which can be devastating for us introverts. 🙂

  2. 1. Oh man.
    2. This is water to my introvert soul.
    3. AND a little bit of permission, too.
    4. Having some more language to use in explaining my personality to the kids will be so helpful.

    Thank-you SO much Lori!

  3. Leslie

    I have never seen this info. or even type of info.
    Would it be ok to forward this article or print it out and give to some parents I know?

  4. This was linked to me on a Facebook baby group and wow – thank you! I’m a total introvert and need my ME time! I’ve book marked this so I can try to implement some of your tips and to just help me through the bad days!

    BTW, when people find out we’re about 99% sure we’re done after having “only” 2 kids they think I’m crazy and too young to commit to being done. But, based on my personality, 2 is more than enough!!!

    • Wow…thanks so much for the comment. It made my day that my struggles and lessons learned on the topic could be of help. I checked out your site, and it looks wonderful. I’ll check back often!

  5. Corrie

    I know this post is old, but it still contains great advice! I have implemented some of these points already. Just wondering if you have ever read ‘The 5 Love Languages’ by Gary Chapman? He has a book specifically for kids which would tie in with your comment about listening to kids and quality time with them. Worth looking at. Blessings!

    • I so appreciate your encouragement! And yes, I’ve read the Love Languages book – it is fantastic. The ideas presented in the book became foundational principles in my parenting. So helpful!

  6. Hi dear. Thanks for sharing your courage to write your thoughts down. I am so with you on all fronts. the bedtimes, waking up and coming out of their room at a certain time, not earlier … the noise. our living room can not be a play area if it is up to me hahaha. No toys in our living room… My space to create a card a day.. Playing games with them. Coffee at 10 in the morning, etc.. At 4 a cup of tea with kids and readin in the Bible, etc..I thrive of structure and I so need to know as well what happens in my day with the kids. thanks again for sharing. I am so glad you found your way in all this mommy responsibilities and expectations. bless your heart and your family.

    nay hugs, and His Shalom. Pauline

  7. bdyrcker

    This is stuff I have lost friendships with other parents over. I KNEW it wasn’t that I’m a nazi. I’m sending this to everyone with the audacity to question my parenting as a result of my needs being considered too.

  8. Pingback: Introvert Monday: Keeping Sane as an Introverted Nanny | The Seminarian's Wife

  9. Emily

    I just stumbled on this post and I can’t tell you THANK YOU enough. I am the very introverted mom of four young children and your words here were exactly what I needed to hear. Thank you for some practical and encouraging ideas to make life at my home better!

  10. hi, I just want say that I feel so connected with you and other people adding comments on your website. I am an introvert and a single parent. I used to think I am a bad parent because I feel so exhausted of looking after my rather extravert daughter ;). Over time I have learnt how to spend time with her so we both benefit but having time for myself to do some reading or thinking remain very important in terms of my well being.

  11. Mandatory quiet time, even just half-an-hour, has been a life-saver for me! I tell my 4-year-old she needs to rest, but really I need that quiet time just as much (maybe more?) than she does!

  12. Thanks for this! I’m grateful to have realized that my introverted nature is a reason for finding parenting challenging at times. I’m also grateful for these tips–and the validation :). Hope you and your family are doing well!

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  14. LaNell

    God bless you! At first I didn’t understand why, after having wonderfully happy pregnancies, my world would fall apart. 🙂 I gained more weight and had worse skin after having my 2 children…and it was because my introverted self had trouble with the lack of sleep, lack of quiet time and lack of me time. I didn’t figure it out until last year, thanks in part to your site. Thank you!!

  15. Mother of 6, here… I wondered if there were other introverted Mommas out there! I use the “No unnecessary noise” phrase dozens of times/day. I was seriously considering homeschooling, but alas, this is further confirmation that it does not fit my personality!

  16. This makes me feel a little less like a bad mom. Really needed to hear it.

  17. Shikki

    This is spot on! Great advice. I use most of these strategies myself. I also realize why I’m so certain that my decision to have only one child is the right one. I feel like my reserves are just enough for one child and I would be completely overwhelmed and depleted with a larger family. Luckily so far my son seems to lean towards being introverted himself so I’m not going to push my luck.

  18. Kate

    These are excellent ideas. However, as one of two introverted parents to an autistic boy, most of these are impossible to implement. There is no staying in his room, no quiet time unless he chooses it, very little communication of any kind that doesn’t involve a need of his, and zero conversation. We are exhausted. Add to that a very active little one-year-old and there is NO alone time for either of us. I wouldn’t give them up for anything, but I’d give up some pretty important stuff for some sleep. 🙂

  19. Sandy

    My children have long grown up and left our home, but I recognise many of your techniques as things I put into practice out of instinct and for survival really. I always thought I was a dreadful parent for needing time to myself when I thought I should have been able to focus on my children 24/7. Reading your article made me feel better about the choices that I made; plus it made me understand some of my unhappiness and the reasons for the chaos that we sometimes lived in!

  20. Heidi

    Thank you SO much for posting this! My friend shared it on Facebook, and I’m glad she did! For years, I have had problems with too much noise along with the other things that go along with being an introvert. I had no idea that was my problem! I am so glad I have discovered this. This post will make my life as a mom to three so much easier! Especially the No unnecessary noise! We already do #3 and #5 (although sometimes unsuccessfully!) around here; now I have the words I need to be able to make the kids understand why we do those things! THANK YOU!!!!!

  21. Robyn

    Thank you for this. My heart needed it today!

  22. I found you through Pinterest and I just wanted to say THANK YOU. And YES.

    I have two girls, ages 4 and 7 and we have a mandatory 1 hour quiet time every day, without fail. My mom friends don’t understand but my oldest does. If someone asks her why we can’t do something after lunch she’ll say “That’s Mommy’s quiet time which she really needs!” 🙂

  23. I don’t know who the ‘expert’ was you initially talked to but I’m betting it was either an extrovert, or someone who had a big misunderstanding of what being an introvert means, or both.

    I am not a parent yet (we are going through the matching process for adoption right now so in maybe 3-4 months I’ll know a lot more about it 😉 ) but I am already seeing the strengths to being an introvert, regardless of whether the kids we have are introvert or extrovert (the description of the two we are currently considering suggests extrovert, but they may not be).

    Already, I’ve been asked twice how I’ll “cope” as an introvert. It actually set me doing some Internet research as to how best to answer this, which is how I found your site. Not because I don’t have confidence in myself, but so that I answer respectfully and authoritatively to the next person who asks (as they surely will).

    I don’t merely want to say “well 1/3 of the population are introverts and many of those are also parents” as that’s not personal enough to my situation. I’m getting better each time I answer.

    There are so many strengths to introvert. As you say, planning is important. It can actually be a real advantage, particularly (but not exclusively) for adopted children where putting a solid routine and structure in place can be vital where they may never have had that stability or certainty before.

    Empathy is a big one. Now I’m not saying extroverts don’t have that, and as a parent I know you become more attuned to your kids as time goes on, but even so, introverts often have that “sense” which can be great in helping to figure out how a child is feeling, even if they can’t or won’t communicate verbally with you.

    There are plenty more, I’m sure. And I will be sure to be building in some ‘me’ time even if it’s just for a few minutes a day. And I can already imagine, as you have observed, that some activities with your own kids are great for them AND energising for you as a parent. Introverts don’t always need to be alone, after all. Social situations aren’t a no-no, and spending time with loved ones (so long as there’s no real conflict) can be extremely comforting. What closer loved ones do we have than our own children?

    Thanks for a great writeup. Bookmarked and I’ll be referring to this, no doubt, come the summer. 🙂

  24. Being an introverted full time working Mom of 2 extroverted littles and with an extroverted husband (who demands my full attention the minute I get a reprieve from the kids)…..I am struggling and that is making everyone a little less happy. Your post is very insightful. How I crave alone time in a household where no one else vaguely understands the concept! Sometimes I think alone time is the lowest of the low priorities for everyone else, and anything and everything is a higher priority! Don’t even know how to begin carving out time. Thanks for a great post and a little “whine time” for me!

  25. I am stunned to see how many of these things I am already doing…the thing is, before reading this(and, well, for now…until I have had time to really process this post) I felt *guilty* for needing them…as if there was something wrong with ME! So nice to be reminded that this is just part of how I am made, and it is completely OK to be me. Thank you! I really have to be reminded that what I *am* is an introvert…and so many of these things I struggle with are built into that…they are not *wrong*. They just are!

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  27. Carina

    I am an intense introvert and the idea of children generally terrifies me. To me, the thought of having to give attention to someone *all the time* would be like being eaten alive. But you have given me hope that this is something that can be managed through with careful structuring and awareness. Thank you so much for sharing and giving me hope.

  28. Pingback: Introvert Monday: Introverted Mothering | An Illustrated Parsonage Life

  29. Oh wow…thank you for these. They reinforce my gut feelings. I especially love the ‘ no unnecessary noise’ rule. This could save my sanity!

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