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!