Dear fellow introverts, this motherhood thing is not a walk in the park is it? For we who need to recharge in quiet and solitude, the mess, noise, and constant needs of our young put us completely out of our element. We must somehow accomplish the herculean job of motherhood while being constantly drained. We then struggle with feeling like a failure, like we are not cut out for this.
And if you’ve decided to homeschool? Your precious children will be around 24/7. No rest for the weary.
But both motherhood and homeschooling are worthy callings. I do not want to discourage anyone away from such noble endeavors which may have eternal rewards. I do however, believe in being equipped. My goal is to post a little encouragement that there is a way through with fulfillment and sanity intact. This is a multifaceted topic, but here is a quick post with a few tips I’ve found valuable for my own
–Child Training/Discipline – This concept has fallen out of favor. It is unfortunate, because it is a HUGE help to the introvert mom. Who is in charge at your house? Is it your children or you? If your children are, they will devastate you emotionally. I’ve been there, and have also seen it in other homes. Picky eaters, the disobedient, constant whiners, and children who will not stay in bed are a force to be reckoned with.
Reactive parenting is the nemesis of the introvert. You need to be proactive; the guide of when your children wake, sleep, eat, play, work, learn. Do educate yourself on their needs in each category so you can have wisdom and confidence. You are not a victim to their impulses and moods. You are the Mom and you do what is best for them. And you will often find that it is best for you too. Read Proverbs 29:17.
–Everyone on the Same Schedule – Vital! If you have nappers at your home, get them napping at the same time. If they all go down at different times, you will never get a break. I am convinced that God made little ones to need naps so that Mom could get a break. Babies will need more naps than preschoolers, but at least one can overlap.
If everyone is eating and snacking at different times throughout the day, you will never get out of the kitchen. Mealtimes and designated snacktimes were always part of the Old Wisdom when it came to children.
Send them out to play at the same time. Another break! Make their bedtimes at the same time. Our 12yo, 9yo, and 6yo all go down for the night at the same time.
-an Oasis – Have one private place in your home where you can escape. One place where you can get away from mess. It needs to be kept nice and must be off-limits to the children. When children are little, you may only be able to use it during naptime. For me, this is simply a chair in the corner of our master bedroom. Maybe it’s your bathtub or an attic space. Woe to him who dares approach.
-Recharge Time – This is the single greatest need of the introvert. You must have at least one time during the day when you can get alone and quiet to recharge. Do what you can to make this happen. The coordinated schedule and oasis mentioned above are necessary. Once children are responsible enough to play on their own they need to learn to respect your time alone. I have often told my children that I’m having my quiet time and they need to wait until I’m done. We’re all happier as a result.
What are some good ways to recharge? Reading, writing, Scripture reading/study, a creativity outlet, bathing, or a walk if kids are old enough to be left alone. Many times I will browse the internet, although I find I need to be careful with what I do on the web. Things like social and news media tend to drain more than energize me. Pay attention to what emotionally refreshes you. This is not a time to catch up on duties or even sleep. You may need a time for napping, but recharge time would be in addition to it.
-Learn to say No – The Introvert has limited energy and must be discriminating with its use. No one can do everything and this is especially true for introverts. Decide what are your top priorities and make room for those. Learn how much your emotional calendar can bear and then how to turn requests down graciously without excuses. Since my family and home get the bulk of my attention right now, I’ve learned I can only handle one or two “things” a week.
-Learn to say Yes – This is to balance the previous point. I read once that the greatest vice of introverts is selfishness. While you may have limited energy, you cannot be happy living completely for yourself. You do need to step out of your comfort zone occasionally. If for no other reason than demonstrating to your children that we do not live only for our little family bubble. (This point is mainly for those of you who have children who’ve grown out of the preschool years.)
-Partner with your Spouse – Parenthood always works better in partnership. A husband who understands introversion can be a major support. It took many years, but once my extroverted husband understood my needs in this area, he became much more conscious of guarding our schedule from becoming too crazy. If husbands understand the benefits, they may be willing to hire babysitters, take the kids for an evening, do regular dates or getaways, or just tell you when you are doing too much. He also stands to benefit from your ability to recharge!
It’s best to appeal for understanding and help when you’re not in the middle of an emotional meltdown. Communicate honestly and calmly and share objective information perhaps through an article, book, or video. You’re not likely to get the best response if you’re whiny and demanding. Show mutual concern for his own extrovert/introvert needs, whichever they may be. Come up with a plan of action together.
Remember, your ultimate goal is strength to serve, but also, to enjoy the gifts you’ve been given.
The book Introverted Mom by Jamie Martin