When I was roughly eight years old, my father asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I am sure my response surprised him as he probably assumed I would say something along the lines of teacher, ballerina, or doctor, but my simple answer to his question was “I want to be like mom.”
As the years passed and I entered adolescence, I often thought about that question my father had asked and wondered why my dreams seemed so simple compared to my friends who had dreams of being nurses, teachers, and fighter pilots.
I was always the awkward, shy child who was typically seen playing by myself on the playground, eating lunch alone and had trouble socializing with other children. It wasn’t until years later that I had a name for what I was.
“Introverts live in two worlds: We visit the world of people, but solitude and the inner world will always be our home” ~ Jenn Granneman, The Secret Lives of Introverts: Inside Our Hidden World
You are not Weird; You are an Introvert!
An introvert is described as “a person who prefers calm environments, limits social engagement, or embraces a greater than an average preference for solitude”. Learning this about myself was freeing. No longer did I feel like something was wrong with me, but rather I was someone who had different needs and goals in life.
You can read more about the personality traits of an introvert and the causes and signs by visiting VeryWell Mind.
This information was extremely beneficial when I became a mother to three outgoing, adventurous, and VERY social boys. Parenting for anyone can be a challenge, but for an introvert, the demands of parenthood can be overwhelming, and the emotional toll can be exhausting.
I remember feeling out of place and consumed by fear when it came to my boys’ birthday parties, sporting and school events, and even something as simple as having a conversation with another parent was very difficult. I often stayed in the background, hoping I wouldn’t be called to be the class mom or responsible for the snacks at the next peewee football game.
Terrible, right? Or so I thought.
Surviving Parenthood as an Introvert
As it turns out embracing my true inner self and looking at my life through a different lens helped me find ways to not only survive parenthood as an introvert but actually became a better mother in the process.
Over the years, I have found different avenues of approaching parenthood that fit my introverted way of life while still allowing my children to be who they are and enjoy the childhood they deserve. Not only can you survive being an introverted parent; you can thrive!
1. The Misconception
The common misconception regarding introverts is that they are unfriendly, cold, and antisocial. Contrary to that belief there are many instances where being an introvert can actually be an asset. Taking the time to acknowledge and appreciate the gifts you bring to the table and knowing you are not the only introverted parent on the planet is important.
Some of those key characteristics that benefit an introverted parent include:
Listening–Introverts have wonderful listening skills. Rather than trying to join in on the conversation; introverts are active listeners. Attentive to the person speaking and really think about the conversation before responding. This was incredibly helpful when my sons were teenagers.
Problem Solvers–Introverts are great at problem-solving. We are constantly looking at things from a different viewpoint, and because we are deep thinkers, we can help our children process big emotions.
Detail Oriented–Introverts notice EVERYTHING! We pay special attention to detail. As a parent, I felt like this was my superpower. I could catch my children in little white lies and knew when they were up to no good.
Introverts have a unique set of strengths and it is important that we show our children that it’s okay to be true to ourselves and who we are and to embrace our similarities and our differences.
2. Recognizing your needs vs your children’s needs
When it comes to your needs as an introverted parent; spend some time getting familiar with all the emotions that arise as you parent on a daily basis. Do you find yourself feeling overwhelmed by taking your children with you to the grocery store? Do children’s birthday parties drain you to your core? Maybe you enjoy being in the house all the neighbourhood kids hang out at, but having to entertain them is another story. It is important that you recognize what situations drain your energy and what situations are easier to handle.
The same goes for your children. Familiarize yourself with your children’s personalities and how they socialize with their friends and in society. Are your children extroverts? Social butterflies? Or have you noticed your child needing space and alone time to decompress?
Once you understand your needs and the needs of your children, you will be able to work towards that happy medium where everyone’s needs are met.
3. Self Care and Alone Time
Self Care is probably the most important and the hardest to prioritize. For introverted parents, carving out time to recharge is essential. It is a good idea to keep a daily planner and get into the habit of prioritizing time for yourself. Blocking out small chunks of your day to regroup, unwind, recharge.
Take some time before going into full parent mode to fill your cup and recharge those parental batteries. Give yourself some time to prepare before you have to interact with teachers, parents, coaches, or whatever the case may be. Do the same afterwards. A few minutes makes a world of difference.
Learn to breathe through the uncomfortable and let go of the guilt. You are not alone (although it might feel that way). There are a number of breathing techniques that can help to calm the mind during stressful situations. Below is a wonderful resource with some breathing exercises you can practice at home.
Know your limits and set boundaries. There is a lot of pressure for parents to participate in their children’s activities. And while you absolutely should take an active interest in your child’s life, you do not need to be involved with every parent function, committee meeting, or sporting event to be a great parent.
I’m not going to lie; setting those boundaries was really tough at first. Introverts tend to be people pleasers. We worry that setting boundaries might make us look cold and detached when, in reality, healthy boundaries protect and preserve our energy. There is absolutely no shame in protecting yourself and seeking the solitude that you need to regroup.
5. Step out of your comfort zone
We all have different personalities and characteristics that make us unique. As parents, we love and accept our children for who they are and at the same time; we push them towards new things; new foods, new books, new friends. We want them to experience life to the fullest and that means encouraging them to step out of their comfort zone.
The same premise applies to you. There is nothing wrong with being an introvert, but we also want to be an example to our children. Introverts tend to feel like hypocrites when pushing their children outside of their comfort zone and then we hesitate when it comes to our own comfort level. The good news is there are ways to be that example for your children and learn to handle those uncomfortable social situations.
Prepare–When you know you are going to be in a situation that requires more energy; prepare yourself by spending a few minutes alone beforehand. Wear clothing that is comfortable. Drink plenty of water. Breathe. (See advice for breathing techniques).
Church–If you are a religious person, a church can be a wonderful way of stepping outside of your comfort zone. Sign up to be the church greeter one week or serve communion. Some churches have book clubs or classes. Getting to know the members of your church and having their support can really make a difference.
Bring your support system–Sometimes having a trusted friend beside you can help when it comes to those awkward social situations. Now I don’t mean have your friend tag along with you to a job interview (that would definitely look weird), but there is nothing wrong with inviting a friend or two to join you at your children’s soccer or baseball games.
Mindset, Mindset, Mindset – Your mind is a powerful tool. Keep your thoughts positive and be open to new opportunities. Positivity is your best friend.
Introverts are wonderful parents, too!
The contrast between the introverted parent and extroverted child can feel like you are walking a tightrope, but the key is to find a balance that works for both you and your child. Trust in your abilities and use those introverted superpowers to your advantage. You are the parent your child needs and you are doing a phenomenal job.
Oh, and that shy, introverted eight-year-old little girl who wanted to be just like her mother. Well, she is a wife, a stay-at-home mother of four children, close to completing her degree in sociology, and a National Scholar. Introverts can accomplish so many amazing things….and they are wonderful parents, too!
“I have seen firsthand how difficult it is for introverts to take stock of their own talents, and how powerful it is when finally they do.” Susan Cain.
Peace and love
Cherry, K. (n.d.). 8 Signs You Might Be an Introvert. Verywell Mind.
Try These Simple Breathing Exercises to Calm Yourself Down. SCL Health. (n.d.).
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About the author
I am The Other Mrs. Fields also known as the wife and mother behind the blog and by no means famous for my cookies. My husband and I have been married for almost seventeen years. We are a blended family and together we have raised three sons. Our family is not unlike most families as we have had our share of adventures, challenges, and chaos.
Our parenting journey started all over when we became midlife parents to our beautiful daughter; born during the pandemic. We decided to create The Other Mrs. Fields in order to connect with other parents who might be able to relate to our story or just want to share in the joys of parenthood.
Please find more about me by following the link below.
The Other Mrs. Fields.
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