I didn’t realize that I was an introvert until I was 30 years old and in therapy. Suddenly, I realized why I felt depleted all of the time – my house is full of people! People who walk in the bathroom while I’m pooping, need a drink/snack/tissue every time I move to clean and who play music/video games/tv loudly when I’m trying to read by the fireplace.
Basically, motherhood is hell for introverts. In fact, I think the more introverted you are, then the more motherhood will exhaust you. I don’t, however, think you need to be miserable. Here are my 10 tips to keep your sanity, recharge and unwind.
- Create routine family outings. Plan it. Stick to it. Do it. As an introvert, I find that I often make wishy-washy family fun plans and then cancel them or get mad when they don’t go well. Truthfully, if I could sit in silence with my family, everyone reading books, then I would. But, I don’t know if you’ve noticed, children want your attention. Setting a time in your weekly agenda that is specifically for your children and family is important. Knowing the exact details of it will help you to follow through and plan for a time to recharge afterwards.
- Quiet car rides. My children sound like a marching band played by zoo animals when we are in the car. It drives me insane. So when I go somewhere by myself, I enforce a no music or radio policy. Now, I do break this rule every now and then. Like on Black Friday when I need all the energy I can possibly muster to arm wrestle a Hatchimal from a grandma. Then, I listen to music. Death metal specifically. Regardless, if there is something you used to enjoy (for me its driving), but now seems like the children have stolen it from you. Relish it when they aren’t around.
- Speak up. Extroverts can’t read your mind. For a long time, I would do all of my reading, writing and general existing in my room, because my husband’s video games took the general raucous of family living to catastrophic levels. I’m not sure why it took me ten years to realize that I was hiding in my room, because I hated video game music…but once I finally did, I spoke up and told him to wear his headphones. Hello, peaceful medium.
- Establish me time. Most evenings from 6:30-7:00 pm, I disappear. My husband knows that he needs to keep the routine going for the kids. And I go take a bath. All by my sweet lonesome. Another great idea is to wake early and read or do your thing without people bustling around the house. I simply require 8 hours to wake up so this doesn’t work so well for me.
- Share experiences instead of barking commands. Yelling interactions will deplete you much faster than conversations. When I graduated from my 6 week therapy program, my house was revolutionized. I had spent each Thursday afternoon while in the program working on assertiveness training. I don’t know if you know this, but its extremely applicable to parenting. The first time I used it my kids were fighting over a stuffed Olaf from Frozen. I looked up and said, “I’m trying to read this article can you please work this out in a quieter way.” They both immediately jabbered out their defenses viewing me as the ultimate mediator and final authority. Once they were done talking, I said, “I’m trying to read this article and I feel upset that I’m being interupted. Can you go to another room and talk to each other about this?” They looked at me with wide eyes and slowly wandered off into the kitchen. I never heard anything about Olaf or the quest for ownership again. I think that adults sometimes forget that kids understand feelings. If you begin with an “I” statement about what you are feeling or doing, then they are more likely to see your point of view. I.e. you get what you want. Sometimes.