Even though I don’t feel like writing tonight, I made a goal to blog 3x/week this month, so here we are. Since Mother’s Day is this coming Sunday, I want to share some different angles on motherhood throughout my posts this week. Something that plays a bigger role in my mothering than I expected is my personality type: I’m an introvert. I’m an INTJ if we want to get specific, but I’m focusing exclusively on my introverted side today.
A quick Google search including “introvert” and “mom” will give you plenty of reading material on how to survive as an introverted mom. In other words, nothing I am about to share is revolutionary or life-changing, and there is plenty of other material out there if you’re looking for a good how-to guide. However, I was surprised by how much my introverted side affects how I relate to my children, so I wanted to explore that in writing, because maybe you’ve found yourself in that position as well.
What it means to be an introverted mother
If you don’t know much about personality types, the simple explanation of what it means to be an introvert is that you derive your energy from within instead of without. Extroverts are energized by those outside of themselves; introverts, on the other hand, need time alone to refuel and renew their energy. We’re not antisocial or isolationists, we just need to escape from others occasionally to avoid being rundown or burned out.
Now, it’s not a huge leap in logic to see how being an introverted mother might be a challenge. Particularly if you have little ones, your children need and want your attention almost exclusively throughout most of the waking hours (and sometimes throughout the night as well). If you’re an introverted mother and you’re attuned to your kids’ every move and every word all day, your energy supply is quickly drained and you’re exhausted by the end of the day.
That is how most days feel for me. Although I don’t spend all day with my kids throughout the week, I am physically, emotionally, and mentally drained by about 7:30 pm every night from their demands for my attention and affection. I’m not complaining or whining about that, it’s just the reality of being an introverted mother. And since providing something as basic as love and care is a nonnegotiable, it’s helpful for me to understand how being an introvert affects motherhood. I have to take care of myself in order to take care of them.
How to deal with being an introverted mother
Since being around others literally sucks the life out of me, I have found that I have to be intentional about how I get and use alone time in order to renew my energy effectively. As a mom, getting time alone is a precious commodity, and as an introvert, I need to use that time wisely or I’ll remain drained and exhausted. So, here are some things I do to deal with introverted motherhood.
- I put the kids to bed early. There’s nothing wrong with an early bedtime, especially if your day starts out early, anyway. Since I’m a working mom, this means that my evening time with them is shorter than I’d like, but it’s a compromise I have to make to ensure they get the most of my energy and attention. So, bedtime begins at 7pm in our home. I let our 3-year-old stay up a little later, and she’s usually in bed by 8. An early bedtime means I still get some time for myself as well as time with my husband, which are both vitally important for my sanity and the sake of my marriage.
- I spend my alone time pursuing my passions. Sometimes I use my alone time to watch Netflix mindlessly, but I get the most renewal out of spending my time alone to enjoy the hobbies/activities that bring me joy: reading and writing. Whenever I get a chance to pursue my passions, I experience personal fulfillment and I’m a better mom. Spending my time this way means I don’t resent my children when I devote myself to them, since they’re not distracting or taking away from the things I love to do for myself.
- I say no to things that aren’t life-giving or things I really want to do. As a middle-child people pleaser, this practice has been a hard one to develop, but it’s so important to my well being so I’m learning to do it more. You don’t have to answer every opportunity that comes knocking, and you don’t have to accept every offer that comes your way. From social engagements to professional pursuits, I try to be wise about what I say yes to, knowing that my time and energy can only go so far and my kids deserve it the most.
- I just get over it. Some days, you just have to put on your big girl pants and deal with it. Life is hard, everyone is tired, and children are only little for a short time. Someday, they’ll be teenagers and they won’t want my attention, so I better soak it up while I can. I’ll have plenty of time to catch up on sleep and hobbies in a few years. So, on days when I’m exhausted but the kids are circus monkey crazy, I just suck it up and deal because that’s just what you have to do. I don’t always deal with it gracefully, though.
Introverted motherhood can be a challenge, but motherhood generally is hard. However, we take care of ourselves and love our families better by understanding how our personality traits affect our relationships. What’s your personality type? How has it affected your mothering?