As all the introverts out there will attest (without drawing too much attention, of course), we are a misunderstood group. Quietness is often thought of as aloof, withdrawal assumed to mean unfriendly, and craving for solitude considered odd.
In a society where extroverts shine, where assertiveness, confidence and outward expression is applauded, introverts create their own world. A world where our special powers of creativity, empathy and deep-thinking can thrive. This place of solitude is also where we go to recharge. The absence of interaction is ESSENTIAL to renew our bodies and minds; it’s a space we need to become ourselves again.
So, what happens when that peaceful world is turned on its head and overrun with little ones?
The quiet is replaced with crying and constant demands; intimate conversations are lost in a sea of playgroups and school-yard chit-chat.
That solitude we need to recharge our energy is no more. No quiet time to just think and no more chances to turn that busy brain off. Because babies are with you … All The Time. You are on … All The Time.
But you can survive and thrive as an introverted mama, and even teach your children the quality of a little introspection along the way.
1 // Accept this is who you are
Rather than trying to change or be something you’re not, accept your personality and look for external changes to make your mama world work for you. If your energy is feeling low, establish how many social situations you can manage, and don’t book more. You know you will never be the president of the PTA, and that is fine, there are plenty of ways to be present in the background, your kids will love it regardless. Playdates will happen, but they are just about your child, you don’t have to be about you.
2 // Institute quiet time
For every mama introvert, the blissful quiet of naptime can never come quick enough. But try instilling quiet time during the day also. Giving you a much-needed mental break, it also gives children a chance to learn independent play, and experience for themselves how the alone time can help to recharge.
3 // Guide the day
Just because you are an introvert, that doesn’t necessarily mean your kids are. But you can channel their energy into activities that won’t permanently drain you. Go for an adventure bush walk together, play at the park, build a cushion fort, spend hours on an art project together, get out the play-doh, find activities in which you don’t need to be the centre of the play and that avoid the chaos.
4 // Ditch the guilt
You are not a bad parent for wanting a little alone time from your bambinos! You love them fiercely, but that doesn’t mean you want to be around them all the time, particularly if you require a certain amount of space to recharge your batteries. If you don’t have close family nearby to give you a break occasionally, invest in a babysitter when you need to. Even if it’s just for you to aimlessly wander, read a book, or take a yoga class. Those few hours to recharge are essential and you will be a better mama for it.
5 // Find some stillness for yourself every day
If this means getting up 30 minutes earlier than everyone else to soak in some stillness, or taking a walk alone when your partner gets home, schedule in some alone time to recharge. When you feel that emotional exhaustion coming during the day, create yourself some stillness, even if it means walking the kids to the park and sitting under a tree whilst they play.
6 // Don’t isolate yourself
Yes, introverts need solitude, but we also enjoy deep conversations, something we won’t be getting from our bambinos for quite a while. So, make sure you schedule in a coffee date with a close friend occasionally, or find another local mama who is in need of some quality adult interaction. Those small but meaningful connections are just as restorative.
7 // Get digital-wise
Every introvert knows the fabulousness of digital media (seriously, who would EVER want to take a phone call?!). Texting is one of the best inventions, so is email and social media – so long as you know when to unplug. If the bambinos are draining you and you can’t muster a social outing, you can always find a way to fill your social bucket online. Just be selective and don’t let negative spaces drain you further.
8 // Your gift to your children
You might not be assertive, or outspoken, or be that mama that pushes their kid to the front of the queue for the swings, but being an introvert means you are a caring, insightful, thoughtful, empathetic and fiercely loyal soul. As your little ones grow, these moments of quiet you share – as you stop and listen to the birds, or look up at the stars – will show them the value of reflection and mindfulness, and teach them there is comfort in quiet.