Are you an introverted parent raising an extroverted child? Bless you, dear mom, you must be exhausted. You see, I know you’re exhausted because this is my life. As an introvert, my world was turned upside by the birth of my extroverted firstborn.
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I knew I was raising an extrovert when at six months he flirted and made eye contact with our waitress during the entire meal, and at 9 months he happily and energetically entertained several passengers on our cross country flight to Boston.
By the time my gregarious son was in preschool, he knew the first and last names of every single one of the other 30 kids in his class. He’d greet each child by name in the morning, and say a friendly (and loud) goodbye in the afternoon.
This behavior was foreign to me. As an introvert, I often avoid social situations or keep my gaze averted in situations when I just don’t have the energy to carry on a conversation with another human being.
My husband is also a pretty quiet guy, so together we’d often shake our heads and wonder how we produced this loud and chatty child.
The Difference Between Extroverts and Introverts
In case you don’t clearly understand the difference between an extrovert and an introvert, let me explain. The distinction is a source of energy thing.
Extroverts gain energy from engaging with other people. They love and crave to be around people. When they spend too much time alone, they lose their energy. (If you’re an extrovert raising an introvert, check out my post: 7 Helpful Tips for Extroverted Parents Raising Introverted Children.)
Introverts, on the other hand, gain their energy by spending time alone. They lose their energy when they are around other people for too long. Crowds or situations that require them to engage with a lot of people can be especially draining.
As an introvert, I found Susan Cain’s book, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking enlightening. If you’re an introvert or raising an introvert, I highly recommend her book to understand the place of introverts in our extroverted culture.
Being An Introverted Parent Can Be Downright Exhausting
Let me be real here — if you are an introvert, being a parent can be one of the most draining jobs you will ever have.
Babies and young children need constant care and attention. There is little time for an introverted parent to recharge by being alone. And being an introverted parent in a home with an extroverted child is downright exhausting.
I don’t know about your extroverted child, but my little extrovert never stops talking. Seriously, this little guy can go on and on. I love him, but mommy needs her alone time.
Since my kids were very young, I’ve worked a part-time schedule. In my day job as an attorney, I use to spend a good portion of each day meeting with clients. Then, I’d pick my kids up from school and spend the afternoon engaging with them.
If you’re an introvert, I’m sure you can see the problem here. I was with people all day long!
By the time my poor husband got home from work, my energy level had been depleted. For years, I would literally lock myself in my room when my husband walked through the door, and reemerge just long enough to have dinner with my family. I put my husband in charge of the bedtime routine, and I went to bed early.
I knew that something had to change, but I was too tired to come up with a solution. So what’s an introverted parent to do? Well, after reading the book Quiet, I came up with several ways for an introverted parent to find time to recharge.
7 Coping Strategies for Introverted Parents Raising Extroverted Children
Here’s my list of 7 coping strategies for introverted parents raising extroverted children.
- Schedule Alone Time Every Day: Personally, the best way for me to recharge is first thing in the morning before my kids get up. I’ve trained myself to get up 2 hours earlier than they do. Click this link to read more about how to create a relaxing and refreshing morning routine. For you, this might be at night or during your lunch break. The most important thing is being intentional about keeping this time for yourself.
- Have a Mandatory Quiet Time: If you are going to be with your kids for the entire day or afternoon, consider instituting a mandatory quiet time. Just one hour of alone time will make a huge difference for an introverted parent. I call this my “hour of power.” Not because I get a lot done, but because I literally get my power back by spending one hour alone.
- Get Childcare: Consider finding a babysitter to come over, even once a week, so you can have time to recharge. If cost is an issue, then find another parent to do a swap with you. You’d be helping each other out. You may also want to consider having your younger child go to daycare for a few days a week or have your older kids go to an afterschool program. This time alone will help you keep your sanity.
- Consider a Career Shift: This one is a little tougher and may require more energy to put in place, but it will save you a lot of energy in the long run. For me, I switched my schedule around so that I’m only meeting with clients 2-3 times a week rather than every day. This shift has resulted in more energy for me to spend on my kids.
- Have Intentional “Mommy and Me” Time: Have set “mommy and me” time with your children each day. This “mommy and me” time is time to interact and engage with your children by doing the things that they like to do. When your extroverted kids know they will get this one-to-one time with you, they won’t feel attention-deprived. They’ll be better behaved, and you’ll have more uninterrupted time to yourself. A win-win for all!
- Let Your Spouse Know What You Need: Talk to your spouse about your need for alone time. You may want to consider having scheduled alone time on the weekend to recharge. Your spouse can take the kids somewhere, so you have the house to yourself. And, if your spouse is also an introvert, you can return the favor.
- Give Yourself Grace: Finally, give yourself grace. Being a parent is hard work. Being an introverted parent is draining. Don’t be too hard on yourself when you just don’t feel like being with your kids. You are a good parent just as you are.
Thes 7 coping strategies have made a huge difference in my life as an introverted parent. Recognizing my need for alone time has reduced the guilt I use to feel for craving time away from kids. Alone time makes me a better and more intentional parent.
Are you an introverted parent raising an extroverted child? If so, I’d love to hear about your coping strategies in the comments section below.
With Love and Joy,