Photo by Alan Levine
A few weeks ago I mentioned that being an introverted mother adds unique challenges to this position. Many of you (45, to be exact) chimed in and agreed.
Since then I've been pondering tactics I use to help make life work well as an introvert (and inversely, the things that cause life not to work well when I ignore them).
I've found that these six strategies help me stay sane (& joyful) as a mama who recharges alone.
1. Institute a mandatory rest or nap time.
I encouraged my children to nap for as long as possible (in both number of hours and age!). Elijah, at age 5.5, still falls asleep occasionally during rest time.
With three children approximately the same developmental age, I knew I needed to count on some down time each day. Allowing them to drop their naps with nothing in its place just wasn't an option in my mind.
We currently have an hour and a half of daily rest time, when the kids play in separate rooms. This time is a non-negotiable. I do think that as the children get older we'll probably drop this back to an hour in length, but I don't foresee doing away with it altogether. I know a homeschooling mom with three teenage boys who still maintains an hour of "rest time" for everyone in the afternoon.
Wondering how to keep your child in his room for a rest time? Check out the helpful answers in this post.
2. Outsource playdates.
I wish this wasn't the case, but I find hosting playdates at my home to be stressful and exhausting.
I'm not at all concerned with having my house get trashed or messy, but I find it challenging to keep an eye on my own kids while attempting to have any semblance of conversation with another mother when we're at home. I prefer to meet for a playdate at another location--park, museum, etc. That way my three are distracted by the cool new play area and I have a chance to focus one-on-one with my friend.
I hope this won't always be the case, but since I try to do what comes naturally, outsourcing playdates works for me at the moment.
3. Accept invitations (or extend them).
Even introverts typically get a boost of positive energy from being around others.
The challenge is that you may already feel exhausted from being around your young kids all day. Don't let that be an excuse.
Reach out to a friend and go out for coffee--make the effort because it does pay off.
4. Teach your kids to use a whisper voice.
I ain't lying, ya'll, my house is LOUD. Typically three little people are attempting to beat out the others' decibal levels in order to be heard.
When too much bickering threatens to make me lose my cool, I institute a whisper time. This helps to calm things down for a few minutes so that my head doesn't start spinning.
Do my kids like whisper times? Nope. But that's okay--I don't really like it when they're loud, but I recognize they need to be at times.
We all have to compromise when we live together.
5. Write every day.
Introverted moms typically need reflection time--whether you're writing your to-do lists, a one-sentence journal, a list of Steady Blessings, or a blog post, make sure you have a teeny bit of time to process your thoughts each day.
This helps you both to focus on the positive as well as make sense of what is going on inside that gorgeous head of yours.
6. Alternate times of expansion with times of contraction.
The theory of expansion and contraction is a beautiful take on a child's development--and works for an introverted mom as well.
The goal here is to alternate between expanded and contracted activities in a balanced way, without having one dominate more than the other.
Expanded activities include playing outside, loud indoor games, going for a walk, and so on. Reading stories, baking, watching a video, writing a story--these are all contracted activities. One focuses inward--one outward.
Try to go from one to the other. This serves two purposes--you give yourself a break from overload and you help your children learn to regulate their own emotions.
Make sure that as an introverted mom the quiet activities you choose when you do have free time actually refuel, rather than just distract.
Sometimes I catch myself just mindlessly surfing the Net after the kids are in bed, when a hot bath with a good book would serve me more. Find what works for you so you can keep giving your best to those who need you.
**If you're an introverted mama, how do you stay fueled up and recharged? What do you do when your energy starts to fade?**