“Mom!” says the 9-year-old. “Band’s in room 9. I don’t even know where room 9 IS! Do you?”
“Mom!” says the 7-year-old. “I got two stars today! Remember stars? I told you about them after the first day of school. I got TWO today!”
“Mom!” says the 4-year-old. “I see Vivian! Can I go show her my new dress?”
My ears take all of this in within the first 30 seconds of greeting the kids after school. Our walk home (pre-pandemic, obviously) is punctuated with 12 million pressing questions and excited declarations (interspersed with complaints and protests).
By the time we walk through our door, I feel like I’ve been with them for an hour instead of five minutes.
“Put your backpacks away, wash your hands, and get your homework out!” I remind them as they take off their shoes. “I’ll make a snack.”
It’s the end of the week, and I’ve done this five days in a row. I can sense that my agitation threshold is just about met.
Where once I might have pressed on—powered through snack time at the table, complete with the smell of sweaty, never-still boys and a spilled cup of milk at the hands of our little lady—today I do something different.
Trying Something New
“Guys,” I say. “I need a few minutes of quiet. Can you work on unloading your backpacks while I go to my room for a few minutes? I’ll be out soon.”
I take a deep breath, hoping it’ll work. The boys agree, no problem, but I can tell our 4-year-old would rather follow on my heels.
I bend down to her eye level and reiterate myself:
“Honey, I can feel myself turning into Cranky Mom. I’ll feel better if I have just a few minutes alone. Do you think you could get the cups out and set a drink of water on the table for you and your brothers? I’ll be out when you’re done.”
She looks at me long and hard (well, for at LEAST one whole second), and I can see her deciding whether to take the bait.
“Okay, Mama. I’ll get the cups.”
Phew. I sigh and retreat to my room, desperate for those five precious, quiet minutes before I launch myself back into the fray.
Related: Talked Out, Touched Out: Learn to Thrive as an Introverted Mom
7 Things that Make Parenting as an Introvert Uniquely Challenging
Parenting as an introvert is like having an out-of-body experience. No matter what stage of parenting we’re in, so much of it is counter to what comes naturally to us. For example—
1. We need our solo time. It’s impossible for us to be our best selves without it.
“For introverts, this sacred time is just as important as sleep!” Emma Scheib
2. We resist noise, interruptions, and disorder—all of which kids specialize in.
Sometimes we meet our kids’ playful yelling with yelling of our own (and not the playful kind), because we just can’t handle the noise. Many of us are at our wit’s end with the messes; the clutter of toys and crafts and school paperwork is just too much. And where we could happily get lost in a book, or even our own thoughts, for hours at a time, kids supply constant interruptions. Motherhood is intense for introverts.
3. We don’t like having to think on our feet and respond before we’ve processed.
When was the last time you tried to reason with a willful toddler (or teen!)? Parenting often requires quick thinking, where we’d prefer time to process.
4. We wish traditional phones had never existed, and kids mean a surprising amount of phone calls.
Play dates, doctor’s appointments, school-related conversations, etc.
5. We can struggle to build a supportive village at a time when we need it most.
Raising kids feels exponentially easier when you have friends and family to rely on, from emotional support to someone to call in a pinch. And although we introverts are loyal friends once we’re in a friendship, getting there isn’t always easy for us.
6. Our children need us to be their champions, their advocates—and this can push us out of our comfort zone.
As kids grow, their needs expand beyond the four walls of home. They often want to join sports teams and dance troupes and go on band tours that require parent chaperones. (Heaven help us.) Sometimes they need an adult to stand up for them, to make sure they get that IEP or are placed in the right classes or on the right teams.
7. We’re thinkers. And sometimes all that thinking leads to overanalyzing our parenting…
And sometimes, overanalyzing our parenting leaves us feeling guilty for not being more for our kids. And this is hard.
(Hint: You are enough. 37 Things You Don’t Have to Do or Be in Order to Be Enough)
Challenges aside, there are things that we excel at. Some aspects of our introverted personalities make us uniquely strong parents. The key is identifying those strengths and playing to them—and letting go of the guilt over the things we are not.
“I have seen firsthand how difficult it is for introverts to take stock of their own talents, and how powerful it is when finally they do.” Susan Cain
I’d love to hear—Are these struggles REAL for you? Which one (#1-7) are you struggling with most at the moment?
A Resource to Help
If this struggle is as real for you as it is for me(!), I’d LOVE for you to check out my 7-day email challenge—
Talked Out, Touched Out: Learn to Thrive as an Introverted Mom ❤️
I want you to know deep in your gut that you are the way you are for a reason.
I want you to finally SEE what makes you so strong as an introverted parent—and I want you to start leveraging those gifts for the benefit of both you and your kids.
I want you to shrug off the weight of guilt for being “different” than other moms, and I want to go through your days feeling FILLING UP instead of depleted.
7 email lessons, 7 days. This is what we’ll cover:
- Day 1: Accept Your Nature
- Day 2: Play to Your Strengths
- Day 3: Help Your Loved Ones GET It
- Day 4: Structure Your Days to Accommodate Your Needs
- Day 5: Get Purposeful about How You Restore Yourself
- Day 6: Say Goodbye to Your (Introverted) Mom Guilt
- Day 7: Make a Game Plan for Going Forward
Here’s to a grounded, centered, HAPPY you!
I put myself in my room regularly and try to explain (to Sawyer especially!) I’m taking a little rest. The hard part is coming back out! I never want it to be over. Thank goodness for iPads for those times! I can totally to relate to all of these challenges.
Brilliant article Erica. I’m a bit in shock that you quoted me alongside Susan Cain!! I just took a look at your course. Looks amazing and exactly what I need. I’m signing up xo
I’m late saying so, but you just couldn’t have said it better! Our down time IS sacred, and it IS as important (to me at least!) as sleep. (Which sometimes, btw, makes for an interesting tradeoff. To go to sleep… or to stay up longer to enjoy the alone time? That IS the question! 😉 )
I enjoyed taking a peek at your blog! I can tell we are like-minded. 🙂 Have a great day!
I’m currently ‘hiding’ in my 4 year old’s dark room so she can’t find me. I need 5 minutes. No, I need 50 after the day I’ve had with her.
I get that, Sara! Hope you got those 5 minutes—and that you get those 50 soon!!
As soon as the kids understood how actual batteries run down and need to be recharged, I introduced them to “Mama’s battery time.” That really seemed to click with them.
I LOVE that, Libbi! I’m always looking for more ways to describe it to kids, so thank you!
Erica, wow, all of the things you wrote really resonate with me! Except I’m not a Mom, but a former teacher. You’ve articulated so well exactly why I decided to change careers. The parent phone calls & notes after teaching all day were exhausting. Thanks for your posting, because now I feel like I can better understand myself.
I’m so glad it brought you a little more clarity and self-awareness, Karen! YES, my mom and mother-in-law are both teachers, and I always feel overwhelmed just walking INTO a classroom, much less trying to teach in one. Good for you for figuring that out and moving in a new direction with your career. That takes courage!
Awww… thank you! (((Sending you a virtual hug!)))
This is 100% True, Love your insights
I’m glad it rung true for you too, Rachel! Thanks for reading!
I am so lucky my children and husband are also all introverts. None of this badgering happened on the walk home. We had quiet reflective chat. Boy, I was SO lucky.
Can relate, I’ m so happy to see them when all three come home from school. It is better now because they are either biking or walking home and they are staggered coming home so I can talk to each one for a couple of minutes before the next one comes home but in the winter when everyone piles in the car it is a little overwhelming when everyone is talking at me.
So what do you do if you have an introvert and an extrovert and you are an introvert?? And you teach all day.