As an introverted parent, you have known the joys of being alone. And you have revelled in such times. But that was before a tiny new human emerged into your life.
Alone, which once stood for absolute mental (and often physical) isolation, now means 5 minutes “peace and quiet” in the relative seclusion of a cupboard.
If you’re lucky.
As introverts, we rely on moments of solitude to draw in positive energy and expel any negative energy we have absorbed from our environment.
So how do you deal with being an introverted parent?
How do you square the need for time away from it all with the demands of a young child or children?
Figure Out What You Find Most Difficult
Before we get into the ways in which you, the introvert parent, can stay sane, it’s wise to identify which aspects of your new life you find most difficult.
Is it the sheer energy required to keep up with your little one?
Is it the overthinking that kicks in even more than before?
Is it the social interaction that will be demanded of you?
Is it that you simply miss everything you used to enjoy alone?
Knowing what causes you to meltdown will allow you to tailor your new coping mechanisms.
10 Strategies To Make Life Easier For Introverted Parents
1. Maximize your morning or evening times.
You know that your energy is replenished when you’re alone, so you have to find a way to be alone at some stage each day.
The best times to do this are either early in the morning (for morning larks), or in the evening (for night owls).
And it’s crucial that you spend this time engaged in an activity that recharges your mental and emotional batteries.
Household chores? Keep them and other duties for nap times if possible. Instead, read a book, bake a cake, or do something else you enjoy.
2. Get out and about every day if possible.
When your energy is being sapped by your child, you may be tempted to stay indoors and rest up as much as possible.
Resist this urge.
While alone time is your best bet for recharging your batteries, time spent outdoors, particularly in nature, is another way to re-energize.
Strolling around a park or taking a trip out, will help clear your woolly head.
The added benefit is that natural light, fresh air, and physical activity will have a positive effect on your child’s mood, too.
3. Finding respite in routine.
We introverts like to have a plan, sometimes even to our detriment.
So it’s worth putting some sort of routine and structure in place.
This goes further than regular mealtimes and nap times; it means knowing exactly what you are going to be doing in the next hour or two.
This could involve fun activities with your child.
Maybe you allocate an hour each week to vacuum the house.
Or perhaps you visit family or friends every other Sunday for lunch.
Having a routine will take some of the stress and anxiety away from your day.
4. Take it in turns with your partner.
Regardless of the working arrangements of you and your partner, try to reach an agreement that gives the both of you some time alone each week.
Perhaps you each get to lie in one weekend morning while the other gets up and looks after the kids.
Or maybe they take your child out for a couple of hours while you stay home and get your strength back.
Just be sure to make it a reciprocal deal so that they get some peace and quiet to relax in.
5. Take turns babysitting with another mom or dad.
Chances are you will know a few other moms and dads of children of a similar age to yours.
Once you’ve gotten to know them properly and you trust them with your child’s well-being, ask if they would like to take turns looking after each other’s kids.
Perhaps you take their little one for a couple of hours on a Tuesday morning while they give you the same amount of time on a Thursday afternoon. Whatever works for you.
Call them play dates if you like, but understand that you don’t have to both stay and chat.
Make it clear that these are times when you can both enjoy the freedom of having someone else look after your child.
6. Make use of groups or child-friendly places.
Does your local library have a story hour?
Does your gym offer free childcare for members?
Are there local YMCA groups that offer kids’ activities?
Are there any cafes that have play areas you can utilize?
By offloading your kids for a short while, knowing that they are being entertained, you can just rest your mind and recharge.
You don’t have to be super social with other moms and dads if you don’t feel like it. There is no onus on you to make friends and involve yourself in chitchat.
You can just take advantage of this time to yourself, even if all you do is sit there and watch your child play.
7. Ask family members for help.
If you have family members who are happy, willing, and able to help you out once in a while, don’t be afraid to lean on them for support.
Ask them if they wouldn’t mind watching your child for a while so that you can relax.
Grandparents are especially helpful if they are retired as they’ll usually lap up any chance they can get to spend time with their grandchildren.
Just be sure that you don’t take advantage of their generosity. Be respectful and show them how grateful you are, no matter how small their contribution.
8. Don’t Compare Yourself To Other Parents
You are in the park watching ‘Dad of the Year’ over there throwing his delighted child in the air with one arm while simultaneously pushing another on the swing.
All the while, your child is face down on the floor crying because you’ve told them they’re too young to go on the climbing frame.
How come you fail so badly at this parenting thing?
This is a knee jerk reaction to an idyllic scene, but trust me when I say you are doing just fine.
Do not look at what other moms and dads are doing, what they are saying, or what they post on social media and think you are a lousy parent.
And don’t think that you being an introvert in any way hinders your child’s development.
Children of introverted parents can be just as happy, just as mentally and emotionally mature, and just as sociable as those of extroverted parents.
9. Work independent play into your daily routine.
In order to encourage your child to play by themselves and be happy doing so, try to weave at least a little bit of self-play time into every day.
And just because the word ‘play’ conjures up visions of cardboard box forts and make believe tea parties, don’t feel like you can’t include screen time into the mix too.
If you’re worried about that, you could always try kid-friendly podcasts or download some audio books for your children to listen to instead.
Whatever you have to do to encourage them to want to play or be by themselves for a while.
10. Explain that you need to recharge your batteries.
Once your children are old enough to understand, you can explain how you need to go off and “recharge” your batteries by yourself so that you can play with them some more.
They will probably be familiar with toys or other gadgets that stop working when the batteries are flat, so using this analogy can be very effective.
Make a game of it. Tell them that your batteries are at 50% or whatever starting point you like and then gradually reduce this over time until they are at zero.
Steve Phillips-Waller is the lead writer and editor for lifestyle website A Conscious Rethink. He is passionate about self-improvement and aims to help people on their journeys much like other authors have helped him on his.