Being a mom is different when you’re an introvert. You have these little people surrounding you on all sides 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Or that’s how it feels, anyway. And no matter how much you love your children (and love them we do), this kind of togetherness can be exhausting for an introvert.
So I have some tricks I’ve learned over the years. Things I do to prevent burnout and ways to recharge my introverted self in the middle of the chaos that is motherhood.
1. I limit playdates to only occasionally and rarely do sleepovers.
There, I said it. Please don’t judge. I like your little munchkin a lot, but my entire body tenses up when there is a random child in my home, and it only untenses when they leave. No matter how sweet they are, no matter how easy the playdate, it just comes down to the fact that there is a different person in my house. Period. I don’t know why there’s such a huge push for sleepovers these days anyhow. I think I had maybe 2 sleepovers that weren’t with family during my entire childhood. So while I do suck it up now and again for the sake of my kids, I do it sparingly.
2.When I do finally plan a playdate (or sleepover) I always give an end time, whether I have something to do afterwards or not.
I unfortunately am not one of those parents that can say nonchalantly at drop off “Pick them up whenever.” Nope. This Mama needs to know when it ends. I will only be able to relax and enjoy it if I know when I can start recharging again later.
3. Plan playdates for a public location.
Another thing I’ve learned about playdates (this time of the parent-and-tot type) is to plan it for a 3rd location. When it’s at your house, you lose control over it. I’ve had playdates before where the mom and children have stayed 5+ hours. After hour 3, I’m done. So if I want to really enjoy the time together then I like to go to neutral territory. And leave when I’m done.
4. I let my kids play on their tablets when I need to be alone.
I’ve tried lots of different things, reading times, watching a show together, sending them to their rooms to play. These are all good to some extent, but if I really just need some uninterrupted chill time, it has to be their tablets. For some reason a tablet has a special hypnotizing, zombie-instilling power over children which I do not take lightly and use only in moments of dire need. Oh, who am I kidding… it happens regularly. I use the tablet to mesmerize them so that I don’t play host to 20 questions when my introverted nature is too overloaded with chatter.
5. I hide in the bathroom.
When the kids were little and there was another adult in the house, sometimes I would say I had to go to the bathroom and just hide there for a bit. If men get to do it, why can’t we? Of course, for some reason when men do it, no one tries to continue talking to them through the bathroom door.
6. Build in time to de-compress.
On the way home from work, I sometimes stop for 5 minutes in the coffee shop parking lot just to collect my thoughts and recharge from my “peopley” day. This enables me to give the kids my full attention when I get home.
7. I screen phone calls.
This isn’t exactly a parenting thing but more of a general sanity preservation technique. If it’s a 1-800 number, I’m not going to answer. I’d rather spend my people energy elsewhere. On my kids. Sorry, solicitors.
8. I find like-minded friends.
No one else “gets” me like another introvert. Introvert does not mean quiet, “no fun,” or a party pooper. So please don’t think I’m telling you to go find a fuddy-duddy friend (although if you are an introvert then you already know that’s not what it means). It just means someone who recharges their battery away from people. So another introvert will totally get that and will be understanding of playdate end times, neutral territories, and zero sleepovers.
9. If you work outside the home, make friends with your co-workers.
You are “peopling” anyway at work, so why not make friends with those people. That way staff meetings are like your social life. Since you have to do it anyway, it kills two birds with one stone.
10. Stay up late. Really, really late.
Yup, most of this mom’s true alone time and battery recharging comes between the hours of 11:00pm and 1:00am. I choose alone time over sleep. Ridiculous? Maybe. But if my battery isn’t recharged, then even sleep won’t do it for me. So I stay up late. Sometimes it’s doing chores, sometimes reading, sometimes Netflix. Always alone. I suppose you could also — gulp — get up earlier than your kids to find this alone time if staying up late is not your thing.