Growing up introverted, I have come through different phases. When I was young, I felt bad comparing how I’m not as social as my peers. I thought that needing alone time to recharge is a flaw in my personality. But as time goes on, I’ve met other introverts like me and found out that having those times for myself does not mean that I despise my friends, family, or boyfriend. I just get overwhelmed by stimuli compared to other people.
But now that I have a family of my own, I faced another dilemma. Our house is always packed because we are raising three kids. And as their mom, I can’t help but feel bad when I thought of wanting to lock inside my room and hide from them. After all, I barely get any alone time that even if I’m in the shower, my preschooler barges in to talk to momma.
If you have been relating to me so far, you’re in luck because I discovered some ways on how to navigate motherhood as an introvert.
One of my mistakes in my younger years is that I try to battle my introversion. I thought that if I just stomach it and fake enjoyment in activities that drain me, I’ll end up liking it and change into a “normal” person. However, introversion is not a character flaw. Just like life is to anybody, you will face times when you have to make events work for you. So instead of escaping or faking happiness, find activities that you and your children can both enjoy.
When my husband and I were only raising two kids, our favorite bonding moment was walking around the park. Even if my kids are of different ages, we were able to find a side by side stroller here that can accommodate an infant and a toddler. This activity is genuinely fun for me, even if we were in a public place. This is because I don’t feel like I’m confined in the house with two fussy kids. And the activity is also enjoyable for them because of the various stimuli in the park.
Now that we are a party of five, I’m still able to find activities that won’t overwhelm me but will still satisfy my children’s pent up energy. For me, puzzle toys and coloring books are quite relaxing to do with my kids. They also spend most of their time in our yard where I can just watch them and occasionally write my novel.
Plan Each Day
Another sanity saver that you might have overlooked is planning each day ahead. Your reason might be because you barely have time in the night to create a plan or that there’s no need for a schedule because your family does the same anyway. However, you will be less likely to feel overwhelmed with activities if you have a structure for what’s going to happen tomorrow.
Think of it as a way to prepare for what’s coming ahead. This way, you can insert times for your recharge and times for your family. You can also see sections where your children might be prone to getting bored so you can already list activities for them. And if your kids are at school, you can use this time for quiet relaxation.
Having a structure makes it unlikely for you to run out of activities to do throughout the day. It also makes it easier for you to do other tasks so that when your kids are needing attention, you don’t feel oversaturated with to-dos. Another trick that works for me is putting kids to bed early and then waking up earlier than them. My husband and I get to do some work stuff after reading our kids their stories. And when the morning comes, we have time to prepare everything to prevent chaos in the kitchen and bathroom.
Teach Your Kids to Be Independent
Before you raise an eyebrow, this tip should only be age-appropriate. Of course, if your child is only months old, you’re not going to give him/her a task that his/her older toddler sibling can do. To give you an idea, you can help your children reach milestones when they help out with simple tasks. This fosters their independence, while also giving you some breather because they can do those tasks without being too dependent on mom later on.
Sometimes, I distribute the duties among my kids. My eldest helps me in the kitchen; my youngest helps prepare the dining table, and my second wash the dishes. Giving them tasks also helps me have some time to do some work such as email while supervising them at the side.
Of course, you should allot some patience and time to teach your kids. However, over time, there will be fewer questions and less work for you. In the morning, your kids can get ready on their own, and during some trips, they can prepare their own bags.
Wanting Time Alone Doesn’t Mean You’re a Bad Mom But…
Lastly, I want to remind you of something that you probably easily forget. You are not a bad mom just because you crave some alone time away from your kiddos. We are raised with this notion that moms should always be this and that and they can’t be this and that. However, as long as you make sure your children are happy and well taken care of, you also deserve the same care for yourself. And for introverts, it means enjoying some time alone.
When they are bonding with their dad at the garage, I enjoy my time reading books and sipping tea. During their afternoon naps, it’s my time to stitch because it’s my way of relaxing after a loud day. However, you should still find the balance in having your isolation. What I mean is you might end up having too much alone time. I know I need some company when I end up overthinking.
Therefore, I fill this “void” with meaningful conversations with my husband over a nice dinner and leaving the kids with their nanny. Sometimes, my mom friends also bring their kids for a play date while we talk about other things in the living room. Lastly, do know that kids grow up fast. A year will come where you actually miss hearing their banter to each other or their ramblings about their day.