Parenting is hard. I get it. It can sometimes drain all our physical, mental, and emotional resources. I have six kids and I homeschool, so our house isn’t exactly full of peace and quiet most of the time, which is especially hard for me as an introvert.
Yes, I have intentionally surrounded myself with noise and people (granted my favorite little people, but people nonetheless) all day every day. Am I crazy? A little, but not really, and I know I’m not the only one….
There are certainly moments that I feel a bit overwhelmed. Things like a lot of noise, frequent interruptions, and not enough me-time (basically everyday life for any mama with young kids) are all things that stress out introverts. Some days I find myself wondering if I really have all it takes. Perhaps you do too.
But I was reading a book the other day and this quote by the author, Jamie C. Martin, brought me more peace than I can say: “There’s nothing wrong with you, fellow introverted mom.” The key to parenting as an introvert is to play to your strengths and limitations.
For example, if you have introverted children, you’re able to more naturally able to understand and make sure their needs are met. But you are also able to teach them how to process and understand their needs. On the flip side, if your children are extroverts, they may stretch you at times, but they’ll have the benefit of learning how to be respectful of the needs of others too.
As I read more of Martin’s book (Introverted Mom: Your Guide to More Calm, Less Guilt, and Quiet Joy), I realized that introverted parents DO have many natural strengths as parents, and, that there are some things we can do to stay sane when we’re feeling overwhelmed.
Here are my 5 favorite tips to stay sane as an introverted mom:
01. Listen. You don’t always have to say much.
Introverts are often great listeners, but getting bombarded with questions all day can become overwhelming very quickly. There is value in simply listening. That might be all your kids need, anyway! Sometimes, keeping your responses brief while they talk themselves out can fulfill their needs and yours too.
02. Sometimes you need to get out of the house.
As an introvert, and especially as a mama, sometimes you just need a break from the usual routine. Get outside! Go for a walk. Just a few minutes (or more) of nature can refresh your mind. Even if the weather isn’t perfect, you can still enjoy the outdoors.
I have fond memories of watching the rain from the apartment porch when my oldest was little…and of watching some of my younger children running around in diapers during a warm, lightning-free rain. At our first house, one of my favorite places to take my kids was a nearby nature center.
When my oldest was just a baby, I made sure to find a few set places we could regularly visit: the library, certain stores, a cute neighborhood park, and mommy-and-me classes. I also had a few mama friends I could get together with. Scheduling play dates regularly can give you that much-needed time with another adult you know well.
When we moved, I had to start all over again, which wasn’t easy. If you’re in this position, and struggling to meet other mamas, I’d recommend starting by going to common places like your local library, parks, playgrounds, children’s museums, kids events, etc.
Also, look for groups to join, even if they seem intimidating. Whether the group is large or small and whether is ends up working for you long-term or not, you may meet one or two people that you really connect with, and you can spend more time with them outside of the group. You’ll be glad you made the effort.
03. Sometimes you need to stay home.
Yes, as introverts, we do need to push ourselves out of our comfort zones occasionally, but we also need to know our limits and when to say no to an event or gathering, activity, or outing. If I hear about a specific get-together and get excited about it, it’s likely that I’ll be able to handle any stress that might come with it. But if I hear about it and my first thought is, “Oh, how exhausting”—it’s probably something we should skip.
This quote really stuck out to me as I was reading Martin’s book:
“What I’ve found is that when God wants me to do something, he works in my heart until I want to do it, or at least until I fully know the right thing to do…. We introverted moms stretch ourselves every day, because normal life as mothers pushes us outside our comfort zones regularly! And all that stretching gives us a fine-tuned self-awareness of the times when we need to move beyond what comes naturally, for our own good or someone else’s.” – Jamie C. Martin, Introverted Mom
Making decisions like these—from the little things to the big questions about career and school choices— can be challenging, so if you’re looking for more guidance I’d recommend reading Martin’s book. She does say that homeschooling can work really well for introverted moms. It’s tough to balance stretching our personalities and caring for them, but Martin gives guidelines to help us navigate that.
04. Pay attention to cues signaling you need a break.
Did you know that anger is a cue, just like hunger is a cue? When Martin explained that in her book it immediately made so much sense to me. Anger is a cue that our needs are not being met, that something needs to change. When I feel anger building and find myself struggling to remain patient, I need to take a break.
This is not always easy in the moment. Sometimes, I can only stop to take a deep breath and remember that the kids will be in bed again soon. Sometimes, I’ve had to put myself in time out. But even better than dealing with those moments of anger, is trying to prevent them from happening in the first place by making sure my needs are being met throughout the day.
I do this in different ways: I’ll eat lunch early by myself with a book while the baby is napping, the toddler is playing with his brother, and the older kids are doing independent school work. Or I’ll sit quietly in the car while the older kids are at aikido. Sometimes, I’ll take a moment to do something I really want to do.
But we need to truly take care of ourselves when we are on our break, and not spend our time trying to solve problems. If you’re looking for more on this, Martin includes a list of some ideas for self-care in her book too — ideas that you can try, whether you have just a few minutes or longer.
05. Recognize all that you accomplish every.single.day.
One other helpful thing that Martin includes in this book is a personal daily checklist, which is not meant to be completed every day, but instead acknowledges all that she is already doing.
The list can serve to remind you of how much you already do daily as a mama—sometimes all the “little” things we do get overlooked even by ourselves. She has items to check off such as: “challenging conversation,” “connect with a friend,” “discipline situation,” “family time,” “pause a sarcastic comment or complaint,” and “three deep breaths.”
Checking off items like these can help remind you of the most important work you are striving to accomplish – as a mama and as a human being – even if there are still crumbs under the table.
Despite the title of Introverted Mom and the fact that the book focuses particularly on the struggles that introverted mothers face, Martin’s book is really for any mama who sometimes feels like she is not enough, who occasionally thinks God made a mistake in making her the mother of her children, who listens to the world telling her that she has to do and be everything and has a hard time accepting that she cannot and should not.
Jamie reminds us that God does not make mistakes and that His grace is there when we fail.
“As our planet spins faster, the world and our families call out for the irreplaceable gifts that only we, as introverts, can bring. Our faith is needed. Our steadiness is needed. Our calm is needed. We are needed.” –Jamie C. Martin