Your Introvert Mom Survival Guide: 10 tricks to save your sanity

A mom's life is pretty exhausting.  We get our asses whooped on a daily basis.  Especially in those baby years.

Add an extra layer here....the introverted mom.

This is a person who gets drained daily by constant human interaction and societal stimuli.  Touching, talking, looking - they all tire out an introvert.  Nay, wear that introvert down to shredded threads.

The only thing that re-charges and re-energizes an introvert - is solitude.  Anything that they can do completely alone - sleep, read, work, exercise, etc. all help to re-invigorate the over-stimulated, emotionally drained introvert.

It sounds like having children, would be an introvert's worst nightmare.  A damn near, obliteration of productive and happy self.

Well, pretty close.

I am a self-proclaimed introvert.  I need a good four hours a day (if not more) of complete solitude to feel happy.

Enter in a clingy, hyper-attached human being with numerous needs, screams and excretions.

Do you see where I'm going with this?

Introvert moms can't catch a break.  Everyday, introverted moms are getting drained and feeling suffocated.  Their oxygen only comes in the form of quiet.

They need to find ways to be alone. Their sanity, and overall emotional and  mental stability depends on it.  Before I get into how introvert mom's can find solitude, (Yes, I even have tips for you moms that make up a million excuses of why you can't leave your baby).  I want to outline the challenges an introvert mom faces in three different work/life scenarios.

(***Side note: So you don't think I'm some uninformed mother using archaic and sexist terms - I hate the labels 'stay-at-home mom' and 'work-at-home mom' or 'working mom'. But for the purposes of everyone understanding the scenarios below- I will use these very limiting labels.  I hope you understand. And apologies.)

1. Introverted, Stay-At-Home Mom: She's always around her damn kids.  Day in and day out.  She's feeding these serial snackers around the clock.  She's a perpetual poopy diaper changer, or potty trainer.  She's a clown in this circus called childhood entertainment.  This mom is being touched, talked to and forced to keep her eyes wide-open to possible dangers and safety issues all day long.  Most extroverts can handle this - if not, thrive in this environment.  Yes, all moms are tired.  But, extroverts somehow have this ability to rise to the occasion and really take action when put into these high stimuli environments.  Introverts, by and large, don't have this ability.  They slowly start to shut down, if solitude is not achieved on a regular basis.

2. Introverted, Work-At-Home Mom: She has the same experiences as the stay-at-home mom.  The constant contact with tiny, snot-nosed creatures.  However, there is one difference between the two 'at- home' moms.  This mom is working from home, which means she's obligated to build in alone time on her Google calendar.  She has to block off alone time.  Through career commitments, she is solo for a set number of hours a week in order to complete her work.  Most work-at-home moms hold down jobs that are Internet-based and require very little face-to-face human contact.  This type of work for an introverted, work-at-home mom is a form of solace.  It's perfection actually. This type of work is silent and it's usually done in the morning (before anyone wakes up), during nap time, or at night (when everyone is asleep).

It's important to note here, stay-at-home moms, generally, feel guilty about taking "me time" for themselves.  They are less-inclined to block off alone time.  And I have a theory about this.  It's because these women feel their work at home doesn't validate time away.  Like, because they're not doing paid work, they don't deserve time off.  Because the stay-at-home mom doesn't get a paycheck for feeding her kids, entertaining her kids, teaching her kids, chauffeuring her kids....some of these moms might feel selfish for trying to arrange alone time to go get a pedicure, take a long walk, or an art class.  Especially when our society - men and women, still generally think a stay-at-home mom does 'easy' work and gets this amazing bonus of seeing her kids. Every. Single. Damn. Day.

I dare anyone to do the same job every day, with no days off, 24/7 and see if they like doing 'free' work.

Both the stay-at-home mom and work-at-home mom face the same challenge here -CONSTANT CONTACT.  But here, it's not the name of some popular marketing e-mail company - it is relentless, persistent, sometimes suffocating contact with children (and other adults who have kids) every hour of every day.  Someone is always touching you, talking to you, needing you.  That's an overwhelming environment for an introvert to be in.

The last type of mom....

3. Introverted, Work-Outside-the-Home Mom: She's essentially working 2 shifts, if not more.  The home shift of tending to childcare needs and she's working at work.  Two different types of work, both exhausting.  We already, and automatically know that the home life, and domestic duties will exhaust this mom.  So that's a given.  However, it's this mom's work environment that determines whether or not she gets re-charged, or not. If this introverted, working mom is in a cubicle and subjected to constant socialization or team meetings, then she's drained.  Or any similar workplace situation that requires this mom to be communicating with people on a frequent basis.  One important thing to remember, here - it doesn't matter whether it's your kid, or colleagues, human contact in any form, for an introvert is draining.
If this mom works alone in her own office, and can complete her tasks in relative solitude, than work is re-charging this mom.  And work is her solace.  Her energizer.

I've been every single one of these introverted moms.  I've had to navigate the extroverted world as an introverted mom for about 5 years now.  Three years of which, I had no idea that I was introvert.  I didn't even know what that meant.  If you want me to be completely honest, I never felt like I 'fit in' in any social situations.  Especially with other moms.  That may sound like a sad middle school story, but now that I've identified my preferences within my personality - it's empowered me. I no longer feel held back by my preferences.  Introversion is not an affliction.  It's just a personality type.  Yes, the minority personality type.  But, that doesn't mean it's some sickness waiting for a cure.

 I'm no longer trying to keep up with extroverts.  I no longer feel obligated to meet for a million play dates, or feel obligated to attend every birthday party my kid gets invited to.  I know what over-socialization does to me - and that's a dark place.  I've learned how to nurture my personality, without feeling like I'm fighting against it everyday.

If anything I said above feels familiar to you, or that you've felt at your very core - I encourage you to take the Briggs Myers Test Personality Test.  It's a well-known personality test - that will help you understand who you are, how you interact with people, and what environments work best for you. I am an INTJ.

Here are my tips to surviving and thriving as an introverted mom:

1. Numero Uno of course would be ME TIME. Before you roll your eyes and think I just dropped a cliche' on you.  Let me explain.  There are other ways of finding  'me time' that don't include spending money or arranging child care. I understand that some people can't afford child care.  I understand some people don't have family or friends around to help.  I get it. If you do have help and can afford it - then what the hell are you waiting for?! Do it.  However, if you have some childcare challenges, get creative.  I recommend  QUIET TIME.  Have you not heard of this?  Read up on it - I encourage you for the sake of sanity.  It's decompression time in the middle of your day (that usually coincides with nap time).  I have one child that has always been a great nap taker.  I have another child that sucks at naps.  Either way, for one and a half hours a day they go to their rooms and do quiet time. The good napper always falls asleep.  The other one, literally, reads books and plays with her stuffed animals in her bed. Quiet time saved my sanity.  Oh yes, and screen time.  Ya hurd me? If you're starved for solitude, plop your kids in front of the old tube or tablet for an hour.  Despite popular opinion, screen time doesn't kill a kid.

2. Bring a book, or newspaper, something that's small that interests you, every time you go to the park or indoor kiddie playhouse.  When you bring your kids to the local park, chances are, there will be other children there.  Which is great - they will entertain your child or children.  Use this opportunity to get in some 'me time'! You are under no obligation to talk to the other parents at the playground.  Bring your book, your newspaper, whatever the hell it is you like to immerse yourself in (you're an introvert, so I know you love to immerse yourself in something deep) and do it on a bench quietly.  I guarantee no adults will bother you, because you look busy.  This trick can be applied to any kiddie play situation that is communal.  Second tip - go to kiddie places at peak time - that will ensure other children will be there (especially for you  moms with one child, this is important!)

3. Listen to what you want to listen to - in the car.  It's your car dammit!  Listening to the music you like, or something you find interesting will re-charge any introvert.  I'm sure you've listened to your fair share of the Wiggles, Disney dance jams and Baby Einstein symphonies.  It's time you re-claim your car and your radio.  I live in Atlanta, so traffic is hideous.  We sometimes get stuck on the highway for an hour and a half.  And you know what my kids are subjected to?  NPR, 90's era rap and grunge and the occasional top 10 hit of the moment at very loud volumes.  Yes, at first, when I re-claimed my radio there was some hesitation.  Now, they sing along to Jay Z, Beastie Boys and Iggy Azalea. Mission Accomplished.

4. Experience nature with or without your kids.  I'm not a big fan of the outdoors.  I like the idea of being outside, but not totally exposed to the elements.  I like more of a controlled outdoor setting. If you are with your kids, look up nature museums or trails, etc.  There are several in even the smallest of towns across America.  And if you don't have access to this type of thing - go on scavenger hunts with your kids and collect bugs, leaves and rocks in a Dixie cup in your nearest grass patch.  I don't care if that grass patch is 2 inches by 2 inches.  Not every activity for your kid needs to be some stimulus fest complete with costumes, bright lights, singing and talking dogs.  Get outside! Being outside helps introverts re-charge their batteries.  We feel connected to nature on a deeper level than extroverts. Nature will fuel your kid's curiosity and interest.  Nature will feel nostalgic to you - because after all, who didn't collect caterpillars as a kid?  Just remember, nature nurtures introverts.

5. Go on walks.  This might be similar to the above.  Even if you're not the exercise type - and believe me, I'm definitely more of a dabbler exerciser, get outside for a walk daily if you can.  If your kids are at the age that they can fit in a stroller - go for a walk.  If your kids are too big for a stroller, walk with them outside while they ride bikes, scooters, or drive around in their miniature battery-operated Mercedes Benz.  Getting in motion, and outside is therapeutic for the introvert.

6. If you do like to exercise - join a gym with a child care center.  Most gyms allow parents to leave their kids in there for 2 hours (you usually have to stay on the gym premises).  Exercising and being away from your children will help the introvert.  And if you don't feel like exercising one day, but wanna get away from your kids - bring a magazine and sit your damn self in the sauna - voila!

7. Find Drop In Childcare options.  Community centers and YMCA's sometimes host Mothers Morning Out days.  You can drop your kid off  with trained child care professionals, pay a small fee, and you're free for four hours.  If you want a much more regular drop off option, preschools sometimes offer a Mother Morning Out program - where you pay a fee every month and drop your kid off on set days.  The fee is usually less than private preschool tuition.

8. Take up a hobby.  Reading, writing, crafting, cooking....I don't care if you paint by numbers!  Find a hobby that you can do alone, and that brings you joy.  Don't even tell me you don't have time.  You probably don't.  But, if having a hobby remotely interests you, or you've been thinking about it for a while.  I encourage you to find one.  Hobbies are passions that fulfill a part of us - the parts that kids, life and work can't.  If all else fails, color with your kids in a coloring book.  I love coloring, because it makes me feel calm.  It has a calming effect on my kids too.

9. Yoga.  You may think yoga is all oooOOOOHHHHmmmmmmmmmyyy and shit, and some of it is.  I'm no yogi - I just go for the stretching, the quietness and the meditation.  Looking inward is the introvert's best trait.  Yoga feeds that need to look inward.

10. Drink alcohol.  This one is going to get me in trouble, but I'm saying it anyway.  Introverts are in their heads constantly.  And sometimes, we don't know how to get out of it.  Not that drinking is some type of real coping mechanism, but a little bubbly helps you break out of your brain. May I recommend a nice red?  (I'm trying to be semi-healthy here after I just encouraged you to drink).  Once the alcohol hits your bloodstream, you'll become more social, less self-involved and slightly, dare I say, extroverty?  Please drink responsibly.  And if you're a recovering alcoholic or don't drink for whatever reason, replace drinking alcohol with masturbation or tea drinking, or something that feels good and can be done alone.  Just throwin' out some options for ya.

If you think any of these tricks could help you - use them and let me know how it goes!  Or if you think they could help someone you know, please pass this along to them. Being an introvert in an extrovert world can be tough.  Comments are always welcome below and on Facebook, or Tweet me.

I'll leave you with some introvert humor...

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