Self-awareness is an important part of parenting. I believe that knowing, understanding, and accepting ourselves is key to being thriving mothers. In my new book, The Gift of a Happy Mother, I admit, “If introversion were on a sliding scale, I’d be toes off the ledge on the ‘extremely introverted’ side.” Author Jenn Granneman describes introversion succinctly. She says, “Introverts live in two worlds: We visit the world of people, but solitude and the inner world will always be our home.” The challenge with being an introverted mother is that solitude is so very rare in those early years, and we must live in the “world of people” far too much. In other words, because we have to be so cognizant of our surroundings and nearly always engaged with our children, we don’t get the required “inner world” time to reflect and recharge. This can leave us feeling talked out, touched out, and overwhelmed.
Unfortunately, the result for introverted moms is often that we carry too much guilt – guilt for wanting to be alone and guilt for feeling overwhelmed. After all, didn’t we want this child? Aren’t we happy to be parents? Shouldn’t we be enjoying every moment!? We are overdosing on guilt because of a personality trait we cannot control. This is why understanding your needs and personality is key, because it 1) eases the guilt, 2) guides you toward thoughtful planning, and 3) uncovers your strengths as an introverted mom.
Meet Your Strengths
There are many strengths that introverts possess, but here are just five that stand out in motherhood.
1. Creativity springs from solitude. Because introverts spend more time alone and in their heads than their extroverted friends, they are often very creative people. Creative minds like J.K. Rowling, Steven Spielberg, Bill Gates, Einstein, and Dr. Seuss all share your introversion. Being a creative parent certainly has its perks! You’re always coming up with new ideas of fun ways to keep your child entertained.
2. You’re a thinker and a problem-solver. Introverts are always (always!) thinking. Naturally this helps us think through problems and find creative solutions. If something isn’t working in your parenting, or if your child is struggling with a problem and needs helped, you’re well-equipped to figure it out and make things better.
3. You’re a great listener, too. Active listening is a valuable skill, and most introverts are naturally good at it. Whereas extroverts often jump in too quickly or are quick to offer opinions, introverts listen without obsessing over how to respond. We take it in and think about it before responding, and that makes us valuable and trusted friends, colleagues, parents, and leaders. Your child will always feel like she can come to you because she knows you’ll listen well!
4. Compassion and connection mean a lot to introverts. You truly care about others and understand the value of emotional connection. These are powerful strengths to have as a mother. Your compassion and the depth of your connection with your child will help you be a more effective parent, because connection is the parenting key!
5. We are noticers. I consider this my greatest strength as a mom. I notice things that most people miss. I notice my kids’ small gestures and facial expressions which clues me in on their feelings and needs. I notice when people are hurting, even when they don’t say it or they deny it. I notice when my kids are anxious or worried. I notice what makes them giggle and excited. I notice when they’re feeling disconnected. Because I notice, I’m able to validate them and help, and that’s a pretty great strength.
Six Ways to Thrive
Cultivate quiet play.
To thrive as an introverted mom with young children, it’s imperative to find ways to cultivate quiet play. This break in noise and chaos will help you recharge almost as if you are alone. Depending on the age of your children, this might mean board books, playdough, or coloring books for the younger ones to quiet sensory bins or crafts for preschoolers to reading time for your older kids. Fun idea: Create a “quiet box” for your child to only be brought out when you need a little quiet time. Fill the box with special toys or activities.
Go for a stroll with earbuds in.
Grab the stroller and your headphones and get outside for a walk. Listen to music, a podcast, or an audiobook and soak up the sunshine. Harness the calming power of great outdoors. It’s good for your kids, too!
Create good routines.
Routines help children develop self-discipline along with providing a sense of security. Kids like to know what’s coming next, and a visual routine chart is very helpful for many children. It helps them know what’s expected, stay focused, and accomplish their goals. This builds confidence and capability and cuts the chaos! By creating a good routine, you can build in quiet times rather than having to hustle for them every day!
Create a calming space in your home.
Designate a small room or corner of your home as the quiet nook. Fill with comfortable pillows, books, and maybe twinkling lights for even more appeal. This can be used by your child or yourself when a little solitude and chill time is needed. By intentionally creating this space, you’re making it part of your family culture and illustrating that quiet time is a value for you, thereby honoring yourself.
Writing is often a great stress reliever for introverts. Being deeply reflective is the soul of good writing, and this is often where we make up for our lack of verbal skills. Many introverts find great value in journaling, which is probably why I created a companion journal to my parenting book. Few things are as restorative for introverts as soul searching and writing out our thoughts.
Honor who you are.
I personally believe introverts make the world a better place. Our strengths are needed to remind people to slow down, quiet down, feel the emotions they’ve pushed down, and be aware of the world around them. There is nothing wrong with you, mama. Appreciate your traits and look at your introversion as a superpower. Learn to accept all the parts of you so you can accept all the parts of your children. This trait is a part of you but it does not define your or limit you. You can hang with the crowd just fine; you just have to take a little extra tender care of yourself along the way.
This post was originally published at Creative Child Magazine.