Do you leave social events feeling drained? Do you enjoy solitude and recharge when you’re alone? Do you prefer a small group of close friends over a large social circle? Then you might be an introvert.
As an introvert myself, I tend to be most at peace when I’m alone with a good book. I enjoy moments of solitude and deep conversation with a close friend. Now don’t get me wrong, I also love spending time with family and friends and I have fun at events, but those situations can leave me mentally and emotionally drained.
Before kids, I was perfectly happy with my limited social life. Most evenings consisted of watching TV or reading a book at home. However, when I became a mom that all changed. My free time was now filled with nosy, needy children and deep conversations were replaced with playdates, t-ball games, and school functions with lots and lots of small talk.
Over time I started to dread meeting new people and I wanted to avoid conversations that revolved around the weather. I was in a constant state of anxiety and not very fun to be around. All I wanted was to be left alone and have time to finish a book. Instead I was constantly surrounded by people and felt like everything was spiraling out of control.
I don’t remember a specific day when I finally had enough. But there was a season in my life when I realized I shouldn’t feel this way. I had a great marriage, two wonderful children, a house over my head, and means to provide for my family. So what was wrong? Why did I feel so overwhelmed?
I was and still am an introvert.
One of the defining characteristics of an introvert is that they require quiet moments of solitude to reflect and recharge their batteries. And I was not getting this alone time. I was trying to be a wife, mom, and run a household with my battery at 0%.
Once this realization took place, I took some time to learn how to navigate motherhood as an introvert. Here are a few strategies that have worked for me.
Know Your Limits
As moms, I think we’ve learned how important it is to be intentional with our time. We only have so many hours in the day to tackle our never ending to do lists. But as an introvert it’s not just about being intentional with your time, but also being intentional with your limits.
For me, I might have time for several playdates a week, I might have time to volunteer at my church or school, or I might have time to go to his birthday party or her girls’ night out. But just because I have time, doesn’t mean I am mentally or emotionally able to attend everything. As an introvert I have limits to the amount of social events I can handle, and I’ve learned to be intentional about only scheduling what my limits allow.
Learn to Say No
With knowing your limits, comes learning to say no.
My husband was out of town for a few days on business, and I was excited to have a night to myself. After I put the kids to bed, a friend asked if I wanted to have a glass of wine on my porch. My heart sank a little, while I love spending time with close friends, I was looking forward quiet evening alone. After a few moments of contemplating what to do, I decided to be honest. I told her while I really enjoy her company, I needed some alone time to recharge. Remarkably, she didn’t look at me like I was crazy, but said, “No problem, let’s do it another time!”
I wish I could say yes to every invite that comes my way, but I’ve learned that in order to keep myself mentally and emotionally healthy, there are times when I just have to say no. And you know what, the world doesn’t end and most of the time people understand.
Schedule Alone Time
As I mentioned above, it’s imperative that introverts have time alone to recharge. As a mom and wife, this can be very difficult because you have a family that constantly demands your time and attention. So how do you get alone time? You schedule it, block your calendar, and get someone to watch the kids if needed.
I remember a time when I was feeling unusually overwhelmed. So one evening I asked my husband if I could have a night off. I really needed some quiet time alone. At first he was a little uncertain, but after explaining how I was feeling he agreed. From then on (after he saw how much better I felt the next day), if I ask for a night off, he’s game. He gets it. He knows that I need solitude to be a better mom and wife.
Don’t Become a Hermit
Finally, being an introvert doesn’t give you permission to become a hermit. As someone who struggles with social anxiety, I know how hard it can be to take your kids to a playdate. But I also know how beneficial it is for kids to socialize. Know that there will be times when you need to get outside of your comfort zone. There will be times when small talk is necessary and you’ll have to do your best to keep your anxiety in check. But also know with time, practice, and intentionally recharging your batteries, these situations will become much more manageable.