Sunday, March 30, 2014

Help for the Introverted Mom... who feels like she's losing it...

*Please take one second to answer my poll question above. Thank you!*

This one has been a while in the making... researching (i.e. sneaking in reading during meals, naptime or whenever I can/ thinking/ lost sleep/ extra trips to the library/ thinking/"writing" this post in my head/ thinking/ you get the idea...) If you're an introvert, I'm sure I've got your attention already, and if you're an introverted mom who chooses to homeschool her kids and stay at home with them then this post is for you! I wrote (and composed) it for me, and that's where I'm at. If you happen to get anything beneficial from it, I consider it an added bonus.

saw on Pinterest
Perhaps I've known that I was an introvert for many years now. However, being married (to an introvert) for the last seven years now, and being a mother for five has shown me how much of an introvert I am. If you wonder whether you're an introvert or not, it has little to do with being "shy" or "reserved" and everything to do with needing alone time to recharge. You can definitely find an introvert/extrovert test online if you really don't know whether you're more introverted or extroverted, but everyone leans to one side or the other (while possessing qualities of both.) I would recommend you find out, because knowing what an "introvert" is has helped me tremendously in my personal life. In the past several years (and certainly months!), I have learned more about myself than ever before (and I'm 32!) Knowing that about myself has made me much more comfortable with who I am, and around other people. Here's a short and sweet blog post you can use to identify yourself as an introverted mom: 6 Signs That You're an Introverted Mom


The bestselling book, Quiet by Susan Cain , has really made conversations about introverts more common. My husband heard about it from one of his professors who was married to an introvert, and then one of my introverted friends raved about it (and also lent me her copy.) Truth be told, I have yet to finish it, but I do love what I have read so far. I searched for other books about introverts, and found a couple at the library that hold my (limited) attention better.

The topics that I blog the most passionately about are topics that I have experienced myself, and are dear to my heart. I am currently a stay-at-home mom who has started homeschooling my five year old daughter, so most of my posts are about either homeschooling or other adventures in motherhood (I also have a two year old son.) I started thinking to myself (introverts do this a lot) that I should write about introverted moms (like me) who maybe feel like they're either not cut out for this motherhood thing (kids can be annoying) or there is really something wrong with them (because their own kids are annoying them and they feel guilty about it!) In trying to find some good books on the topic, I didn't see any that were written specifically for moms.

 The Introvert's Way by Sophia Dembling has been a great read, humorous and casually written. Cute book, and a little colorful language I might add. She has an magnificent chapter on the weaknesses of the introvert mind, i.e. easily distracted, "checking-out", etc. But where are the screaming kids in your vacations that you take by yourself even though you're married, Sophia!? 

What, there aren't any?!   

Exactly my point. 
I'm pretty sure that Susan Cain has at least a chapter on raising introverted children, but I don't know if she has one on introverted moms. Then it hit me. Introverted moms with young children don't have the time or the energy to write books for other introverted moms! Oh yeah. They're just like me, just trying to survive the daily, emotionally draining, socially demanding, difficult-for-anyone task of being surrounded by kids all the time. Yeah, that makes sense. ;) 

What I failed to consider, however, was that there were other mommy bloggers out there like me who would at least write helpful or encouraging posts about what life was like for an introverted mom. Thankfully, before I set out to write this much-needed, even ground-breaking! post I have been thinking about for weeks, I did a simple google search for "introvert mom" and the results (pleasantly) surprised me! At least 35 articles and blog posts popped up, and I was dying to read them all! 

If you're an introverted mom looking for useful information and encouragement without having to go through all these, here's the best of what I found: (Hey, my kids are asleep and my husband is out of town. There's nothing I'd rather do at the moment!) ;)

First thing that caught my eye was the website and Facebook page entitled "The Introverted Mom" and after reading these two moms' bios that manage them, it could prove to be a good source of encouragement (and humor!) Their website logo is "We love our kids. We need our downtime." Enough said, ladies.

The title I fell in love with right away was "I gave up by noon: For the introverted mother" and her blog post did not disappoint! She hits the nail on the head when she describes the daily introvert struggles (comparing yourself to extroverted moms, mental exhaustion) and also does a great job of detailing the progression of your child growing older affects you and how it gets harder with each additional child: 

"When I first became a mother, it was still easy to meet all my introverted needs. In the beginning, the symbiosis between mother and baby is so great that being around them feels like being alone. They are simply an extension of yourself. They don't talk, they sleep a great deal of the time and they can be put in a stroller or carrier for long walks whenever you feel like it. It becomes harder when they start walking and talking, but even then the afternoon nap is sufficient to get that time you need.
My oldest daughter stopped napping altogether when she was 2 1/2. I was 6 months pregnant at the time. I managed to make things work for the next year with a combination of 'quiet time' in her room and part time preschool, but things started to unravel when my daughter decided to fight quiet time with everything she had. I was already physically exhausted, but it was the mental exhaustion that was really killing me. I was giving and giving all day every day, but without any peace and quiet I had nothing to fill me back up."

Yes, Lulu. My thoughts exactly.

In this post, she also has a list of ways to try to give yourself quiet time, which I thought was very helpful.These resonated the most with me:

#1. "Get your 'stuff' done while the kids are awake.
In the early days I used to spend nap time or time when my husband took the baby out to cook and clean and do laundry and then wonder why I felt so exhausted and miserable about it. Now unless I have a burning desire to do housework (which almost NEVER happens), I make sure I get things done when the kids are present. I get them to 'help', I speed clean the kitchen while they sit eating their afternoon snacks or breakfast, I run and throw in a load of laundry when they are mesmerized by a toy. The second they are asleep or not home I am OFF duty and I am only allowed to do something I find relaxing, which in my case is usually reading a book."


 #5. Be clear about what you need and negotiate.

My husband now understands that while he wants to spend his free time playing music or soccer with his friends, I want him to take the kids out for the afternoon so I can have a totally silent house. You have to let the people in your life know what you need the most and work out exactly how and when you can get it.

I found this to be an awesome post, but her oldest grew up and went to school moving right along... :)

For the next one, if the title doesn't grab you, the visual sure will!

The blog: Diary of a Bewildered Mother (and Facebook page)
The post: Grace for the Introverted Mom

She begins with this food for thought: "Being a stay-at-home-mom is the most unnatural thing in the world if you look at the historical order of things. Humans once lived in tribes, clans, family units, villages. Children were raised by their mother, plus any other number of matriarchal type persons. Fathers and other men were involved in the education and nurturing of their children as well. Mothers had help in the form of relatives, wet-nurses or nannies. These days, we tend to fall into one of two extremes: we are the sole caregiver of our children during the day, or else we leave them in the care of educators and coaches and have little time to interact with our own kids. Hopefully you fall somewhere into the middle! Anyway, this isn’t about societal norms or a call to action. It’s about introverts. Introverts who are drained when they are sole caregivers to one or more children."

She goes on to give four tips for introverted moms, the first of which I can definitely relate to:

"Tip #1—Favor reflection over distraction.

We introverts need time, alone, with our thoughts. If I don’t get time alone just to think, or sort out my thoughts, I end up distracting myself with the internet. (As a teen, I used to distract myself with endless hours of TV. As an adult, I don’t have cable, but I have my own laptop.)
I’ll spend hours and hours on Pinterest or YouTube or clicking on random Wikipedia articles to distract myself, when a 20-minute shower would be so much better for me, because I spend only 3 minutes cleaning myself, and the rest of the time, I just let my mind wander and sort and think and rest.
Right now it’s 2 am, and I should be in bed, but I’ve just been putting off my time of introspection all this time, and now I won’t be able to sleep until I think about it."

Distraction and not enough sleep are the story of my life right now! When my children can't find me at any time (because I'm actually hiding from them!) they know to check the computer desk first, and then proceed to knocking on the bathroom door. And while it's not 2 a.m. (yet), I know exactly what she means, although I haven't considered emailing myself before..  hmmm...  The other tips are good ones, too, so read the whole post! She and I seem to have much in common, as she wrote this post while her husband was away for two weeks (ditto) and he is also an introvert.

In the post "I Just Want to Be Alone: Confessions of an Introverted Mom," (ooh, sounds good) she begins with "I love my husband and daughter dearly, but sometimes the sights and sounds of them make me want to scream." (ooh, sounds even better!) This is a short post, but that quote alone made it worthwhile reading, especially when she talks about wanting to kick them out. ;)

Saw on Pinterest, and then doctored it up a little :)
 I just returned to my desk after being interrupted by my ever-so-clingy toddler who woke up wanting me to lie down with him in his bed so he could go back to sleep. I won't say too much about my lovely children here, but my baby boy has literally been attached to my hip for over two years now. He needs my presence to help him sleep, poop, and just about everything he does. He falls asleep squeezing my thumb, which kind of hurts. He melts my heart with his big blue eyes... which is a good thing, because my hip is starting to hurt and he drives me absolutely crazy sometimes! The good news is he is beginning to venture out of my shadow more and more, and he enjoys playing alone more than his five year old sister. I suspect he is an introvert, and we will be good friends one day. My little princess is intelligent, talkative, energetic, emotional, inquisitive, and creative... in a word, exhausting. She's also so observant and highly sensitive, that she requires a lot of sleep and down time (phew!) so that balances it out I guess. I highly doubt that she's an introvert. We will also be very good friends, and I suspect that when she's out on her own, she will call me every day, at least once a day, forever. They are so young and precious, too young to understand my need for alone time. Too young to be away from me for very long. I understand this, and try my best to put myself on hold. Self-sacrifice is what motherhood is all about when they are this little, but I secretly look forward to the days when they want their space (so I can have mine back.) I truly love these "little years" though, and wouldn't change them for anything. I try to enjoy them, chaos and all. Oh wait, did I mention that my daughter was talking in her sleep a few minutes ago....


Speaking of children, the mom at has several posts about telling kids what an introvert is, and her own list of confessions here. I'll warn you that she's a little edgy, but I did find the information helpful.

Now here is a really helpful post! This mom gives some more practical tips for being a "happy introverted mom"and she has four children, and she homeschools! Yay for her! :) Find her post here. Like me, she also loves Charlotte Mason's educational methods. CM is actually very introvert-friendly now that I think about it. I am still trying to implement more and more of her wisdom into our homeschool, which has been a little difficult while living in a big city instead of the English countryside... but I'm not giving up! ;)

I know this post is getting too long (but you should expect that from me by now!) I definitely have to share this one, which is excellent and covers the bases the others may have left out. In Motherhood: The Introvert's Challenge, this mother of five not only talks about the needs of the introvert, but also the weaknesses and sins of the introvert (of which there are many, so I'm glad she puts it out there!) To sum it up, she divides this post into The Tug (to be more like extroverted moms), The Guilt (from wanting to get away from your children), The Temptations (making excuses for sin, laziness, not making time for your spouse or G-d, self-pity) I don't know about you, but I'm guilty of ALL OF THOSE! That's what has driven me to compose this post in the first place. Thankfully, she doesn't stop there. She also gives The Solution ("recognize your weakness and remember the Gospel") which is beautifully stated:

"There is no quick and easy solution to the introvert’s challenge in motherhood. But the main thing is learning to accept that God really is sovereign. Knowing God is sovereign, means that you can accept and embrace the way God made you. You do not have to become an extrovert to please God or love people well. He thought making you an introvert was the best thing for you and those around you. It was freeing for me to ponder the truth that God made me to be the right mother for my children and that my children are the right children for me, because God foreordained them to be a part of my life. The Gospel frees me to embrace who I am while not using my weaknesses as excuses for laziness. God’s Spirit will use me, introversion and all. My identity in Christ has got to be the foundation upon which I build my personal identity, regardless of introversion or extroversion. He has promised to perfect me, yes, even use my weaknesses in His service. That helps me relax, accept myself while not giving in to my natural sins and expect change as the Holy Spirit works in me, through all circumstances.  Sure, there will be challenges, but that is how God intends to grow me and make me more conformed to His image.  You will be stretched to your limits. Every time you fail or sin against your husband and children in your introverted way, is an opportunity for you to receive grace from God and to live out the gospel: repent, ask for your family’s forgiveness and let the Holy Spirit transform you. It is a hard but beautiful process to which your kids are privy. It is the story of redemption playing out before them."

I didn't mention all 35 but that last one, I think, is a wonderful stopping place in our google search journey (thanks for reading this far!) Despite the challenges, I wouldn't trade introverted motherhood for the world. While I don't think that introverts are better than extroverts, I also wouldn't trade being an introvert for the world. All the reading I have done on introverts actually helps me understand and try to sympathize with extroverts more. I find it fascinating that G-d created people so differently, yet we can be compatible if we first understand who we are (and who He is!) 

I may be a great introvert, but I know I have a lot of work to do in order to be a better mom and wife despite the challenges I face. I'm realizing those challenges now more than ever, but I also realize the advantages that I have been blessed with. Having a wonderful husband, two precious kids, and writing to keep me sane, I am hopeful that we'll be fine. I have a sneaking suspicion that you will be, too.

To summarize what I have gathered in my search, here's a list of how to survive (and thrive) as an introverted mom:

~Pray! (and remember that time with G-d can be even better than "alone" time, since He's there when you're alone anyway. Talk to Him. He knows you're losing it. He made you! )
~Make time to be alone without sacrificing all your family time (and for me, that seems to mean getting up earlier than I already do...oy!)

~Be honest with yourself, your husband, and your kids (Know your needs and share them with your loved ones. I'm sure they'll understand.

~Be present... in the present. (This one is tough for me. I'm usually thinking about the past or preparing for the future.)

~Give your kids (and husband) some special one-on-one time (which means giving them your undivided attention without the usual distractions in your mind)

~Implement mandatory "quiet time" (thank G-d my toddler still naps, but my kindergartner doesn't. We sometimes do schoolwork during naptime, but I really want to change that.)

~Don't feel guilty about your need for "me" time. (Everyone needs it. You can't be awesome all the time!)

~Give yourself grace. I can't finish this post without linking to this one, which I read a few months back while I was thinking about writing on this topic: 15 New Year's Resolutions for the Introverted Mom. I was encouraged by every single one.

~Never underestimate yourself. Push yourself out of the nest a little (while not overdoing it). Get out with your kids. Befriend a mom or two. Join a small mom's group. I have been a part of one for over a year now, and I love it! I didn't seek one out, however. It was more like an answer to prayer from a lonely mom (at the time). I took my kids to the park when we were supposed to be doing school at home, and a wonderful thing happened. A sweet and outgoing little girl befriended my sweet and a bit shy little girl, and the rest is history. Those two moms I met at the park that day have become cherished friends of mine. All I had to do was leave the house! ;) That may be all you have to do as well.


  1. Thank you for writing this post and having all of those wonderful posts linked so it's all in one place!
    I'm also an introverted mom and as soon as I decided I would be homeschooling my sons (3 & 9 mo right now) I've been worried about how my introversion would affect them and their future friendships. We don't get out much and my older son actually loves staying at home so...
    But this post is an encouragement, so thanks for taking the time to write it!

  2. Thank you very much, Hana! Glad you were encouraged by it. Thanks for reading!

  3. Thank you so much for writing this article, and putting together so interesting and useful information. At so many points of your posts it felt as if you were writing not about yourself, but me - so many things and facts we have in common...

  4. Great post, Joanna! You've shared a lot of interesting points. I never considered myself introverted before, but the older I get, the more I realize that I need time alone like I need oxygen. :o)