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I'm an Introvert Mom, Are You?

By findingmagnolia |

I am a classic introvert and always have been. I love my friends and my family, and I adore my children, and there’s nothing I like more than a good discussion of a topic I’m passionate about. However, I can only take so much of other people before I start to feel a little unsettled and unbalanced. I need time alone to feel refreshed and honestly, simply to feel fine. One of my biggest challenges as a mother has been to figure out how to get my need for solitude met while still meeting the needs of my children and keeping my relationship with my husband strong.

To make it even more complicated, both of my children are currently high need children. My older daughter still carries deep wounds from the upheaval she went through during her adoption, and we have decided to homeschool her because she is simply not ready to be away from me all day each weekday. Elvie has myriad medical needs and fresh attachment needs. My day is completely full of meeting my chilren’s needs. To even slip into the bathroom, I have to provide ample distraction or somehow get both girls to sleep at the same time. (It’s happened once. Just once.) I am thrilled to be the mother of my two girls, and I would choose my two babies over all the other babies in the world, no matter how easy the other babies’ needs are by comparison. My kids are worth it. At the same time, I’m a much better mother to them when I can have my own need for solitude met on a regular basis.

Lately I’ve been brainstorming ways to get time alone without completely deserting Jarod and the kids in the evening or on the weekends. First of all, that’s not fair to Jarod, who deserves a break sometimes, too, and second, Elvie is a bit of a mama’s girl lately, so I really need to be at home for her bedtime, or there will be no bedtime, just crying. My alone time right now has to be brief, so I need it to be somewhat frequent in order to get enough. Long gone are the days I could go somewhere for a weekend on my own; that’s just not good for my kids right now (and I’m pretty sure Jarod wouldn’t love it either). So far, my best idea is going for a run as soon as everyone is in bed. Our neighborhood is safe and well lit, and I’m killing two birds with one stone. I get to be alone and get some exercise, not mention get out of the house. I’ve got other ideas of things I could do, but so far none of them has really worked out.

So I would like to ask a question of the readers who are also introvert moms. What do you do to recharge on a regular basis? Is there something tried and true that helps you get enough time to yourself that even when your children aren’t napping at the same time, you don’t feel like finding the nearest wall and banging our head against it before the day is through? How about if you’re tired from being up with a baby all night? I’d love to hear what you do and how often. Leave me some ideas in the comments–I need them desperately!

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More on Babble:
We Missed Part of Our Baby’s First Year
What a Difference Two Months Makes
Exhaustion and Interruption

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About findingmagnolia



Mary McBride is a former career nanny who finally felt she'd practiced on enough children to successfully mother her own. Originally from the Midwest, Mary is happy with her husband and two Ethiopian daughters in San Francisco, where neither winter nor summer exist. Read bio and latest posts → Read findingmagnolia's latest posts →

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11 thoughts on “I'm an Introvert Mom, Are You?

  1. Meagan says:

    Well to start, don’t worry so much about protecting your husband because he needs breaks too. He does, sure, but if he’s working during the week, he doesn’t need a break feom the intensity tge way you do. Let him take the girls on his own periodically- it is absolutely “fair” to him, and I would even argue that regular alone time os a necessary part of bonding with his children. He NEEDS time to be the one caring for them, to be the only one responsible. If you protect him from this, if it becomes a rare event, he’ll fall into the role of assistant, or even babysitter. So take your breaks, and let your husband be a parent. You know how hard it is, don’t “save” him from it.

  2. 100200 says:

    I go swimming. I have two girls, a three year old and a two month old. They are both pretty easy and lovely to be around, but I’m the kind of person who likes it to be quiet and that’s hard to find at my house. By the end of the day, I just need to dunk my head in a pool so I can’t hear anything. Anything. After about 10-15 minutes of laps, I’m feeling like myself again. The gym is nearby, so, in total, I’m gone from the house for about a half an hour, after my girls are in bed. Also, I’m a terrible swimmer and I’m sure it would be painful to watch me do this, splashing around like a fool. But, that slice of quiet is completely worth it and so recharging.

  3. Ankh says:

    I am not a mom yet but I am an introvert. If you can get away for an hour or two, what about the library? Libraries are quiet. As an introvert, one of the things I crave during recharge time is just silence. And a chance to read something. Ergo, library. If you need to get out after library closing time, book stores are an option, plus they often have coffee shops attached to them and a bunch of comfy chairs should you accidentally fall asleep while reading. Or you could take a walk around your neighborhood and get an ice cream or a coffee. If you can get away longer than that, I would recommend riding a roller coaster or two. Even at crowded theme parks, once I’m on that ride, I feel like the only person in the world (in a good way).

  4. Carol Everett Adams says:

    Hey Mary, Carol from OP, KS here. :) It’s been awhile!

    I feel for you – I’m a writer, and I thought I’d literally lose my sanity with my two kids at home. E just started kindergarten last month (can you believe it?!), and it’s been one of the few times in 8 years (!) that I’ve felt like I can relax, breathe, pursue what I love, and be myself without interruption.

    I don’t think there’s an easy answer. I agree with the poster above who is talking about Jarod’s work. Yes, he works full time. But it is not the same as being around young, high-needs children 24/7. I’ve done both, and I can tell you that even during the hardest day at work, I still got a mental and emotional “recharge” from being away from the children. You know I care about him as much as you [waves to Jarod], but truly, if you could get away even one evening a week while he stays home, everyone would benefit.

    As for a more practical answer for the rest of the time, the only thing that saved me was to seek out venues where the kids could play separately from me while I was still able to keep them safe or observe them while I knitted or read a book. Places like Deanna Rose Farm, Jumping Jax, the Discovery Barn at the zoo – know what I mean? Find places where they can be within site or at least unable to leave the premises, but you can sit down alone and turn your mind toward something else for a bit while they play. This type of thing gets easier as they get older. I’ve seen our progression through the years at a place like the Farm, where they started out by playing directly in front of me in the sand pit… and now they can run on ahead to the Dairy Barn while I fall way behind. I subscribe to Free Range parenting (have you read that book/blog?), so that helps.

    Good luck, and let me know how it goes!

  5. Miranda says:

    I agree with the above commenters re: handing them to Jarrod for at least one evening a week. I work in a very high-intensity job, and have only one child, but I go to work to have a rest! Simply being away from the children is enough to charge the batteries, and if he works he gets tonnes more of that than you. No disrespect to Jarrod of course! Take one night a week – and you only need an hour or two – and take yourself out if the house for a run, or to a cafe with a book, whatever suits. Even if you have to get the girls to bed first (though J could probably try babywearing Elvie to sleep by himself?) getting out of the house for two hours on a Tuesday will make a huuuuge difference. Like anything when juggling kids, this will end. It’ll just be a temporary arrangement until the next challenge arises!

    You’re doing great!

  6. Sarah says:

    Mary, I have a career, and my kids have grown into much more independent teenagers… and I still require time away from people to recharge. I find my escape/recharge is with reading. With mobile devices and eBooks, you can carry a selection of reading that would rival a library these days. This works if you have to escape physically, like maybe sit on the beach or go to the Library, or works if you only have 10-15 minutes before the kids wake up from their naps… which, like taking a power-nap, revives my sensibilities. I really lose myself in a good story, and that mental break (even if it’s only a few minutes) is just what the introvert ordered. In fact, I do it at work on a stressful day – find a nook or cranny, and read until my ears stop ringing. Or if I have a stressful trip out of town for work, I focus on the travel time (because I get to read A LOT) and I may just look forward to the trip!
    I adore your blogs, have been reading for years! Take care!

  7. z says:

    Part of being an introvert, for me, is that my senses are easily overwhelmed by stimuli. I really like to wear bad earplugs to reduce my sensory input. Mediocre, poorly designed earplugs that allow me to hear just fine when anyone is speaking or calling to you, but that cut down on the hum of household appliances, the traffic, the neighbors, all those irrelevant sounds that sap my energy and distract me over the course of the day.

    I also take baths and showers for a quick sensory re-set that doesn’t require leaving the house. Sounds like getting bathroom time is hard for you, but maybe you can try it after a while. If I can’t do that, I bury my face in a hot or cool washcloth for a minute and then wipe down my arms and hands.

    Another idea– maybe teach Zinashi some brief stretching routines that you can do together. I always feel better when I relax my neck and take a yoga pose or two. None of these things are as good as alone time, but they help me.

  8. lonek8 says:

    I am also an introvert, and my husband travels for work so im always on my own w four kids so when he is home I go to the movies by myself. It’s only a few hours, but it really helps

  9. Hayley Cameron says:

    Learn to live on slightly less sleep and when the kids have gone to sleep ask your husband for a night, once a week, where you can get a quiet bath and go to your bedroom to read a book, magazine or Internet in bed. Your husband can do his own thing in the living room and both of you will benefit from alone time. Likewise, once every now and again, ask your husband to take over so you can go stroll around an art gallery, museum – anything that takes your senses and thoughts away from your children for a little while will help.

  10. kim says:

    I’m a mom of 7, ages 11 months to 15, and we homeschool. So there is no time in my daytime hours for truly alone time (except the occasional run by myself to the grocery store…usually I like to take along 1 or 2 for the “mommy time”). I have resorted to late evenings after hubby and all kids, even teens, are in bed. Some sleep gets sacrificed, but I feel more refreshed when I’ve had time for my soul to breathe. At times I’ve done exercise walks in the evening, but there are still needs waiting for me when I get home. I’ve figured out that the reason I like late nights is that there is no absolute cut off point that my time has to end….no deadlines (like there are in the day when baby or toddler is going to get up from a nap soon, etc.)
    Late nights are also my time for reading by myself…usually in bed, often nursing the baby back to sleep.

  11. Kelly says:

    I’ve got 3 two-year-olds, all adopted from Ethiopia, all with their own traumatic past. I think that long periods of solitude (at least while the kids are awake) are really impossible at this stage in their lives. They are so young, and they are so desperate for me most of the time that I can’t see denying them. I do take time to myself after the kids are in bed, sometimes just a half hour of reading or catching up on email, but it is my half hour. I love to swim, but our closest pool is too far for me to make that practical at this point. While my kids are up, I do reserve one thing for myself. I brush my teeth alone. With three two-year-olds, it doesn’t take long for me to need a few moments to reset my attitude in how I respond to them, so I go to the bathroom, alone, for the two minutes it takes to brush my teeth. It’s short but still very refreshing. The kids won’t self-destruct in the two minutes that I’m gone, and I can certainly still hear them. I do this two or three times a day while the kids are up as needed, and my teeth are remarkably healthy as a result. I learned quickly when I became a mom that meeting my children’s needs would often cause me to forget my own, so adding this one little practice has been good for all of us. I do hope for longer stretches of solitude as they get older.

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