This post was last updated in April 2019.
When I wrote about the downsides of homeschooling, I mentioned that having the kids home all the time can be a little bit exhausting if you’re an introvert.
(A simple definition is that an introvert gains energy by being alone. In contrast, an extrovert tends to gain energy by being around other people. I’m very friendly and outgoing, but I consider myself an introvert because I recharge by being alone.)
Anyway, since I wrote that post, several of you wrote in asking how I make this mothering/homeschooling thing work.
Before I share what’s worked for me, I want to acknowledge:
- that both mothering and homeschooling presents their own set of challenges for extroverts, since kids and homeschooling can definitely put a damper on one’s social life. However, that’s not the particular set of challenges that I face, so I can’t offer any advice there. Find an extrovert mom and pick her brain!
- that I’m writing about my experience as a stay-at-home mom and homeschooling mom, but I know there are dads out there who stay home and homeschool. I think what I’m sharing will still be mostly applicable to situations like that.
I’m just going to throw my ideas out there, and you can pick and choose what will fit your family/life stage/personality.
First, here are some things I did when my kids were younger.
I didn’t co-sleep.
Except for the odd night in those first groggy weeks, my babies slept in a bassinet or crib. And by the time they were nine months old, all of them were sleeping in a crib in their own rooms.
Also, they have not been allowed to get up in the middle of the night and crawl into our bed. I love my children dearly, but an overnight break from them is very good for me.
(Just in case you’re thinking I’m cold-hearted, know that I did get up many, many, many times in the middle of the night to nurse my babies when they were small. I wasn’t deserting them overnight; it’s just that I didn’t share my bed with them.)
I trained them to stay in their beds until I got them in the mornings.
When they were babies, of course, this did not apply.
And once they were of potty-training age, they were allowed to get up and use the bathroom (duh!).
But otherwise, the rule was that they had to stay in their beds until I came in and said it was time to get up (usually around 7:00 or 7:30).
They didn’t have to sleep, but there was no waking up at o-dark-thirty and deciding it was time for everyone to be up for the day.
This rule allowed me to have a little bit of peace and quiet in the morning to shower, get dressed, read my Bible, and pray, and that made for a better start to our days.
Even now that they’re all older, there’s an agreed-upon time when they can emerge and start their days (though they are free to read or do schoolwork if they wake up early).
I put them down for naps consistently.
This made for happier babies/toddlers and a happier me. Once we got past the nebulous first weeks/months with a new baby, we always settled into a regular napping routine, and I stuck with it. I seriously planned my life around naps, and so for about nine straight years of my life, I almost never went out in the afternoons. Even if only 2/4 kids were napping, the relative quiet was good for my soul.
I used the TV sparingly.
When my kids were little, I usually let them watch a half hour of TV per day (which was usually one Kipper or Richard Scarry DVD).
Because the TV wasn’t on all the time, they considered this to be a big deal, and they sat quietly through the whole show.
If you have the TV on all the time, though, it’s not nearly as effective at producing quiet children.
We had consistent bedtimes.
None of my children have been at all good at sleeping in, so it always made sense to faithfully put them in bed on the early side of things. This provided me with some downtime in the evening to clean things up and spend time with Mr. FG.
And here are some ideas that will work with older kids.
Send them to bed to read before it’s time for them to go to sleep.
For example, if a kid is supposed to be asleep at 8:30, they head to bed at 7:30 to read for an hour. This gives them some time to wind down before they go to sleep, and it gives me some extra quiet time.
Have a quiet hour after lunch.
You can have your kids read or watch an educational DVD, and use that hour to do something that recharges you.
Limit your outside activities each week.
An extroverted mom might be able to do six outside activities each week, but that would be very hard for an introvert.
Know your limits and work within them.
If your spouse is extroverted, send the kids out with him.
Mr. FG is more of a get-out-of-the-house kind of guy, so I
dump that part of the parental responsibilities on him sometimes as often as possible.
Leave the kids with their other parent (or some sort of babysitter) and go somewhere by yourself.
The biggest treat for me (and many introverts!) is to be left home by myself, but it also helps to occasionally go out somewhere quiet with a cup of tea to get some planning done.
Allow some screen time.
If my kids have finished their chores and schoolwork, they each get a half hour of screen time. And screen time=quiet time!
So. Those are my best ideas for navigating motherhood as an introvert.