Visiting Linlithgow Palace, West Lothian

9 Things You’ll Understand if You’re an Introverted Parent

A couple of weeks ago, someone tagged me in a post on Instagram about introverted personality types (You can see it here – and, if you’re a parent, I highly recommend giving the account a follow, while you’re there…), and, as I commented later, I had never felt so seen.

The image is titled, ‘ The Challenges of Parenting as an Introvert’ , and although all of the points on the list are things I’d already known about myself, somehow seeing them all together like that made everything click into place for me. 

“THIS is why I find parenting so hard!” I thought – quickly followed by, “Thank God it’s not just that I’m totally useless, then!”

Because, the truth is, that’s pretty much how I’d been feeling up until then: completely and utterly useless. And, I mean, that wasn’t totally unexpected, really.  I’ve never been much of a ‘coper’. I don’t think anyone would ever describe me as “good in a crisis”, for example, and parenthood frequently feels like a bit of a crisis to me – one which I’m woefully unprepared for, at that.

But I am not alone: or not if the comments on that Instagram post are anything to go by. No, my fellow introverts, they GET it. They get ME. They get how parenthood constantly challenges the introvert personality to do things you’d never otherwise have even considered doing – and how that’s not always the good thing extroverts claim it is. Here are some other things parents who are introverts totally understand…

Visiting Linlithgow Palace, Scotland / Parenting as an introverted personality

You literally can’t think straight because of all the talking.

I used to use the phrase, “I can’t even think straight,” as if I knew what it meant. I did not, however, know what that phrase meant: not really. Parenting a child who only stops talking when he’s asleep*, however, has totally redefined the state of not being able to think straight: in fact, some days I literally feel like I can’t think AT ALL, because of ALL THE  TALKY TALKING.

It’s like it scrambles my brain, or something and I have to go and sit in a quiet room for an hour or so to clear my head, except THERE IS NO QUIET ROOM ANY MORE, LOL. (Because they will follow you. Yes they will.)

I would like my headspace back again, thank you. Even just for a little while…

(That’s not an exaggeration, by the way: Max starts telling himself stories the second he opens his eyes in the morning, and doesn’t stop talking until at least half an hour after we’ve put him to bed, when he likes to narrate the events of his day to his soft toys, Zorro-the-Dog-on-the-Wall, and, well, himself, I guess?)

You say you need to use the bathroom, but you actually mean, “I’m going to sit on the toilet and scroll through my phone for the next 10 minutes, or my head will explode.”

And they will STILL follow you…

(To be fair, I don’t really think you necessarily need to have an introverted personality for this one: I mean, we’ve all done it, right? RIGHT?)

You are genuinely worried about how you’ll cope when your child starts asking if his friends can sleep over.

Because, Other People? In my house? Where I can’t get away from them? What fresh hell is THIS? In related worries:

You have preemptively planned all of your child’s birthday parties in advance.

Before we even started trying for a baby, I made Terry solemnly promise that all large-scale birthday parties (By which I mean the kind where Max wants to invite his entire class, as opposed to just family and close friends…) will be held in soft play centres or other venues where someone else takes care of all of the entertainment.

Because, honestly, it’s hard enough coming up with activities for ONE child for a long period of time, so the thought of having to entertain and cater to 30+ children leaves me feeling so mentally drained I’m going to have to go and read a book or something as soon as I’ve finished this paragraph…

things you'll only understand if you're an introverted parent

That sinking feeling when you’re out somewhere and your child goes bounding over to some complete stranger(s), hell-bent on interacting with them.

It’s probably too soon to tell, but I’m pretty sure that Max is going to turn out to be the most extroverted of extroverts, just like his dad. I think this, not just because of the non-stop talking, but also because, any time he sees another person – literally ANY other person – he’ll immediately say, “Mummy, I want to talk to them!” and off he’ll go. Which means I have to follow… 

Inventing reasons why you absolutely can’t go to any mother and toddler groups is basically your superpower.

Because it turns out that just saying, “Oh, I wish I could, but I really don’t want to!” isn’t considered socially acceptable. Shame.

Being constantly out of your comfort zone.

Constantly. As in, it’s been so long since I was in my comfort zone, that I don’t even remember what it’s like there any more. I just know that it’s quiet, and there aren’t too many people in it at any given time – which is the exact opposite of life as a parent, really, with its constant demands for social interaction.

We do it, of course, for the sake of the kids, but being constantly out of your comfort zone is exhausting for people with an introverted personality, and daytime drinking frowned upon, so… I’m very tired right now. I’m just really, really tired…

Things you'll only understand if you're an introverted personality type

Play dates. 

So, if my toddler has a play-date with another toddler, does that mean I have to have a play-date with the other toddler’s parent?  Because enforced socialising is every introvert’s dream, really, isn’t it?

The ever-present that your child will miss out unless you completely change your introverted personality.

In my case, I actually DON’T worry that Max will miss out on things, or have poor social skills, or whatever, because Terry is such an extrovert that he’s always more than happy to step up and do the socialising – in fact, to be totally honest, there are times when I’m not totally sure whether the playgroups he goes to are for Max’s benefit, or for Terry’s.

I do, however, worry about being The Weird Mum – which is why I continue to push myself out of my comfort zone as often as I can stand it, even though, as I’ve said before, I’d much rather be reading, thanks.

 

RELATED:

9 ways to make an introvert hate you

Blogging as an introvert

I’d rather be reading

The hardest thing about parenthood is all the people you have to talk to

COMMENTS
  • Steph

    REPLY

    Oh my, All of this! I don’t even have a toddler just yet and I already fear so much of what you’ve written about here! I was actually a tiny bit relieved when lockdown first happened because it immediately took the pressure to be going to groups and classes away! I was allowed to just sit on the sofa for cuddles and play with Bailey on my own and no one could judge me! He’s not talking yet, or not real words anyway, but I still find the constant interaction exhausting. It’s got to the point that I visibly flinch if anyone touches me unexpectedly, including my partner, because I just want to be left alone for a bit. I absolutely adore my family and I’m dreading being away from them all day again when we’re back at work, but it really does take its toll on me sometimes! And it’s so hard to explain to people who aren’t wired the same!

    July 27, 2020
  • Laura Steel

    REPLY

    Honestly, as a massive introvert, this is one of the main reasons I don’t want kids. Much respect to all introvert parents! For what it’s worth though, I think having Max’s friends sleep over when he is older might not be so bad – at least they can keep each other entertained and leave you in peace!

    July 27, 2020
  • Fiona Brough

    REPLY

    Brodie has a bit of a speech delay so he has a more limited vocabulary, is still at the 2-3 word sentence stage and half his words don’t sound much like they should. But he Never. Stops. Talking. I mean it’s great, I’m so glad he’s catching up and can express himself but I want to scream when he says, “Sticky hands, mum. Sticky hands! STICKY HANDS. MUM! STICKY HANDS. STIIIICKKKKYYYY HHAAAAAAAANNNNDS!” because I haven’t managed to wash them in the thirty seconds since he said it first. I’m at home on my own with him 40 hours a week, and I’ve just found out I’ll be furloughed for another three weeks at least, and I’m about at the end of my tether with hearing the same things over and over often accompanied by the patting on my arm/leg as he demands my attention.

    I definitely need way more quiet time than I’m getting now – but I actually love going to work normally where there are (some) sane and sensible adults to talk to. Everything in small doses. (Except strangers who suddenly strike up weird conversations with you on the street because your child made eye contact with them. That’s not OK at all.)

    July 27, 2020
  • Myra

    REPLY

    This has opened my eyes, I had no idea you felt like this (not that that’s a bad thing). I just didn’t know you and other introvert parents had this experience. As an extrovert, I have had different experiences recently and found that covid isolation actually suited my current state because I didn’t want to see or speak to anyone, especially strangers. Your mum has been a tower if strength to me, although I suspect she might have done with less talking from me.
    Just keep on doing what you’re doing and let Terry take on the play dates and parties. You’re doing a great job of parenting and the results are obvious in your very bright and happy little boy. PS one day your mum video called me and Max quickly engaged in conversation with me as if he’d seen me every day if his life, which I found delightful.

    July 27, 2020
  • ML

    REPLY

    You’re not weird at all…. Lots of us are introverted by nature. If you haven’t had the opportunity, I might recommend the book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in an Extroverted World by Susan Cain. She also has a TED talk which is also very good that you can find on YouTube or Ted.com. It highlights the strengths of introverts and how the world really does value and need them. It also helps us understand extroverts a little better as well. My mom used to tell me to let your kids talk to you as much as they want to, because there will come a time when they won’t. But sometimes I would have to say to my very chatty daughter after she’d talk to me for what felt like a long time, “I really want to hear more about that a little later. My ears need a rest.” Being able to get away for some quiet time each day is definitely needed and helps immensely to keep from feeling overloaded–whether that’s in the bathroom, getting out when possible for a walk/jog, as Max has his naps (and even later after he’s outgrown them having some quiet time in his room each day), etc. Max will learn so much from each of you and the strengths you each bring as his parents.

    July 28, 2020
  • Emerald

    REPLY

    I feel for you and also feel a bit bad since my mum is fairly introverted – and I wasn’t! I would run up and talk to the world and his wife when we were out and about in North Berwick. She dreaded me having friends round or to stay over for the same reasons you’ve stated here. And every now and then I’d just show up with a pal! (And she was very good and made them feel welcome, of course.) Ironically she married London’s biggest extrovert (my dad!), and if they’d stayed together then he would’ve been getting me to throw parties every other weekend.

    My mum remarried and had more children. One day I rang her and could hear small people calling “Mummy!” in the background. She confessed she’d gone into her bedroom and locked the door to get away from them*, and as soon as she did they were calling her! * Disclaimer: All three children were old enough to be left on their own.

    August 4, 2020
  • Sally

    REPLY

    Yes!!! Oh the talking! I have two highly energetic, very talkative girls and, oh my gosh, it’s so overwhelming sometimes!! I’m constantly beating myself up for feeling frustrated and annoyed, for being a bad mum for losing my temper… even though I do know it’s because I’m an introvert, and also anxious. Most days I’m completely wrung out by it all, and lockdown/corona has made it soooooo much worse obvs. I am learning to be kinder to myself, such as having a quiet cuppa on my own while they have some (heaven forbid) screen time. Also recommend the ‘Quiet’ book mentioned above…fascinating, or at least the first bit is…haven’t finished it yet because of the aforementioned overwhelm!!

    August 4, 2020
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