Parenting is for the bold. There is no time for shrinking violets when your two-year-old is melting down in a crowded café. But what if your natural instinct is to fly under the radar? What if you really don’t want to dress up for Halloween? What if you JUST WANT TO BE ALONE sometimes? Welcome to the real-life struggles of introverted parents. Here are 6 ups … and downs:
1. We’re pretty in tune with our kids
Introverts can spot a hidden emotion from a mile away. The fleeting frown on our kid’s face. The throwaway comment they make about their day. We’re like metal detectors: we can pick up the smallest emotional frequencies and dig up the tiniest problem. Some say we’re over-thinkers, and admittedly we can over-analyse a situation. But it’s this very quality that also helps us stay in tune with our children and get to the bottom of the small but significant blips in their lives.
2. We’re masters of one-on-one time
We admit it, we’re not our best selves in large groups. A pokemon-themed birthday party with 20 screaming six-year-olds is torture to the sensitive introverted soul. But give us some quiet one-on-one time with our kids and we come into our own. We specialise in the small, golden moments, where we can just sit, hang out, read and potter with our children. We also know that this downtime is invaluable for helping our children slow down and reflect on their inner thoughts.
3. We stay cool under pressure
Introverts are wired to process things internally. And while this incessant ruminating can drive us crazy, it’s a pretty useful parenting skill. Especially when someone throws a ball at the TV or draws on the wall – yes, we want to scream, but our internal logic tells us to stay calm, think it through, be cool. We also like to think we’re modelling some good behaviour (see kids, you too can one day regulate your emotions!)
4. But whoa, can everyone please just be quiet?
Then the downsides. And top of the list for introverts is the unending, ear-splitting, mind-bending noise that children create. We have an in-built need for quiet and reflection. This is how introverts re-charge and make sense of the world. But children don’t work that way. They need every single bit of us, and this means they’re asking for things all day. The result – we reach the end of the day numb, empty, and if someone even utters the word mum again I will seriously …
5. And do we have to talk to all the parents, all the time?
Introverts can be weird, antisocial animals. Especially when it comes to close contact with other parents, like daycare and school drop-offs and pickups. It’s not that we don’t want to talk to all the other parents, it’s just that sometimes we’re lost in our own thoughts, sometimes we just want to be alone, sometimes we simply don’t know what to say. All we can hope for is that our kid is extroverted enough to make friends, because we’re definitely not doing it for them.
6. So just excuse me, while I lock myself in the bathroom
Why didn’t anyone tell us that having children means having little people around us all the time. Introverts don’t cope so well with that. Alone time energises us. It’s where we do all our thinking and planning. And when we have someone following us around all day it can feel like the life is literally being sucked out of us. This is why we lock ourselves in the bathroom. Or slip out to ‘buy some milk’ at 5 in the evening. It’s also why we beat ourselves up and wonder why we don’t always enjoy being around our kids all the time – the truth is, we just find it draining. And that’s OK. Just wait till story time: we’re really good at that.
Over to you. Are you an introvert? Got any other ups or downs to add to the list?