When I became a parent six-years-ago, I never considered that my kids’ personalities would be completely different from my own.
One of the main personality variances that I’ve noticed is the mix of extroverted and introverted adults and children within my home. My oldest, Penny, is an extreme extrovert, while I would lean towards being an extreme introvert. Balancing our personality differences has felt like a challenging tightrope walk at times.
One of the differences between an introvert and an extrovert is the way that we gain our energy. For an introvert, we find energy in being alone, and enjoying solitude, while extroverts crave social energy and time spent in groups.
It took me a long time to understand this type of social, energetic, and loud personality. But it also took me time to respect myself and my own limits, and understand that, in order to function best as a parent, I also needed to plug in to my own energy source - quiet time away from the chaos.
Over the years, I have worked hard to craft a balance that offers us both what we need as extroverts and introverts, while also maintaining connection as a family. Here are five ways that I thrive as an introvert while raising an extrovert.
As a self-proclaimed wallflower, I love my time alone to reflect, contemplate, and dream. This is where I gain my energy and creativity, and it is paramount to my well-being as a person. Creating the space to decompress from the pressures associated with mothering extroverts requires precise times that are set aside for me. Typically that means forgoing things like an evening family walk, so that I can wash the dishes in silence for an hour.
I often ask family members to take my kids for a block of time, a few times a week, so that I can be on my own. It also means releasing the guilt that I need to participate in everything - a key part of thriving as an introvert living with extroverts.
I have never been more social, since becoming a mother. As soon as I had my daughter, I began making playdates and finding groups to attend. This requires me leaving my comfort zone, which can be draining and exhausting. Over the years we’ve attended swimming lessons and soccer, weekly playgroups, and library storytime. I’ve found that the more I put myself out there the easier it has become, and now I crave some outside time and social interaction too.
I don’t always have to be the one that is taking my kids out on excursions and filling their extroverted buckets. In my family it works to have my husband take my kids outside to explore, especially because he is also an extreme extrovert. I have also paid good money to have babysitters come and take my kids to the park, or signed my children up for camps or programs so that they can burn off their energy, while I enjoy extended periods of delightful home time.
Since I have had to relinquish some of my introversion in order to raise my children, I expect my kids to also sacrifice and learn to be quiet and enjoy the peacefulness of home. My kids understand that if we enjoy a busy morning outdoors, that the afternoon we will be inside. This goes beyond simply how we structure our days, but also how we structure our lives. My kids would love to participate in every sport and activity imaginable, but I have kept a simplified schedule for my own sanity, and am very deliberate in what activities I will commit to.
One of ways that I help to empower my kids and suss out their needs is by offering a few options of how we can spend our time, and letting them choose. Sometimes, they’re game for a really intense day out, and I pull up my big girl pants and we enjoy all all-day adventure. Other days, I’m surprised to find that what they crave is just a day inside playing, and those days I internally cheer and recharge my battery.
Raising an extrovert doesn’t have to be draining for an introverted parent, but it does require that we establish limits and respect them, and then pursue opportunities for our children to get what they need.