A peaceful morn, Anytown, USA
A young woman emerges from the morning mist, peacefully pushing a stroller and listening as birdsong breaks in gentle waves over the tranquil silence. Perhaps a gentle coo or giggle passes the lips of her small child’s angelic lips. Suddenly, a shrill cry from nearly two miles off pierces her morning reverie:
Will you play with me?
My son, he of lungs like a velociraptor, shatters the tranquil ambiance of our quiet town in his quest to befriend another of earth’s inhabitants. Only 6.9 billion to go.
If you happen to be an introvert matched with an extroverted child, you know how draining it can be to keep up with your child’s people-loving ways. I know I do. My husband and I happen to have adopted our son, but this mismatching of personalities and social preferences happens regularly in the genetic pool as well.
Here are some things I’ve learned in my illustrious four-year career as an introverted mommy to an uber-extrovert.
Give yourself plenty of breaks
My son is an only child, so on the days he’s home with me, I’m his sole source of human interaction. If I interacted with him as much as he would like, however; I’d be crying into my seventh cup of coffee by 9 AM.
Instead, I give myself breaks from explaining why it’s raining here and not at Daddy’s work, where Teddy is today, and how peaches get into cans. Books, outings to areas for free-range children (playgrounds, bike paths, beaches, and even the children’s section of the library), and screen time in moderation help me recharge and get through the day.
Join (a few) groups
This seems counterintuitive, I know, but joining a playgroup, a kids’ class, or other group activity can provide you with a break while giving your child a chance to mingle and get his social fix.
I take my son to storytime at the library — an interactive experience involving singing, reading, and crafting. This gives me a chance to sit back and not talk for a bit (another break in my day) while my son can chatter to his heart’s content.
Call for reinforcements
Asking for help has been a hard lesson for me, but I’ve learned that there are times when my mental health absolutely depends upon it. If you’re at your wit’s end (although you don’t need to be), call in some extroverted reinforcements.
Most people have a few extroverted friends and/ or relatives. My son has some super-social cousins, so when the opportunity presents itself (or when I get down on my knees and beg), he goes to their house for a few hours. I can rest and recharge, and the kids have a great time extroverting themselves into an uproarious tizzy. By the time I pick him up, I’m recharged and he’s exhausted.
Explain that you need quiet time
Depending on the age of your child, he or she can comprehend that you need breaks. In my case, my son understands the words that come out of my mouth (Mommy needs some quiet time), but that doesn’t mean he respects the message (cue epic game of Mommy is a tree and made for climbing).
This is where those wonderful breaks come in. Fire up the TV, hand over a stack of books, or even (gasp!) a tablet and leave the room. You’ve earned it.
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