I’ve been revisiting some of my Pins about parenting and motherhood, and one blog post really struck a nerve. Allison over at Our Small Hours wrote Tips for the Introverted Mom and I found it very useful to help me name the frustration I’ve been feeling lately.
I discovered in the last few years that I am an introvert. Even though I enjoy being social, I become very worn out when I have to interact with people for extended periods of time. In my former job I got to strike a good balance of working independently and working one on one with students and colleagues. It was always those independent blocks of time that I relied on to get me through the day. I don’t get many of those alone hours now that I’m a stay at home parent. Usually I’m able to power through, but sometimes it’s a real challenge. When I feel my patience wearing thin, I say things I don’t truly mean or I speak in an irritated tone.
We all have situations at home or work that can really try an introvert’s patience. If your’e an introvert, here are some tips for finding respite.
Definition of respite
a period of temporary delay
an interval of rest or relief
Find some quiet
I generally try to drown out the noise of the TV, people talking, dogs barking, landscapers, the pool pump, and Tickle Me Elmo by wearing my AirPods and listening to a podcast. Drowning noise with noise becomes less effective, however, the more worn out I feel. Instead, I suggest finding a quiet spot and unplugging as much as possible.
I gravitated toward the formal living room at my parents house when I lived there. If you’re at home with kids, head outside for playtime. Being outdoors dissipates the sounds of noisy kids, and can eliminate stimuli like the TV and other electronic devices.
Listen to your body
If you are craving some alone time but know it’s not in the cards anytime soon, you can give yourself a pick me up by addressing a different but equally important physical need. Are you thirsty? Are you hungry? Do your feet hurt? Do you have a headache? Do you need to move your body? Do you need to rest your body?
I find that it really helps when I can say what I’m feeling, even if it’s just to myself. I’m hungry, and I’m going to go get a snack. I’m thirsty, so I better stop drinking this coffee and go get some water. I have a throbbing headache, I think I’ll take a pain reliever.
Have a confidant
It’s hard to tell kids or your coworkers to leave you alone so you can get some peace and quiet. I try to text a friend when I want to get away and can’t. Even just talking to a friend and making a plan to get away later can help me get through the moment. Venting about your frustration is great when you have no other options. Sometimes the remedy to a problem is simply acknowledging it. I’m grumpy and I want to get away.
Take a deep breath and concentrate
The moments where I want to disengage most are when I feel over-stimulated. That’s when I can lash out and tell my son to be quiet. If you can catch yourself before that moment, take a deep breath and engage more fully even if that means playing with trucks or Legos on the floor. I remember being at meetings at work where I felt like my head was going to explode, and my best course of action was to dig in deeper and solve the problem.
If you can concentrate and power through the task at hand, you might just defuse some of the tension you’re feeling.
Turn down the volume
I have a hard time multi-tasking with my child at home, but the best bet I have for getting writing done or making a menu plan or even doing the dishes is when my child is distracted by the TV. I may not love the noise, but I can turn it down low enough so that it forces him to stay seated and pay attention. If he’s occupied for thirty minutes, it means I can write this post, grab the laundry from the dryer, and load the dishes. I am also a fan of the pause button. As soon as my kid is out of the room and onto the next activity, I put his show on pause and enjoy three minutes of relative silence.
You can use this tip anywhere that’s too noisy. If your carpool has music on, ask if it can be turned down. I’ve even asked restaurants to turn down their music! My office had an open door policy, but I definitely closed it when I needed to work quietly. My husband wore noise canceling headphones at work, often with nothing even playing, but just to signal that he didn’t want to be interrupted.
I hope these tips are helpful to fellow introverts who may be struggling and are looking for some respite. If you have a particularly useful tool or tip, let me know in the comments.