When you’re an introverted parent, getting alone time can seem impossible — but you absolutely need it.
When I had my first baby, I was absolutely shocked at how suffocated I felt. She would only sleep in my arms, and when she was awake, she either wanted to eat or be held (of course, only by me). We were around each other 24/7. As an introvert who needs her alone time, I knew I had to figure something out.
Two kids later (hello, crazy toddler town!) and about 54,394 middle-of-the-night Google searches, I’ve finally found a few key ways to squeeze out that much-needed alone time as an introverted mom.
Now, I won’t regale you with lectures on setting boundaries (yeah, yeah, it’s important, I know) or repeat tired cliches like “Ask for help” (I mean, where is the help, exactly?). But I will offer you some creative, realistic options to try. I say “try” because we’re all different, with ever-changing schedules and life circumstances. So pick a few that feel doable and enjoy those sweet moments alone.
11 Ways to Carve Out More Alone Time as an Introverted Parent
1. Head to school pick-up 15 minutes early and just sit in silence while you wait for your kids.
If you have littles in school, do yourself a favor and get there early for pick-up, even just a few minutes. For heaven’s sake, don’t rush in and stand there awkwardly avoiding eye contact with all the other early parents who want to socialize.
Instead, just sit in the car.
Listen to a podcast or music or, my personal favorite, nothing at all. (If you have younger ones with you, let them have screen time and snacks. Also, I’ve heard noise-canceling AirPods are a literal dream!)
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2. Find a show your kids like and make it a special part of the day.
I like to do this with my kids right after lunch, because it winds them down for nap time (if you’re lucky enough to still have those) or big-kid quiet time (which my four-year-old laughs at now). Make this the only time they get to watch that show. This way, it feels special and they’ll be really into it, allowing you to sit still, too (preferably in another room — alone).
3. Institute family quiet time.
When it was just me and my daughter, she eventually started napping on her own (hallelujah!), and that became my sacred alone time each afternoon. However, she grew into a toddler who quit napping right about the time her little brother was born — and we started all over again.
So we began the process of practicing family quiet time any time little brother napped. She got to play quietly in her room, or on her Kindle, and I got to be alone for, well, as long as the kids allowed.
4. Practice the “30-minute parent swap” (yes, it is exactly what it sounds like).
If you have a partner at home, trade 30-minute alone-time blocks each day, when the other partner takes the kids. Maybe it’s right after work, right after dinner, or whatever time works best for your schedule. But trade off who has the kids for just 30 minutes before finishing the evening time routine. (This can do wonders to help you get through the bedtime chaos, too.)
5. Schedule a weekly FaceTime date for your kids with a relative or friend of theirs.
This was a brilliant idea by parenting blogger Erica Layne. She suggests asking a friend or family member to FaceTime your kids once a week, and says, “A grandparent could read to, or just chat with, your kid — giving you a bit of time to yourself.”
This is also a great idea for those who don’t have family close by or the opportunity to drop the kids off for half an hour. The FaceTime doesn’t necessarily have to be with a relative — just as long as you get some solo time while they talk to someone they care about.
6. Get serious about bedtime — create a routine and stick to it. (The sooner the kids get to bed, the sooner you’ll have alone time.)
Everyone breathes a little easier once the kids are down for the night, right? But bedtime can be insane — and the kids will usually drag it out as long as they possibly can.
So create a quick bedtime routine for the kids. I recommend doing it at the same time every night — and stick to it. Get those babies down and then relish the time you have to yourself afterward.
7. Make a post-kids bedtime plan (that does not include mindlessly scrolling through social media).
Ever get the kids to bed, collapse on the couch, and grab your phone to “quickly” scroll Instagram, then look up two hours later only to realize you need to go to bed and haven’t actually done anything you wanted to do? (Or worse, the baby has woken up crying and you’ve squandered all that time on your phone?)
Figure out what you want to do with your evening before you put the kids to bed. Then, once they are finally asleep, you can dive headfirst into whatever sweet bliss you’ve planned for yourself.
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8. Extend your work day by 30 minutes (but not necessarily to work).
Okay, hear me out, because I don’t just mean work for 30 more minutes every day. If you work outside the home and have kids in daycare or with a nanny, consider asking the nanny to stay 30 minutes later or arrange to pick up the kids half an hour later.
This way, you can take a moment to breathe before getting the kids. Use that as your alone time to decompress and regroup between work and home.
9. Use your local gym for some “me time” (even if you don’t actually work out).
Check to see if your local gym offers childcare and use that time to take a class or just work out by yourself (or hide in the locker room for 45 minutes). Seriously, no one is monitoring your workout status, so relax, bring a book, and hope they also have a smoothie cafe.
10. Find independent play activities for your kids to do while you “supervise.”
When you don’t have childcare, no one is cooperating with family nap time, and you desperately need a hot minute to breathe or drink coffee or just not lose your $&*^… finding something to occupy your kids is a life-saver.
This “Rock Painting” activity is a great example! Anything that keeps their attention for an extended period of time — with minimal-to-no assistance needed — is a win.
11. Order groceries for the family — but don’t tell them. Then leave to go “pick them up.”
I recently saw a hilarious idea on social media and it’s definitely going on my list of ways to get more alone time. Order groceries for pick up — but don’t tell your family that you placed an order. Just leave an hour earlier than your pick-up time and tell the family you’re “going grocery shopping.”
Enjoy your hour and come home with food for everyone. A win-win-win.
When You Finally Get a Moment Alone as an Introverted Parent
Whatever ways you choose to carve out alone time as an introverted parent, be sure to actually use that time for you. And be ready to use those unexpected moments of alone time, as well. Making a list of three simple things you can do the next time you have a spontaneous alone time opportunity can really help.
When the baby finally sleeps somewhere other than your arms, don’t be tempted by all the dirty dishes stacked up. Or when your toddler is happily playing independently, don’t try to cram in all the things on your to-do list.
In fact, try to back off the to-do list entirely. I know, I know, if you don’t do it, it won’t get done. That’s so true — and it’s so tough — but you are so much more important than the laundry! If you don’t take the time to recharge yourself, we all know it will be worse than someone having to wear semi-dirty jeans the next day. You owe it to yourself. Trust me.
You might like:
- Why Alone Time Is Crucial for Introverted Moms (and How to Stop the Guilt)
- How to Survive Parenthood When You’re an Introvert Who Needs Alone Time
- My Need for Alone Time Is Not a Reflection on You
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