The more you can help your children move confidently through this time, the more ease and space there will be for you.
From feigning excitement over the next PTA meeting to reminding your child (for the 24,394th time) to put her shoes on, back-to-school season can be a bit, well, daunting. And for us introverted mamas, the very thought of having a bunch of new social interactions on our agenda can be straight up horrifying.
But with a few tweaks here and there, we might actually be able to sail through this season with a little extra “me-time” in the books. (I can just hear all my fellow introverted moms rejoice!) Here are a few tips to help everyone — including you — survive the back-to-school jitters.
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7 Tips for Surviving Back-to-School Season as an Introverted Mom
1. Prepare your kids for the transition, like talking to them about what will happen at school.
Changes in routine and doing new things can make your independant do-it-myself-er child into more of a super-clinger-on-er, which can leave you touched out and even more depleted than usual. Not a great way to start the new school year.
So do some work ahead of time and prepare, prepare, prepare them. The more you can help your children confidently move through this transitional time, the more ease and space there will be for you (or at least, it will drop the cling-on factor down a few notches).
Talk to them about what will happen at school, use dolls and toys to act out school activities, and walk them through the process of pick-up and drop-off. You can also read books about school or watch a kid’s show about going to school (our favorite is Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood). You can find even more back-to-school prep tips here.
2. Establish new routines at home — before school starts.
Redefine your daily routines at home. (Pro tip: Start settling into your new routines before the new school year starts, if possible.) Kids thrive on structure and routine (just like you, Mama). Things will be changing and it will feel chaotic, but it doesn’t have to be a free-for-all. Restructure your day around school and let them know exactly what it’s going to look like.
My four-year-old will immediately start asking, “What’s after nighttime?” when our routines get thrown off or she’s not sure what we’re doing next. Being able to paint a very clear picture for her of what comes next — and what we’ll do tomorrow — helps her move from one thing to the next with more confidence and fewer meltdowns.
You can create daily routine cards, morning checklists, or just talk about them each night before bed. Do whatever works best for you and your kiddo(s) to feel the most prepared. (Don’t forget to include some quiet downtime into your new daily routine, too!)
3. Prepare yourself as much as you prepare your kids — they aren’t the only ones adjusting to the change.
We can spend an endless amount of time getting our kids ready to head back to school. But don’t forget that they aren’t the only ones adjusting to change. Take a moment to check in with yourself, mentally prepare for what’s to come, and do some prep work to make it all easier on yourself.
Stock your kitchen, stock their backpacks, and make sure you’re not running to the store at 11 p.m. the night before the first day of school. Leave yourself space around drop-off and pick-up times, too. You know at least one child will take forever to get their shoes on and it’s inevitable that someone will forget at least a thing or two.
Setting realistic expectations — and scheduling a little buffer time for the unexpected — can do wonders for your sanity and help you stay calm when things get crazy.
Is social anxiety holding your child back?
Although social anxiety is not the same thing as introversion, many introverted kids experience this painful and isolating condition. The truth is your child can learn the skills to overcome their social anxiety, and our partner Natasha Daniels can show them how. This means happier school days, less resistance to social activities, more friends, and lifelong confidence. Click here to check out her online class, How to Crush Social Anxiety. For ages 10+.
4. Don’t linger at drop-off (for your child’s sake and yours).
Worried about having to socialize with all the other parents at drop off? Thankfully, a swift drop-off situation is actually best for your child (and for the introverted mom who doesn’t want to dawdle around and engage in small talk).
Hanging around, giving extra hugs, or just not knowing what to do can leave your kid feeling anxious and unsure about heading to the classroom. Experts encourage you to say your goodbyes and walk away in confidence. Your child will pick up on that confidence and be reassured that everything is okay (even if your confidence is actually just excitement to get back in the car alone!).
All in all, make sure your child knows what the drop-off process is going to look like. Maybe you’ll decide to create a cute little goodbye routine, and then stick with it. Get in, get out, and enjoy a moment without that sweet kiddo whining for more Goldfish crackers.
5. Just say “no” to some school activities — you don’t have to go to every event.
The first time I spoke with the director of my daughter’s preschool, she excitedly let me know that they’ll have “plenty of holiday activities throughout the year that parents can be involved in.” I know she was trying to make me feel more comfortable as a first-time-mom-of-a-preschooler, but it felt like a heavy weight had been dropped on my chest. You mean, I have to show up in the classroom, too? Uuuuuuuuugh.
And while I won’t be ducking out of every single school activity with my child, it’s good to remember that I’m allowed to say “no” when I need to. Not every parent can be at every event all of the time. Sometimes it’s because of work, other family commitments, appointments, and so on. Other times, it’s because Mom needs a breather to keep her introverted self together. And that’s more than okay. It’s necessary. Speaking of which…
6. Schedule your alone time just as you would schedule any other appointment.
When the busyness of it all (or just the thought of it all!) gets overwhelming, remember that kids being in school means more opportunities for your own alone time. Hallelujah! It’s quiet-alone-time-season for mama.
So before you go filling up every minute of the school day with other tasks (because we know there are plenty), be sure to pencil yourself in for… nothing at all.
When you sit down to create your family’s new daily routines, prioritize your own alone time and make sure to fit it in where you can. Then, stick to it like you would for all of your kid’s things, knowing that everything runs more smoothly for everyone when your needs are met, too. (And we all know alone time is one of our highest needs as introverts.)
7. Don’t beat yourself up for any balls you may drop in the process.
You aren’t the only one struggling to juggle all the things, feeling overwhelmed, and just wanting to hide under the covers until Spring Break. Cut yourself some slack and know that this is hard: Parenting is hard. Kids going off to school is hard. Having to fight for your alone time is hard.
And that’s okay.
We’re all just out here trying our best to make it through the drop-off line without anyone noticing we haven’t washed our hair in five days. (Just me?)
And, while you’re at it, cut your kids some slack, too. Chances are, a few of us have little baby introverts who are being thrown into an extroverted world that can feel overwhelming, too. It’s okay if we’re all a little frazzled during this transition. Give them an extra hug, channel your inner Glennon Doyle, and remind them that we can do hard things — and even excel at them.
You might like:
- 6 Real Confessions of an Introverted New Mom
- Why Alone Time Is Crucial for Introverted Moms (and How to Stop the Guilt)
- How Not to Overschedule Your Introverted Child
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