Being a single parent is not easy, especially if you’re an introvert. But letting go of the “perfect parent” ideal can help.
Everyone knows that being a parent is not easy — it’s one of the hardest jobs out there. It is relentless, and although we love our little angels, parenting does not always feel rewarding.
Add in a few neurodiversities, two extroverted kids, one introverted kid, and an introverted mother… and things can get very complicated, noisy, and messy — and quickly. This doesn’t sound like an introvert-friendly environment, does it?
I have been a single mum for the better part of 17 years, and in any other profession, you would pretty much be an expert in your field. However, there is no such thing as an “expert” parent, and I certainly do not consider myself one.
That said, while I may not consider myself a motherhood guru, I have certainly gained a lot of knowledge over the years that I feel would benefit fellow introverted parents.
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Quit Feeling Guilty for Not Being the ‘Perfect’ Parent
Every family, every child, and every circumstance is very, very different and unique… but it often feels as though the world expects conformity.
This expectation to conform just places further guilt on parents, especially those of us who are doing it alone.
Being racked with guilt can eat us up with thoughts like:
Am I doing enough?
Are the kids eating well enough?
Are they getting enough exercise?
As if that isn’t enough guilt, you then have the introvert’s worst nightmare…
Are they socializing enough?
Do they have enough friends?
Have we left the house enough recently?
The world is very quick to tell you, “No, you are doing a bad job! Try harder!”
But in all honesty, you are doing a fine job.
If you have introverted children, then they will thrive, as you will know how they are feeling and how you can enhance their environment.
If you have extroverted kids, however, then you’ll need to focus on balance, which I will address further down. For now, let us address the dreaded guilt…
When I find guilt creeping in, I like to swap the thought with a new one. I’ve found this extremely helpful. Try it: a more positive thought to replace the negative, wretched one.
So can you ask yourself some different questions?
Did my children eat today?
How did I make them smile today?
How did they make me smile today?
These may seem like vague, silly questions. But the truth is, you are a good parent.
You see, guilt is a moral emotion and comes from caring about something, worrying that you are either not good enough or that you have done something wrong.
If you are there for your kids every day, if you put a roof over their heads and food in their stomachs, you are good enough and have no reason to feel guilty.
Unfortunately, a lot of us introverts are also chronic overthinkers. Plus, there is a good chance that we were never fully supported by our own families when it came to being an introvert.
So if you then have a child who is an introvert, or you struggle to commit to playdates or clubs and activities because it’s too much for you, remember: Your children are loved, they are fed, and you, my friend, are doing your best.
Earlier in this post, I mentioned balance. How do we balance things when we have a mixed household of introverts and extroverts? Keep on reading…
Balance Social Days With Solitary Days
Start by remembering: You can’t please them all, all of the time.
With such a mixed bag of personalities in our home, we have had to accept that there will be compromise. This mutual understanding enables us to enjoy our lives in a way that suits us.
For example, my extroverted child just wants to be out or have friends around — every… single… day. This is great (for her) and what she likes. It energizes her and makes her happy.
But this drains the rest of us. As a family unit, whether child or adult, we must learn to respect everyone’s needs. So we start every week by allocating a certain amount of social days and hermit days.
Our social schedule looks different from week to week, as it depends on school holidays, activity days, or random events that spring up. In general, we try to keep it as consistent as possible. If we have a week that is far more social or hermitty one week, we will swing it back around the following week.
Our social days will often include things such as:
- Inviting friends and family to the house
- Going to parties and events
- Going on busy, hectic days out
These social days are completely necessary and are also very fun. Even we introverts enjoy spending quality time with our loved ones, as family and friends are important to us.
But they can also leave us feeling overstimulated, overtired, and drained… which is where the hermit days come in.
On those days, we:
- Do not leave the house; everyone just does their own thing at home, where they are comfortable.
- No one is expected to socialize in any way, shape, or form (unless they want to).
- We do not have visitors.
This will often look like four people lazing around in their PJs, and you know what? That is okay! It is okay to be “lazy.”
We need to remember that rest time is just as important, if not more so, than being busy.
These are the days we get to recuperate from whatever social experiences we faced the previous week. And we energize ourselves for the week ahead.
Unfortunately for us parents, though, we get so wrapped up in juggling everything for the kids, and making sure their environment is perfect for them, that we may forget to make sure we have balanced ourselves out.
It is paramount that we include our own self-care in the equation. Here’s how.
Do you ever struggle to know what to say?
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Self-Care Is Key and Can Vary from Person to Person
Remember at the beginning how I said that parenthood isn’t always rewarding?
Let’s face it, it’s not. It can be, of course, but the days where you neglect yourself and you are so burnt out that you don’t know if you will survive tend to outweigh those rewarding moments.
If you have already got to that burnt-out stage, I cannot stress enough that you need to take a break. (Plus, introverts may be more prone to burnout anyway, parent or not!)
For a lot of us, that does not mean going away on vacation or leaving someone else to watch the kids. (But if you have the chance, that is fantastic!)
Mostly, it means that something needs to give a little; you need to take care of yourself before continuing to take care of everybody else.
As an introverted parent, this could mean:
- Spend some alone time in your room (provided the children are old enough to be left for half an hour). Explain that you need a timeout (I know this is easier said than done) and go and lie on your bed, in silence — no phone, no book, no nothing. Just immerse yourself in peace for half an hour. It sounds heavenly, doesn’t it?
- Meditate (with or without the children). There are lots of guided meditation videos and audios out there, on YouTube, Spotify, Insight Timer, you name it. Pop one on and meditate your way to a clearer, healthier mind. (My middle child will happily join in and meditate for a few moments.)
- Take time to read and educate yourself. Your children’s minds are not the only important thing in the world. Reading, whether for self-help, pleasure, or education, helps keep your imagination and creativity alive.
- Write a journal entry, poem, or something creative. Write anything to get all the thoughts out of your head. Trust me, you will have a clearer mind and feel better rested.
Lastly, it is important to make sure you connect with others when you’re a single parent.
Connect With Other Like-Minded People
Connection can be particularly difficult for introverts, not to mention adding the different needs of our children into the mix.
As a single parent, it is so important to make sure you are not completely alone. Being a single parent can be very lonely. It is just you and your children all of the time, and you may lose your own sense of self.
I personally do get lonely, even though I enjoy my alone time. I know, it doesn’t seem to make sense, does it?
Truth be told, I still crave the attention of another person from time to time. I am not talking about in the romantic sense, but just having a person to chat with about something (other than what our children are up to) is enough to lift my mood.
As the lone parent, I do not have every other weekend free, like some other parents with split custody schedules. In fact, I don’t remember the last time I had a whole weekend free!
For those who do, though, make sure that you find somebody to connect with, even for a little while. Having just one person that you can meet for coffee or take a walk with is amazing. Afterwards, you can retreat to your cozy, child-free home and hole up in your introvert sanctuary.
For those of you who do not get the time off, one thing I have found great for connection is using an app like Meetup. As the name suggests, you meet up with new people. You can find people with common interests who want to go see live music, movies, you name it. You can also find online groups (perfect for us introverts who want to connect, yet stay home). I’ve found some incredible writing groups and the experience has been so much fun.
Being a single introverted parent can be a struggle, but it is manageable — and some days, it’s even fun.
You might like:
- 5 Hacks to Help Introverted Parents Get Through the Day
- How to Reclaim Your Alone Time as an Introverted Parent
- 15 Things You Should Never Do to Your Introverted Child
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