How to Survive (and Enjoy) the Holidays When You’re an Introverted Parent of Young Kids

An introverted parent smiles at her daughter in front of the Christmas tree

We introverts want to give our kids a magical holiday season, but we don’t have to exhaust ourselves in the process.

I’ve always had a love-hate relationship with the holidays, as I suspect many introverts do. We may love the warm-hearted, cheerful feelings as strangers smile in passing on twinkle-light-lined streets. And, I mean, how much do we love the coziness of staying in for holiday movies and hot chocolate? But the excessive socializing that comes along with the coziness is… well… you know

Then I had kids, and no one warned me how much more chaotic the holidays would get. From Baby’s First Christmas to the absolute festive torture that is the onslaught of school activities and projects (curse that glitter-covered Christmas tree!), it’s a total whirlwind to keep up with. And none of this replaces the events and goings-on from before kids; instead, it all gets added to the calendar like one big holiday pile-up. 

I’ve been longing to find a way to slow down during the holidays and actually enjoy all the craziness with the same zeal as my five-year-old pouring silver glitter all over the Christmas tree cut-out. While I haven’t perfected the absolute perfect balance, I have found a few tools to help me navigate the holidays as an introverted parent of young kids. Hopefully, these will help you, too!

7 Ways for Introverted Parents of Young Kids to Survive the Holidays

1. Lower your expectations when it comes to attending big holiday events.

We all want to give our kids the best holiday season possible. However, that doesn’t have to mean doing the biggest, most intense activities non-stop. You can dial it down a bit and still capture all the holiday magic you need to make special memories with the kiddos. 

Instead of that big party on Friday night, do something more introvert-friendly. For instance, you can stay home to cuddle up in a living room fort, read Christmas books, and make hot chocolate (with extra marshmallows!) in your jammies. The kids will love it just as much (and you can all get more sleep, too!).

2. Allow yourself to say no to certain things that will cause too much stress.

Maintaining holiday traditions can be a meaningful way of making, and passing on, memories for the whole family. But sometimes those traditions are just too much, and our stress dampens the whole experience

So in case you need it, here’s your permission to just say no (kindly). Or come up with a version of that tradition that feels easier on you. The whole point of a tradition is to do something meaningful that everyone enjoys (and you are someone, too!). A little compromise here goes a long way.

For example… that big family party your great aunt Mary throws every year (you know, the one that lasts too long and bores your kids to death… and cousin John always corners you for hours to talk about his latest investment) – maybe you pass on it this year or let everyone know you have to leave by a certain time so you’re not there all night. Whatever you need to do to draw a line in the proverbial sand and stick to it, do it (and don’t feel bad about it; your sanity is important, and so is your enjoyment of the holidays). 

3. Be vigilant about getting enough alone time.

One of the first things to go when I get overwhelmed is my alone time. I mean, how can I when I have to help my kids with projects, buy Aunt Rosey’s last-minute gift request, make three dozen cookies, and bring my son the holiday scarf that he forgot for Holiday Accessory Day at school? It feels impossible. 

But we have to be vigilant, knowing that it’s so important to squeeze in some me-time if you want to actually enjoy this time of year. Schedule it like your own solo holiday activity (and don’t use it to shop — or do anything else on your to-do list; rather, just “do nothing” for a bit).

4. “Take five” in a quiet place.

We’ve all been to a party that got out of control and the kids melted down after one too many sugar cookies… and is it hot in here — or is it just me? 

Do yourself a favor and take five minutes. Find a quiet room (even if it’s the bathroom) and spend five minutes breathing deeply with your eyes closed. Imagine that you’re completely alone in a dark, quiet space. (Turn off the lights if you can.) 

Literally give yourself the breathing room you need to settle your nervous system. Practice this as often as you can. Trust me, it has gotten me through some crazy seasons (holidays and otherwise). 

Do you ever struggle to know what to say?

As an introvert, you actually have the ability to be an amazing conversationalist — even if you’re quiet and hate small talk. To learn how, we recommend this online course from our partner Michaela Chung. Click here to check out the Introvert Conversation Genius course.

5. Get your kids onboard with a holiday plan that will work for everyone, introverts and extroverts alike.

This is a great way to harness all their festive excitement (especially your extroverted children) and make a plan for the holidays that will work for everyone. For example, we’ll do one craft on one day, watch a Christmas movie the next, etc. And don’t forget to check for school projects and make those a part of your list so you’re not scrambling at the last minute. 

By making a holiday plan, everyone knows what to expect (and they don’t expect 198,484 activities per day!). Setting their expectations can make all the difference in cultivating a non-overwhelming holiday season — for all of you.

6. Ask for help, because you can’t be everywhere at once.

You don’t have to do it all alone! Ask your partner or family members, connect with friends for playdates, have special grandparent days, or ask literally anyone else in your circle! Don’t be afraid to let someone else take the kids to that party you’ve been dreading. You’re a part of so much with your kids (at the holidays and every day), it’s okay for them to make special holiday memories with Grandma or Uncle Joe. Let them give you a break. 

As an introvert, I know it can be incredibly tough to ask for help, but it’s worth it. (And you may even get the house to yourself for a while as a result.)

7. Take it one day at a time.

Sometimes, no matter how much we plan, things simply get overwhelming. And that’s okay. Remember, it’s only a season and it will be over soon! 

Yes, it’s easy to feel suffocated when thinking about all the things we need to do right now. But instead, just focus on today. Consider what you need to do today and maybe even how you can make those things feel more enjoyable. Then move on to tomorrow. And the next day. And the next. 

Lean Into Your Strengths as an Introvert

I’ve white-knuckled my way through many holiday seasons, and even though survival is a noble goal (and sometimes the only real way to go; trust me, I’ve been there!), it is possible to also thrive and enjoy the holidays with your kids. As introverts, we’re wired for one-on-one connection, seeing the meaningful things, and feeling deeply. So lean into strengths like these this holiday season, as they will serve you well.

They’ll also serve your kiddos well. They, too, need one-on-one connection, especially when things get chaotic and routines go by the wayside. Plus, they’ll need your insight when navigating new experiences. And when they have big feelings, you’ll be able to nod and say, “Yeah, I feel that too, Bud.” It’s a powerful way to experience this magical time of year — and all year — with your little ones. 

So, go on, Team Introvert, and celebrate your hearts out… just, you know, be sure to take as many breaks as you need.

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