On a scale of 0 to 10, where 0 is extrovert, and introvert is 10 – I am a strong 10.
If you are an introvert too, you will know that being an introvert means that you need your own space and quiet in order to recharge yourself. Whereas an extrovert would need socialising in order to recharge.
It’s also kinda difficult being an introvert when you have kids, especially younger children, or children who need extra care, there isn’t really any space and there definitely isn’t any quiet to recharge in.
I’ve pulled together some of the tools that I use so that I can be at the top of my mum game, and not just going through the motions but secretly wishing that everyone would go away so that I could get a break. Or at least, not thinking it as much!
How do I know if I am an introvert or an extrovert?
If a day of shopping or being in social situations has you feeling drained afterwards – then you are probably an introvert. Or if while you are out, you regret saying yes and wish you were just at home instead – also a sign you are an introvert. Introverts tend to be quite quiet, possibly shy. Introverts ‘recharge’ through silence and solitude.
If you are the kind of person who loves parties, and you’d rather be out socialising than at home with a nice cup of tea and your book – then you are probably an extrovert. Extroverts tend to be chatty, and louder. Extroverts ‘recharge’ through socialising and being with others.
But, just to confuse things – you can be an extroverted introvert – meaning that you love going out and socialising, but you do need your own space in order to recharge (On that scale I was talking about earlier, you are probably about a 5).
Why does it even matter which one I am?!
I would say, the most important reason for you to know which one you are, is so that you can learn the best way to take care for yourself.
Let’s say, you are a serious introvert, and you are telling your friend (who is an extrovert) that you feel completely overwhelmed with motherhood, and she suggests that you go out that Friday night for a few drinks to the busiest wine bar in town because she always feels so much better after that so it will help you – as an introvert who needs a break – it’s probably going to make you feel a million times worse.
What works for an extrovert doesn’t necessarily work for an introvert, and it is also the same the other way around too.
Knowing whether you are an introvert or an extrovert means that you can become curious about it, and learn what works best for you when you are feeling a bit overwhelmed and even just for general day to day life so that you use those recharging skills to keep any future overwhelm/need a break days away. Like, reading a chapter of your book every day in silence if you are an introvert or calling a friend for a chat if you are an extrovert.
The challenges of being an introvert mum
Motherhood is busy and motherhood is noisy.
Even if the kids are playing something quietly, motherhood means that even your house is noisy with the ‘visual noise’ of colourful toys and books and all the bits and bobs that go hand in hand with children.
There are always millions of questions, someone always wants a snack or a drink, and if you have more than one child, there is always some sort of sibling squabble about to kick off at any second.
It can feel sometimes as a mother that you can’t even hear yourself think. Motherhood can also feel a bit relentless, like there is no chance to have a break.
That isn’t a negative thing. It is just the way that it is.
So if you are an introvert, it makes sense to have some self-care tools in place so that you are able to cope with the ‘noise’ and still keep your sanity.
8 Self-Care Tips for the introvert mum
- Create your own space.
For me, this is our bedroom. I make sure that it’s always neat and tidy, the bed is always made, the window is open slightly to keep fresh air circulating and it is calming and peaceful in there.
This can be whatever room suits you best. I recommend the bedroom as having a lovely calm and tidy bedroom will also help you sleep better.
When things get overwhelming, escape to your bedroom – if there is someone else there who can mind the kids let them watch the kids for 5 minutes and read a chapter of your book, or journal or listen to music for 5 minutes – whatever it is that recharges you. Or, if there is nobody at home to watch the kids, escape there for one minute.
Go into your bedroom, close your eyes and do a little bit of deep breathing. In for 3, hold for 4, breathe out for 5. Do this 3 times. Do it as many times as you want.
The benefits of breathing are seriously underrated.
Make your bedroom into your own little sanctuary, it will make such a huge difference.
- Take a long shower.
I think all of my life decisions have been made whilst in the shower, or out walking.
Obviously this one is for when someone else is watching the kids or if they are in bed etc.
Lock the door (if you can). Do a little bit of deep breathing (In for 3, hold for 4, out for 5). Become a little bit mindful. How does the temperature of the water feel? What can you smell? Close your eyes and just tune in to your senses.
Too woo for you? That’s fine, just close your eyes and try to relax.
There’s something about being in the shower that get’s my mind whirling and usually anything that has been bothering me I work out while I’m having a shower.
I think one of the main things that helps is knowing that if the kids want something – they have to go to someone else, I’m in the shower so I can’t do anything. So I think it allows you to fully zone out.
- If everyone is outside playing, or out somewhere, or napping just leave the mess.
This one I find really difficult, but that 5 minutes of just being alone – just savour it. Do a little bit of reading, or just have a cup of tea and savour it. Do something for you.
The mess isn’t going anywhere.
- Go for walk
Extra points if you can go on your own. Getting outside is so beneficial for our health.
- Wake up before everyone else.
This is my favourite tip. Even if you can only manage 5-10 minutes before everyone else it is so worth it just to have a morning cup of tea in peace.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
When people offer help, they are offering because they want to help. If they didn’t want to help you, they wouldn’t offer.
Ask the grandparents to have the kids for an hour one afternoon. Ask your friend if you can take her up on that babysitting offer.
There is no medal for doing it all on your own. Be Kind to yourself.
- Prioritise self-care
If you are not prioritising the time to take care of yourself, you are not going to be able to look after everyone else properly.
Self-care is a buzz word at the moment, but every day we should be prioritising the self-care basics – getting nutritious food, getting enough sleep, drinking enough water, moving and taking 5 minutes for ourselves.
As a mum, it’s not always easy to do all of these things, so just do them to the best that you can. Perhaps in the season of motherhood you are in, 8 hours sleep sounds like a pipe-dream, but give it a few years and you will be man-handling a grumpy teenager out of bed at lunch time.
Just do the best for the season you are in. Don’t stress it.
When we start taking better care of ourselves, we are so much better at taking care of everyone else.
- Declutter your home
Clean home, clean mind. I believe that’s the saying, and it is so true.
Clutter affects our mental health a lot more than we realise. Studies have shown that clutter affects our mental health by making us feel anxious, irritable and depressed. The studies have also shown that mothers who lived in clutter had a higher cortisol level (stress hormone) than mothers who do not live in cluttered homes.
Reducing the clutter, reduces the ‘visual noise’ and as introverts, we need that.
Finally, I need you to repeat after me – self-care is not selfish.
Self-care is a necessity.
Don’t feel guilty, or be hard on yourself for feeling like you need a break.
In fact, you should feel proud of yourself for recognising that you need a break. That is half the battle.
Motherhood is hard enough without beating ourselves up about things that are out of our control.
When we learn to take care of ourselves, it allows us to be better parents and it will also teach your children that it’s okay to need a break, so when they become parents themselves they will already know that.
I hope these help, let me know in the comments if you are an introvert or an extrovert!