Introvert Mama, Extrovert Child

Introvert Mama, Extrovert Child

First off: extrAvert or extrOvert? According to the dictionary, both spellings are correct. But since spell check dislikes extravert, we’re going with extrovert throughout the post.

This post was originally published on lonestarsigners.com on November 13, 2013.

A little more than two years ago, when our second child was a few months old, I realized that I was tired all the time. I talked with my doctor about hormonal imbalances (my estrogen-progesterone balance leans toward estrogen dominance) and met with a lovely therapist for a few months to talk through my struggles with perfectionism. It was about that time that I read Susan Cain’s amazing book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking. (In fact, I just requested it from the library again–I’m due for a re-read!)

Introvert Mama, Extrovert Child | parenting, personality style, child development, communication, family relationships and dynamics

I think introversion is misunderstood in today’s society as shyness, social anxiety, or just a reclusive personality. The truth is that whether or not a person is an introvert simply depends on how he/she recharges their energy. Some people seek out other people, activities, experiences, and action to gain energy (extroverts), some are energized with solitude and reflection (introverts), and the rest are a lovely blend of both.

 

Well, it turns out that I am an EXTREME introvert. I think my tendency has definitely become more pronounced as I’ve gotten older, mainly because my “alone time” has been extremely limited by this thing called parenting.

When I was single and living by myself, I had lots of balance–interacting at work and plenty of social activities–followed by a night alone with a good book! When my husband and I were first married, our non-traditional work schedules left us some time apart, which I filled with a good book and my husband filled with singing in a chorus and a quartet. (Guess which personality type he has!)

Even after our first daughter was born, I still had “alone time” in the car going back and forth to work (listening to audiobooks, naturally) and while she was sleeping. But once I had two young children with different schedules and no outside job to go to, I was exhausted because I was never alone.

Introvert Mama, Extrovert Child | parenting, personality style, child development, communication, family relationships and dynamics

Please understand me, I love my girls and I wouldn’t want to do anything other than stay home with them and homeschool–but those two hours of naptime are precious to me and my sanity. I need time to read and reflect every day or I get run down. Thankfully, my husband appreciates my sanity and arranges his evening schedule with the girls so that I get to rest. (And he gets a night out every week to go out and sing.)

* * *

Our oldest daughter is clearly an extrovert. I love to watch her light up around other people! I appreciate it when the moms that she is drawn to take the time to listen to her and affirm what she so badly wants to tell them. She processes information by talking about it, and that means she talks A LOT. She is constantly asking me when we’re going out or which activity is coming up next, when I would much prefer to curl up on the couch with (you guessed it!) a book.

Introvert Mama, Extrovert Child | parenting, personality style, child development, communication, family relationships and dynamics

If introverts get their energy from the inside and extroverts get their energy from the outside, there are some days that it feels like Addie is simply taking my “health units” for herself. 🙂

As an introvert raising an extrovert, I’ve discovered a few tricks:

  • Plan social activities for the extroverted child. If at all possible, plan to host them them so you can control the number of guests and how long the activity lasts.
  • Go to the park a couple of times a week. My extroverted daughter is more than happy to play alongside children she has never met before and I can find a quiet bench to sit on and watch.
  • Make allowances for an “at home” day at least once a week. It’s beneficial for extroverts to learn how to play independently. Listen to audiobooks if your child needs extra stimulation.
  • Channel your child’s extra energy with a hobby! 🙂
  • Make it a point to connect with other moms in real life at least once a week. Facebook and other forms of social media are awesome, but it’s important to have some in-depth face-to-face conversations, too.
  • Don’t forget your spouse! My husband is very understanding of my need for quiet time, but I need to remember to “come back up for air” in the evening and ask him about his day. Even if we’re not talking, he appreciates it when I sit next to him while he watches a movie. (And then after I’ve had my fill of “quiet time” in the evening, I tend to want to talk his ear off right about the time he’s ready to go to sleep. It’s all about balance!)
  • Teach your child about the differences between introversion and extroversion. Addie knows me well enough that when I say I need a break, she respects my ten minutes of downtime. When we leave an intense social situation, she is usually quiet in the car so I can recharge. It’s not just about me, either! When an introverted friend comes over and needs some time to ease into the situation, it’s important for her to learn how to respect their space.

While you’re here grab your FREE Summer Schedule Guide, and get lots of activity ideas for your little extrovert!

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8 Replies to “Introvert Mama, Extrovert Child”

  1. Oh my goodness! You are speaking my language. I am also an introvert mother with an extrovert child. I love the book, Quiet, and look forward to reading the book you recommended. It is degi item a challenge being opposites and by educating your children it will help them be more well rounded in their relationships with others.

  2. I really enjoyed reading this! I’m an extreme introvert and I definitely felt it when I first became a mother. I’ve been learning I need to build in alone time in my week. Easier said than done 🙂

  3. Love these tips! My daughter is only 14 months old, but she seems like such an extrovert and LOVES attention. I’m a total introvert. We became her parents through adoption so there will be many “nature vs nurture” moments where she has talents and personality traits that are “hers”. It’s so great to see our children develop into their own unique person!

    1. Are you me, but with a girl?? LOL. We also adopted and have the most adorable fourteen-month-old little boy ever – and he is as extremely extroverted (already so obvious) as we both are introverted. Navigating this is going to a learning experience (almost all our friends and family are also pretty introverted or borderline extroverts, so we’ve got to branch out – yikes!), but we’re committed to figuring this out and doing it right.

  4. This is so helpful! I love all your tips. My girl is only one but I feel like she’s already showing signs of extroversion, loves being around people! And I LOVE the book Quiet!!! Seriously I had my husband read it so that he could better understand me!

  5. This extroverted grandmother of her extroverted almost 3 yo granddaughter born to my introverted daughter that just had our 2nd granddaughter; wants to know your audio story source? TIA

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