Whether you’re loud and proud or mild yet marvellous, we’ve got all the tips for how to parent as an introvert or extrovert, especially if your kid is the opposite of you.
Ok, folks: are you ready for some self-reflection? We’re talking parenthood when you’re either an introvert or an extrovert, and how your parenting style adapts to your personality trait. So what’s yours (try this quiz and see which way you lean)? Are you an introvert who steers clear of the limelight, shudders at the thought of social gatherings and breaks out in a rash at the mere mention of public speaking? Or are you an extrovert who revels in being centre stage, can’t stand the thought of ‘quiet time’ and loves talking up a storm? Parenting is HUGELY different for both traits – and even more so if the kid you’re raising is the complete opposite! Here’s how to deal…
Parenting as an introvert
Speaking from experience, parenting as an introvert throws up SO many challenges. Being around new people – like those new mum meet-ups? Challenge. Everyone wanting to see you and the baby when you can only deal with people in small doses? Challenge. Being with someone else (even if that’s your own spawn) aaaaall the time – CHALLENGE. If your ultimate mum fantasy is a completely solo long-haul flight (hands up, this is my utter DREAM), then read on for our top tips on how to parent as an introvert…
Make time for yourself
Yes, it’s been said before so I won’t reinvent the wheel. But honestly? You’ve totally got to look after yourself before you can look after others. You know how on an aeroplane (sigh, there I go again…) the cabin crew run through the safety demonstration and say fit your own oxygen mask before helping others? True. Story. Our mum moments article will set you off on the right foot…
Say no and set boundaries
Do not, I repeat DO NOT, sign up for the endless mum guilt cycle or saying yes to things you REALLY don’t want to do, then feeling rotten about it. People-pleasing when it affects your own sanity needs to STOP. When it comes to parenting as an introvert, don’t be afraid to set boundaries. If going out on a weeknight makes you twitchy, kindly turn down invites. If the in-laws have a habit of unexpectedly dropping in to see the grandkids, politely tell them to check in with you first. Boundaries maketh the woman.
… but not too often
Not that I’m contradicting myself here intentionally, but don’t say no so often that you’re at the point of becoming a hermit. It’s still good to get out there and hang with your homies, peeps. There’s nothing quite like time with your gal pals to bring you out of a head funk. So choose your gatherings wisely and let the good times roll.
Lean on your support system
Also, don’t be afraid to either ask for or accept offers of help. It might not be in your nature, but trust me: it really makes a difference when you say yes to the RIGHT things. Your neighbour’s offered to babysit? Amazing! A mum from school has offered to carpool your kids to campus? Yes, please! You need someone to watch the bub while you go get your roots done for a couple of hours? There’s a relative for that! The key takeaway here: look after your own headspace. And it goes without saying that you should totally pay any acts of kindness forward.
Parenting as an extrovert
Wow extroverts, we actually kept your attention span all this way! (Just kidding.) Parenting as an extrovert also has its challenges, and ESPECIALLY if your child shows more introvert tendencies. Extroverts gain their energy from socialising and being out and about which, as we all know, can be exhausting when there’s a tiny tearaway with you. And if you’re at home for large periods with only your uncommunicative bub for company, it can deplete you. All that thinking time? No, thank you! Here are our top tips for parenting as an extrovert…
Find the right people – and go for balance
Putting yourself out there by joining support groups and attending social events is a great way to meet like-minded mums – and something extroverts will embrace! (Don’t rule out making potential BFFs in your condo, either.) Parenting in general, let alone parenting as an extrovert, is a tough gig and everyone needs support from people going through the same struggles. And, as an extrovert, you often think out loud and find you feel better talking things through. So find a squad and get chatting! If your kids are more introverted, find ways to give them quiet time in your busy schedule – perhaps some alone time before the clan descends on your home, or some quiet time with Grandma while you go run your errands.
Ensure you meet your own needs
Here comes the self-care part again – because it’s SO important! Keep your mental health in check by arranging regular catch-ups with your mates or date nights with your partner. Embracing the ‘you’ part and holding on to your identity will only help you when it comes to parenting and being ‘Mum’.
Understand people’s energy
Sometimes it can be frustrating when people don’t mirror your energy, or if your child doesn’t want to do ALL THE THINGS. For all those extroverts out there who have an introverted partner, that’s super tough, too! It can be hard parenting with two different personality styles and ensuring everyone’s needs are met. The key is accepting everyone’s differences and working with it, not against it. For instance, if you love spontaneity but other members of your family don’t share your passion, that’s ok. A solution could be ‘scheduled spontaneity’ – where you prepare people for unplanned time so they can psych up to be flexible, but you still get your freedom too. Everyone’s a winner, baby.
It’s impossible to be a ‘pure’ introvert or extrovert – psychoanalyst Carl Jung said so himself. We can act like an an extrovert in one situation, then flip to introvert for another. For example, people who meet me think I’m outgoing and confident, but I quickly reach a point where all my energy is drained and my battery is empty – I just need to be alone and not talk or be ‘on’ anymore. And while I love doing new things with my famalam, my husband totally gets that I absolutely need to be on my own a lot, too, at the risk of me losing my sh*t. But the most important thing to remember is that, however you re-energise, we are all unique. And that’s a huge positive.
You aren’t ‘too loud’, and them ‘not liking spontaneity’ or ‘hating crowds’ isn’t a bad thing. You and your kids – even if you have different traits – are who you are meant to be. Accept yourself and others for who they are, and teach your kids to do the same – that can only be a good thing.