Fall 2017 will be our first official homeschool year, and I’m a little nervous going into it. Staying home + lots of learning and interaction = an extra challenge for an introverted mom.
Having several small kids has forced me out of my introvert comfort zone already, but I can imagine that homeschooling will add another challenge to the mix.
Heidi St. John summarizes what it’s like to be an introverted mom: “Introverts are easily exhausted from too much stimulation, whether it be from being out and about too much or from being home with all. of. those. kids.”
I have some goals for managing the ebb and flow of activity in our days, including the additional challenge of homeschooling:
1. Have intentional downtime.
This is my personal first survival rule for being a mom, period! Regardless of whether my house is clean and all my tasks are done or not, I have to have a little time “off” every day.
And I say intentional down time because I know how easy it is to just collapse on the couch with your phone and call it “resting.” Early morning is my alone time. I love getting up before everyone else in the house to read and journal.
I work from home during my kids’ afternoon rest time, and even though that’s not restful, it is still mentally restorative to be working on something quietly. (As an aside, I think “side hustles” are a great option for introverted moms because it gives you a chance to channel your energy into something completely different than what you’re focused on the rest of the day, especially with the high level of interaction of being a homeschool mom.)
When you’re feeling overwhelmed with your kids’ need for attention, and you’re trying to get other tasks done, it can help to have some downtime with your children. Sometimes I get sensory overload when I’m running around trying to do all the things while fielding constant questions, requests, and, “Look what I made, Mama!” That’s my signal to take a break if I can, and just spend some time giving my kids the attention they need without feeling frazzled trying to focus on something else at the same time.
Sometimes I do this in the mornings now, but even while homeschooling I’ll take afternoons “off,” and instead of doing chores or errands we just hang out together, take a walk, listen to music, etc. This doesn’t exactly recharge an introvert’s “batteries,” but it does reduce the overwhelmed, pressured feeling of trying to focus on tasks with a lot of small people around.
2. Get out of the house.
I know a lot of introverts are homebodies, but I personally get cabin fever if I’m cooped up for too long. Getting out and about, even just to the grocery store, really calms my nerves and allows us all to focus on something other than each other for awhile!
3. Get over it!
This is something I will continue to remind myself. Self-care shouldn’t mean selfishness. Being a parent, and definitely being a homeschool parent, requires a sacrifice of me-time, peace, and quiet.
I’ll do my best to structure quiet into our day, but I’ll also have to embrace the loud and crazy times, and the intense school times. It’s a learning experience to thrive in the midst of chaos.
4. Don’t over-schedule.
I wholeheartedly support socialization and enrichment activities, but it’s so easy to make ourselves too busy. Especially as someone who is drained by social interaction, you really have to set limits and abide by them.
If you have other stressful factors in your life, reduce your outside commitments more than usual. My family and I just moved to a new house, so I’m not taking on more activities until we’re unpacked and settled.
5. Go outside.
Some days it’s so hard to overcome the inertia of staying inside, but nature offers a unique catharsis for stress and overwhelm. Going outside refreshes everyone’s minds and bodies, and gives your senses a break from noise. Exposure to sunlight helps everyone sleep better, too!
As an introvert, I know sometimes the only suggestion I want is “go be by yourself in a quiet room.” But though it may seem counter-intuitive, embracing the chaos helps grow me as a person, especially if I balance it with planned quiet time. I’m hoping I’ll be able to implement these strategies into the flow of our homeschool days.