As promised here is my two weeks of profound wisdom on being an introverted parent who recently discovered herself raising two very extroverted children. First, I have researched every morsel out of this topic, as I do with any new information that dumps itself into my existence, and I became fixated on it, proceeding to explore all of the in’s and out’s until I considered myself to be a self - professed expert on the subject at hand. Notice I said, “I consider myself” absolutely not one other soul in the universe may buy into my perceived intellect, but that’s ok, we all need a little more self - confidence occasionally, take it or leave it.
Here are 5 techniques that I have found to be effective over the past few days as I navigate through this new terrain of extroverted personalities. Some of these have been suggestions from blogs written by other introverted parents living with either an extroverted child or an extroverted spouse, some are from certified research on introverted versus extroverted personalities, and some of them are ideas that made sense to me so I tried them.
1. Setup for idea number one - It drives me crazy that Josh and Jada will have absolutely nothing to tell me for two hours prior to my decision to workout but as soon as my legs hit our treadmill, with ear plugs jammed into my ears blaring some Bon Jovi craziness, three year old Jada has an urgent 30 minute story to tell me. I have desperately missed my gym in Michigan and the daycare that it provided. My solution - the next time I worked out I did something deeply profound. I sat down with her and explained that when mommy is working out, she needs to either tell Josh, or puppy or kitty, or naked Barbie her stories or wait until mommy is done working out but she is not to tell mommy stories while mommy is on the treadmill. However, mommy would be more than happy to listen to her story once mommy is off the treadmill. No arguments, just a blank stare with a smirky look telling me she totally understood what I was saying. I have worked out twice, in her presence, since this conversation has taken place, and she has not uttered one peep to me while I am on the treadmill. The second I’m off is a different story (literally) all together, but I have that half hour to decompress when I need it.
2. Ryan and I initiated a very entertaining, lighthearted dinner time conversation about extroverts and introverts and how these personalities can be very different from one another. We led if off by asking if anyone had heard of these terms (Caleb had since he had been around when I was researching it) so he was very eager to contribute his vast amount of information on the subject, (he’s a little bit like his mom). Everyone knew exactly which one they were (except Josh and Jada) and they all got a big kick out of comparing the differences seen in the personalities. We then discussed ways that we could help each other as a family. For instance, “Caleb wants more sleep than you do Tate because he’s very introverted, so if you want to stay up and read books in the media center, you may, but your bedroom is going to be for sleeping and it needs to be a quiet environment for those who want to sleep.” Knowledge is power.
3. I've always prided myself on being a mom who does NOT resort to watching videos in the car other than on long car rides. My tune has recently changed. I have discovered, quite by accident, that when my extroverted children are watching a video, like Little Mermaid for example, it gives me some peace and quiet. Don’t judge, I have seven children...
4. I've made the effort to converse with all of my children on a daily basis. The easiest way I’ve found to make this happen is through our car rides home from school. I have all day to wrap my mind around the fact that I will be in a car for 30 minutes with 4 children at 2:30 in the afternoon each day. My introverted self has made peace with this, it’s not always easy, but I choose to immerse myself in the onslaught, recognizing the amount of energy it will take from me, engage them, humor them, enjoy them, one by one, on these rides home. I’ve found that if I don’t monitor the one on one (in other words, Caleb, “Tell me about your day” Mya, “Tell me about your day” the extrovert (Tate) will happily hijack each and every conversation leaving his introverted siblings speechless. The introverted ones don’t necessarily mind this, being introverted, but that doesn’t allow me a glimpse into their lives if their brother is always willing to conversationally step up to the plate for them.
5. Acceptance and lots of prayers for patience, pure and simple. My life will not always be this crazy, my weeks are admittedly pretty easy with all of the kids in school, and I don’t work outside the home so I really have quite a few quiet moments. I have chosen to wrap my mind around the fact that the weekends will be a little (a lot) crazier and have taken measures to escape that overwhelming feeling that comes occasionally by embarking on long trips to the library or the grocery store with just a child or two or three.
Just keep livin!!