Today’s guest post is by Tarissa Helms of Introverted Mama
I sat on the bathroom floor with my head in my hands. Meanwhile, little fingers wiggled beneath the door and tiny voices called, “Mom, are you in there?” I adore my children. But in that moment, I was desperate for breathing space.
As introverts, our brains are hardwired to need downtime. Interacting with others expends energy while periods of solitude recharge our internal batteries and are vital to our well-being. As parents, sometimes we fail to realize the time we spend with our children can be as draining as the interactions outside our homes … often more so. If we’re not careful to manage the way we spend our energy, we find ourselves poured out with nothing left to give.
If you’ve ever felt exhausted by the demands of parenting, below are my top seven tips for protecting your energy as an introverted parent.
1. Maintain a regular bedtime.
It’s tempting to stay up late every night. Believe me, I know! The house is quiet, the kids are sleeping, and the lure of the internet and Netflix are strong. But when we stay up late on a regular basis, we continually begin our days with energy deficits. By setting and maintaining regular bedtimes, we wake up rested and recharged, prepared to fully engage in the lives of our children.
2. Enjoy a quiet start to your day.
Rather than seeking out quiet time late at night, I encourage you to get up an hour earlier and take a leisurely approach to your morning. Brew a cup of hot tea. Go for a walk. Meditate or pray. Write in a journal. Open a window and listen to the sounds of nature. Do whatever helps you feel rested, centered, and at peace before starting your regular morning routine.
3. Fuel your body well.
When my girls were toddlers, I was beyond tired. Every time I felt my energy wane, I grabbed a diet cola or carbohydrate pick me up. My days became an endless roller coaster of highs and lows that left me exhausted and cranky. I had difficulty sleeping at night, frequent headaches, and little patience for my children.
I finally realized – there’s a better way. I decreased my caffeine and sugar consumption and started drinking at least 64 ounces of water a day. I also replaced carb-laden treats with snacks of fruit, nuts, and lean protein. What a difference. I now experience a more constant stream of energy and set a better example of healthy eating for my kids.
4. Simplify your family’s schedule.
It’s healthy for parents to have activities outside the home – volunteering in the community, getting together with friends, and pursuing our passions. However, there will come a day when your children have their own extracurricular activities and few things deplete a parent’s energy more than an over-booked calendar.
If you (or your children) are feeling overwhelmed by your family’s schedule, sit down and evaluate your current commitments. Make firm decisions about how many activities each family member can reasonably be involved in, leaving plenty of room for downtime. Learning to say no and set healthy boundaries with your time will save energy for the things that matter most, including your kids.
5. Ask for help.
You probably won’t need to look far to find people who would love to support you, if given the chance. Some places to start include:
- Asking your spouse or partner to take the kids to the park for an afternoon.
- Hiring a neighborhood teen to play with your children for a few hours while you run to the grocery store.
- Locating a babysitting co-op in your community, so you can enjoy an evening to yourself and then return the favor to another parent.
- Asking a close friend or family member to keep your children for a few days over summer vacation.
6. Take regular mini-breaks.
Even if you’re able to find a great sitter (and I hope you do), it’s still important to build downtime into your daily routine. Some of my favorite mini-breaks happen in the car. After I drop my kids off at school in the mornings, I turn down the radio and enjoy a few minutes of silence while driving to the next destination. I also spend 5-10 minutes in the car before going into the grocery store, listening to relaxing music and checking in with friends on social media.
Other ways to take mini-breaks throughout the day include:
- Scheduling daily quiet times for yourself and your children.
- Listening to soft music or a favorite podcast while cooking dinner or doing laundry.
- Sitting outside on your lunch break at work.
- Stepping into another room for a minute or two of deep breathing.
- Pausing midday to write in a journal.
- Taking a warm shower before going to bed.
7. Give yourself grace.
More than anything, I hope you’ll remember that requiring downtime as an introverted parent is nothing to feel guilty about. Our brains are wired to need it and our bodies respond to it. Learning to embrace downtime and manage your energy is one of the best decisions you can make for your family.
OVER TO YOU…
If you’re an introverted parent do you have any further tips to add? Leave a comment below to let us know!
About the author
Tarissa Helms is a wife and mother of three who believes most things in life are made better with a cup of tea. She shares her adventures in faith, parenting, and the introverted life on her personal blog, Introverted Mama.