7 ways to protect your energy as an introverted parent

7 ways to protect your ene

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!

Photo Credit: Andrés Nieto Porras


my headshotAbout 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.


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22 thoughts on “7 ways to protect your energy as an introverted parent

  1. These are all amazing tips! I wholeheartedly agree with all of these. I stopped having caffeine a few years back (mainly due to being pregnant/nursing). I discovered I was consuming a lot of sugar in my coffee. Nuts and water, like you said, help me keep my energy up! I really need to get more sleep though.

    • I can completely relate about getting enough sleep, Melissa. Your article about the reasons why parents stay up late is still one of my favorites, the quiet house being #1 in my book!

  2. But I’m a night person. My quiet time IS in the evening. Waking up early makes me more grouchy than staying up a little later. I get what you’re saying, but it’s important to take into consideration whether someone functions better at night or in the morning. Morning is not, by default, “better”.

    • You make a great point, Jennifer. There aren’t any absolutes about when to find downtime. The most important thing is to find a routine that works in your own schedule and helps you feel energized throughout the day. I’m a night owl by nature, too. So, developing a habit that involves going to bed on time and getting up early in the morning has taken a lot of practice, but at this particular season of parenting, it’s what my body needs. I still stay up late from time to time…as evidenced by my Twitter feed. 😉 That quiet house is hard to resist!

  3. Oh how you are speaking my language! The morning quiet time is essential for me. I feel like I am always trying to catch my breathe for the rest of the day if I miss that alone time first thing in the morning!
    I definitely need to ask for help more. I never do. Thanks for the reminder! Excellent post.

    • Glad this resonated with you, Erica! I think a lot of parents struggle with asking for help and reaching out to others isn’t something that comes naturally to most introverts. I’m still learning how and when to ask for help, rather than struggling in silence and hoping that someone (aka my husband) will notice. Two introverts married to one another is funny at times. If we could both learn to read minds, we’d communicate SO well!

  4. These are great tips, Tarissa. Do you know I’ve always considered myself an extravert, but as I get “older,” I feel the introvert coming out. I love people, but I NEED downtime. I especially like the idea of scheduling mini-breaks in my day. It’s hard to stay faithful to them, but they’re SO important!

    • Thanks, Betsy! I think everyone can benefit from downtime, with how much varying from individual to individual — or from day to day, for that matter! I’m glad you liked the idea of mini-breaks. This is a great time of year to think about scheduling in a few extra quiet moments.

  5. These are great tips! I really have to remember the tip on going to bed earlier and drinking water/less coffee. During the winter I really crank up the coffee drinking. One thing that keeps me sane is running alone. I used to belong to a gym but I would avoid it because of all the people. I finally got winter running gear last year and now I have the neighborhood to myself.

    • Meredith, I do still enjoy a cup of hot tea most afternoons (as part of my post-homework mini break) and the occasional chai latte. But, I am SO surprised at the difference that staying well hydrated makes in my energy levels. Thanks for sharing your experience with running! Exercise is a fantastic stress reliever for parents and a great energy boost. 🙂

  6. Love these tips! Sometimes I think asking for help is the hardest one — but it’s essential! Introverted parents need to be part of a strong team.

    • I agree completely, Kathy. It’s difficult for many parents to reach out for help, but I think it’s especially challenging for the introverted parent. Reaching out doesn’t come as naturally to us. We tend to turn inward for solutions. But, you’re so right. It’s wonderful to be part of a strong team!

  7. Tarissa,
    Thank you for this excellent post! I am an extrovert but my husband and 4 of our 6 children are introverts…I love your blog because it has helped me to understand my husband and children so much better! Thank you!

    • You’re welcome, Janelle! I’m so glad this article and others like it have helped you understand your introverted family members better. Learning about different personality traits has given me greater insight and understanding of the people I love, as well! 🙂

  8. Hi Tarissa,
    I love the tips that you provided. I wish I had your list when my guys were younger; although there are some that will still come in handy.
    I agree with Kathy, asking for help was never an easy thing for me. I always felt like I had to do it all myself, which of course ended in pure exhaustion for me.

    • Hi Angela! I also wish I would have developed an understanding of my introverted personality and the way it impacts my parenting a little earlier. But I’m glad we’re both coming to a greater understanding now. Perhaps we can encourage and support other introverted parents in the ways we wish we had been supported as young moms!

  9. So I’m an introvert, married to an introvert with two very loud and talkative kids. We homeschool our five year old so some days I feel like I don’t have a moment to think clearly. We used to each try to get a night out during the week, but finances have made that difficult. Last week when my husband got home I took my laptop and headphones and locked myself in the bedroom for two hours. It was glorious. I need to do that more often. We institute afternoon quiet time around here, but my five year old doesn’t always comply. When she does, it’s an important recharge time for me. When she doesn’t, it drains me even more. I’d love to hear tips from other homeschool moms on how they keep from losing their minds.

    • Bethany, I could relate to much of what you shared here. My husband and I are both introverts and our children are SO very talkative and full of energy. I use headphones sometimes when my kids are playing to create a quiet bubble for myself – while doing laundry, cooking dinner, cleaning. I don’t homeschool though, so I can’t speak to that particular challenge. Have you ever read Jamie Worley’s blog? She’s an introverted mom who homeschools. Perhaps something there might give you a few ideas. 🙂

  10. This blog post is everything!! I am introverted, but never thought about how it also intersects with being a parent as well. I will definitely use these tips to help in my parenting and to recharge each day!!

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