Sometimes I wish I was introverted- quieter, more contemplative, moving through my day with purpose and quiet fortitude.
By contrast, I tend to fire before I aim, start talking before I’ve considered what I’m going to say, and move through my day like a bull in a glass house. I really do.
I’ve broken the baby gate at the bottom of our stairs twice now because I come charging down the stairs so fast and ready to get to the next thing, I can’t get the gate open before I go barreling through.
(Drives my introverted husband crazy, by the way.)
(Hi sweetie! Sorry about the gate!)
What about you?
You just might be an extrovert if:
- You use your hands a lot when you talk.
- When you get home from a park date or homeschool co-op, you’re more inclined to tackle something on your to-do list than you are to take a nap.
- When you’re at a meeting, you find you’re often one of the last ones ready to leave.
- People tend to ask you how you get so much done.
None of these is true about me all the time (except for the hands, probably- I just can’t help myself!), but many of them are true about me much of the time.
Introversion or extroversion isn’t an indicator of whether you need time to yourself- we all need that. Rather, it’s a reflection of where you get most of your energy.
I usually don’t feel nearly as revved up and ready to go after spending an hour with a book as I do after having a conversation with a friend (though I will thoroughly enjoy that hour of reading, trust me!).
I’ll be happier on a walk around the neighborhood if I bring a podcast or if I’m chatting with a friend than I will be if I’m spending that time in utter silence. Likewise, I enjoy writing posts for this blog, but the times I feel most energized are immediately after having an interesting conversation with someone for the podcast.
As an extra-extra-extrovert, I have found stay-at-home motherhood to be difficult in a few particular ways. I’ve learned some things about myself that have helped me stop fighting against my own natural tendencies and just enjoy stay-at-home motherhood as the extrovert that I undoubtedly am.
Here are a few things the extroverted homeschooling mom should know:
1. You need time alone, too.
Many of us with very extroverted tendencies start wondering if we’re really introverts because we crave down time to ourselves. We’re so burned out on people at the end of the day! Nothing sounds better to me at the end of a long day than a glass of wine, a book, and absolute silence.
That doesn’t necessarily mean you’re an introvert. It means you’re human. Meagan Francis and I were discussing this very thing the other day- when you are pouring yourself out for people all day, every day, your natural need is going to be some time to yourself. Make sure you set aside time for that, or you’re likely to burn out.
2. You need that homeschooling group or co-op.
There is a lot of talk among homeschoolers about whether homeschooling groups and co-ops are a good use of time and energy. Many homeschooling moms find weekly co-op gatherings to be exhausting, and decide that having that whole extra day at home will be more beneficial than the day out of the house.
The year I had Posy, a few of my older, more experienced (introverted!) friends suggested that being a part of a homeschool co-op would be more and more difficult as I had more and more children. I was feeling tapped out and in need of a restructure, so I stepped away from my weekly homeschooling group for a time. I thought having that extra day at home to attend to our lessons would be a good thing for all of us, would help us make more academic progress, and would give me more energy over the long haul.
Except it didn’t.
I had radically underestimated my own need for the weekly time with friends. I didn’t find having an extra day at home to be rejuvenating at all. I hadn’t realized how much energy I gained from going to our homeschool group meetings, and I really struggled all through that year.
The next year, I had twins.
(Yes, I know.) (True story.)
Seems like that year would be even harder to attend a homeschool group, doesn’t it? But even with all of the packing-up, planning, and get-out-the-door hubub, it’s completely worth trekking to our co-op once a week, even with three toddlers in tow. My kids need it, I need it, and it’s just an all-around good thing for us.
3. Working outside the home just might be a good idea.
For many years, I worked on random evenings and weekends at the local public library. I’ll let you picture that for a minute. A stay-at-home-mom, starved for time with other adults and always ready to have a long conversation, working in a library. ;)
It worked, though. The people who work in libraries tend to love reading and thinking, and so they make great conversationalists. I absolutely loved that job. I didn’t find a four-hour evening shift to be nearly as depleting as spending the evening cleaning up the kitchen and playing blocks on the floor with a toddler.
I don’t work at the public library anymore. Now I host a podcast and speak at conferences and retreats in order to feed my need to have interesting conversations with other adults. :) It works! You may not need to go get a job or grab a mic and launch a podcast, but if you have extroverted tendencies, it’s probably a good idea to build in regular social time.
For extroverts, socializing with other adults isn’t just icing on the cake. It’s part of your meat and potatoes.
4. Silence is a good thing.
Yes, it is.
I know that you find it extremely difficult to manage, but you need it, everyone around you needs it, and being an energetic extrovert isn’t a good excuse for letting your prayer life go to pot. (I’m talking to myself here, trust me.)
5. At some point, you have to put a cap on it.
I’m all for living authentically and playing into the strengths and tendencies that God has already given you, but do realize, sweet extaverted friend, that you can’t go on every field trip, to every play date, or to many of the events and outings that sound so wonderful to you.
Sometimes you have to tell your friends no because there is math to do and laundry to fold, and besides, not all of your children are as extroverted as you are. They need more time at home than you do, and part of living out your motherhood well is providing for their needs and dying a little bit to yourself.
Think about your husband, too. Is he as inclined toward social events as you are? This is probably a whole different post, but realizing that the very activities that give me crazy amounts of energy and enthusiasm are the events that deplete my husband has been something of a watershed understanding for me.
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Teaching from Rest: A Homeschooler's Guide to Unshakable Peace
by Sarah Mackenzie