Between babycrack moments and in-law pressures, my husband and I have been thinking about babies. In the past I didn’t want to have children at all, but meeting my nephews and knowing what a wonderful person my husband is, I think that it is something I’d like for our future. In fact, I can totally see how we would rock parenthood with our nerdy ways.
However, I am not sure how a child would fit into our small family, since both of us are quite introverted: we don’t crave socializing and like our peace and quiet at home. I fear that the lack of privacy, personal space, quiet and time for us to recharge, could bring out a bad side of us and we’d slowly slide the horrible steep slope in becoming horrible parents that scar their children for life.
Most of what I’ve found regarding introverted parenting have been in very religious blogs, where the advice is usually around prayer, resignation and sacrifice… not particularly useful for us. I’d like to know if there are any very introverted parents here at Offbeat Families, or children of introverts, and what advice they would give to other introverts like us. — Jules
You might want to check out this post, also about introverted parents: How do you create a village for your child when you don’t have a network? … but other than that, we’ll open the question up to readers!
Comments on My husband and I are big-time introverts: will having kids and losing our personal space be crazy for us?
My opinion is to be taken with a grain of salt as stepparenting is different than raising a child from infancy.
My husband and I are both extremely introverted. He had a four-year-old daughter when I met him, and it was definite adjustment. I jumped into the “mommy” role quickly. He was laid off shortly after we met and I was unemployed, so we never spent more than a day apart our whole relationship. We’ve had a handful of date nights when his family took pity on us, but we don’t get much just-us time, much less time just to ourselves.
My stepdaughter has some attachment issues due to her birth mother’s neglect and trouble with speech and comprehension from the same. She wants to be with someone ALL THE TIME….if you’ve heard of Reactive Attachment Disorder, she’s close to that description. Because of the aforementioned problems, it’s hard to be comfortable with leaving her with a sitter. I feel like I would have to teach someone we left her with a whole new language just to deal with her for a few hours. It is mentally, physically, and emotionally exhausting at times to be with her all day (I’m a stay-at-home mom.) I went through a depression for awhile where I overused the tv as a babysitter. She recently started half-day pre-k and that has taken some of the strain off, but her energy level is still hard to keep up with.
I hope I don’t sound like the Debbie Downer here, I wouldn’t trade her for the world and we’re trying for a baby of our own, but I want to paint a realistic picture as to help people “on the fence” make an informed decision. My husband is wonderful about taking over when I need a break, and I try to do the same for him. Like other posters mentioned, it is important to teach children how to entertain themselves. As she has gained confidence that I’m not going anywhere, we’ve been able to ease into alone play and she has become quite good at entertaining herself. Her communication abilities are gaining by leaps and bounds and she is such a delight to talk to. Her entire demeanor lights up when she tells me a story. There is no feeling in the world better than when a little pair of knowing eyes stare into yours and the accompanying little mouth says, “I love you, Mommy.” This parenting thing is by far the most stressful and rewarding task I’ve ever taken on.
This has been on my mind alot lately. We’re not even discussing having children eventually, but still, it’s one of those things I think about. I work with kids all day- and have for the past ten years. I LOVE my job, and even as an introvert I think it works well for me because the kids are all ‘my people’- not the public, not a social world but a community. It still exhausts me and I still require a long recharge session when I get home, but I do love being with seven year olds all day.
My concern is- what if my partner and I do decide to have kids? It takes so long for me to ‘get myself back ‘ at the end of each day, I feel that it would be unfair for all of us (me, husband, potential children). There isn’t much left of me at the end of the day, even if I do love my job and feel greatly rewarded by it. I’m sad to say I think I would have to stop working- or at least working the way I do. Which breaks my heart, but I know I would not be able to function.
My husband and I are both fairly introverted with plenty of social anxiety added into the mix- I think a baby/child wouldn’t be a problem for us, but I do think the onslaught of friends and family and interactions with the medical world/all the baby events would run me down pretty fast. I’ve joked that I’m never going to tell anyone I’m pregnant until the baby is 3 just for that reason.
sorry for the ramble- I have lots of THOUGHTS about this but no action or suggestion. I guess I’m just trying to say that I totally feel you and I totally don’t know what to do.
I worked with preschoolers from the time I started working until I was pregnant with my daughter. I chose to stay at home partially for this reason – it wouldn’t have been fair to either my daughter or myself if I was spending all my energy on other people’s children instead of my own. No matter how much a really liked those children.
On the other hand, my mum – less of an introvert than I am, but most people are – managed it for years as the owner of a preschool and a single mother.
This may depend on your family/friends of course, but I found that pregnancy and having a new baby were the perfect ‘excuse’ to not be a social butterfly. Leave your baby shower halfway through to take a nap? Why not? LOL
I worried so much about this. But your kids just become part of you as a couple. It’s weird. It isn’t like your family growing up, the way you might now view your parents or siblings. Having a child is like falling in love all over again and you want to be homebodies WITH THEM. At least for me. I am super private. I hate when people just drop by or overstay their welcome. But my kid just meshed into our family unit. And as far as being an introvert in other situations, kids are a great buffer! They make a great excuse and help situations feel less awkward.
I’m not particularly introverted anymore, but I help out my sister who has a lot of social anxiety issues. I take my nephews to the park and on small vacations and did some play groups with them. If you have a friend that likes kids and is possibly more extroverted than you are, you should sit down with them and ask if they’d be willing to take on the role of special aunt/uncle for social functions.
It’s been tough on me. My daughter’s 14 months now, and it’s been tough in different ways at different stages. At this age, she is clearly an extrovert and needs to get out of the house at least once a day or she goes bananas. That’s tough on the days when I would really prefer to stay at home. But her sleep schedule is more regular now, so I can count on getting alone time during her nap and after bedtime.
Honestly I think the infant stage was harder on me. It’s true that spending time with an infant is very different than spending time with an adult or an older child, so your mileage may vary, but what was especially tough for me was the lack of routine. She would sleep a lot but when she woke up she needed me RIGHT THEN, not in five minutes. Having to switch my focus over to her 100% with no warning was really tough.
I don’t think it’s making me a horrible parent, though, or even a grumpy parent (more than normal, anyway). It’s definitely important to both me and my husband to prioritize our alone time, and we’ll schedule our weekends and evenings so we both get that. It just takes being conscious about your needs, I think.
Love all the advice here! I just wanted to add that, if you end up with extroverted or high-energy children (raises hand) you may want to look into child care, playgroups, extra-curricular activities, or enrichment classes for the kids. It gives them the interaction they need and some quite alone time for the parents.
I’ve also had to learn to communicate with other parents or teachers about my needs: “I know that all the parents are expected to volunteer, but I’m very introverted and find that level of interaction difficult. Could I do something a little quieter to contribute? I’m totally happy doing the paperwork, baking things to drop off, or even cleaning up after activities.”
Honestly, I think it’s good for kids (and adults) to learn that people have different needs, different strengths, and how to work with those differences.
I totally agree that one’s own child doesn’t feel like “other people,” and that personal time is a major necessity. We have really enjoyed how much control over our social time our now 13-month old has given us; we can always skirt a social situation we’re just not into by saying that we really need some family time (usually true) and can we reschedule a smaller, more intimate get-together later? We’re a weird sort of introverted that actually loves socializing – just only on our own terms and without our boundaries – and parenthood has helped us feel more comfortable being assertive about what we need and when. It’s not just about us anymore!
It’s great that you are thinking about this. I am pretty introverted but never really considered how having kids would affect me in light of that. I think I just didn’t realize how all-consuming kids can be – while I knew that we wouldn’t be going out to dinner and movie as often, I didn’t know that I would lose, for example, my habit of drinking coffee and reading quietly in the mornings, alone.
In my first year of motherhood I frequently felt guilty that I kept mentally “checking out,” thinking that it just meant that I was selfish. If my baby was happily playing I would open a book and sit near him, but I thought I was supposed to be interacting with him constantly. I just couldn’t do it. I finally forgave myself when it clicked that I am just an introvert who needs to retreat to recharge. If you tend to your child’s needs first you absolutely deserve little breaks when you can find them!
My two kids are still quite small but they are both pretty good about entertaining themselves for periods of time. If you and your spouse are both introverted, chances are decent that your biological children will be as well. It still can be draining but being aware that you need alone time to be a good parent is more than half the battle. Good luck!
Thank you for this! For the longest time I was afraid to even think about having a child. We are both homebodies and truthfully, my anxiety is so bad that it’s difficult to even go to the grocery store. I’m on medication, but it doesn’t erase the general fuckery that is my brain. I’m afraid that I would be a huge failure as a parent because I wouldn’t be able to mimic the “perfect mother” image who is able to pull together that last minute bake sale or hosts the most fun birthday parties that are still the talk of the neighborhood years later. I’m not that person and having a child wouldn’t transform me Cinderella-style. My partner and I like our personal space and it feels overwhelming to think about another person coming into our small world, but this gives me a LOT to think about. Thank you for opening my eyes.
I’m not really sure what I could handle, but this brings me some sort of comfort that working as a team, if we decide to have a child, we could be good parents even if we’re a little different…
I’m not a parent but was really interested in this post. I worry about what it will be like when baby finally comes along as we tend to be quite sensitive people and like our own peace and quiet. I found this book to be helpful in understanding my own sensory needs and the idea of ways to cope if my child is different to myself – Living Sensationally: Understanding your senses by Winnie Dunn
I’m an extrovert myself, though I have a group of friends that is skewed strongly towards introversion. At least two sets of parents are quite introverted, and their children seem to be doing very well. They come to get-togethers when they feel up for it, and leave when they need to. The two I am thinking of in particular each have one introverted child (and one extroverted, LOL), and perhaps the best thing to come out of this is that each introverted kid has parents who *really get it*.
I would encourage you not to worry so much about it. There are a LOT of “right” ways to parent, and parenting happens gradually over a long haul… there’s a LOT of room to make corrections along the way.
I would say, if you want to have children (in your own opinion, not the in-laws’), I would encourage it. I know I find that sharing my “space” with my own kids is qualitatively different from sharing it with anyone else, except my partner. If you can comfortably share space with your husband, you will probably be comfortable around your kids.
It depends a lot on the baby’s personality and on the support system you have available. I am very introverted but only found out that I am a hardcore introvert after my son was born. My son was an incredibly challenging baby who only slept 3o minutes during daytime and 12 hours at night. When he was awake, he had to constantly be entertained or he would cry the whole house down. I’ve tried absolutely everything to try to make him sleep longer/more often, but nothing worked. He was an extremely active baby and now at 5 years old, he still is a ball of energy.
When he started speaking, I realized how draining it is. My son talks constantly and in a very loud voice (it’s one of his ways to release his energy) and is very enthusiastic about everything, which is awesome.
But it is SO draining for me. Daily life is a constant struggle because I don’t have enough downtime/quiet time. I long for the days when he has his buddies and can talk to them 🙂
He also is very, very strong-willed and already great at arguing. I need to constantly be on “Top Of The Game”, otherwise I lose my authority. Which is also making me sad and tired. After having my son, which I love very, very much, I realized that for my personality type, it would be best to not have children. Unless you have A LOT of support and an “easy” baby/child.
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