Being an introverted mom I thought I would share one of the quotes that really reflects my parenting. “ … make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.” 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12
The verses above are some of my husband’s favorites in the Bible. I am not only an introverted mom, but my husband is an introverted dad. According to Myers-Briggs, and we find great enjoyment and meaning in living a “quiet life.” We like having time at home with family. We enjoy having a small circle of close, deep friendships. We like to talk, to read, to reflect on the past, to dissect what is happening in the present and imagine possibilities. Being rushed or overly busy does not allow us time to thrive.
However, in some ways this past year went by like a whirlwind. Our oldest child started kindergarten last fall and our youngest started preschool. I spent time volunteering at both of their schools. My oldest also attended a few months of beginning ballet and tap dance classes. I joined a weekday community Bible study that meets in my church. In the midst of it all, I struggled with a bout of insomnia for the first time ever.
Life picked up more speed during the summer, and I joked that I needed a vacation from my summer vacation. We began the summer with a hastily planned trip to attend my grandfather’s funeral. After that, we went to various family reunions, stayed in a string of hotels, and camped at several state parks in different states. We hosted family and stayed with family. It was mostly a good time for our family, although as an introverted mom, coordinating back-to-back trips with young children left me feeling worn out at times.
This fall, I have pulled back. These days, it often just feels good to be home. I keep a limited number of outside commitments. Now that my teacher husband and my oldest daughter are back in school, my 2-year-old and I can sometimes go days at a time without going anywhere in the car. School was back in session for a month before we went on a playdate to a friend’s house. As an introverted mom, I have several reasons for staying close to home this fall:
Introverted Mom Musings
A schedule that isn’t jam packed gives me time for projects that are important to me. I didn’t re-enroll in Bible study this fall. I miss the learning, but I no longer have to choose between completing study homework and working on writing or editing projects during the limited quiet time I have each day. My writing helps me keep one foot in my field of work, which will be helpful when both of my children are in school full-time in a few years. I contemplated trying a Mothers of Preschoolers group that wouldn’t leave me staring at homework pages each week, but snuggling at home with my quickly growing toddler seemed more appealing.
I have time to rest, play, and be with family. I have breathing room. I write, garden, play the piano, and find ways to be creative. My younger daughter and I pass many of our weekdays in our yard or in our home’s bright sunroom that looks out on our back yard and garden. We make zucchini bread – with zucchini picked from our garden – together in the kitchen. Rather, I make the bread while my daughter flips spoonfuls of flour out of the mixing bowl and calls it helping. We putter around the neighborhood where my daughter practices riding her tiny two-wheeled bike with training wheels. Sometimes we end up at the park a few blocks from our house or the nearby dollar store.
Our home is a nicer place when my days are not overbooked. I’ve cleaned the neglected corners of our basement and packed away the pile of camping gear dropped down there after our summer trips. I have purged outgrown playthings and household items by donating or selling them online. I found a cleaning schedule with lots of flexibility and forgiveness and have been implementing it, although on some days I temporarily ditch the cleaning to spend time tickling my toddler on my big bed, reading library books together on the couch, or talking on the phone with my grandmother.
We put our days to good use. We are living slowly, savoring the small important moments, and it is refreshing for this mom who enjoys thinking and reflecting and withers under an overly full schedule.
Our family is unusual. I am surrounded by friends and acquaintances who live busy lives. Their schedules are filled with school and church committee meetings, multiple extracurriculars for multiple children at the same time, and homework that is squeezed in during spare moments between activities. They pick up their kids early from gymnastics so they can head to soccer practice. They routinely show up carrying McDonald’s bags, eating quickly before they have to be somewhere else. They commute 30 minutes both ways to their kids’ athletic practices and remark how they live out of their cars. Their kids sometimes act out or have poor focus during activities, and I wonder sometimes if they are just burned out.
Some parents do all this stuff because they feel they’re enriching their children’s lives, or perhaps building their kids’ resumes in preparation for college. A few admit they want to be less busy, but they don’t know how to say no – to their kids, to friends, to employers, or to fellow PTA or moms’ club or church members. I wonder if some people stay busy because they don’t know what to do if they aren’t constantly on the go.
It can be hard for me to look past the introverted mom lens through which I view the world, and I understand some families are extroverts who truly do enjoy their fast-paced lives. For our family, I believe something would have to give if we kept such a busy schedule. There aren’t enough hours in the day for it all. We would end up with a messy home, many processed and fast food meals, sleep deprivation, decreased functioning in careers, lack of patience with the kids, little time to help with homework, little time to read to kids before bed, and little time for spouses to spend together.
Our family chooses to be different. Our first grader participates in one extracurricular activity at a time. This fall it’s gymnastics. I am home every afternoon so my 2-year-old can (attempt to) nap or have quiet time. We eat dinner together just about every night, and my girls learn simple but valuable life lessons when they do their part setting out napkins and clearing the table. I sit down at our keyboard after dinner and teach my oldest the basics of piano. My husband and I sit together in the big swing on our patio in the evenings while we watch our daughters do cartwheels in the yard. We don’t cram our kids in the car and drive around to stuff every evening, and we don’t have to hurry through homework. We read to our girls every night, and our kids go to bed on time and get enough sleep.
Being at home doesn’t mean we sit around feeling bored. When we remove all the enticing distractions the world offers, we find we still have plenty of things to do. Important things like asking our children about their day and really listening, or getting down on the floor to play with a pile of Little People toys, or teaching our oldest how to ride a bike without training wheels.
We also have not completely withdrawn from the world. I volunteer at both of my daughters’ schools. We go to story time at the library almost every week. We are active at our church on Sunday mornings. We have dinner with close friends and go to play dates, birthday parties, and local festivals.
I enjoyed a slower-paced day when I went to the home of good friend and fellow blogger Elizabeth the other week. While our littlest ones played together, we donned aprons and spent the day tackling the tedious task of peeling and slicing basketfuls of apples from her grandparents’ farm. These weren’t perfectly shaped grocery store apples, so they didn’t fit well on those handy crank devices that peel, core and slice them in one swift arm movement. We peeled and sliced most of the apples by hand and felt a domestic connection to our female ancestors who did things the old fashioned way. We saved some apple slices for pies and crisps, and others we mixed with cinnamon and sugar and cooked down into applesauce. The house smelled delicious and our hands were busy as we chatted about books and family and faith. I love living slowly and savoring the moment.
We live in a world that runs at a faster pace than ever. There are endless opportunities for entertainment and recreation – perhaps too many opportunities – and these things are more affordable than ever for average families. We feel driven to seek recognition, to be important and visible, to leave our unique mark on the world. People devote their lives to their careers and find their identities in jobs that demand long hours. Technology keeps us always connected with little time to take a breath and reflect. Everywhere I go, I get bombarded with the message that I should be doing more, whether it is at church, in my larger community, or even online where Facebook or Pinterest highlight all the cool things I’m not doing. But do we need to do it all? At the same time? It’s more important now than ever to set boundaries for our personal lives and our families.
All that is why you will most likely find me, the introverted mom, at home if you go looking for me this year. Balance, rest, and reflection help me keep my sanity. These things make me a better wife, mom, and friend. This fall as the air grows chilly and the holidays draw near, I’ll be at home with my family. Maybe we’ll bake some apple crisp, rake some leaves, and read a few chapter books together. That type of introverted mom, quiet life sounds just right.
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