Remember back in March 2020, when we went into the first national lockdown and there were all sorts of jokes flying around the internet about how this was the introverts’ time to shine?
It did seem almost like an introvert dream come true; the chance to stay at home all day, with the perfect excuse to not go out and socialise. And chances are for a lot of people that’s still the case.
If you’re like me though, and you’re definitely on the introverted side of the spectrum and you also happen to be a parent, then you might be finding life in lockdown is actually much harder than you thought it would be.
Introverts enjoy having time alone. Spending time with other people might still be fun for them, but it drains their energy and they’ll generally need to have some time to themselves afterwards to recharge.
So suddenly being told to stay at home sounds great, until you realise that you’ll never truly get to spend time by yourself at home when your family are also there with you. All. The. Time.
We all love and adore our families, of course we do, and I’m so grateful not to be trying to get through lockdown on my own, but it can be exhausting to an introvert to always be surrounded by people. It’s never truly quiet. There are always demands on your time and attention, especially if your children are young.
I’m still working out how to cope with it all to be honest, but here are some things that I’ve found helpful and that might help you too:
Communicate your needs to your family
If you’re struggling and you’ve not done this already, then take a bit of time to talk to your partner and your children about what you need from them.
Chances are they all experience things differently to you, so might not know how much you need some time to yourself to recharge, even if they’re introverts too. So tell them. Explain that you need a bit of time, regularly, to have some quiet and to be by yourself.
Be clear and ask for what you need. And while you’re at it, check in with them and ask what they need too.
Find ways to create quiet at home
Once you’ve asked for what you need, you’ll then have to find a way to actually get the quiet you’re desperate for.
You might be able to arrange your working days so that your partner can take the children out somewhere for an hour, so you can actually have the whole house to yourself.
If that’s not an option though you need to look at things like noise cancelling headphones so you can block out the sounds of a house full of people.
The other issue you might have is with needing to buy yourself a bit of time by finding ways to occupy your children that don’t require your constant input. Card games are great because they don’t need much set-up time and most of the time the rules are simple enough that they don’t need a parent to keep stepping in with explanations. My children have been really enjoying Dino Dump this year, but if they’re not in the mood to play together then that old classic Solitaire is always a hit too.
And if all else fails then there’s nothing wrong with the children having some more screentime than normal, as far as I’m concerned!
Try meditating to get your zen back
When you do manage to get some quiet time to yourself, try using it to meditate for a while.
There are loads of guided meditations on YouTube which are great for beginners who aren’t sure where to start. Or you could try downloading an app like headspace or calm, but you do have to pay to access all their features.
If meditation feels too far out of your comfort zone then try a bit of mindfulness instead.
There are some great ideas for practising mindfulness throughout the day in this set of mindfulness exercise cards from Mindkompass on Etsy. Each card gives you a prompt or an exercise to try to leave you feeling calmer and more grounded.
Say no to zoom
Video calls have been a bit of a lifeline for everyone throughout lockdown, giving us all a way to stay connected and socialise with friends and family while we can’t see them in person.
The thing with zoom though, is that it can be even more draining than actually meeting up with people at times. The social cues are harder to read, it’s too easy to talk over each other, and it can feel like you have to be ‘on’ the whole time with the camera on you.
So if you’re being asked to join in with zoom quizzes and video chats all the time, and finding it a struggle, then pick a few nights a week that you want to keep zoom-free. Make this a non-negotiable night off from all kinds of video chats, phone calls and other virtual meet-ups.
Having these boundaries in place can really help give you back some time to recharge your introvert batteries.
Make an effort to socialise in the ways that work for you
As an introvert you might find socialising in big groups draining, but enjoy spending time with a small group of close friends, or one-on-one with people.
If you’re missing those close connections that you normally enjoy then find ways to get that.
The lockdown restrictions in your area might allow you to meet up with one other person for a walk, so reach out to a close friend and arrange to get together. If that’s still not an option, then arrange a phone call instead, to keep those connections going.
Create a relaxing bedtime routine
If you find that you’re completely worn out by bedtime, but still somehow find it hard to switch off from the demands of juggling work, school work, family life and everything in between, then it’s worth creating a bedtime routine to help.
Here are some things you could try:
- turn off the tv and put your phone away about an hour before you want to be falling asleep
- try reading to wind down instead of watching another episode of whatever it is you’re binge-watching
- make yourself a warm, calming drink, like a mug of night-time tea or some golden milk
- follow a guided sleep meditation or watch some ASMR videos to help you relax
- use a few sprays of Rescue night spray to help you feel calm and help switch off your mind from unwanted, repetitive thoughts
- have a warm bath with lavender bubble bath or bath salts
I know that none of these suggestions will make up for actually being able to take a proper break from everything and having time alone to restore your social energy supplies. But while we’re in lockdown I’m kind of in the mindset that any little thing that makes even a little bit of difference is worth trying!
So hopefully if you feel the same way, the ideas in this post will help make a bit of a difference to how you cope in lockdown as an introvert parent.
Are you an introvert or an extrovert? How are you finding life in lockdown?