Jamie Martin, editor of Simple Homeschool, also blogs about motherhood at Steady Mom
I mentioned a few weeks ago that I’m a firm introvert, but that I’ve learned how to thrive around my little people in the midst of a busy homeschooling lifestyle.
What about my children? Are they doomed to a monotonous, dull life due to the fact that they have an introverted mom? I say that jokingly–because as we’ve already discussed introverts enjoy socializing, they just don’t get fueled by being around people:
“Introverts … may have strong social skills and enjoy parties and business meetings, but after a while wish they were home in their pajamas. They prefer to devote their social energies to close friends, colleagues, and family. They listen more than they talk, think before they speak, and often feel as if they express themselves better in writing than in conversation. They tend to dislike conflict. Many have a horror of small talk, but enjoy deep discussions.”
~ Susan Cain, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking
You may see your way forward clearly if you’re an introvert homeschooling introverted children. But what if you have lively extroverts under your roof?
Let’s talk about that today. I have three children, and of them two are extroverts. We share an address, but not a personality. And though I’m certainly not an expert, over time I’ve learned a few things to help meet the individual needs within our four walls.
Here’s what I’ve discovered as an introverted mom homeschooling extroverted children:
Compromise is key.
The introverted mom may resent the homeschooling lifestyle if her entire existence revolves around chauffeuring children to playdates, classes, and activities. Quadruple this burden if she’s expected to take charge of, run, or teach many of the above.
We want to meet our kids’ needs, of course, but not at the expense of our own. There must be compromise.
Let them talk. You can listen.
My extroverted children talk all day long. To me, to their brother and sister, to themselves, to any neighbor who passes by. To the garbage truck worker, the recycling man, mailman, and UPS man.
They need to know how to stay quiet when quiet is required of course. But they also need to talk. To be heard. To verbally process and discuss their ideas. So let them!
Set expectations low and adjust as needed.
If you convey the idea that you will take your children anywhere, anytime–you’ll be expected to do so. Consider what this will mean for you before agreeing to it.
My extroverted children manage well with a couple of outings each week; I manage well with that, too. What works for you and yours? Think about it before making promises and creating expectations.
Friends are important, but even better if they happen to be family.
Extroverts gather energy through time spent with others, so they need time with others. My extroverts love new experiences and meeting new people. That’s important, without a doubt.
But I consider it an extra bonus that my kids’ best friends, the ones they hang out with most often, are their siblings. Together day and night, this dose of extroversion fuels them without draining me. That’s what I call a win-win.
Look for win-wins.
Plenty of activities for homeschoolers fit under the category of win-wins for introverted parents with extroverted kids. You just have to know what you’re looking for.
- Extroverted kids playing daily with siblings? A win-win.
- A playdate at the home of a mom you’re good friends with? A win-win.
- A weekly drop-off educational program where the kids play, learn, and socialize–while you hang out down the street at a coffee shop? Absolutely a win-win.
We must meet our own needs, and teach them to do the same.
If our kids think that we are responsible for meeting their personality needs, we’re teaching the wrong lesson. If we fly into action each time someone utters “Mom, I’m bored,” our children learn to turn to something (or someone) outside of themselves to get what they need.
Building that habit may backfire later on.
Instead let’s model that we fuel ourselves by the choices we make, and so can they. My two extroverts often develop elaborate role plays during their daily rest times. It hasn’t hurt them one bit to have this time alone each day. Instead they’ve found a way to channel it to deepen their imaginations. Without even knowing it, they’re using it to meet their own needs.
My daughter creates and performs “shows” nearly every day; my extroverted son Jonathan started a business and is constantly in contact with our neighbors. It’s amazing to watch them find themselves and find ways to enjoy being who God created them to be.
This homeschooling lifestyle is a dance of give and take, back and forth, trying and failing. At times it seems no one’s needs are met very well–at other times we achieve a delicate, yet still imperfect balance.
I firmly believe that at the core of it all is this phrase: “happy mom, happy home.” As parents we set the tone, and as we gather joy and beauty within the life we’ve chosen–our children, no matter what their personality type, will follow.
Are you an introvert homeschooling extroverts? How have you made it work for you?