Written by contributor Hillary Boucher
I must have been around 15 years old when my parents told me that I could pick one weekend night to spend socializing with my friends, but the other would be spent home with my family. This parental declaration was met with dramatic tears and a larger than life teenage tantrum.
Looking back, my reaction may have been on the dramatic side, but it exemplifies what a big deal it was to me. Connecting with my friends and socializing was not only important to me, it actually helped me live a healthier and happier life. And it still does.
You guessed it — I’m an extrovert.
It’s taken me years to realize that some some of the challenges I experience as a parent are the result of being an extrovert while homeschooling an introvert.
Since there are two personalities at play I find there needs to be strategies in place to meet both the extrovert’s and the introvert’s needs so that a happy and healthy experience can be enjoyed by both.
Carve out quiet time & space for your introvert
As someone who enjoys being on the go and connecting with lots of people it takes real mindfulness to slow down and create quiet time and space for my introvert.
I’ve tackled this in two ways:
- Physical space: We live in a small house and our children do not have their own rooms but, with the help of a small area rug and a strategically placed shelf, I have managed to create a quiet and semi-private space for my young introvert. It’s close enough to our main living space that we’re close by, but private enough that it fulfills his need for quiet, alone-time.
- Time & attention – I’ve also learned to make one-on-one time with him a priority. He craves this and comes alive when I make dedicated time for him and bring my full attention to our time spent together. One simple solution to feed this need was to put him to bed just the two of us instead of doing it together with his younger sister. I’ve found taking this small amount of time to connect with him helps nurture that one-on-one connection.
Because we are a family of extroverts we frequently attend large family and community gatherings. Sometimes we need to leave earlier for him or it helps to take breaks by finding a quiet space at the event to have some downtime to relax and connect.
The more grounded my introvert is, the better he is able to cope when the environment is less than ideal for his liking.
Mindfully meet your needs so you can meet theirs
Similar to the advice we give new parents, this is particularly true for the extrovert parent homeschooling an introvert. You need to provide yourself with plenty of social and out of the house experiences.
Don’t just exercise at home — take a class. Join a book club that is fun and social. Actively set up social dates with your partner and friends. The more you can fulfill your social needs outside of your average homeschool day, the happier you’ll be spending time at home with your introvert.
This took me years to figure out, but now I know that taking an exercise class and going out regularly isn’t simply a “nice to have”, but rather an actual mental health need. Giving myself permission to take care of myself goes a long way in giving me the strength and patience to provide my children with the experience they need.
On a budget and can’t afford a babysitter every Saturday evening? We’ve been there. My partner and I regularly switch off our social nights and head out with friends. We were hesitant to do this at first because we wanted to go out together. But if the budget is tight, taking turns to go out socially eliminates the cost of the babysitter and cuts the cost of any entertainment or food in half.
Understanding our extrovert/introvert relationship has been something I have become aware of only in the past year or so. Learning about and being mindful of our varying personalities has been a gift to me and helps us create a lifestyle that feeds both of us.
Are you an extrovert homeschooling an introvert? How are you meeting your needs and theirs?