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?
Anne @ Modern Mrs Darcy
I’m an introvert, but I love these tips, and especially love the perspective that taking care of our own needs is essential for our mental health and well-being as homeschooling parents!
Now for my own little introverts, I think we need a strategically placed bookshelf and area rug, stat!
Anne @ Modern Mrs Darcy’s latest post: The Really Short Version of Why We Traded Private School for Home Education
I’m an introvert parent with a child who is both actually, he is comfortable doing homeschool activities introvert “style” as equally as extroverted activities so I rely on my husband for help and ideas. I sure wish my parents were as perceptive as you are because it can be a tumultuous childhood for an introvert to have so many social activities with no down time like I did. Or vice versa. Good job!
My daughter and I are introverts but my so seems to be a bit of both. The quiet space and one-on-one time are great recommendations. Also, my daughter really craves one-on-one play with other children. I would love an article on an introvert homeschooling an extrovert, and having both introvert and extrovert homeschooled children.
Anecdote that may be helpful to those with introverted children: my daughter’s friend is highly social and was asking her how she could stand not see her friends every day. My daughter explained that she sees her friends once a week at a homeschool group we attend. Her friend thought this sounded like torture while my daughter thought once a week was enough. Of course, we see friends and others more frequently than once a week, but only have the one large group commitment per week.
Interesting idea. I’m hs my 1 1/2 year old so not sure what she’ll be yet. I don’t know if you knew or I missed it in your article, but I read that being an introvert or extrovert is related to how you re-energize. I’m talkative and social and there a probably a lot of people who would think I was an extrovert, but after a long day I need to be alone to re-energize: introvert. My sister, also social and talkative, after a long day wants to hang out with her friends: extrovert.
So there is a difference between actions and how we get our energy back. Your child might be a shy person who may be an extrovert bc they need to talk to re-energize. Or a social butterfly who crashes at the end if the day and wants to be alone. I think it’s an important component to figuring out how best to help.
We are balancing a lot of different personalities and it can be a little tricky. I am extrovert, my husband is an introvert and our kids are a pretty good mixture. So we do a lot of social activities for the kids but try to give the introverts their down time. I go out for a Girls Night Out once a month – we just get together, play games and laugh hysterically – cheap, fun and an absolute must for me.
Definitely interesting to hear about other personality types. I’m a definite introvert and must have stay at home days and some alone (thinking) time for my survival. My middle daughter loves homeschooling but is out of the house almost every day of the week now, at 13ys. She loves and needs this time out and about (she’s in a band, piano lessons, volunteering, a youth group, babysitting, playing sports, etc.). While this exhausts me it is so easy to see that she flourishes with this activity. With teenagers, just staying home isn’t always enough quiet time for me (they talk to me non-stop or want my attention in other ways). So once a week I head to a coffee shop, put in earphones, and study or read. Most mornings I also walk on my treadmill in the basement and caution my kids to NOT disturb me for a half hour.
Any recommendations or tools to help figure out what your kids are?
here’s a little site you can read about the types and figure out what you think they sound most like. Also, it’s about where they get their energy, from being around others or being alone. When they feel overwhelmed what helps? A trip out among others, or some alone time? I hope this helps. We all need some of both, but it’s mostly about where we fit on a large spectrum. If extreme Extroversion is 100% and extreme Introversion is 0%, which side are they on most of the time.
Lana Wilkens’s latest post: Right where I want to be