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Fellow introverts and people who like being alone: how did you cope when you had children?

(45 Posts)
isleepfunnyhours Tue 25-Feb-14 03:06:05

I am in my early thirties and am feeling increasingly scared of the future. I have no family other than my (wonderful) parents but when they are gone it will just be me, unless I have children. The idea of being alone in the world with noone to love or to love me scares me so much but at the same time I have a bunch of health conditions that I think might make child rearing very difficult. To top it all off I am an introvert (something which I have only recently realised because I am outgoing and confident and have a lot of friends). Thus I feel I really need a lot of time alone and the idea of having to be around people every evening sounds awful. Did anyone else feel this way and go on to have kids? Is it different when they're your family? In some ways I think I'd be a good parent. I'm a nice person and kind and caring and I'm not judgemental over stupid things. But when I read on here about yet another man who's just packed up and left and become a part time McDonald's dad because he couldn't handle family life I do wonder if that would be me. Being a part time mum would suit me fantastically but I know it isn't really an option. Has anyone made parenting with a similar personality type work? Or would it just be really selfish to have kids? I'm single so this isn't a choice I'm facing at the moment and might never be but I feel I need to find some clarity.

vvviola Tue 25-Feb-14 03:31:17

I'm an introvert - although perhaps not as introverted as you.

There are days I really struggle (especially at the moment as I'm a reluctant SAHM for various reasons - my commute was often a godsend), and other days that I'm just so busy that it isn't a major issue.

But the things I have found that help:
- Working or studying full or part time (partly for the commute grin)
- Knitting: even if I'm sitting with DH watching TV, I find that knitting at the same time helps turn my focus inwards a bit
- Acknowledging that I am an introvert, and having DH acknowledge it too. Means that I can tell him I'm staying up late so I get some alone time and he doesn't take it personally.
- actually an understanding partner is key: before DD2 came along, my birthday present was often being sent away to a spa hotel by myself for a couple of nights - me, my books and a couple of massages.

There are times when it's harder. When I'm breastfeeding I find my tolerance for other people (not the baby obviously) being too closer or too intense is low - probably because I give all my energy to being close to the baby.

I don't think being introverted makes it too difficult to be a parent, provided you are aware of it and have strategies in place. I'm certainly a much better parent now that I have accepted that I need certain times in the day to mentally recharge.

I don't know if that has helped at all....

isleepfunnyhours Tue 25-Feb-14 04:26:01

Thanks for your answer vvviola - every personal experience is helpful and very much appreciated! I work from home which I love and I hope I can find someone who doesn't so I can at least have this time to myself when my kids (if I have any) are at school. It's the years before they get to school that worry me. But it sounds like you can be with your children ok without it having the same effect as other people in general? I agree it's important to find an understanding partner.

vvviola Tue 25-Feb-14 05:55:44

Don't get me wrong, my children drive me batty. Especially DD1 who is not only a complete extrovert, but also an incessant chatterbox (and DD2 looks to be heading the same way). But I think, for me at least, I can mostly get past that and they don't drain me as much as being around other people does. It helps too that they are in bed and asleep by 8pm grin

Naptime is also a godsend for that little bit of recharge time.

CocoBandicoot Tue 25-Feb-14 06:12:57

I'm an introvert and I don't yet have children - but to my surprise, when I met my DH I found that he was an exception to be need to be alone. I'm just as comfortable in his company as I am by myself. He's the only person I can say that about, but I'm hoping when I have children it will apply to them too.

isleepfunnyhours Tue 25-Feb-14 06:31:12

Thanks for your reply Coco! I've been searching on online dating sights for someone I feel like that about for years and I may never find him but it's encouraging to hear of someone else who has!

maparole Tue 25-Feb-14 06:47:22

Dealing with the opening of your post first, I think you should be wary of having children because you don't want to be on your own in old age: not really a strong enough reason, IMO.

As for coping with family life, you have to make your own space/time ... get up early or stay up late, have a "solo" hobby, go for long walks, hide out in your local library, or whatever. You also need a partner who understands that this is how you are.

Or, keep two separate households

carrie74 Tue 25-Feb-14 10:58:38

I'm introverted, but like you, am confident and social. I just need to be able to retreat as well.

When the children were younger, I found breastfeeding hard (being needed all. the. time), and I can't pretend that it didn't factor in my not breastfeeding for very long (6 weeks for Thing 1, 13 for Thing 2). But they both slept fairly well, and fell into a routine which gave me 2 hours over lunchtime to myself, and meant they were generally asleep by 7pm.

Once they were 2, they started going to pre-school (when Thing 1 turned 1, she started going to a nursery one day a week so I could have some time off. I was also PG with Thing 2, so it helped me rest too. I started working PT when Thing 2 was 10 months old), which gave me some down time, as did working.

They're both now at school (they're 8 & 6), I work 3 days, H is hands on when he's home, and it all works really well. The children get it if I tell them I'm having "mummy time" (I usually go upstairs and read while they sit in front of the electronic babysitter). TBH, as the kids get older, they become more and more independent. They're still in their rooms by 8-8:30, and if not asleep, they know it's adult time, and to stay in their rooms.

Of course there are times when it is overwhelming, but I think that applies to all parents, not just the introverted ones! You just create your style of living along the lines of what works for everyone, you included.

MatryoshkaDoll Tue 25-Feb-14 11:47:38

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

firesidechat Tue 25-Feb-14 13:36:56

I'm an introvert and I don't yet have children - but to my surprise, when I met my DH I found that he was an exception to be need to be alone. I'm just as comfortable in his company as I am by myself. He's the only person I can say that about, but I'm hoping when I have children it will apply to them too.

I would probably describe myself in the same way. My husband of 30 years is one of the only people who I can be with for very long periods and not get annoyed with. When I had children it was the same with them too. It's like they don't count as "others".

I would describe myself as a reasonably sociable introvert. I can have a conversation with anyone and do like spending time with my friends and family, but I need large amounts of time alone to recharge the batteries.

MorrisZapp Tue 25-Feb-14 13:43:20

I'm a sociable introvert too. I coped very badly when DS was born to be honest. But needs must and you have to face up to the lack of alone time in your new life. I work full time, on my own. So that is fab. I do love DSs company but I NEED to be alone quite a lot.

My DP has lots of hobbies and we agreed from the start that time away from home was repayable pro rata. So if he plays golf for four hours, I get four hours alone when he gets back. Not always of course, but it evens out.

Don't even consider having a kid unless you have a partner who is truly, truly able to do his fair share, and who is able to respect your own need for personal time as much as he does his own.

DP can quite happily take DS off on overnights, camping trips, to the doctor, anything. I wouldn't have had a kid with anybody who fell short of fully equal parenting.

And feel free to stop at one. Or have none. It's allowed.

KnitFastDieWarm Tue 25-Feb-14 13:49:46

this really resonates with me, as a fellow introvert who would love kids but is scared of the lack of alone time! will be interested to see everyone's responses.

CuntyBunty Tue 25-Feb-14 13:56:00

I am a loud, show off type in the right company, but I will die inside if I go too long without time alone.

I drink alot wink and daydream. It's not so bad now they are both at school, but there was many a day of wailing and gnashing of teeth. It was the hardest thing I have ever done and even now, I do sometimes say to my DC, or even to my husband, "please leave me alone". I also take myself off to my bedroom. Ma Walton I'm not, I'm afraid.

introvertygerty Tue 25-Feb-14 14:14:52

I am an introvert and for me the hardest part is that I always feel like I should be talking all the time (baby and toddler) as being the person who spends most time with them means that they need to learn to speak from me! I just tend to drift off into myself and forget to speak then feel bad about it. I try to sing a lot as that seems easier somehow. It doesn't help that we live overseas in dh's country so it is pretty much all down to me that they learn English.

I generally find being with a baby is a lot like being alone but the toddler is full on. I don't do a lot of meeting up with other mums, I do know other expat mums but live in a different part of the city so no-one drops in and I am pretty isolated. I can't integrate with the local community as I don't speak the language very well. This would probably be a nightmare for some people but does pretty much suit me.

maggiemight Tue 25-Feb-14 14:32:11

Once the DCs are here you just want them so much to be happy healthy individuals that your wants get sidelined and you just get on with it. I probably didn't talk to my DCs a lot but we did lots of stuff, always going for walks or to the park (that way they run off to play and you get peace smile not so much nursery etc in those days.

introvertygerty Tue 25-Feb-14 14:41:33

Yes maggiemight that is true, I also enjoy going places and doing things with my dcs, I just don't tend to bother to arrange to do stuff with other people that much. I am perfectly happy being with my dh and dcs though, although when dh recently had a couple of weeks off work it did start to get too much!

sewingandcakes Tue 25-Feb-14 14:48:56

I'm an introvert too, and I love my three boys.
I really need time to myself though.

I guess that young children will be napping/go to bed early, so you'd have time alone then. Older children will be at school during the day, and as far as teenagers go, I guess they'll be needing space themselves (I've not got to that point yet).

DH works from home at times, and I find it quite hard. I don't think there's anything wrong with telling your family "I need some space"; I do, anyway! I have depression, in part due to not having enough time to myself, and I am thinking about putting my 20 month old into childcare for one day a week to help with my recovery.

PETRONELLAS Tue 25-Feb-14 14:49:11

I've always thought I was extrovert but having 2 dcs is enough to make anyone's head explode at times. I love a bit of wall gazing and even a quick sit on the loo can be quite restorative!

sewingandcakes Tue 25-Feb-14 14:50:09

That said, I love being with all my children!

MorrisZapp Tue 25-Feb-14 15:05:36

Sewing, I hope you don't mind me poking my beak in here, but why isn't your youngest in childcare? Is it financial?

If you can afford it its a godsend. My DS started nursery at 6 months and has thrived. Not saying others should do this, but 20 months sounds easily old enough to be in childcare of some kind, particularly if you have depression as I did.

castlist Tue 25-Feb-14 15:07:29

I'm very much an introvert and need a lot of time to myself. I'm a sahm of a school aged child and I relish the time alone when DS is at school and DH is at work. It drives me up the wall when DH is off work if we aren't going away, I really need that quiet time to myself and just the presence of someone else in the house disrupts my balance.

DS is an only child and I was a LP when he was younger. He's quite introverted himself so we never had playdates or anything, he was happy to play by himself in one room while I would spend time on my own things in another. So I felt I still had time to myself even when he was in the pre-school years. I would never want more than one child as it would increase the noise/chaos factor massively.

I never liked the whole school gate culture or mixing with other families much - I would often spend time taking DS to leisure activities or on holiday but we would go around on our own, not with other families. I think there's more pressure these days to be a part of that but you don't really have to. DS is secondary aged now so those days are mostly behind us now.

Morrigu Tue 25-Feb-14 15:13:19

I've coped with difficulty at times I suppose but we've managed and now ds is 6 he's at the age where he's at school, after school clubs, out playing with friends or nose stuck in a game/tv so much easier. He is an incessant talker which can drive me batty but you learn to tune out the drivel and hear the important stuff grin

Hardest part for me is the early years - especially the won't leave you alone, want to clamber over you all the time phase. The me and my shadow bit. Dd I found especially hard as she also co-sleeps so I feel like I don't get my space even at night-time.

I've been a lp since oldest was 2 and pregnant with youngest. It's a double-edged sword in that you have to be there for them 24/7 and no chance of an hour break for a bath and some peace. On the other hand I'm guaranteed blissful alone time every week to recharge my batteries.

I will admit to sometimes hiding in the toilet for five extra minutes for a breather. Nap times are a godsend when they are younger or when they are babies a nap in the buggy and you can plonk your headphones in for a half hour.

I love them to pieces though and really couldn't imagine my life without them.

Lweji Tue 25-Feb-14 15:14:47

I'm not sure how introvert I am to be honest, but I do like having time to myself.
I enjoy DS's company, though, although he is also one who likes having his own time and doesn't require constant attention.

PlumpPartridge Tue 25-Feb-14 15:56:38

Another introvert type here. I have two DSs and they more or less amuse themselves, for which I am endlessly grateful!

I need to hide from them every so often, but the joy they bring to my life at other times makes up for it.

I went away for the weekend recently and actually missed them. I told work colleagues this and they were like shock isn't that normal? I felt a bit blush because it really did come as a shock!

Having said all that, you don't HAVE to have kids. Maybe volunteering and caring for animals is more your thing, as that's a bit more opt-in, opt-out.

sewingandcakes Tue 25-Feb-14 16:31:26

MorrisZapp it's never occurred to me that I could put him on childcare without it being for work reasons! It was only last week that I thought of it; shows how depression can affect your thinking! I'm starting a new job soon and I think the knowledge that I'll have more money has helped me make this decision. Ds3 will definitely benefit too.

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