I know the feeling. You so desperately want to join one of those play groups with your little one, but every time you go to sign up, you make a rationalized excuse; I don’t have time, what if he doesn’t like it? You know your little one needs to socialize and play with other kids but how can you teach them that when being around too many people at once drains you like no other, not to mention children.
I’m here to help. I am an introvert and I have two boys. One is 5 and one is 2. With our first child I made huge mistakes socially with him and we are still paying for them today. So I’m going to share my experience in hopes, that you can learn from my mistakes and also give you some coping skills to try and help push you outside of the nest. (Just a little, I promise)
So, when my son was born I was a married, 20 year old, depressed mess. We moved from Illinois to Missouri when we turned 18 to work and I was isolated from all of my friends and family. When I had him, we had just moved back to Illinois, and still were a little ways away. I didn’t know anyone besides our neighbors who were family and had grown up children. The only children in our family at that point were already 3 & 4 years old. I was also a stay at home mom once I had him, so I didn’t have a job to meet new people at. And let’s face it, at 20 there aren’t a whole lot of married people having children. None of my friends were at the point in their lives to have children.
So me and my son just spent every waking moment together. He went everywhere with me, did everything and got to go visit his grandparents who always took him on grand adventures to the zoo and such. He was talking and absorbing information like a sponge but when we would take him to the parks to play, he would generally play by himself and stayed away from the other kids. I didn’t think anything about it.
Then we went for screening for preschool. He passed the academic portion with flying colors, but didn’t do so well in the social/behavior department. So they told me their goal would be to get him into a classroom around other kids and get him learning social cues such as sharing and playing and things like that. Never in a million years would I have ever thought this would’ve been a problem. I feel like I live a good life, so why wouldn’t he be? Little did I know how much this would impact him.
Fast forward to child number 2. At this point I had been introduced to birth to 3 classes and I took advantage of those. I learned a lot and had a lot of people to bounce ideas off of. I didn’t really make any friends for the kids to hang out with outside of class though, so eventually the will to go withered away.
I do have a niece and nephew who I have over to play as much as I can. And I do have a few friends with kids that come over and play and we go to parties and such. What I’ve learned in all of this is that if it’s just going to be kids, I can handle around 4 hours before I need to recharge and start getting snippy. If the parents are coming to, about 2 hours. I also have found that doing something while they’re there that allows me to do something alone is helpful. Like cooking dinner. It gives me little moments where I’m alone cooking or making plates or picking up. These help. And generally after these play dates I am exhausted so I try to clean while everyone is getting ready to leave since I won’t have energy to later.
I haven’t really been able to actively seek out mom groups or play dates with strangers. The mom groups I have joined are so judgmental and mom shaming is everywhere and I can’t be around it. It’s also difficult to find people who get me. But we’re doing what we can.
The biggest thing I have learned in all of this it to make yourself go somewhere, even if it’s just putting them in the stroller and walking around the block.
Another huge thing I’ve learned is never take your children somewhere that overwhelms you, alone. So for instance, if you get overwhelmed at Walmart by the number of people, or sounds and colors the worst idea is to bring your kids with you. Especially on an already bad day. Stick to what your comfortable with, while also going outside your comfort zone. Let those babies play at the mall. You don’t have to strike up a conversation with the moms and be best friends but you can let the kids play and enjoy themselves.
Number one just finished kindergarten and although we had to get through some ADHD things he couldn’t control, his emotional trouble stemmed from him not having that socialization he needed to learn the rules of life. I’m hoping I’m doing better with number two. We will see I guess when he goes for preschool.
Are there any thoughts or ideas you can share that have helped you as an introverted mom or dad? Please comment below and don’t forget to subscribe!