Do holiday parties and get-togethers have you wishing you were all alone on a deserted island? Or even better, at home alone with a good book and the “fireplace” channel? For all the introverted moms hiding in the pantry at a holiday party, instead of with the rest of the rowdy elves playing Dirty Santa…
Here is your Holiday Survival Guide!
Introverts are the people who need time alone to recharge and regain energy, while an extrovert regains energy through social interaction and stimulation. Introverted moms have the extra challenge of usually being the family member in charge of organizing holiday activities. That means that the introverted mom has to find a balance between participating in crowded activities and the alone-time she needs for her own well-being.
Acknowledge Your Feelings
Don’t judge yourself for your lack of enthusiasm at facing yet one more holiday gathering – your introversion is part of the whole package of who you are. The same trait that makes you an introvert also makes you an observant and thoughtful mom. It is helpful to admit to your family that the holidays can be more draining for you than enjoyable, and then to have some coping strategies in mind.
Planning Ahead – Take the Initiative to Guard Your Well-Being
Planning ahead lets you steer events and activities in a direction and with time limits that are most beneficial to you. Plan for time alone, and if by chance an opportunity comes up to get some solitude, take it! Enlist the help of your partner, kids, parents, or friends. You may have a fellow introvert who will trade a half-day of watching each other’s kids in exchange for some time alone.
Don’t say no to every crowded activity, but establish a time limit and balance it with more solitary activities. For example, if you are spending a day at the local pumpkin farm and corn maze, try to plan so that you have a day before or after with no extra activities to have some downtime. A visit to a busy Christmas store can be followed by a quick stop at the park for some fresh air and the re-grounding that nature can bring.
Take On a Task
As contradictory as it sounds, an introvert can often reduce her feelings of discomfort at having to be socially “on” by finding some task on which to focus. In particular for me, tasks that have a process to them, such as setting the table or helping to cut desserts, can have a calming effect.
Some tasks may even give you a temporary escape from the crowded circumstances. Be the one who makes an emergency trip to the grocery store for whipped cream, or to the liquor store for more wine. If you traveled, go by yourself to gas up the car for the return trip. Offer to take out the trash, or take the family pet out for a bit – and enjoy the stroll while you are at it.
Choose How You Will Participate
We often feel obligated to attend holiday gatherings because of work, church, or family. However, it is important to participate on your own terms and comfort level.
Family gatherings are a wonderful time to catch up with relatives you don’t see often. For introverts, however, making small talk with several people you don’t know that well can be one of the hardest parts to tolerate. Try to find someone you really connect with, and retreat to a semi-private spot where you can visit one-on-one. After this conversational warm-up, you may feel more relaxed visiting with a variety of people.
When it comes to traditions, be sure to choose some that honor your introspective nature. Watching a favorite holiday movie together with only a few close friends, keeping a journal of thanksgiving, taking a walk in the first snowfall – are just a few examples of traditions that appeal to the reflective nature of the introvert.
Your Introverted Child
There is a strong genetic association with introversion, and you may find that your child also struggles to recharge after holiday gatherings and activities. Talking about the way different activities and destinations make us feel, and then planning options, may be a strategy that works for older kids. For younger introverted children, however, you may need to watch for signs of over-stimulation and exhaustion, and have an escape plan or alternate activity in mind.
Holiday circumstances can be challenging for introverts, especially for moms. With some forethought and prioritizing your own well-being, you can enjoy the holidays even in the midst of a crowd. Is there a part of the holiday season that you find especially challenging as an introverted mom? What strategies have helped you to cope?