As an introvert, and a mother of two children under 8 years old, summertime used to stress me out, which in turn would trigger major mom-guilt. What kind of mom doesn’t love summer!? I would scold myself. (Note: practice kinder self-talk.)
Summer is supposed to be this joyful time of togetherness, memory-making and squealing children dancing in the sprinklers, but the idea of being constantly surrounded by people (even my own people), and frenetic summertime energy – honestly, it used to make me anxious.
If you’re in the same boat, or maybe this sounds like someone in your family, take comfort in knowing a couple of things:
- You’re not alone. Somewhere between 30-50% of people identify as introverts. That means there are a whole lot of parents (and kids!) who need a less frenetic summer to feel rested and recharged.
- It’s OK! We can honor and respect our natural disposition by creating space for our souls to thrive, even (and especially) when the season can become chaotic. (See also: Christmas time.)
Over the years, rather than scolding myself for my introverted nature, I’ve begun looking at the different facets of myself: body, mind and soul and asking a few guiding questions to help me determine what I need to thrive and feel nourished over the summer, and avoid social burnout and anxiety. Then, I take the answers to those questions, and make a plan that will protect the time and space I need to deliver on them to myself. (Hint: It helps to have your significant other on-board with the plan from the start. And it can be a really enriching exercise to go through this process together!)
Now, I want to make sure I’m being completely real here. Most of us can’t clock-out on some blissful, introvert summertime fantasy vacation (but if you can – Go get it, Girl!). But with some self-awareness, this summer can be one that nurtures your natural disposition, without dampening that of the extroverts in your family.
I hope these questions help guide you in creating the space you need to thrive, so that on the other side of this summer you feel like a nourished, renewed version of yourself. I included my answers to help articulate some possible responses.
- What can I look forward to this summer that will give me a sense of ease and enjoyment in my physical body? Is there something unique about the summer that my body enjoys?
Sunshine! I love laying on a beach towel in the sun, usually with a good book, or sometimes just to nap. I can do this a few times a week while the baby naps.
- What can I look forward to that will nurture my mind? Is there an issue or idea that I’ve wanted to explore? What books or podcasts come to mind?
I can’t wait to read more about the 9 Enneagram types, and how they interact in relationships. Book: “The Path Between Us,” by Suzanne Stabile, Podcast: Ian Cron’s “Typology.” I can listen to these while I’m doing housework, or while I’m laying out in the sunshine.
- What can I look forward to that will nourish my soul? Who are the people who leave me feeling refreshed, or with whom I feel a sense of sisterhood?
Spending time with people who leave me feeling refreshed and a sense of sisterhood. I’m planning to see more of Kelly (who I met at MOPS!) and Krista. Since Kelly and Krista have littles, we can do play dates during the day, and since Krista is artsy-fartsy like me, we can make it a point to go to at least one “Art-After-Dark” event in my town.
If you’re like most moms, you’ve spent a considerable amount of time planning various camps and classes and trips for your children over the summer. How could this summer be different for you, if you approached your summertime with similar intentionality? Consider making the time to ponder these guiding questions, and jot down some notes on whatever is close at hand: on the back of a receipt or the notes app on your phone. It doesn’t have to look perfect, or be on just the right paper – just get the thoughts down. Then make a plan.
No, this practice won’t magically transport you to the perfect introvert-paradise, but the simple knowledge that you have something to look forward to that nurtures your natural disposition can be enough to propel you through the next high-energy summer activity, and give you the sense of peace you need to enjoy it.
Melissa Jenna Godsey is a mother of two, a business-owner, and a writer based in San Luis Obispo, California. She offers encouragement, wisdom and truth for walking in love toward who we’re called to be. Come alongside her on Instagram at @melissajenna, and at melissajenna.com.