What parenting as an introvert is really like

No matter what stage of parenting we're in, so much of it is counter to what comes naturally to us.

What parenting as an introvert is really like

"Mom!" says the 9-year-old. "Band's in room 9. I don't even know where room 9 IS! Do you?"

"Mom!" says the 7-year-old. "I got two stars today! Remember stars? I told you about them after the first day of school. I got TWO today!"

"Mom!" says the 4-year-old. "I see Vivian! Can I go show her my new dress?"

My ears take all of this in within the first 30 seconds of greeting the kids after school. Our walk home is punctuated with 12 million pressing questions and excited declarations (interspersed with complaints and protests).

"Put your backpacks away, wash your hands, and get your homework out!" I remind them as they take off their shoes. "I'll make a snack."

It's the end of the week, and I've done this five days in a row. I can sense that my agitation threshold is just about met.

Where once I might have pressed on—powered through snack time at the table, complete with the smell of sweaty, never-still boys and a spilled cup of milk at the hands of our little lady—today I do something different.

Trying something new

"Guys," I say. "I need a few minutes of quiet. Can you work on unloading your backpacks while I go to my room for a few minutes? I'll be out soon."

I take a deep breath, hoping it'll work. The boys agree, no problem, but I can tell our 4-year-old would rather follow on my heels.

I bend down to her eye level and reiterate myself:

"Honey, I can feel myself turning into Cranky Mom. I'll feel better if I have just a few minutes alone. Do you think you could get the cups out and set a drink of water on the table for you and your brothers? I'll be out when you're done."

She looks at me long and hard (well, for at LEAST one whole second), and I can see her deciding whether to take the bait.

"Okay, Mama. I'll get the cups."

Phew. I sigh and retreat to my room, desperate for those five precious, quiet minutes before I launch myself back into the fray.

Parenting as an introvert

Parenting as an introvert is like having an out-of-body experience. No matter what stage of parenting we're in, so much of it is counter to what comes naturally to us. For example:

1. We need our solo time. It's impossible for us to be our best selves without it.

"For introverts, this sacred time is just as important as sleep!" Emma Scheib

2. We resist noise, interruptions, and disorder—all of which kids specialize in.

Sometimes we meet our kids' playful yelling with yelling of our own (and not the playful kind), because we just can't handle the noise. Many of us are at our wit's end with the messes; the clutter of toys and crafts and school paperwork is just too much. And where we could happily get lost in a book, or even our own thoughts, for hours at a time, kids supply constant interruptions. Motherhood is intense for introverts.

3. We don't like having to think on our feet and respond before we've processed.

When was the last time you tried to reason with a willful toddler (or teen!)? Parenting often requires quick thinking, where we'd prefer time to process.

4. We wish traditional phones had never existed, and kids mean a surprising amount of phone calls.

Play dates, doctor's appointments, school-related conversations, etc.

5. We can struggle to build a supportive village at a time when we need it most.

Raising kids feels exponentially easier when you have friends and family to rely on, from emotional support to someone to call in a pinch. And although we introverts are loyal friends once we're in a friendship, getting there isn't always easy for us.

6. Our children need us to be their champions, their advocates.

As kids grow, their needs expand beyond the four walls of home. They often want to join sports teams and dance troupes and go on band tours that require parent chaperones. (Heaven help us.) Sometimes they need an adult to stand up for them, to make sure they get that IEP or are placed in the right classes or on the right teams.

Challenges aside, there are things that we excel at. Some aspects of our introverted personalities make us uniquely strong parents. The key is identifying those strengths and playing to them—and letting go of the guilt over the things we are not.

Originally posted on The Life On Purpose Movement.

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My village lives far away—but my Target baby registry helped them support me from afar

Virtual support was the next best thing to in-person hugs

They say you shouldn't make too many major life transitions at once. But when I was becoming a mama for the first time nearly five years ago, my husband and I also moved to a new town where we didn't know a soul, bought our first house and changed jobs.

To put it mildly, we didn't heed that advice. Luckily, our family and friends still made it feel like such a magical time for us by supporting our every move (literal and otherwise) from afar. They showered us with love through a virtual baby shower (expectant parents nowadays can relate!) featuring the unwrapping of gifts they were able to ship straight to me from my Target registry.

Here's one piece of advice I did take: I registered at Target so I could take advantage of the retailer's benefits for registrants, which include a welcome kit valued over $100, a universal registry function and more. Fast-forward a few years and Target has made the registration perks even better for expectant parents: As of August 2020, they've added a Year of Exclusive Deals, which gives users who also sign up for Target Circle a full year of savings after baby is born on all those new mama essentials, from formula to diapers and beyond.

Honestly, even without the significant perks of a free welcome kit with more than $100 in coupons, additional 15% off coupons to complete the registry and a full year of free returns, registering at Target wasn't a hard sell for me: Even though the experience of shopping for baby items was new, shopping with Target felt like returning home to me… and the comfort of that was such a gift.

And of course, Target's registry plays a vital role right now, as expectant parents everywhere are being forced to cancel in-person baby showers and navigate early parenthood without the help of a hands-on village. A registry like this represents a safe way for communities to come through for new parents. If you're anything like me (or any of the other mamas here at Motherly), you certainly have emotional ties and fond memories associated with Target.

What to register for at Target was also an easy talking point as I began to connect with moms in my new community. I will always remember going on a registry-building spree with my next door neighbor, who had young children of her own. As we walked the aisles of Target back in 2015, she suggested items to add… and we laid the foundation for what has since become one of my most cherished friendships.

Even as I made connections in my new hometown, I was nervous that expecting my first baby wouldn't feel as special as if I were near family and friends. But my loved ones exceeded all expectations by adding the most thoughtful notes to gifts. They hosted a beautiful virtual baby shower and even encouraged me to keep the registry going after my baby made his debut and new needs arose.

In the years since, "community" has taken on a wonderfully complex new meaning for me… and, in these times of social distancing, for the rest of the world. I've come to cherish my newfound friends in our local community alongside those long-time friends who are scattered around the county and my virtual mama friends.

Now, as my friends' families grow, I'm so grateful that I can show them the same love and support I felt during my first pregnancy. I sing the praises of Target's baby registry—especially in light of the pandemic, since I know mamas can do everything from a distance thanks to Target's website and the added benefit of getting trusted reviews and helpful registry checklists.

And now that I'm on the gift-buying side of the equation, I've found new joy in picking thoughtful gifts for my friends. (Because goodness knows Target has something for everyone!)

For my friend who is a fellow runner, I teamed up with a few others to give the jogging stroller she had on her registry.

For my friend who is a bookworm, I helped her start her baby's library with a few books that are also well-loved in our home.

For other friends, I've bundled together complete "sets" with everything they need for bathing or feeding their children.

I know from my own experience that, yes, the registry purchases are so appreciated, but the thoughtfulness and the support they represent means even more. Because although my village may have been distant, the support they showed me was the next best thing to in-person hugs.

Start your own Target Baby Registry here to experience a Year of Benefits including a Year of Exclusive Deals through Target Circle to enjoy for a full year following your baby's arrival, a year of free returns, two 15% off completion coupons and a free welcome kit ($100 value).

This article was sponsored by Target. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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