Anxiety makes us bad decision-makers.
Pandemic-related anxiety caused me to make a doozy of a bad decision last March.
I converted my home office into a bedroom, and converted the family den into a home office.
It seemed like a good decision at the time. An additional bedroom meant each of my 4 girls could have her own room. And the family den, with its solid wall of windows overlooking the backyard and pool, is the best space in the house–clearly meant to be enjoyed by the person who does all of the laundry.
Here’s the problem. I’m an introvert. I need quiet to concentrate. I’d rather write than talk. Solitude recharges me. You get the gist.
Losing my home office, with its sound-proof door and remote location in the house, put me into a self-destruct zone.
Despite the presence of my office furniture and diplomas on the wall, the rest of the family continued to enjoy the best space in the house. No doors sealing off the space meant there was a steady stream of traffic. My Zoom “background?” 4 kids and a dog walking laps around my desk.
My extroverted husband? The one who craves company and can’t stand to be alone with his thoughts? Bought himself a matching desk and moved into my new space. When he’s not using it, it’s become an auxiliary work space for the girls. Again, this is supposed to be my space.
There IS such a thing as too much time at home for introverted moms
You would think having no social obligations to worry about and a legitimate reason to spend lots of time at home would be great for introverts.
For introverted parents like me, home is not the refuge it once was with the family always around. I find it much harder than my extroverted husband to stay happy and socially connected. He lives for his Zoom happy hours with college buddies. I, on the other hand, really miss having a quiet cup of coffee with a friend. Just one friend.
Also challenging? Fulfilling the social needs of my kids, now that playdates and team sports are out.
The parenting experts who always preached about not being your kid’s friend obviously never anticipated kids being stuck at home for months on end during a pandemic.
Three ways for an introverted mom to survive pandemic parenting
Rather than remaining in the self-destruct zone and risk leaving my family without someone to do their laundry, I got to work strategizing how to find the time and space I needed to recharge myself.
Here are 3 ways this introverted mom is surviving pandemic parenting.
Telling my family when I need my time alone
If you need time to yourself, don’t just ghost your family by sneaking off to your bedroom. Or worse, explode in frustration when your family can’t read your mind.
I tell my family that I need 15 minutes to myself, make sure the kids have an activity to keep them occupied, and then go into another room and shut the door. And enjoy the silence.
Scheduling alone time and creating a solo space
I didn’t switch the rooms back or kick my husband out of my new office space.
What I have done is to be deliberate in creating time and space for myself.
My husband and I have scheduled regular times on the weekends when he takes the kids out of the house.
As for space, I’ve had to be a little more creative. I’ve created a tiny work nook in my bedroom (which has a door with a deadbolt lock) for when I’m having difficulty concentrating in my home office. My favorite hack? Renting a hotel room for a day to use as an office. I live within a few minutes of a cluster of airport hotels and can usually get a room in the $59-79 price range.
Setting ground rules with my family
Love my husband, but he is loud. Even when he’s not trying to be. In 16 years of marriage, I don’t think I’ve ever heard the man whisper.
After a few weeks of listening to him bellow his way through conference calls, I worked with him to find places other than my office where he can shout, I mean talk, on the phone. A parked car in the driveway works well. As does an outdoor workspace we have recently set up in our backyard.
As for the kids, they are required to wear headphones for video watching, including Zoom classes.
And when mom puts on her rose gold Bose noise-cancelling headphones? She’s unavailable, even though you can still see her.
Are you an introverted mom? What are your tips for saving your sanity when the family is always around?