Homeschooling for Introverts: Finding Time to Recharge

Introverted vs. Extroverted seems to be a very popular topic online lately.  There are quizzes to find out which one you are (just in case you’re not sure), tips for living with one or the other, and definitions galore.  Many people confuse introversion with shyness, but they’re not the same thing.  An introvert can be outgoing and an extrovert can be shy – although, in my experience, that’s relatively rare.

The basic difference is this: does being around other people energize you (extrovert) or drain you (introvert)?

I’m definitely an introvert, and this affects every area of my life, including homeschooling.  While I’m certain there are challenges associated with being an extroverted homeschooler, I’ll let someone else address those.  Instead, I’ll stick to writing about what I know.  I hope to address some of the biggest challenges in a series of posts, beginning with this one.

I am often asked to name my biggest challenge or struggle in homeschooling.  My answer: homeschooling is the easy part; the difficulty is the rest of the day.  While we’re actually “doing school,” there’s a certain amount of structure and routine.  Essentially, everyone knows what they’re supposed to be doing (although actually doing it is sometimes another matter).

One might think that homeschooling is perfect for an introvert, and in many ways it is.  I have the option of spending entire days at home.  But I don’t have the option of spending entire days away from people.  I love my children dearly, but they, too, drain me of energy when I’m around them all day long.  I have had to find ways to get “alone time” even when we’re all in the house together.  Here are some suggestions:

1.  Eat lunch at the Teachers’ Table.

We do the majority of our school time in the morning, so by lunchtime, I’m needing a mental break.  I’ve found that it’s best for all involved if I eat alone in my bedroom.  I watch some show I’ve recorded, surf Facebook, and just generally rest my brain.  This allows me to recharge.

2.  Declare Quiet Reading Time.

Not only is it good for children to learn to enjoy reading for academic reasons, it also creates a quiet atmosphere.  Things seem to reach a fever pitch at our house around 4:00pm until their Daddy gets home, so unless they’re outside playing, I like to make that Quiet Time.  That way, I can get supper prepared in peace, and I can greet my husband with a smile instead of a sigh of exasperation.

3.  Train the children to understand that Mama needs alone time.

My children are getting better at understanding this about me, but it has taken some time.  I’ve found it’s also very helpful if I give a bit of extra attention beforehand and ask if there’s anything they need from me before I go off to do whatever I’m going to do.  Otherwise, they’re knocking on the door every 5 minutes asking for this or that.

4.  Wake up a little earlier in the morning.

This one is tough for me, I admit.  But the more I can accomplish before they’re awake, the better.  My son is an early-riser, but he’s generally content by himself until time to start school.  My daughter, on the other hand, will sleep longer but then wants someone’s full attention once she’s up.  Once they’re both awake, it’s difficult to get much done.  Days just run more smoothly if I’m completely dressed and ready for the day before the second one gets out of bed.

Admittedly, most of these were not possible a few years ago when they were younger, so I understand that some of you may be thinking, “Yeah, right!”  But let me encourage you that it is possible to develop some of these habits with your children as they get older, so take heart.  In the meantime, let me encourage you to still somehow carve out a bit of time for yourself each day, even if it’s only ten minutes.  If you’re a true introvert like me, it is to everyone’s benefit that you find a way to recharge.  You’re not being selfish!

So talk to me, fellow introverts: how do you find time to recharge when your kids are always at home?