On Being An Extroverted Homeschool Mom (Sort Of)

Somewhere between being a teenager and an adult, I became an extrovert.

As a teen, I was always quiet in groups, and if I had an afternoon to myself with a cup of tea and a book, I couldn't ask for better than that.  But when I was newly married, I took a Myers-Briggs personality test, and was only a borderline introvert.  The next time I took it, I was a borderline extrovert.

My theory now is that I was always an extrovert, just with a well-developed introverted side.  People always have both, they always are extroverted and introverted, just to different degrees and in different ways.  As I've learned since, being quiet in groups doesn't mean you are introverted.  It may just be that you haven't found a group you've clicked with.  As I became an adult, I had more opportunity to seek out friend groups of people that I wanted to be around, and I found that I loved hanging out with other people, when they were the right people.

That was why, when I entered the very introvert-inclined phase of new motherhood, I bundled my baby up anyway and made an effort to get out of the house.  We made friends at my church's mom group.  My baby and I met up for coffee dates with friends or a trip to the zoo on my days off.  I organized parties and girl's nights out.  I embraced my extroverted side, and we had a pretty full calendar and healthy social life.

Even adding more kids didn't stop me.  When we had two, then three, and four, I still planned outings almost weekly.  I didn't like to stay home.  If we could be out doing things and seeing people, that is what we did.

Once, as I was on the brink of the school years, I had a conversation with a friend concerning whether it would be hard to be a homeschool mom as an extrovert.  Wouldn't it be soul-draining, being stuck at home?  I told her that I didn't think so.  The great part about homeschooling is that it's flexible.  We can still have coffee with a friend in the morning and do school in the afternoon.  As the kids get bigger, schoolwork can be done in the car.  And then there are all the field trip opportunities and homeschool groups and co-ops.  I was pretty confident my social life wouldn't need to suffer just because we were homeschooling.

Overall, I was right.  It's not hard to keep up on a social life while homeschooling.  There are plenty of opportunities to extrovert.

But the thing is, I've felt a shifting in my personality again over the last year or so.  I still want and need days out of the house, and time to visit with other adults.  But over the last year of homeschooling, I've felt my heart turn back toward home.

I've come to treasure and look forward to my days at home just as much as my days out.  When we stay home, I can bake cookies and read my books (my love for books never waned).  When we stay home, we can be leisurely with our schoolwork and even get ahead of schedule if we feel like it.  When we stay home, we have time to sing hymns, and memorize Bible verses and catechism, and have poetry tea time.  When we stay home, the kids have time to run and play and be imaginative and grow in their friendship with each other.  When we stay home, I have more time to blog (fancy that)!

Maybe this shift isn't too surprising, since I've always been in the middle of the introvert/extrovert scale.  But I also think this is a blessing from the Lord.  Because yes, to homeschool, you do need to be at home sometimes.  It's His mercy to me that He has helped me rediscover this love for home right when I need it.  I'm still an extrovert, and I find ways to fulfill my extrovert needs as a homeschool mom.  But it's a grace that we are never all extrovert or all introvert - we are always, somehow, both.

Ways To Satisfy Your Extrovert Side While Homeschooling 

-Get involved in a co-op or Bible study (it's social time that also counts as school hours).
-Find some homeschool friends and plan regular field trips.
-Invite friends over for Poetry Tea Time.
-Be flexible (ex. shift your homeschool routine one day so you can have a playdate with friends).
-Plan at-home events with your kids (poetry tea time in the afternoon once a week, craft day, science experiment day, etc.)  Even if you stay home, it's helpful to have something different to look forward to!
-Take time to text friends or connect with other homeschool moms online on your days at home.
-Plan "mom's night out" days with friends.

Ways To Embrace Your Introvert Side While Homeschooling

-Appreciate the more leisurely pace when you stay home.
-Do something you enjoy that you can only do at home (read a book, bake, draw/paint, etc).
-Light candles.  Cuddle under blankets.  Embrace the coziness.
-Daily quiet time/silent reading hour (I don't think this will ever go away in our house).

Are you an extrovert or an introvert?  Do you ever have a hard time balancing those personality needs with your real life demands?

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Elizabeth said...

Oh, funny. I just wrote a post about homeschooling. I wouldn't have guessed you were an extrovert! I think it partly depends on how you recharge. As a single Christian missionary I just knew I needed to stay active. I know that I grow more spiritually when I'm in fellowship. So, for many years I did have a thriving social life as I knew that it was healthy. Even though at the same time, group outings were exhausting. So I guess I would describe myself as a social introvert. Anyway, I could ramble on and on about that. But to answer your second question, yes, it is hard when you have kids and can't necessarily choose what would be your optimal amount of social activity. Either we make plans with friends and the kids get sick, or the introvert in me doesn't like socializing with the other moms. Less contact with people means that it takes longer to grow new friendships-something already hard for me as an introvert. And then with alone time, I sometimes realize that I just don't get enough of it in a given day. And that's not always something we can control as parents.

Rachel said...

I lean more heavily on the introvert side. I think the great part about homeschooling is, even if you are more socially inclined, is that kids are people, too! And being with kids all day is quite social, and involves all sorts of conversational opportunities (of course, I may be showing my introverted side, here...).

Natalie@She Builds Her Home said...

I would say I am more of an introvert. I see what you mean about us all being somewhat of both. I think people would be surprised that I am an introvert because I am pretty extroverted and friendly. I enjoy being with other people and often plan events for people. But it's at home that I find myself most recharged (and often need to just spend an hour locked in my room alone!) Also I can feel really drained after social events, or on Sundays when I've spent several hours serving at church, then attending church, and also socializing-I am usually exhausted on Sunday afternoons because it just takes a lot out of me. It took me a long time to figure out that's what it was-I used to just feel like "why am I grumpy?!" when really I wasn't grumpy, I was just a little drained. Now I know I can take 30-60 mins alone to recharge and it helps a lot! So in that sense homeschooling hasn't been too much of a challenge, but I feel like we get out and socialize a lot, too, I just don't feel the need for it every single day like some people might! I think we, like you, seem to have found a good balance, which is a blessing!

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