We’re now a year into this pandemic, but I often feel like it just began. At the same time, it also feels like this madness started a lifetime ago. Anyone else experiencing this conundrum?
As a highly sensitive person (HSP), I feel like I’m still reeling from all that unfolded last March, and I’m definitely still processing the infamous year of 2020. Yet, I can hardly remember when I casually dined out with my husband, setup play dates without quarantining, and left the house without monitoring mask-wearing, social distancing, and hand-washing. What a luxury!
But most of all, it feels like forever since I had alone time. No hubby. No kids. Just me.
Initially, when news broke last March 2020 of this new coronavirus sweeping the nation and a mandated quarantine soon followed, I was actually kind of thrilled!
Let me be clear, I was not pleased that hundreds of thousands were hospitalized and many lives were being lost to the virus. I may be introverted, but I’m not heartless. But for an introvert, being told to stay home to slow the spread of the virus felt like a dream come true!
You mean, I can actually indulge in all my favorite pastimes without being viewed as lazy, anti-social, or a loner? Yes, please!
Lavishly staying in my pajamas all day, getting lost in books, binge-watching my favorite TV shows, actually having time to think and process life without rushing off to work or a social outing, and ordering take-out with no remorse because now it’s considered “supporting local businesses.” Okay, I guess that last one isn’t unique to introversion, but you get the idea. I could get used to this life!
I was even thrilled that my favorite people were now home under one roof! My husband who typically traveled every week is now working from home, and our fast-growing preschooler is now homeschooled by his sentimental mommy who’d just been wishing time would slow down so she can holdfast to his youth.
It truly felt like a dream come true!
But like any fantasy turned into reality, I quickly realized I had romanticized quarantining with my family, overlooking the very real obstacles and sacrifices.
Like when my part-time job as a dance instructor switched to remote-learning and I needed to put in extra hours to record dance classes, all while corralling my rambunctious preschooler who had no patience for Mommy’s technological difficulties and multiple retakes. Or when my child’s preschool lessons interfered with my strong desire to crawl back in bed to escape the COVID world for just a few more hours. Or when my alone time to write and process through the year’s many (personal and global) traumatic events was often cut short by the very real and practical demands of loving and caring for my family.
After only a couple short months, quarantining at home with my boys started to feel a bit claustrophobic.
I mean, I love my family. Really, I do. I just don’t want to be around them 24/7. And certainly not during one of the most emotionally exhausting years for this highly sensitive introvert. Truth be told, being under the same roof all the time is really throwing off my equilibrium as an introvert.
So in times like this, I need a few extra tricks up my sleeve to escape the blues so I don’t become too overwhelmed. Over the past year, I have slowly discovered a few ways I can maintain a sense of equilibrium as an introverted mom living during a pandemic.
Here are five ways to escape the pandemic blues as a highly sensitive, introverted mom:
1.) Schedule Daily “Quiet, Alone Time”
It’s not enough to have an allotted “quiet time” as an introverted mom. Because more often than not, that quiet time turns into reading books to our young children. Or cuddling with our kids as we watch their favorite TV shows. Those may be quiet and enjoyable activities, but it’s a far cry from the “alone time” every introvert needs to refuel their tank.
If you’re a mom of babies and toddlers, this may mean you’ll need to coordinate your quiet, alone time around your little one’s sleep schedule. For moms of preschoolers and older, you can actually schedule “quiet, alone time” into your family’s daily routine when everyone is required to find a quiet activity to enjoy on their own.
Now that my 4-year-old son is more self-sufficient, I have my quiet, alone time in the mornings as he watches his favorite shows and plays quietly in the family room. I sneak off to the sitting room to enjoy my cup of coffee and a daily devotional. Even my son knows the day starts with “Mommy’s quiet time”. What he doesn’t realize is this hour of quiet time has also encouraged him to play independently and enjoy time alone as well. It also makes our time together much more special because I am now giving from a full cup rather than a depleted one.
2.) Schedule a Weekly or Bi-Weekly “Get-Away” for Yourself
Being a highly sensitive introvert in an extroverted world is difficult. Being a highly sensitive introvert during a global pandemic is on a whole other level! And for us moms, it’s an overwhelming challenge to say the least. That’s why it’s so important we take time for ourselves. Not just short pockets of time during the week, but longer, allotted times on weekends or during evening hours when we can pass the parenting baton to a spouse, parent, or trusted friend.
This weekly or bi-weekly get-away can be a trip to the local coffee shop to unwind with your favorite blend of coffee and sugar as you read a good book, listen to music or work on your latest piece of writing or artistic endeavor. Or you can kick the hubby and kids out of the house for a few hours so you can finally watch your favorite TV shows without interruption.
Whatever you decide, make sure to do something just for you. Don’t use that time to pickup groceries or run errands for the family. Focus that time on filling your cup so you can be present for your family later. We started this in our household just a couple months ago, and it’s a game-changer! A few hours every Saturday morning refuels this mama’s tank!
3.) Schedule Play-Dates or Video Calls with Friends and Family
One of the many oversights of being an introvert is our very real need for community. Not just any socialization will do though. Introverts need connection and enjoy deep conversation one-on-one or in small groups with people they feel comfortable with and know well.
One of the best ways to ensure we get our dose of introverted socialization as a mom is to schedule routine play-dates with friends. This pandemic has certainly made play-dates more of a challenge, especially for those of us who have followed the CDC guidelines more strictly, but it’s not impossible to find your #quaranteam. Play-dates outside in masks during the winter wasn’t near as bad as I had expected, and as the weather gets warmer and more people get vaccinated, I’m sure it’ll get even easier to navigate.
FaceTime, Zoom, MarcoPolo, and just regular phone calls are a great way to stay connected to loved ones during a time when face-to-face isn’t an option. Yes, it’s true, introverts typically loathe talking on the phone and even planned video calls can be nerve-racking, but even I’ll admit that once in awhile, these types of social calls can be quite refreshing and do wonders to boost my mood.
4.) Enjoy the Outdoors with Your Family
As a highly sensitive, introverted mom, the great outdoors is a wonderful way for you to get lost in the sights and sounds of nature while also bonding with your kids. Young children tend to have a deep curiosity about the outdoors which pairs so well with the sensitive person’s deep appreciation for beauty. Plus, it’s proven that getting outside every day has positive effects on one’s health and improves sleep at night. That’s a win/win for both parents and children!
So go for a walk in your neighborhood, hit the trails at a local park, or simply sit outside to watch your kids ride their bikes up and down the street. Doodle with sidewalk chalk, pick dandelions together, start a rock collection (toddlers love this), or play a game of tag. The adventures are endless in the great outdoors.
5.) Unplug from News and Social Media
Because highly sensitive people absorb their environment and other people’s feelings, they’re more prone to emotional and physical exhaustion. The best way to protect your health and well being as a HSP is by limiting some of the external stimuli that causes these deep, emotional responses.
News outlets and social media often breed drama and sensationalism. It may be tempting to click that tragic news article or read those comments on your friend’s controversial post, but as a HSP, you have to constantly weigh the cost of being “in the know”. Setting boundaries on what and how much you take in from news sources and social media can provide a sense of equilibrium to a HSP, which in turn, will give you more time and energy for the people and things that really matter to you.
As we hit the year-mark of this historical pandemic, there are still many people who await their vaccines or “herd immunity” to become widespread. Unfortunately, that means there are still a few more months before things are “back to normal”, depending on the comfort-level of each family and individual.
Whatever your family’s comfort-level during the tail end of this pandemic, I encourage you to find ways to break up the monotony, schedule self-care into your routine, and set healthy boundaries on where you spend your time and energy. After all, us highly sensitive, introverted moms have a lot to offer this world. We just may need a little more TLC to be at our best!