Summer Survival Tactics for Introvert Moms

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Another way I encourage my kids to take advantage of the summer's long stretches of free time is the time-honored mommy-generated activity starve-out. When they tell me they're bored and there's nothing to do in this house, and after I stop laughing, I assure them they can figure something out on their own. Which is why Iz has been watching videos of her favorite songs and doing an impressive job of figuring out how to play them on the piano, and Mali has built and entire shoebox town -- complete with Thumb Tack Palace -- along one side of our living room. Whereas Leo has recently become amazingly adept at playing wall ball on his own -- an accomplishment for a boy who has only recently developed the gross motor coordination to catch a ball, and somewhat less charming when we're woken by what sounds like a rousing basketball game in our bathroom (Leo's take: good wall, good echo).

Despite all this wonderful together media- & independent time that allows me to work in parallel with parenting, I am often weary of being tethered to my computer. I hanker for a good excursions -- which the kids' being out of school gives us an excuse to do. Whether day trips or road trips, car time is one of my preferred ways to be with my kids. Knowing that we can get each other's attention at any time takes the urgency out of communication and lets it flow at a pace I find much less stressful, with deeper and more productive exchanges than often happen elsewhere.

We also listen to a lot of books on tape in the car. More of the geek indoctrination, with the bonus that we're all familiar with the original versions of culurally significant stories. And as we're presuming competence with Leo, this means he's got the chance to absorb them in depth, too. We recently finished all seven Harry Potter books, and are just finishing Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials series -- which I thought might be too abstruse for seven-year-old Mali, but which she continues to demand with as much enthusiasm as her thirteen-year-old sister.

And then there's one of my favorite strategies of all -- inviting someone else over. While this might seem counter-intuitive from an introvert's perspective, it actually redirects the kids' social focus from me to someone else, whether our guest is one of my friends or one of the kids'. I guess this is my way of confessing that, visitors, I don't just love you, I need you. And so do my kids, so that being with them all day every day won't leave me running on empty, emotionally.

Don't get me wrong -- I love spending time with my kids. They're good company. I just can't be "on" 100% of the day for them, or I'd slowly implode and (metaphorically) poison everyone's air. So I manage our time carefully during summer, to ensure I stay even-keeled and the kids remain reasonably content. If you get where I'm coming from, I'd love to hear about your own take on balancing summer free time, parenting, and introversion.

What other parents say:

Shannon Des Roches Rosa uses her introvert powers for good at,, and


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