Homeschooling is tough.
You know what makes it even more tough? Being an introvert.
After hearing about those personality tests for years, I finally decided to take one online – the Myers-Briggs test. You know, that four letter identification thingy that tells you all you need to you about…YOU.
It was an interesting test. First, I kind of already knew I was an introvert. Big groups of people, being the center of attention, and hanging out with people constantly are SO not my thing. I prefer a book and some coffee and maybe a friend. 😉 Second, I did not think that this late in life (not that I’m super old, but I am past my years of developing a career skill) this would be useless for any real life situation.
I could not have been more wrong about the second one!
I knew I was an introvert but I didn’t know exactly what that meant for how I need to function day-to-day or how that affected my way of teaching the kids. OR that it meant I was doing several things wrong every single day! Even though there are four letters in the results, I want to just focus on the first…my “I”, meaning Introvert.
(As a newly converted personality test advocate, I would encourage you to go HERE and take the quick online test. NO, it doesn’t solve all your problems. But, it may give you an idea as to how you can tweak your day or your habits to better suit your individual needs.)
So, what I learned was that I am ITSJ…at least I think I am. Here’s the description they give about this particular letter group:
“Quiet, serious, earn success by thoroughness and dependability. Practical, matter-of-fact, realistic, and responsible. Decide logically what should be done and work toward it steadily, regardless of distractions. Take pleasure in making everything orderly and organized – their work, their home, their life. Value traditions and loyalty.”
I definitely see most of those in my daily life. I started looking up what that meant for my needs each day. What should I be doing or not doing? What about teaching – I’m an introvert!! How does wanting to be alone work with having five kiddos?!
In my searching, I found there are three things I should do every single day to stay sane/grounded/whatever you want to call it
- I need to address my triggers before that become explosions.
I like quiet. I do not like noisy kids. I do not like unnecessary sounds. I despise screeching from little people – I think my ears actually bleed when screeching starts. It’s not that I don’t love my children with every fiber of my being, but I just cannot stand incessant noise! Screaming and screeching while playing pretend is totally absurd to me. BUT, what I found I don’t do but should be doing is asking/telling my children that I need quiet…for 5, 10, 15 minutes. Whatever allows me to calm myself down. Noise is a huge trigger for me – it drives me up the wall and causes me to flip out over other silly things that really don’t even matter. I know, sounds childish, but I know I will never be different – I just prefer quiet; so, I have to deal with it and keep it from ruining my relationship with my kids.
Here’s the scenario: The kids are all playing LOUDLY in the basement, while I am trying to work on dinner or listen to Moody Radio unsuccessfully. I walk into the bathroom and see someone left the hand towel on the floor. This, of course, isn’t a huge deal (what’s one more time of hanging it back up?), but the noise level I allowed has raised my annoyance immensely and now the towel is just too much…. “WHY CAN’T YOU GUYS EVER HANG THIS THING UP?! EVERYONE UPSTAIRS NOW TO ALL TAKE A TURN HANGING IT UP!!” Aaaaand then my kids think I am crazy..
If I can stop and address (with myself) how annoyed I am becoming over noise, stop myself from getting angry, and perhaps speak to the kids about appropriate and inappropriate indoor sounds/noises/screeches, I might be able to keep from blowing up over the dang towel on the floor.
2. There must be a quiet time at some point in the day.
Even if I address the noise levels of the kids while indoors, I have found that I absolutely have to have time to MYSELF every single day…if I want to be productive…and, quite honestly, LOVING. Again, I adore my children. I really do. We have such a fun time together; I love their hearts and how each one of them feels things differently and sees things in different lights. But after teaching and working with the four big kids for a couple of hours and getting Ethan out of everything (it’s amazing how much he can dump out onto the floor during a spelling test), I am spent! I really am. My fuse is extremely short. I cannot focus on housework or any more schoolwork without feeling frustrated. I have to take time to sit and read or stare at the TV or blog or whatever…ALL ALONE. I try to get this time in while the boys are napping otherwise it doesn’t work out very smoothly. But, even though I know I need this time, I have to make sure I explain it to my girls. Sometimes they want to come sit and talk about the TV show (usually a house fixer upper type of show) or share their feelings about something (if it’s important, obviously I am going to engage them…but a lot of times it is about a non-important issue). I have to clearly explain that the way Mom functions is by taking some alone time in the middle of the day to recharge. Iris seems to be an extrovert, but she gets it and usually gives me space. Lily is an introvert and completely understands – she is rarely the one trying to talk to me during quiet time. Addy….I am not sure how she functions yet; she is usually the one that wants to snuggle up with me or talk my ear off. She likes her time to herself, but she also loves people. I try to encourage her to just take some time to herself. Sometimes it works, sometimes not.
And it too me awhile to decide that this wasn’t a selfish thing. I kept feeling like I was being lazy or selfish if I just sat on the couch and zoned out to a home improvement show. Or sat in the chair and read a book or crocheted or just ate the last piece of dessert. 😉 It isn’t lazy – my mind needs it. I am much more equipped to focus on dinner or leftover schoolwork if I take a little time to myself to relax my mind. I do get my quiet Bible time in before the kids are up in the morning, but the mid-day quiet time is such a help. I don’t always get it, so I have to refer back to my number 1 up above about addressing triggers on those days!
3. Even though I though being introverted would hurt our home school, it has actually helped it A LOT.
We do not belong to a co-op or any type of homeschool group. I tried it once and went on one trip with a local group. And then we never did it again. I love the idea of homeschool groups and/or co-ops; I really do. I just cannot muster up the courage to be that outgoing. And I kept beating myself up over it. You aren’t letting the kids get out there and meet new people! They need to engage with other homeschool kids. I kept telling myself we needed to do it!
And then I realized that my desire to be home a lot, where it is quiet(er) and not many other faces, has really helped us find quality time in our schooling. I can really engage the kids in a cool project…and I don’t need 15 other kiddos around. (Yes, my kids love their friends and the DO have a lot. Our neighborhood and church both have a ton of kids, and my children have made some quality friendships.) We get a lot done here at home without having to rush off to a group.
Having a desire to not be in big groups is a blessing most days. I do not feel obligated to show up for things I would be anxious about. HOWEVER, I do have to keep my desire to be alone in check. I could easily hibernate here in the house for a week, but I know that isn’t good. We are called to be salt and light in this world…and clearly that is tough to do if we ONLY stay home! So, we do venture out but for activities that suit us or in a way we can connect with others but not feel that anxiety. We meet with neighborhood friends for a Bible study. We attend a Moms’ group at church twice a month. I am mentored by a lady from church, so she and I get together once or twice a month (one-on-one or with another young mom she also mentors).
So, we do see other people. 🙂 I have just learned to appreciate not being committed to a group of many kids/families. We just wouldn’t enjoy it. I would be rushing around like a mad woman before leaving, which would cause me to have a short temper. And since I have a tough time controlling my temper…it just wouldn’t work well for us.
I am still working on making sure I don’t use introversion as an excuse to not do things, but I am amazed at how much I have learned about how I function and how to work with it to help our homeschool setting.
Have you ever taken a personality test?? Do you feel like your results affect your homeschool or day-to-day?