Can Being A Parent Make You More Introverted Over Time?

Introverted or extroverted, most of us tend to lean one way or the other — if not identifying with the category completely. Some would say we are born who we are and there isn't much that can alter our core selves.

There's also been a lot of buzz about the difference between introverts and extroverts in recent years, the main difference being whether being around others gives you energy or not. "If spending time with other people energizes you after a long, stressful day, you're likely more extroverted," said Megan MacCutcheon, LPC, in an interview with Healthline. Contrastingly, if you feel depleted after being in a crowd and are seriously craving some alone time to recharge, then you're likely introverted.

So, the question is: Can big life events, like having kids, change this personality trait? Or is it aging in general which tends to convert once outgoing personalities into quieter, homebodies?  Let's take a closer look.

Parents report higher levels of introversion after having kids

Having babies really does change everything. In the pre-kids era, you were typically alone once you came home after a busy day. As we all know, that's far from the case when little ones are in the picture. Alone time is rare — as rare as a clean house, a quiet night, or a free schedule. So, even if you once craved the high energy of socializing pretty much nonstop as an extrovert, that could shift after having kids due to virtually never being alone.

Telling her story on SheKnows, Katie Smith found that becoming a mom did, indeed, convert her once extroverted self into a small-talk avoiding introvert. She deeply craved time alone to recharge or simply be with her baby. This can be a shock for former extroverts and they may wonder if something is wrong with them.

According to Psychology Today, becoming more introverted as we age is natural and the tendency to be more extroverted in young adulthood serves the purpose of finding a mate. Once that has been accomplished, there is less of a need to meet lots of people and instead devoting our energy to our homes and families is a normal progression. This process is called intrinsic maturation.

So, how do you live a balanced life as an introverted parent? It's easier than you might think.

How to navigate parenting as an introvert

As any introvert will tell you, accepting their introverted nature, understanding the different types of introversion, and releasing the pressure to be anything else is the first step to living a harmonious introverted life. Next is to identify the type of social activity that drains you and the type your mind and body can actually function pretty well with. 

"...recognize your limits and try your best to stick to them," says North Carolina–based licensed professional counselor Kayce Hodos in an interview with MindBodyGreen. "Pay attention to how you feel in different settings. You may be able to cope more effectively on a playground with plenty of space than at a loud birthday party," she says, emphasizing that if you "tune into your energy level during and after various activities," you'll have an easier time of figuring out how each activity affects you. "For example," Hodos goes on, "I would much prefer to volunteer to chaperone my son's first grade field trip to the rock quarry over taking him to his friend's birthday party at the bowling alley."

Implementing self-care rituals, like having one adult conversation everyday (uninterrupted, if possible) should also become a top priority (via Parent On Board). Try not to give into the mommy guilt if your child wants to chat at the playground, but you'd rather observe from the bench. It's okay to do you while your child explores their own developing personality.