My (Introverted) Guide to Surviving Summer.

My (Introverted) Guide to Surviving Summer.

I love summer. But as an introvert, I can find this season very draining. The days are long, the kids are home, and the weekends can feel like a party circuit.

I enjoy being with other people, but I need time alone to recharge.

(Not sure where you fit? Here’s a free online personality test.)

Luckily, the solution for exhausted introverts like me is an easy one: plan for down time to recharge.

Here’s how I tend to my introverted self during the busy summer months.

On the Weekends

It’s easy for me to pack summer weekends full with pool time, play dates, barbecues, and family get-togethers. These are good things, but if I’m not careful, I’ll be more exhausted when the weekend’s over than I was when it began.

For me, the key is scheduled downtime. I can say yes to fun social events and family activities during the summer, if I’m careful to schedule corresponding downtime. Remembering to actually schedule the down time is an ongoing challenge—but I’m a much happier camper when I proactively plan some time to relax and recharge.

During Family Vacations

If I’m not careful, I can return from a week-long beach vacation with my family feeling like I need…another vacation. I don’t think I’m the only one!

Through trial and error, I’ve learned a vacation actually feels like a vacation if I plan down time during our trip. We’ve vacationed at the beach for the past few summers. Since we have small kids who need to rest and dodge the hot sun for a few hours, we often take some time in the middle of the day to eat lunch, watch Food TV, and maybe take a nap.

After bedtime, the grown-ups play board games or watch an episode (or 3) of a new-to-us tv show. (We set the precedent for this habit when we brought Lost season one on vacation a few years back. We were all happily hooked by week’s end.) This year, I’m thinking Friday Night Lights.

And what about the kids?

I love my kids, but they definitely drain my energy quickly—especially during the summer when our plans are less structured than during the school year. Here’s how I keep my sanity in the summer:

Book basket time.

When I’m the one home with the kids, we have book basket time for 30 minutes every morning. This is one of the ways we do summer school.  The older kids grab books out of the book basket that I stock with good content and read for 30 minutes. My 4-year-old looks at picture books during this time, and my toddler flips through board books or plays with his Thomas trains.

I usually read during this time, too. I could tell you it’s because I like to set a good example for my kids, and I do. But really, it’s because reading is one of my favorite ways to recharge my introverted batteries.

Rest time.

Every afternoon for 2 hours (or 90 minutes if pool plans cut it short) we have rest time. My toddler usually naps; everyone else plays by themselves. They can draw, build, listen to music or an audiobook, take a nap—as long as they do it alone. They may not realize it, but they all need a break from each other (and from me!)

Bedtime.

And not just for the kids! I love living on the western edge of our time zone, because it stays light really late. But that also means it’s hard to get to bed on time when it’s still light out at 9:45.

But to stay sane in the summer, I have to get enough sleep—and so do my kids. I hate going to bed when it’s still light out, but a pleasant bedtime transition helps a lot. The kids take baths and then read in bed. I skip the bath, but love to read in bed to wind down after a long day.

This summer take care of yourself not just with lots of water and some sunscreen, but with time to yourself.

Do you schedule some downtime for yourself over the summer (or do you live with someone who should)?  Share your summer strategies in the comments.

photo credit

P.S. It’s more than a kid hangover. And let’s talk about highly sensitive people.

P.P.S. I wrote a book about personality coming out September 19, 2017: Reading People: How Seeing the World through the Lens of Personality Changes Everything. Click here to pre-order.

 

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31 comments

  1. This introvert is still struggling to figure out how to survive motherhood, and we haven’t even added extra complications from summer yet.

    I have *got* to figure out how to get my son to do afternoon quiet time. Him dropping his afternoon nap has been the hardest thing for me to handle, and so far I cannot get him to do the “alone” part of quiet time.

    I love the idea of a new TV series for vacation evenings; what a great way to not spend regular time during the year watching it, and then it helps ensure more peaceful evenings during vacation. Smart.

    • Anne says:

      This introvert is still struggling to figure out how to survive motherhood…”

      Oh, Sheila–I can relate to this!

      About the rest time. When my firstborn gave up his nap at age 2, I loved the idea of transitioning him to a daily rest time. The problem was that he wanted me there, too! At first I’d read books to him for an hour, but this was NOT restful for me, and I’d be hoarse after reading that long.

      It helped a lot to make it a process instead of just plopping my child on his bed and telling them to stay there for 2 hours. We started with just a few minutes, and I’d be reading in the hallway instead of in a different part of the house. This wasn’t great but at least he wasn’t on my lap during that time, and it did improve with time. (A little.)

  2. Jeanette says:

    Thank you for this. I’m an introvert too, with a just as introverted man and an extroverted offspring. And we only have her, so we can’t even hope for the kids to go somewhere else to play. 🙂

    The book basket sounds absolutely perfect, though. It’s actually a great idea, reminds me that I need to go to the library to get her some books she’s never read before. That, and some new hobby materials, she’s quite happy being lost in creative projects on her own.

    As for taking time out, it’s not always doable. But I find that earplugs, music and my Kindle will give me a much needed break, even if I do have to “be there”.

    • Anne says:

      Jeannette, it sounds like earplugs, music and a kindle are a great way to make the most out of what you have to work with 🙂

  3. Carrie says:

    I’m right there with you on the afternoon rest/quiet time! I have done this off and on since having kids, and recently re-instituted it.

    I notice that the kids, even the older ones, love it too. They DO need a break from each other as you said, and everyone gets a break from the heat to laze in bed and read or even (gasp!) REST.

    We’ll definitely be keeping rest time after the new little one arrives. Newborns need a little quiet each day. So do mommies.

  4. Jennifer Haddow says:

    Down-time is essential for me to recharge, too. And harder to come by during the summer with later bedtimes. Reading is my favorite way to do this, but instead of a 2-hour block of time (which would be ideal), I sneak in several 20 – 30 minutes blocks during the day. It helps my downtime when good friends invite mine over for the afternoon 😉

  5. Anne this SO describes me.

    I was sitting at a coffee shop last week trying to explain to some of my friends how it feels to be an introvert. (Most people don’t believe I’m an introvert b/c I’m not shy.) I said, “Basically, I like you people, but you drain me.” There was a general round of laughter…and the next morning, my quote was on Facebook!

  6. Anne, great tips on scheduling downtime for yourself and the kids. And good for you for teaching your kids to be able to entertain themselves while you can recharge by yourself!!

  7. Heatherly says:

    These are great tips for my textbook-extroverted self, too!! Thank you! {We already do the book basket, but I LOVE the ides of “rest time” on our own!}

  8. Tim says:

    Anne, I “schedule” down time by saying no to lots of stuff. I know this is your summer of saying yes, and I don’t mean to suggest you should do otherwise. The things I’d say no to are things that took me away from family. If it was a family thing, then there was a fifty/fifty chance we’d go do it. But I’ve never been looking for ways to spend less time with my wife and kids so I say no to that stuff most of the time.

    Loved your thoughts on bedtime in the summer too. Since we get up between 4:00-4:30 to hit the gym in the morning I can’t help hitting the hay early, but I don’t necesarily like it. Robert Louis Stevenson captured it best for me:

    Bed in Summer
    by Robert Louis Stevenson

    In winter I get up at night
    And dress by yellow candle-light.
    In summer quite the other way,
    I have to go to bed by day.

    I have to go to bed and see
    The birds still hopping on the tree,
    Or hear the grown-up people’s feet
    Still going past me in the street.

    And does it not seem hard to you,
    When all the sky is clear and blue,
    And I should like so much to play,
    To have to go to bed by day?

    Tim

    • Tim says:

      Adriana, I had an oil cloth shade on my window when I was a teenager. It wasn’t that I needed help going to sleep when the sun was still up; it’s that it helped me sleep in on weekends long after the sun had risen!

      • Anne says:

        We did the same thing. We bought black out curtains from Pottery Barn Kids for our boys’ room so they’d sleep past 6am. It definitely makes a difference.

  9. kathi says:

    As I first started reading this post, I thought, “Wait. I must not be an introvert after all, because this doesn’t describe me at all. I gotta go take that test.”

    But then … as I read on, I realized that I don’t have some of the ‘needs’ you mentioned, because we have been doing exactly what you’re recommending to do to get through the summer in one piece, for years.

    I must be surviving so well because of our consistent routine. Naptime/Quiet Time is guarded. Bedtime is 8:30 (not 8:31), followed by a few hours of quiet (but not always to myself), then a shower, and bed. Recharged.

    *I’m still taking that test though 😉

  10. Love this post! I’m totally an introvert. I know exactly what you mean. I need quiet time alone in order to function “normally” the rest of the time. 🙂

    We homeschool in the summer. My kids go to public school the rest of the year, but I plan daily learning activities for every morning during the summer. Learning and reading is so much a part of our daily lives. I’m an English teacher, so I’ve been collecting children’s books since I was pregnant with my first child (17 years ago!). 🙂 We have 30 minutes of quiet reading time every morning. Separate from Bible reading time. I love it. It makes reading such a normal part of our everyday lives. And it helps to give me 30 minutes of quiet time in the midst of the morning activities. 🙂

    Great post! Enjoy your summer. 🙂

  11. Virginia says:

    I totally need down time too =) I covet nap/quiet times every day. I think nap times on vacation may be my favorite times. Happy Anniversary!

  12. Beth @ dot in the city says:

    Great tips..I love them. We’re watching Friday Night Lights this summer and loving the downtime 🙂 We’re about to go on vacation and I appreciate the encouragement about down time. I hope to make space for it despite traveling from family member to friend to family member, etc. It will take some intentionality, but be worth it.

    • Anne says:

      Beth, I hope you’re able to work some downtime into your plans this summer. But I know from reading your blog that you have the self-awareness to take good care of yourself 🙂

  13. Lori P says:

    I’m not an introvert, but I still need my down time. I find it more difficult during this period of my life while caring for my mother than I did raising my children.

  14. Sarah says:

    What I need are tips for surviving summer once you can’t do afternoon nap times anymore! My kids are older now (13, 10, 8) and we’re all home all day. Thank goodness for netflix – they watch once upon a time and I watch some with them (I’ve seen it before) but I also have time to not talk. It’s all the talking that gets me. I’m a big talker if I’m interested in something, but it’s breaking up the fights and the mundane talking that drains the life right out of me. I’m spending so much money this summer sending them to McDonald’s up the street for an ice cream cone to get them out of the house for an hour! LOL! Ice cream every day! A kid’s dream come true. 😉

    • Anne says:

      YES to the time to just “not talk” for a bit. I completely relate. My first thought was daily movie time, but you’re ahead of me on that one! Daily ice cream sounds like a good win-win. 🙂

  15. Erika says:

    I am an INTJ with three small children – two of whom are introverts, and one who is an extrovert! I would be happy to stay home ALL day but then the GUILT…the guilt…as a homeschooling, stay at home mom, I know they need to get out. It is just so exhausting for me – as one of my kids is very introverted and rarely wants to go anywhere – and one of my kids is very extroverted and ALWAYS wants to be with people, anywhere but home! I think my main issue is overcoming my own guilt that I’m not doing enough or not social enough. Some days, I feel like a cruise director – always having to play the next exciting excursion – and it is exhausting. I am also in my first trimester of pregnancy with #4 – and that makes it also a little less enticing to get everyone out the door each day. 🙂 I have spent most of my life wishing to be an extrovert – thinking I can somehow change this “strange quirk” of my personality, which few people seem to understand. Now that I’m in my late 30s, I am starting to accept myself (thankfully!) – and be gentle with my own introversion – which means I am also understanding/accepting of my kids’ personalities. I wish I had know this all along, but that’s what life-long learning is about, I suppose… 🙂

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