Why Introverted Moms Need Alone Time Without Feeling Guilty

Why Introverted Moms Need Alone Time Without Feeling Guilty

Last Sunday I took my 16-month-old daughter to her gymnastics class (aka a bunch of toddlers wandering around in circles). As everyone gathered in a circle at the start of class, the instructor went around and asked everyone what they did the previous day (a Saturday). 

Every parent explained some wonderful outing they went on as a family with their young children. As I listened, I felt some major mom guilt start to course through my veins. I compared my answer to those I heard from the other parents.

The major event of my Saturday had been having some much-needed alone time while my husband took our two young kids to the splash pad. While I had luxuriated in that alone time, I all of a sudden felt like a bad mother.

A selfish, inadequate, martian, disguised as a mom. Why had I not spent all of my Saturday with my family? That’s what healthy happy families are supposed to do, right? After all, our kids are only small for so long and life is short.

It’s Normal to Need Alone Time

Especially if you are an introverted mother, these thoughts are familiar to you. You love your family more than anything, but you also need time alone to feel grounded and soothe your overstimulated soul. 

This predicament is 100% normal for introverted moms. 

Let’s talk about why introverted moms need moments of quiet and solitude, and how they can find the right balance between their introvert needs and being present with their loved ones.

The Introvert’s Brain

Introverts are wired to thrive off of alone time. It’s not because introverts are selfish or weak that they need a good dose of solitude every now and then.

Author Jenn Granneman explains that introverts’ brains rely on different pathways and chemical messengers to feel contentment and happiness than extroverts’ brains do.

Introverts are wired to recharge and work out their problems in solitude. They do not need personal space all of the time, but they need it routinely.

Just as extroverts need some hustle and bustle to feel alive, introverts need calm and quiet to feel at peace in the world and with themselves. Their brains tap out otherwise, and this is when mom burnout and mom overstimulation become real problems.

Introverts and Extroverts are Neurologically Wired Differently

I loved learning about the scientific perspective on introverts verses extroverts because it provides some clear and concrete reasoning as to why introverts and extroverts thrive in different environments.

Author Jenn Granneman explains that extroverts and introverts have different levels of sensitivity to the neurotransmitter dopamine (a type of chemical messenger in the brain).

Extroverts love getting big dopamine hits that come with lots of social interaction and busy stimulating environments. Introverts, on the other hand, are very sensitive to dopamine. So while a big hit of dopamine is thrilling for an extrovert, it may send an introvert off the deep end.

The neurotransmitter that gives introverts a thrill, on the other hand, is called acetylcholine. This messenger in the brain travels along a different pathway than dopamine and is activated in calm and quiet environments. Introverts can spend time thinking and reflecting on problems during these times. 

This helps me understand why I often get overstimulated and feel like I’m going to combust at the end of a long day with my energetic children. Even when we have had the best day together, my mind often feels pretty frazzled by the end.

My brain simply has a low threshold for processing external commotion. And there’s a lot of external commotion with kids, especially when you are a stay-at-home mom. It’s just the nature of taking care of energetic growing little humans. 

So if you are an introverted mom, you will probably experience irritability and feel off-kilter if your brain is constantly bombarded with dopamine and does not get enough quiet breaks. You need some calm and quiet moments to give your brain that boost of acetylcholine it is craving for its mental health. 

Introverts Are Everywhere

Returning to my story about comparing myself to other parents in my toddler’s gymnastics class, I realize that chances are, there was at least one other introverted parent in that class who also would have liked having had a little alone time on a Saturday. Nobody said so, but I guarantee someone was thinking it.

While I initially felt like I was the only introverted mama in that class, I’m now rethinking that assumption after picking up a new book by Susan Cain (2012) called “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking”. She explains that our culture values extroverts, and as a result, introverts often become invisible. 

Another good book that reenforces this idea is Laurie Helgoe’s (2013) book, “Introvert Power: Why Your Inner Life is Your Hidden Strength”. Helgoe explains that introverts make up 50.7% of the population, yet they often think they are in the minority. 

Our Culture Does Not Value Introverted Personalities

Our culture has a particular image of a “happy person”. That person is usually outgoing, talkative, popular, accomplished, well-dressed, and highly socially active; an extrovert. Amidst this “happy person” persona then, an introvert may feel like they do not belong. 

If the ratio of introverts to extroverts is about 50/50 though, why is there such a stigma against a focus on solitude? And I’m not talking about solitude 100% of the time. Just some routine doses of solitude throughout the week to recharge, think things through, and connect with one’s inner life.

I love the way Helgoe (2013) puts it,

“We tend to view alone time either as a problem to be overcome or a luxury we cannot afford—not as a staple we all need. We’re not just social animals. We are solitary animals as well.”

Those are such beautiful and validating words for an introvert to hear. 

Introverts Are Pro-Social

All of this talk about alone time may lead one to think that introverts are anti-social. This is not the case.

As an introvert myself, I love alone time AND I love people. I just have a lower threshold than an extrovert does when it comes to a lot of socializing and small talk at social gatherings.

As humans, we tend to categorize people into being either this or that. It’s easier to think of people when they fit into a nice and neat little box. Introversion verses extroversion though, is simply not about being social or not.

While introverts need some solitude in their lives, they also need people. They care about people and spend a lot of time thinking about improving and contributing to other people’s lives. 

For example, when I get alone time, most of it is usually spent working on this blog. Or creating artwork for people’s homes. For my blog, I spend time researching ways to improve the way my family operates in the day-to-day, fun things my kids can do, or how to generally be a better parent. Then I write about these things when my husband takes our kids on an outing and I have a quiet house to myself. 

So even though an introvert may demand an empty house for some alone time, they are often still thinking about their loved ones and problem-solving for a better tomorrow in that time.

Alternatively, if a mom has been overstimulated for too long without any alone time to regroup, her brain may be fried and she may just hunker down for a quiet evening after the kids have gone to bed and zone out while watching tv!  

Embracing Introversion

With a culture that puts extroverts on a pedestal, it can be difficult for introverts to love and accept their particular personality traits. 

I realize that it is essential though, to accept and embrace my introverted personality. Not only for myself but for my children as well. So they know what it looks like to love themselves for who they are and honor their own needs. 

I see my 4-year-old’s introverted tendencies, and I want him to grow up loving these parts of his personality. And I hate to admit that I have historically felt like these were parts of him that I thought we needed to “work on”. While this came from a place of wanting him to be happy, I realize now how misguided I was.

Here is a little story about how I have recently come to understand introversion better, and as a result myself and my child better.

My 4 year old used to attend a gymnastics class. He historically loved these classes (most of the time anyway).

One day though, he attended a new class that was extra busy and was filled with a bunch of high-energy kids he did not know. A few minutes into the class, he broke down crying and the instructor had to pick him up and carry him out of the room. He had gotten overwhelmed and from that point on refused to go to another gymnastics class.

As I reflect on his personality type now, I recognize how overstimulated and overwhelmed he was in that situation. For extroverted little kids, a loud fast-paced environment may be the perfect nurturing thing for them. Their brains are screaming for more movement, more noise, and more activity. For my introverted son though, those things can lead to sensory overload.

So rather than try to continue pushing him to go back to class, we are reassessing what types of activities will nourish his introverted mind and feed his soul. Additionally, help him build his coping skills, since he will inevitably be in high energy and chaotic environments as he grows up.

I have also been thinking about how maybe we need to cut back on organized activities and give our kids plenty of time and space to daydream and play. All small children need this free time, especially introverted ones.  

Growing As An Introverted Mom

While it is wonderful to embrace ourselves for who we are, it is also important to recognize when we need to push and stretch ourselves.

As an introverted mom, I know that I need to push myself to be more involved in social situations and activities with my kids. This helps with my kids’ social development, plus it’s good for me.

So I nudge myself to talk to other parents at preschool drop off and pick up. I reach out to fellow moms to schedule play dates, and I talk to random strangers given the opportunity when I’m with my kids. 

Practical Suggestions to Support Yourself as an Introverted Mom

  • Institute daily quiet time, independent playtime, or nap time for your kids and yourself
  • Use earplugs (when another adult is home to watch over the kids)
  • Create a minimalist-style home and toddler-friendly home to reduce visual noise and promote children’s independenceintroverted mom's minimalist home
  • Schedule routine alone time when possible
  • Get outside with kids so they can release energy into an expansive space (it will feel like less is coming directly at you).young children playing outsideSome great outdoor activities include making giant bubbleshomemade kinetic sand, and playdough.
  • Love who you are and honor what you need to survive AND thrive!


Helgoe, Laurie (2013). Introvert Power: Why Your Inner Life Is Your Hidden Strength. Sourcebooks. 

Cain, S. (2012). Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. Penguin Books.


  • Gussi Ochi

    Just another mom learning and growing in motherhood everyday! | BA in psychology, MA in art therapy & counseling, former licensed massage therapist

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