5 Tips for Surviving the Birthday and Holiday Party Circuit as an Introverted Dad
The holidays are my favorite time of year. I love the atmosphere, I love the weather (in Florida, at least), I love presents!
The holiday parties, I like, but with so many of them, the introvert in me struggles. I struggle with the party marathon, every week(end) for the entire month of December, and even into January.
The same goes for "birthday party season" in the summer. If you're a parent, you know what I'm talking about. There are some months when we don't have a weekend without a kid's birthday party.
As an introvert, it can be exhausting. But I survive. Here are a few tips on how I make it through "party season" as an introverted dad.
MY NAME IS DANIEL
I am an Introverted Dad
I started the series I call "Tales of an Introverted Dad" because I struggle as an introverted parent. Parenting is a very social role and both moms and dads are expected to be out-going, social creatures. I shouldn't feel bad about being an introvert; I should be able to be me. In my series, I deal with the challenges of being an introverted parent in a world where being "reserved" is a bad thing.
Tip #1 - Look For a Party Schedule Compromise
BECAUSE LIFE IS ABOUT COMPROMISE
I am an introvert living in a family of extroverts. Even my dog is an extrovert. So when there are conflicts of socialization, I usually am in the minority.
If you're an introvert with an extroverted spouse or partner, trying to find a compromise may be a way of keeping everyone happy (or sane).
You don't want to deny the outgoing needs of your family, but you can also only stand so much party time as well.
Consider defining agreed upon arrival and departure times prior to attending a party.
As an introvert, I handle parties much more gracefully if I know approximately how long we will be at the party. I know what my time limit is, and if we can stay within that limit, I'm golden!
Try to agree on a set amount of time you're at the party and stick with it. You're outgoing family gets their socialization and you know you won't get stuck at a party for hours on end.
Tip #2 - Be Willing to Stretch Your Comfort Zone
GROWTH COMES FROM PUSHING BOUNDARIES
On one hand, I feel the strong pull toward limited socialization. Personalities are difficult to change, and I'm not suggesting that introverts need to change.
But, frankly, it's not all about me. It's not all about my introverted tendencies. Just as much as people should be willing to adapt to me, I should be willing to adapt to them, too.
Living with extroverts means that my comfort zone is pushed on a regular basis. I try to roll with the punches and I don't like to complain.
Extended or frequent social gatherings are definitely not on the top of my list of "favorite things to do" but living outside of my comfort zone can be a good thing.
Oh, and a glass or two of wine doesn't hurt, either.
Tip #3 - Be Empathetic to Extroverts
BUT DON'T NECESSARILY EXPECT IT IN RETURN
This is definitely something I've come to terms with over time.
Introverts are a pretty empathetic bunch; at least I consider myself to be empathetic toward others.
Living with extroverts in my family, I know they love being around other people.
I see the joy it brings my wife when she's hosting a dinner party for the holidays or a birthday party for our son. She lives for that and I don't want to take that away from her.
Seeing how much my family enjoys going to or hosting parties makes it a little bit easier for me to "endure" them, too.
I wouldn't necessarily expect empathy in return from your outgoing friends and family members. Their brains don't work the same way ours do.
But if being social brings them joy, I find joy in their happiness.
Tip #4 - Have a Backup Plan
EXIT STAGE LEFT
It's always good to have a back-up plan, and that goes for introverts at parties, too!
When we attend someone else's party, my backup plan is usually to drive separately from the extroverts in my family. Driving separate means you get to leave when you want to, and they get to stay as long as they'd like.
If you're hosting the party, that's another story, as it's a lot more difficult for your backup plan to be an exit strategy.
As mentioned below, offering a quite space at your party can be one back-up plan that works for your introverted attendees.
Another back-up plan option that's worked for me is to take small breaks from the action.
Need more ice? I'll run to the store and get that for you!
Even just a 10 or 15 minute break from the party can help me tolerate parties a lot longer than without them.
Tip #5 - If Hosting, Have a "Safe Zone" for Introverts
QUIET SPACE AWAY FROM THE CHAOS? YES PLEASE!
Of my ideas, this one is probably my favorite.
If you're a party behavior observer (like I am), you may have noticed quiet spaces often develop on their own at parties.
Introverts may gather around the TV, where constant conversation is less of an expectation.
I also like to setup the back yard as a conversation place. The kitchen, in our house during a party, is like Grand Central Station. There are kids in and out, parents laughing, talking and drinking and LOTS of noise all the time.
The back yard is a different story. We have a patio that's relatively secluded and away from the chaos of the kitchen. It's a great place to go to still be part of the conversation but away from much of the noise.