How This Shy Mom Survives Kids’ Birthday Parties
I have two hours to make a good first impression. Hopefully, it won’t take me that long to gather my courage, walk over to that group of parents, and say, “Hi!” How embarrassing would it be if they knew the actual truth: I’m shy? Along with my childhood love of chocolate and doodling unicorns, being shy is something I never outgrew. Local psychiatrist Dr. David Easely says, “You can’t change being shy. That’s your temperament. It’s something you’re born with.” Being shy is who I am. This is why I know that an afternoon spent at a kid’s birthday party is going to be awkward for me.
Lately, my 5-year-old has turned into a professional party-goer, which has turned me into his official chauffeur and wingman. This shindig will be filled with parents I’ve never met, and I’ll find simple things like using my out-loud voice a challenge. It’s in this type of environment my shy brain freezes and my tongue feels like it’s wearing a winter coat.
Dr. Easely explains that for a shy person, “…it’s really difficult for them to meet new people. Their anxiety about this is enormous.” And this shy mom couldn’t agree more. On a normal day, one wouldn’t find me bouncing in a bounce house with a group of people I’ve just met, but these parties are a great social outlet for my kid. I’m here to support him and his classmates. The good news is being shy my whole life has helped me develop a few tricks of the trade to navigate these sticky circumstances. Here are three of my best:
1. Ask Questions: Find another parent to speak with one-on-one, and ask them simple questions like: “Have you been to birthday parties here before?” Or “Do you know the birthday boy/girl?” and “Which child is yours?” This removes the strain of handling the bulk of the conversation. Asking questions has always helped my timid, frozen brain keep a discussion moving without feeling too much at a loss for words. Dr. Easely encourages a similar technique, “Have a rap that you know you’re going to say. You might even appear to be so at ease people won’t know you’re shy once you get good at it.”
2. Be A Good Listener: As a shy person of limited chatter, I know listening is one of my strong suits. I’ve found most people enjoy telling stories, so this is when I put my listening ears on and become an active listener. Asking more details about the event is also a good way to keep the conversation flowing.
3. Talk About Our Kids: Discussions about anything are easier when people have a common interest. I might be shy, but once I start talking about my son, I probably won’t stop talking until sometime next year. I love my kid, and I take great pleasure in talking about him and his interests. I’ve found that other parents do, as well. Talking about our kids is an easy in.
Having these shy tips in my back-pocket relieves my social stress, but what aids me most is knowing I’ll make it through. “To really know yourself helps,” Dr. Easely reassures, “by accepting that you’ll always be that (shy) person and that people like you and want to get to know you.” That thought helps heaps. Even though I get nervous knowing I’ll have to use my words, it’s OK that I’m shy. I’ll make it, especially when I know at the end of the day there’ll be chocolate cake.
Looking for something fun to do with your kids? Check out this forest adventure.