The Mom From 'Bluey' Gives Me Permission To Be an Introverted Parent

Chilli feels no need to defend or explain herself when she recharges alone. That calm assurance is exactly what I want to bring to my family instead of trying to pretend I don't need alone time.

An image of the show Bluey.
Photo: Courtesy of Disney.

"I wish you were more like Bluey's parents!"

It's a familiar refrain to those of us who have Bluey, the hit animated kids' show from Australia about a playful family of dogs, on heavy rotation during our kids' screen time sessions. As much as I love Bluey and have eagerly anticipated the release of season 3 this month, I cringe when my 6-year-old daughter throws that zinger my way. It gets straight to one of the great pain points in our family of three: weekends.

As full-time working parents, my husband and I see the weekend as sacred non-work time where we might actually relax, enjoy hobbies, or fit in a workout. Our daughter, on the other hand, views the weekend as an opportunity for nonstop play. I curse the episode where little sister Bingo says, "It's the weekend" and dad Bandit responds, "That's right! How many games do you want to play?" C'mon Bandit, you're setting the bar way too high.

Unfortunately, my daughter's capacity for play is much larger than mine. Plus, she's a little social butterfly whose dream day is flitting from one event to another. My ideal weekend day would be moving between quiet reading spots––living room couch to coffee shop to shady park bench. As an introverted parent of an extroverted only child, guilt is a constant companion. When my frazzled nervous system screams for a solo walk around the park at golden hour, it's guilt that taps me on my shoulder and insists I let my daughter come along.

But recently our parenting coach told us that the key to improving our family weekends was to be honest with our daughter about our individual temperaments, and to celebrate our differences. I embrace the fact that reading, writing, and taking quiet walks alone are activities that help me feel grounded yet energized. Now my daughter knows that after I've enjoyed a couple hours alone on a Saturday morning, by the afternoon I'm more of the 'fun mom' she wants, likely to cannonball into the pool or say 'yes' to building an elaborate fort in the living room.

Watching Bluey for the millionth time with my daughter, I realized that Chilli, Bluey's mom, is the perfect model of honest self-acceptance in parenting. For instance, in the season 1 episode "The Beach," Chilli trails behind the family and Bluey says, "Aw, poor mum, she's all alone." Bandit sets her straight, though: "Mum likes being by herself." Later, Chilli announces she's going for a solo walk along the beach. Bluey asks, "Why do you like walking by yourself?" Chilli replies, "Hmm…not sure actually. I just do!"

Chilli is the introverted mom's role model. She feels no need to defend or explain herself. That kind of calm assurance is exactly what I want to bring to my family instead of trying to pretend I don't need alone time, which drains my energy to the point of being ready to pull the ripcord and drive to Mexico to get some space.

Other episodes with examples of Chilli being a badass, guilt-free, introverted parent:

  • "Postman" (season 2): Chilli is the poster girl for introverted recharging: she lies on a lounge chair in the backyard, eyes closed and headphones on––I can only assume she's listening to a podcast––as her kids entertain themselves elsewhere.
  • "The Show" (season 2): When Bluey and Bingo perform a play based on Chilli's life, Bluey says that before Chilli met Bandit, she was "very lonely," and Chilli interjects, "No I wasn't!"
  • "The Pool" (season 1): When Bandit takes the kids to his brother's pool, Chilli stays behind, presumably to have a quiet morning alone before meeting up with the family later.
  • "Tickle Crabs" (season 2): When Bluey and Bingo want to play a dreaded game, Chilli literally hides in the pantry. And is completely unapologetic about it!

When this weekend rolls around, I'm going to channel Chilli's full acceptance of herself and her own needs. You can find me lounging on my bed with a novel, going for a run, or cheerfully waving from the porch as my husband and daughter drive off to do an errand before I turn, blissfully, back to the glorious silence of an empty house.

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