I'm a feeler. Sometimes I feel like everything is broadcasted to me in high-definition, surround sound, and with a chair that bounces me around as I experience everything happen. Bright lights, loud sounds, and any kind of constant stimulation basically just jar my little soul.
Children...are all of those things. They're high def, surround sound, all up in your grill-touchy-feeling-needy for most of their waking hours. Or at least my two boys are. Some days are really hard.
I've felt so guilty for not enjoying the moment, for losing my patience, for wanting to retreat away from my children. I'm easily overwhelmed when my environment is chaotic and loud, which is a given when you're spending the day with a 2 and 4 year old. (I mean, I'm sure every parent out there, highly sensitive or not, can relate).
I've found, for me, a few things I can do from the moment I get up until the time I go to bed, that help keep me from feeling so overstimulated throughout the day and just make for a smoother day (i.e. a mommy-doesn't-lose-her-shizz day).
1. Peaceful mornings
I use the word "peaceful" lightly here, as we are dealing with children after all, I mean come on now! Let's be real. But I have found that the most peaceful of mornings for me start out with a positive attitude. Usually 9 mornings out of 10, it is forced. My kids wake up very early and I've just never been a morning person, so it's not easy waking up chipper before the sun has risen. If all I can think of that puts a smile on my soul is coffee, then I just think of coffee. Some days I'm able to muster more exciting thoughts, like accomplishing goals or doing something fun that day. But it just helps so much to wake up on the right side of the bed.
I find that if I drag my feet too long, our mornings turn chaotic. So getting the kids fed helps cut out a lot of the whining that can turn a day sour before it even begins. Positivity and food help everyone in the morning. And coffee.
2. Monitor phone use
Looking at my phone feels like a nice break at first, but before I even realize it, I start becoming overstimulated. The glare, the constant scrolling, seeing that parenting article a friend shared which condemns the very thing I'm doing, my kids vying for my attention in the background...it ain't a pretty picture.
My best days are the days I monitor my cell phone use.
3. Keep meals simple
One thing that helps me from feeling overwhelmed is having ingredients for simple meals. Preparing dinner while taking care of small children can make even the Mother Teresa of mothers lose her shizz, so I try to not make anything that requires 100 ingredients. I love to cook, but for the love of my sanity, simple is my middle name right now.
I also have go-to, easy to prepare food for my kids if I don't feel like cooking. I roll up sliced deli meat and add cheese and fruit to the plate. BOOM, done. My boys also love sandwiches and a few raw veggies, like carrots. Other easy meals are anything roasted and anything from the crockpot. Either one of those you can pretty much put whatever it is you want to eat in there and it comes out tasting amazing without hardly any effort on your part. That's my kind of dinner!
4. Quiet afternoons
I still have one child who naps, so while I'm putting him down and then afterwards while he's sleeping, I let my 4 year old play on his tablet. I look forward to this quiet time midday! If you don't have kids who nap, have them do a quiet activity for a certain amount of time or put on a movie, etc. But one thing I have let go of is thinking I need to constantly be stimulating my kids. They can be alone, doing their own thing while I do mine. Everyone needs down time.
If you have a baby and a young toddler, God bless your soul. Try to steal quiet time where you can.
5. Keep bright lighting and loud sounds in check
I try to do this all day long if I can. I don't live in a bat cave (although I would totally love that) but I don't like a ton of light all day long, so I open the blinds only partially and I keep the tv pretty low. At night, I turn off most of the lights and keep only a lamp on. This helps me unwind a bit since usually dinner time is chaotic.
6. Bedtime Routine
This is just as much for my kids as it is for me. Routines are comforting because we know what to expect. Part of our bedtime routine starts with me picking up the day's clutter (not all the time, to be honest. But on my good days, this happens and it helps). A clean kitchen and living room does wonders for my mood. The less chaos, the less overwhelmed I feel. My kids know after I've picked up that they're either going to get a bath or get their pajamas put on and have their snack before bed. (Do your kids also eat 300 times a day?)
7. Recharge with alone time
My favorite part of the day, can I get an amen? I like to be intentional with this time. Some nights, it may just be eating in peace while watching Grey's, but most nights I like to get my planner out (it's more of a spiritual/goal-oriented/self-growth type of planner) and just look at everything I have written for that week. I visualize my goals, write anything down that I'm thinking about or that I'm grateful for, etc. I usually do some kind of writing, either on my blog or my book (where I go into more detail about this nightly routine) after I'm done with my planner. Writing always balances me. Doing anything that you have a passion for or interest in helps you recharge in more ways than just physically. Which every mama needs.
So those are the 7 things I try to do every day so that I can be the best mom I can be while still taking care of myself too. Because I've found when I neglect myself, I either over-indulge in things that make me feel worse (and make me feel guilty because I'm not present) or I burn out.
What are things you do every day that help you from getting to that point where you feel overwhelmed by motherhood?
Jessica Dimas is the author of the book "Sacred Self-Care for the Highly Sensitive Mom." Follow along on Facebook and Instagram to stay updated with future posts.
Tiffany @ A Touch of Grace
Amen for sure! I try to get up before A every day so I can have quiet time to myself with my coffee and a book or doing blog stuff. And simple meals are so key for us too! We try to give her variety, but easy to make stuff makes all our lives easier!
Great tips lady!
I love that! Quiet time is so crucial for mommy sanity 🙂 And yes, simple is the name of my game. Not gonna make my life harder if I don't have to.
Chelsea @ Life With My Littles
These are all such great tips! I am lucky enough that my kids both nap during the same time in the afternoon, and that time is one of my favorite parts of the day because I can just relax and do whatever I want. I don't think I'm a highly sensitive person, but I do think these tips are helpful for anyone!
Chelsea @ Life With My Littles
Oh, and I also love the new logo!
Thank you!! I'm kind of playing around with it still, not sure yet.
Ahhhh I'm so jealous!!! My kids only took a nap at the same time like RIGHT WHEN my older one gave up his nap. So for about a month or so, they finally took a nap at the same time, after the baby was 1.5 years old lol. I love that time of day too when the house is quiet and I know I can breathe for a little bit before the little wakes up and the craziness resumes 🙂
I can agree with all of these! Especially a peaceful morning. Even if the baby has been up more than usual at night, I still try and get up before all the other kids so I can drink my coffee, check my email, possibly even eat something. The mornings this doesn't happen, I always feel rushed. I like the morning to start off slow....
I love that, because yeah, when the kids are awake you're lucky to be able to squeeze in the small things like that! I love me some slow mornings too.
Jennifer | The Deliberate Mom
As you described yourself as a "feeler" I identified with everything! I can't take too much stimulation and it doesn't take long for me to lose my cool if I'm feeling overstimulated.
You've offered some great tips here. One thing I would add is eating healthy and reducing caffeine intake. Too much coffee and everything is in overdrive. I "think" I need it to keep up with my kids but once I have too much I regret it because keeping calm is that much harder.
I hope I've never written a parenting post that felt condemning... I would cry if I did and I apologize if that's the case.
Thanks so much for sharing! I love your tips.
Another reason we click, I'm totally not surprised you're a feeler too. I feel like a lot of my writing buddies are. And YES, oh my gosh do I totally agree with your tip. I know that if I let myself have a second cup of coffee, I get shaky hands and just feel so wound up. And no, you have never, ever, NOT ONCE, shared a parenting article that was condemning. Yours are always so helpful and inspirational, rather than the opposite which is judgmental. It's why I told you I considered you one of my top 4 parenting gurus, because reading your tips makes me feel better rather than worse 🙂
I don'g have too many days where I get to spend the whole day with Palmer, but these are seriously some great tips, and I will definitely be referring back to this when Baby #2 comes. And quiet afternoons, ALWAYS! Palmer usually naps, but if she doesn't, we let her use the iPad or watch a few shows on TV. We all use the afternoon to re-coop after a busy morning!
I love that, I think afternoons are totally re-coop time! And I seriously can't wait for your baby #2 to come 🙂
As I sit here, nursing my 1 year old daughter before her bedtime, this is exactly what I needed to read! I had a crazy rough day today with my 3 year old son & 1 year old daughter. The day started 'too early,' my son had an absolute meltdown in the grocery store checkout (because he couldn't eat the freaking ice cream cone that was printed on the ice cream cone BOX he saw), he didn't take a nap, wouldn't eat dinner. Ughhhhh!! I'm so looking forward to getting my little girl down for the night & hopefully my hubbie has my son in bed too. I need a whole bunch of #7 right now!
I was in Mexico with limited wifi when I saw your comment, so I'm late to respond but I just wanted to say how much it meant to me that my post could help another mom out in any small way. 3 and 1 are SUCH hard ages. I really hope you got some down time that night, definitely sounds like you had "one of those days"!
I needed this, thanks Jess. I seriously cannot relax at all, and sometimes i feel so bad for wanting some ME time.
Oh no girlfriend, don't feel bad!! I want ME time ALL the time lol. I think moms who don't want time alone are the weird ones.
We've been working on a few of these! We started an evening walk, then story time before bed. It was saved me so much energy and stress to have those calming/quiet activities!
Yes, I couldn't agree more! I really like the evening walk idea, such a nice way for everyone to wind down and connect with one another.
so helpful! i agree with all of these. i downgraded to a "dumb phone" because i wanted to be present and filter all the info that comes into this brain.
I just want to thank you for sharing this! I had no idea what to call myself besides what I just assumed was selfishness. I'm highly sensitive! Finally a label I'm not ashamed to admit. I can relate to all of the above. I have a. Very very talkative 5 year old who wants to consume my every waking moment and felt so guilty for not being able to provide her with the attention that she craves. I felt so crappy or ungrateful for wanting to run away and duct tape her little chatty mouth. I stay overstimulated due to anxiety so thank you so very much for honesty and humor!
I found you on Pinterest while I was looking for ways to improve my "mama skills". So glad I found you! Can't wait to read more!
Yes!! I thought I just wasn't meant to be a parent because I felt bothered by almost everything. I notice when I come home after my husband has been watching the kids, I'm like immediately overwhelmed because he'll have all the lights on in the house, tvs blaring, etc. It makes such a difference to keep all of that stimulation in check! 5 year olds bring a whole special level of energy lol, I feel you. Mine is 5 too and he's just very very loud. I hope you are able to get some alone time every day, highly sensitive moms definitely need it to recharge and feel at peace in their souls!! I'm in the process of redecorating my room, trying to make it as peaceful and calm as I can so I can fully rejuvenate every night haha.
Oh my gosh, yes.
My kids don't nap anymore, and I'm about to lose my mind. I get overstimulated and stressed very easily so my nonstop motion two-year-old is a challenge. I keep trying to get her to do quiet time since I've given up on her napping, but even that isn't working.
Oh you poor thing, that's not fair. I fear the day both of mine are awake all day! Although it's happening more and more recently and those days feel like they're 36 hours long! Yeah 2 year olds aren't great at quiet time. I hope you take good care of yourself after your daughter is asleep, you need the recharge time!
The Jessie K
I'm the same way as you! Especially I think since I'm pregnant right now, my emotions can get turned upside down if there is too much going on. If there are too many loud noises at once, or even if the girls are running through the house playing tag, I get anxious.
I love your tips though! Such great ideas! I also try to avoid trips out in public if it's just me and the kids, especially the grocery store! When my husband goes along with us, everything goes so much smoother and easier and I am much less stressed.
Ps- I'm glad I'm not the only mom who feels like this! 😉
Oh yes girl, I hear you. My poor soul gets so wound up with the loud sounds and the screaming and running through the house. And I am so with you on the grocery store trips, I rarely take my kids with me, which so many of my friends find strange. They say they don't have that option but I go after bedtime so I can go alone! I'm not surprised you're like this too Jessie, your beautiful photography is totally a sign of someone who feels a lot 🙂
Oh my goodness, I totally needed this! I have two girls under two I was beginning to feel like I'm missing the happy SAHM gene because some days I feel SO overwhelmed. It was great to read that there are other sensitive mommas out there, too. Thanks for the tips! If I can ever get the girls to sleep at the same time I'll remember to use that time for me and not the dishes 😉
Glad I found you on pinterest, I look forward to following!
So sorry I'm just now seeing your comment but I just wanted to reply and say NO, you definitely aren't alone! This is one of my most popular posts and it surprised me too that there are so many moms who identify with being highly sensitive as well. Good luck with getting the girls to sleep at the same time haha, I know that's a rarity in this house as well 🙂
I just found this post on pinterest, oh what a relief! I'm not alone! Thank you so much for posting it! I often feel guilty for not beeing this happy-I-can-manage-everthing-mom. And I often think that my poor girls should have a better mom. Life often sucks all energy out of me. I really look forward to try your tips! With that help me God! Best wishes from the other side of the Atlantic Sea
I know how you feel! I HAVE to have some kind of alone or down time every day so I can recharge and de-stimulate! I'm glad you found this post so you know you're definitely not alone xo
Love, LOVE these tips. I've often found that, since becoming a mom, I am very easily overwhelmed. A bedtime routine, and alone time are two things I really need to work on. Since I'm breastfeeding, I sometimes find myself 'touched out' and I don't want to really be around anyone, even if it's just for a few minutes. Thank you so so much for sharing this.
Oh yes, I totally understand that! Breastfeeding did the same to me. I'm still nursing but he's older and only nurses once a day so it's improved, but I know exactly what you mean about feeling touched out and not wanting to be around anyone. Definitely make time for yourself to take care of you and recenter, it will make such a difference.
I am definitely an overly sensitive mom and yes amen for bedtime. I am a single mother of two and for some reason they wake up arguing and go to bed arguing. My daughter has slept with me up until a year ago. I have found that the couple of hours I get at night are what keep me from going into complete melt down mode. I love to read and it resets me for the next day.
That's awesome that you have a little bit of time and you know how to use it to reset yourself. Mine argue from sun up to sun down too, I think it's unfortunately normal. I look forward to the peaceful silence after they're in bed!
I am a single mom of a 5 year old diva/princess and a 4 year old ninja turtle/rock star. I also have Fibromyalgia so I don't have a lot of energy some days. I am lucky to have my mom who gladly steps in on those days, but it makes me even more sensitive to my "shortcomings" as a mom. It's so awesome to see I'm not alone. I felt like I had turned into a crazy person after having kids. Now I recognize that I am highly sensitive like you wrote. The noise, the constant presence of grabby kids in my personal space, the fighting and the back talk, repeating myself 10 times until my head hurts from trying not to scream, Lol. I never had anxiety attacks until motherhood. I have slowly, over time, learned a few things that make a big difference for us.
First and foremost I give myself a little grace and don't beat myself up about my "shortcomings" as a mom. That was a huge game changer. I am who I am, no more no less, and I don't believe God makes mistakes. I did by trying to do it all without him!
Second, we got a kitchen table (we have limited space so the kitchen had been their play room) and we started a morning routine. They get to watch a cartoon while they drink their milk (which keeps them calm enough for me to make breakfast ) then we sit down together for breakfast and we say a prayer of thanks for the new day (helps mom remember it's a brand new day and the stresses of yesterday are gone). I make sure we all hold hands so they feel the bonding connection. Breakfast goes so much better now and they willingly go get dressed after they clear their dishes and mommy sits in silence to finish my meal. This routine revolutionized our mornings. We still have rough moments trying to get them out the door for daycare, but nothing like before.
Third finding, I have to have a break in the day on weekends so I don't let them choose whether to nap or not. I think naps are great for every age. But I found that if I lay down in the room with them they settle down much quicker and with little argument. I tell them mommy needs a nap too, and then once they're asleep I can quietly leave and breathe in the silence. I don't do any housework and I stay off my phone. I just sit and look out the window, work on a craft project or read.
Fourth was bedtime. It used to be a nightmare getting them to calm down and get to sleep, like a battle they loved to draw me into. And then my son would wake up 4 or 5 times a night (even at 4 years old!). Lack of sleep makes my sensitivity skyrocket. So I started a routine of pajamas, snack while mommy reads to them for at least 20 minutes (they get a lot of their fidgeting out during this time), then potty time, get in bed, we say our prayers (trick here was letting them say the first part and then mommy finishing up....mommy's part is very detailed and loooong, the same every night and rhythmic...they're usually nearly out when I'm done), and lastly a simple lullaby sung over and over. Bedtime may be a longer process for mommy but it's controlled and much calmer. Then I have me time for 45 minutes to an hour. Here's the miracle my doctor told me about....I then go into their room and stir them just a little with a kiss and adjusting of blankets of pajamas. It resets the sleep pattern somehow and my son has slept through the night since.
I still feel on the brink at least once a day with sibling rivalry and high energy rambunctious crazy tugging at my shirt, but it's so much better than it was! Be strong and have faith fellow sensitive moms!
Love love love your tips and how you help your days flow more easily as a highly sensitive mom! I really like too how you spend their nap time NOT on your phone. My happiness and sanity levels are so much higher when I'm not on my phone very much. It's truly amazing what a difference it makes. I think it just really helps keep out the noise of the world and gives our minds a true respite and break. Kind of crazy how our routines look so similar, must be the high sensitivity in us that led us to these routines and ideas 🙂 I really like that tip too about rustling the kids a bit one more time to reset their sleep pattern, I've never heard that! Thank you for your awesome comment, it was super helpful!
I love when your posts pop up in my pinterest feed! Always at just the right time and a perfect little reminder to slow my roll and have *me* time. Us sensitive mamas gotta stick together and give each other these lovely little kicks in the booty! 🙂
Ahhh and I love when I get friends who see my pins and hop over to leave a comment 🙂 And yes I agree, I'm so glad we're able to connect in "real" life and have that support. Like the boy that almost deafened us the other day at the park lol. I definitely went home after that and had quiet time!
As a highly sensitive mom myself, I can completely relate! I have recently started to wake up earlier than everyone in the house just so I can enjoy my coffee alone and start the day on the right foot. This has been a game changer! Thanks for sharing tips that have worked for you. I will surely be putting some of these to the test.
It’s so great to see these type of posts. I’m a mom with anxiety, so I get overwhelmed easily. Thank you for your tips!
I love all of this. Curious how you also fit in time with your partner (if you have one) and add that to your self care. I find it hard to balance my time with him with my self care time since there’s so little time without the kiddos.