Tips from an overstimulated mom …
I remember starting my first baby registry like it was yesterday. The swaddles, the pacifiers, the perfect matching bed sheet set. The noise-canceling headphones.
Yes, you heard that right. No pun intended … one of the most expensive items on my registry was noise-canceling headphones. And let me tell you, if I had $1 for every time someone laughed or made fun of me for it, I would have enough money to buy them myself. But to me, it wasn’t a joke. And it certainly wasn’t funny several months later when I gave birth to a colicky baby at the beginning of a pandemic with little outside help.
I must have been in tune with myself enough while creating that registry to know that a crying baby was going to rattle my cage, but nothing can prepare you like the reality of it happening. Several hours a day. In your face.
My husband and I made it out of those days, somehow. And about a year later, our baby slept through the night for the first time, and we had just enough energy (apparently) to get pregnant again.
It couldn’t get much harder than the first time around, right? True. It couldn’t and that second angel baby was as chill as a fresh glass of lemonade on a hot summer day. The crying was really not something I noticed much. But with the addition of another household member and an emerging toddler came more physical things, more needs (physical and emotional), more noise. So much noise. And suddenly, it’s like I started feeling temperatures more severely. The lights were always too bright. The TV volume always up way too loud. Legos falling on the ground might as well be nails on a chalkboard.
TURN THE TV DOWN.
CAN SOMEONE PLEEEEEASE TURN THE AIR CONDITIONER ON?
WHAT’S THE TEMPERATURE IN HERE?
EVERYONE NEEDS TO STOP MOVING FOR LIKE TWO SECONDS.
I FEEL LIKE I’M GOING TO EXPLODE.
GASP. Have I suddenly become a monster of a human being, or am I just super overwhelmed by the constant onslaught of sensory input?
I cannot learn the ways of honoring and validating the emotions of my children without first checking in with my own. Sometimes, stepping away just isn’t an option, so I offer you a few tips I try to use when I’m feeling this way and can’t take a moment to step away with my kids home with me.
- Do a low-energy, low-mess, high-yield sensory activity. This helps me just as much as the kids. This looks different for everyone. My favorites are reading sensory books (the ones you can pet the animal fur or feel different textures, pop books), popsicles in the bathtub, playing put the baby to bed, or going outside.
- Practice deep breathing in front of your children. Explain what and why you’re doing it. I have caught my son practicing this in his car seat without prompting.
- Don’t engage in cleaning up your tornado of a house in the middle of a spiral. You will be too overwhelmed, will get nowhere, and then be upset about the time you wasted.
Buy the noise-cancelling headphones. Take a moment to step away. Practice deep breathing in front of your children. Register for help instead of baby trinkets. Respect a boundary if you are asked not to buy any more toys.
Honor the mother who is in tune with her needs.