5 Ways To Cope With Parenting Overwhelm When You're A Highly Sensitive Person
drs. Karin Monster-Peters
Aug 12, 2016
Our societies as a whole are in overwhelm mode. Balancing your life is hard enough even if you have no dependents. It is a greater challenge still if you are a parent with mouths to feed and diapers to change. There is no question that parents today are stressed with having to juggle long working hours while raising a family. This balancing act places a great deal of pressure on an individual’s time. If you are not only a parent but are also a Highly Sensitive Person you get a bonus extra layer on your stress levels.
Over-stimulation, and thus Overwhelm, is the number one problem for Highly Sensitive Parents. Because of over-stimulation Highly Sensitive Parents tend to get irritated and lose their cool with their children easier. This then leads to guilt, which then, due to our perfectionist nature, leads to overcompensation and thus more stimulation. You can imagine that you then easily spiral into a negative cycle which leads to burnout or depression.
One of the members of our community of Highly Sensitive Parents describes how she experiences overwhelm:
“I think I find lots of overwhelm due to toys everywhere, lots of loud playing, being asked the same question over and over again, lots of "mom! mom!", being clawed at by youngsters who want my attention and need to be held, tired of being bombarded with smells and accidents from potty training, having to bathe an uncooperative child while myself getting sweaty and wet, etc. …..I find a lot of my overstimulation comes from simply being touched more than I would like or having to listen to more noise than I would like, etc., and that just comes with the territory of having very young children. And unfortunately I haven't found much way to avoid that short of literally pushing my children away from me when I feel my skin start to crawl, and I hate to do that to them.”
Self-care becomes a priority for us Highly Sensitive Parents to balance our energy, our emotions and our thoughts, and to clear over-stimulation as well as clear our minds.
Here are 5 ways to cope with overwhelm while parenting as a Highly Sensitive Person:
1. Define your 'one thing' that will become your foundation for self-care.
What is the one thing you must do every day, that if you do not do, your day does not feel complete; that your body really needs? This could be: sleep eight hours, meditate for 10 minutes, write on your blog, pray, journal, paint, or run two miles. For me it is yoga. If I do not do yoga, my days feel off and I am not as nice a person as I would want to be.
This one thing is your foundation, nonnegotiable self-care behavior, that will help you build on all the other things you want to get done on any given day. This thing you do first thing and it makes sure that your day sets off right.
2. Realize that you do have time and learn to prioritize.
Having no time for self-care is the main objection I hear from my clients when I tell them that they need a solid self-care practice. But I’m here to tell you that you do have time. The question is, what are you doing with it?
A week has 168 hours. Even if you worked for 50 hours a week, and slept your eight hours a night (56 hours in one week), you would still have 62 hours for other things. If we even only look at our weekends, we actually have 60 hours between 6 p.m. Friday and 6 a.m. Monday. Even if you are asleep for 24 of those hours, that still leaves 36 hours for waking rejuvenation.
You also have to start scratching the drainage from your days, and start adding the things that restore you. Question all your beliefs about how you should be spending your days! This is crucial. Are these really your beliefs? Or, have they been imposed on you? Check if your beliefs are aligned with your values, see how you can do more of the things that do align, and just stop doing the things that do not.
You have to transition from MUST, to SHOULD, to WANT and then learn to PRIORITIZE! Then give yourself permission to spend time on yourself!
3. Create clear and helpful boundaries.
Boundaries are hard when you want to be liked and when you are a pleaser. Always being in touch with other peoples wants and needs drain you and will make you forgot your own. You have to start asking for you what it is that you need as a parent and as a person. Start saying no when you need to and only saying yes when you mean it. This will not only help you maintain your energy, but also keep you out of resentment towards you children and towards life itself.
This means blaming others less and holding yourself more accountable for asking for what you need and want. This way you take responsibility for your own well-being. This also means that you must communicate to your family your need for 'alone time' or even drawing a big 'FORBIDDEN' sign on the door of you meditation/inspiration room.
4. Follow your intuition.
Everyone has an opinion. As sensitive parents our most powerful weapon to cut through the volumes of information, and advice and reduce overwhelming feelings in these choices, is our intuition. When we are at peace with ourselves and with our lives, it much easier to access our intuition, the voice of our soul, the voice of who we truly are.
5.Create a support network.
Ask other parents if you can help each other out by taking care of each other’s children once in a while. Ask grandparents and other families. Get a babysitter at least once a week. Get a nanny for more consistent care. When my eldest was young I had a great support network around me, and because of this I could create enough me-time AND be fully present for my daughter. She was seven years-old before she realized that I actually worked. With my two youngest children we have NO support and had to create it by hiring an amazing nanny. Yes, it is not free support, but I place a huge value on my sanity.
Another way to create support is by finding a tribe of people who "get it", who are positively-focused, and who understand the power of gentle, self-kindness. You deserve to be supported (by yourself and others) as much as you support other people, especially when it comes to what you need most, but resist the most. It is that support and self-kindness that will help carry you through to success on the other side. This is the main reason I created the community of Highly Sensitive Parents on Facebook.
You cannot compare yourself to non-HSP's on this issue, just as you cannot on most issues. This point cannot be emphasized enough. If you are not enjoying parenting most of the time, if you dread getting up and facing another day, GET HELP! You are not a failure for not feeling capable of doing it all and handling it all.
"The secret for HS parents is to "do less and accomplish more." When we are rested we are so effective as parents that we can afford to take the time off we need to be that good. But how do we get the time? The answer is obvious, but it has to be faced and acted upon. HS parents need help. Hopefully they have a partner, and the two of them are not working full time jobs. Even with a partner, the one with more time with the children needs frequent breaks to be alone and to be with adults. For HSPs, the need for time off from parenting is much greater than it is for other parents."- Elaine Aron
I hope you realize that taking care of yourself BEFORE it is necessary is vital for a balanced life as a Highly Sensitive Parent.
If you need my help in any way, don't hesitate to reach out!
drs. Karin Monster-Peters
Karin Monster-Peters is an energy management and life purpose coach with a passion to transform lives. Karin's background is in psychology, life coaching and parent coaching and energy healing She has specialized in giftedness, child development, parenting and highly sensitive people. Driven by past experiences she specializes in supporting highly sensitive parents around the world in creating time, emotional space and clarity in who they are so they can start parenting with purpose and flow and create the lives of their dreams.