Feeling Touched Out?
When my youngest was very little I wore her at least 8 hours a day. She was fussy and ate so frequently life just seemed easier if I didn’t put her down. Half the time her older brother would be hanging on me too. It left me with this occasional feeling that I found hard to describe. It was a feeling of unease in my body that made me feel I wanted to climb out of their arms and shake the creepy feeling away.
I often felt bad when this would happen. I love my children, but I needed my body to be my own for a minute. Cuddling on the couch without fighting off sticky fingers trying to find my mouth, or not feeling like I was living in a sauna with so many bodies right on me ALL.THE.TIME. didn’t seem like much to ask.
When I finally got up the courage to mention it at a La Leche League meeting I found out this was a pretty common feeling. A lot of parents there felt the same way as I did and it didn’t mean we were bad parents.
This is a fairly common type of sensory overload. Imagine if a radio was turned to a high volume in your house. No matter how much you like the music, having it on 24 hours a day will fatigue you. Some parents have shorter sensory limits and some have longer sensory limits. Regardless, we all find our sensory limit at some point and none of us think it is our finest parenting moment.
I’m reminded of an episode of How I Met Your Mother. Ted and Marshall go on a road trip in Marshall’s car that has a cassette tape stuck in the radio. It is on a never ending loop of 500 Miles by the Proclaimers. They go from enjoying the song to hating it, to loving it again and repeating the cycle ad nauseam. This is a lot like parenting. There are moments you’d never want to miss, and others that you are grateful for parenting amnesia that hits us all as our babies grow.
What helps? Sometimes having an extra set of hands is all a parent needs, however not everyone has extra people around to make life easier (or are in the middle of a pandemic practicing social distance, but I digress). I tried things like reading books to them, or trying to scoot out of the sling and leave the youngest sleeping on a mat. I got more use out of the bouncy seat then I really thought possible. Sometimes I used the TV and relied on Nick Jr to keep my kids happy for at least a few touchless moments. When they were older I would set up a finger paint session where I could see them and just read the paper on the couch. The clean up was worth it and I got this adorable picture.
Whatever you do please remember that as long as your kids are safe and healthy it is okay to have that feeling of not wanting to be touched by them every moment. It doesn’t make you a bad parent to have limits. That’s really a sign that you are a healthy person who deserves to have their needs met too. This also gives you a jump start on teaching your children loving boundaries. That’s a skill that will come in handy their entire lives.