‘Spontaneous’ and ‘ad hoc’ are often words missing from the vocabulary of the parent of a highly sensitive child. At least that’s how it is in my house.
Highly sensitive children need plenty of downtime, especially in busy periods. That means that cramming the family calendar full of activities and events will result in overwhelemed, grumpy, tired, anxious children. Buckets spill over.
A friend was telling me about all the after school activities her daughter is involved in, leaving one afternoon after school free and one unplanned day at the weekend. The rest of her week is scheduled with music lessons, sports and activities. My head was spinning just listening to her. There is no way I could schedule my sons’ week like that. We would all be climbing the walls by Wednesday. Maybe Tuesday. We’d be residing permanently in Melt Down City.
It made me realise just how much planning is needed for our little family to thrive. No, scrap that, to stay sane!
I need to meticulously plan our family’s weekly activities. Carefully. I know that a day in school is already enough for my children most days, let alone a few more hours on top doing something else, no matter how much fun it is I know we’ll be picking up the pieces the next day if we don’t tread carefully.
When it comes to planning things at the weekend I have to look at what is already happening during the week. Is there something that already throws them out of their usual routine? Have they had a mad week at school? If so, then the weekend needs to stay calm to help them get back on track.
If their bucket is full then emptying it is always the priority before piling more in. We are more than aware of what happens if we ignore a full bucket.
It doesn’t mean they never do anything after school, but plans are made always with a get out clause or the option to postpone for a little while. Sometimes an ad hoc play date is just what one of my sons need after school – a run around or playing on their bikes with friends actually empties their bucket, rather than fills it. It’s always a judgement call I guess but I do know I have become an expert planner – judging how far an activity or outing will fill my children’s buckets and scheduling accordingly.
It means sometimes that I make myself unpopular with not only my sons but with extended family because we don’t say yes to every request, nor do we pop over to family every weekend, as was once expected of us. It’s just the way it is – it’s how the five of us get the best out of each other as a family.
To be honest, as a highly sensitive parent this suits me just fine. Spontaneous and ad hoc throw me off kilter too. It’s fine once in a while, but at the end of the day all the planning my family needs helps me stay grounded too. It helps me plan the filling and emptying of my own bucket……
Over to You: How much planning do you find yourself doing as the parent of a highly sensitive child? Do you prefer going with the flow or scheduling as far as possible? Share your tips and stories with us!