Parenting is tough but also the most rewarding role you’ll ever take on. However, if you are highly sensitive you need to make a concerted effort to look after your own needs too. If you don’t you will end up overstimulated and in no state to parent in the way your children need. Here are five things to keep an eye on to survive as a highly sensitive parent.
Sleep is the foundation of your day. Starting the day tired only reduces your capacity to process external stimuli during the day.
Days are emotionally and physically draining for many highly sensitives. Sleep is essential to help you reset and recharge.
In short, think of sleep as your best friend when it comes to surviving as a highly sensitive parent.
Make Sure You Get Enough Down Time
Highly sensitives need lots of downtime because their nervous systems are so tuned in and sensitive to environmental stimuli. The mind and the body need lots of rest after processing all that activity.
This is not a ‘nice to have’; downtime is a necessity in order to avoid becoming overwhelmed and constantly cranky with your kids. Build downtime into your day wherever possible.
Do Something for Yourself
Take a yoga class. Meditate. Go regularly to the gym. Take a course. Journal. Meet up with friends. Make sure you have something outside of your work and parenting that is yours, and yours alone.
Plan and Schedule
Highly sensitive people become overwhelmed by full-on days. As a parent, your threshold is soon reached as you ferry children around from one activity to another and take on all the tasks associated with caring for the little people in your life.
Take time out to go over your week’s schedule. If you see that your appointments and commitments for the week are going to be too much see what you can reschedule or ask for help. Planning ahead seriously helps your sanity levels.
Ask for Help
It’s true that you need a village to raise a child. Extra hands certainly make life easier.
Building up a network of helpers, who can step in when you have reached the end of your tether, makes even more sense when you are a highly sensitive parent.
It can be childcare, family, friends, neighbors, other parents, online groups, a close friend you know you can always call or text. A shoulder to cry on. Others in the same boat.
It helps to know there is someone who has your back when things get overwhelming.
*This post first appeared on The Good Men Project, a great resource for those of you raising boys, and for those of you interested in joining in ‘the conversation no one else is having’!*