This list spoke to me on sooooooo many levels. Speaking as one myself I am assure you it’s not that fun to feel everything, to react to too many coffees in the way that most people do to too Class-A’s and to constantly be aware of all the subtexts and energies a of situation as well as what is happening on the surface. It’s exhausting and full-on.
I loved this list from Emma Carrick on surviving the holidays when you are a Highly Sensitive Person. It’s relatable, full of sage advice and FUNNY. And most of all its super relevant on THE LAST DAY OF TERM!!!!
Highly Sensitive? Here’s a my list on how to survive motherhood through the Summer Holidays…
I wrote this blog post at the end of a half term week earlier this year but with the Summer Holidays just around the corner feel it is more relevant than ever. Hold tight there sisters, together we can get through it… and with wine, always the wine.
So here I sit at the end of half term week. Before which there was an additional four days of solo parenting due to a quite frankly, piss poorly timed German Conference held by husband’s Company.
• I am frazzled. As frazzled as the frazzliest fucking frazzle in a packet of frazzles. FRA-ZZLED.
• My hair is on end, my eye liner is smudged under my eyes, any other remnant of make up has been rubbed off on a small person’s head as they writh and fidget on my lap to get comfy, like a bear at a scratching post.
• I am a highly sensitive person.
• I have three children. The perfect over-stimulatory combination.
• Being a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP) doesn’t mean I’m a weepy, pain in the arse, offended at everything type of person. It means that as an HSP your nervous system is highly sensitive, you are wired so that each cell in your body is on hyper alert. You can sense and feel things pretty keenly as an HSP. Think Basset Hound nose when you’re pregnant all the time, etc, etc.
• I am sensitive to noise. I have three children. Two of which are loud. And whiny.
• I am sensitive to my visual environment. I have three children. They play and make a mess. I can’t see the floor or the work tops.
• I am sensitive to caffeine. I have drunk too much coffee and eaten too much chocolate today as a ‘treat’ to myself. Good move.
• I am aware of all of the sounds around me. When I get into this state I cannot filter out any of them, they are all of equal volume and importance in my head. Currently, there are three people talking at once to me, the extractor fan is buzzing next door and the TV is on in the lounge. Overload.
• I am sensitive to crowds. It is half term. Places are rammed with other peoples kids making the noise, the mess and generally getting up in my grill.
• I like order, organisation and efficiency. Have I mentioned I’ve got three kids?
• I need down time each day to re-calibrate and gather myself after being around people for a while.
If you know me, you’ll know I disappear off at random times. This is how I cope with the world. There has been zero down time from 6am – 8pm for the last few days.
THIS is why I am feeling frazzled. During school holidays the things I usually do to manage my high sensitivity have also been out of my reach.
I actually laugh out loud when people say I appear so ‘serene’, I kid you not people say this to me quite often and I always think “If only you knew”.
If only you knew :
• My heart races most of the time when we’re talking;
• My palms sweat;
• My stomach has a constant knot in it;
• My mind is fully listening to you and still processing a million other things in my peripheral vision/ear shot.
• How hard I am working to appear ‘serene’ and not completely crazy.
So in order not to drive myself mad, my husband mad and to be a horrible mother I have to have a bank of strategies to dial back the over stimulation. I am at my best when I do some or all of the following:
• Mediate in the morning – I wake up a few minutes earlier, roll over, jam in head phones and mediate for as long as I can / feel like.
• Try and get up a few minutes before anyone else, to soak in the quiet and to do some of the other things on this list. I am a terrible self starter and mornings are the hardest. I find it much easier to get up in the summer than the winter but even then that depends on..
• Getting enough sleep – going to bed at a decent time rather than trying to screw the last few moments out of non-child free time surfing the internet or watching pointless inane tv. Get to bloody bed woman.
• Practice yoga. The poses and breathing in Yoga literally calms the nervous system. It’s like a balm to my tense muscles and alters the way the blood and energy flows around my body It clears my mind too, by getting me out of it and into my body.
• Limit my caffeine intake. Not so good at limiting my chocolate intake but I probably should.
• Journal the shit out of whatever’s going on for me and then sometimes share those as blog posts. Hello.
• Write down a few things I’m grateful for, glad about, or things that made my day a little bit better before I go to bed each night. The clever part of this is that it makes me look out for these things during the day, take note of them and remember them. Making my outlook literally more positive. I could have been really peed off when hubs flights were delayed last night, with him rocking up home at almost midnight after 4 straight days away, but instead I enjoyed my last night of total TV control and did a few things just for me.
• Set an intention for the day. Usually in the shower, choose how I want to feel/ what I want to achieve or just how I want to be that day. Then I scan through my day and think through how I might make this happen. My intentions are different to a ‘To Do’ list, think more ‘To Be’ list.
• Have a loose plan of things to do – think Bucket List for the summer and some days pencilled in each week. Be flexible though and try not to over schedule. Don’t forget the children are going to be exhausted so give plenty of time for them to rest too.
• Stop now and again during the day, take some deep breaths, feel my feet on the floor and remind myself either of my intention or say a calming mantra to myself.
• Try and be super mindful of my technology use. I bet we’ve all read that meme which challenges you to make a list of all the things you would love to do each day and then a list of what you actually spend your time doing, then rework your day. But how often do we LIVE it? Those things you think you don’t have time for? You probably would do if you didn’t fall down the rabbit hole of Facebook/ Instagram/Twitter/ Internet/ ironing/ insert escape of choice here, most nights.
That said, I do love filling up on inspiration and I find Instagram a good way to do this, Face Book drains me but my Instagram feed is more uplifting as long as I use it mindfully.
• Following on from that, I have honed my radar for ‘radiators’ and ‘drains’ – those people, activities or places that either radiate energy and make me feel good or those people, activities or places that drain me and leave me feeling like shit. Do more radiators and less drains and if you must encounter drains build yourself up with loveliness inside and out, light a candle, play gorgeous music, or talk lovingly to yourself (internally) while it happens – “there’s wine at the end of this” is a personal fave.
• Have a meaningful conversation with someone who ‘gets me’. Not one of those superficial, barely scratching the surface school gate type of chat, a proper ‘what’s going down today’ kind of chat. Even if this is just messages, it helps me feel heard amidst a cacophony of children’s chatter.
• Say ‘No’ to many things. I have got much better at this and now I only do things I really want to do. A perfect mantra for this is ‘If it’s not a ‘Hell Yeah’, then it’s a ‘Hell No’! My life has a different pace now, and is full of only things I really love, or things I can’t avoid doing – think dishes and laundry (see drains above) and even those I try to put as positive a spin on as possible (try).
• Last but not least, highly sensitive or not, us Mums have our comparison radar on high alert all the time and if we’re not very careful this can turn to judgement. Mainly judgement of ourselves and how we don’t measure up to all of those other people (many of whom are entirely faceless and conceptual) so aware are we of ALL of the options open to us and how if we’re winning at one we have to be failing at another:
“Whenever you see me succeeding in one area of my life that almost certainly means I am failing in another area of my life” – Shonda Rhimes.
• So I need to remember to go easy on myself and be as kind as I can. The house WILL be a tip for most of the holidays (no different there then I hear you cry…) it will get The Great September Clean Up treatment once school is back.
• Finally, in the wise words of my husband – “Just be you – that’s all they want of you – you when you’re happy and relaxed” – not strung out and trying to over achieve and over accomplish?? Who knew?!
So as we fast approach the end of term and look down the long barrel of the six weeks of summer I shall not shame you by telling you ‘you only get 18 summers with your precious little ones’ we all know that, instead I am here to try and take my own advice, of ride the waves – flow with the good and bad this summer and just know you are doing your best in each moment.
Take care of you firstly, be yourself, sod what everyone else is doing on social media, just make each day yours and find a little oasis of calm to decompress wherever you can.
** Resources if you think you or your child might be a HSP: **
Book : ‘Quiet’ by Susan Cain