Parenting is overwhelming. Babies and toddlers have constant needs, and low thresholds for not having their needs met (read: CRYING). Coupled with the trademark lack of sleep and self-care, many moms feel worn out and exhausted.
One might think a Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) diagnosis smack in the middle of parenting two young kiddos would be depressing. Honestly, I was relieved to have found a way to better understand my struggles as a parent, particularly related to my oversensitivity to touch, sound, and smell. And when I found out the treatment would consist of the following “sensory diet,” I couldn’t be happier. The idea of sensory diet is to find ways to take breaks from stimulation and refill your energy tank (which gets drained by overstimulation).
I think every mom should take a cue from this diet, because as we all know, parenting can be an overtaxing, highly stressful season of life.
Create a Mom Space
Create a sacred space for yourself. Preferably with a door, my therapist advised. This is a space just for you to decompress, no children allowed (perhaps, hubby too?). This is critical for me because I need alone time to recharge. My brain is moving 1,000 miles per minute and when I am around too many other people and too much talking, I can no longer think clearly. The space should have calming décor and allow for quiet or relaxing sounds such as music.
Feed Your Senses
Replace negative stimulation with positive stimulation. For me, this relates to my overactive sense of smell. I’ll put it this way – I can smell EVERYTHING. I am constantly bombarded with smells, whether good, bad, or neutral. However, the smell of peppermint is super rich and calming for me, so I need to find a way to incorporate this smell into my daily life. I will use a diffuser, candle, or a scented hand cream in order to help me balance the constant bombardment of “displeasing” smells.
You can do this anywhere, but it is especially helpful to do in your Mom Space. My therapist suggested the Brainspace app for a guided meditation. Similar to above, meditation gives your brain a break from external stimuli, and centers your focus back to your own needs.
Weighted Blankets/Lap Pads
Who doesn’t like to snuggle in a nice thick blanket or comforter? It doesn’t just have to be a cold winter night for me to want to cuddle on the couch with a heavy blanket and a good book. Adding extra weight to a blanket provides a calming secure sensation for the body and brain.
I just wrote about how I am implementing this, despite the fact that it is quite possibly my least favorite part of this plan. Regular exercise has countless benefits for everyday physical health as well as recovering from pregnancy related body changes and hormone levels. Exercise also positively affects mental health by improving moods, clarity of thoughts, and more.
My husband balked a little at this one, but I sure got a kick out of it. While I don’t know that we can afford such a luxury, the concept is amazing. Deep pressure work is healing for both the body and mind. Coupled with the time to get away from the busyness of the household, massage can provide a real boost of both relaxation and energy return.
I know, where do I sign up, right?
Do you already do any of the above? What else is a must for taking care of ourselves as mothers?