There’s no getting around it – parenting life is hectic.
Amidst the hilarious moments, the tender times, and the sleepy cuddles there is a crazy sort of chaos that comes with the territory.
Sibling arguments. Blaring TV. Doorbell ringing. Phone beeping. With the odd raging temper tantrum thrown in for good measure (all because of the really rational reason that they can’t have a pet lion or that they didn’t want their milk to be white). And it’s not even 11am.
Oh, the wonderful life of parenting. There’s no doubt it’s beautiful and rewarding – there’s nothing like watching your little human growing up. But that doesn’t mean the journey isn't thwarted with tantrums, timeouts, and tears (and that’s just your own). The thing is, as a parent you’re multitasking from day one, as soon as your little one arrives into the world. It’s like having 50 tabs open at once that you’re desperately trying to go back and forth between, without forgetting anything.
And where your senses are concerned, come the 5pm witching hour, it can often feel like a full-blown assault. You may find yourself snapping at your kids or partner. And chances are, you’re not even angry, you’re just overstimulated.
The truth is, parents everywhere are being overwhelmed with sensory stimuli, and their ability to process and cope with it is having trouble keeping up.
In this blog post we’re going to delve into what it means to be an overstimulated parent, what causes it, and look at the
ways in which we can cope better and understand our triggers. First up, sensory overload.
What is sensory overload?
Your senses are busy working behind the scenes all the time. Overstimulation happens when one or more of them are taking in too much information for our brains to process. Which is when you become at risk of sensory overload.
When you’re in sensory overload your brain isn’t using its higher centers of reasoning and emotional regulation. It’s very focused on keeping you safe. So then your body releases stress hormones and the
blood flow into your brain moves to the primitive or lower centers. Sensory overload isn’t necessarily a new thing to parents. It can happen at any point during our lives.
But maybe before parenthood, sensory overload was easier to manage. You had more “you” time, more sleep, and more overall peace and quiet - all the things that work wonders in life to reset the tension.
It’s safe to say that parenthood doesn’t always bring the same sense of peace to the table. As a parent with sensory stimulation constantly overloading your nervous system, it’s common to go into a constant
state of fight-or-flight response mode. And being exposed to this all day, every day can make people feel desolate and angry, and eventually lead to feelings of depression and anxiety.