I recently read an article about feeling 'touched out' and it seriously resonated with me. I remember when my youngest was a newborn, I'd have him attached to me for a good 3 hours every evening (gotta love the evening fussies and cluster feeds, am I right?). On top of that, my daughter would want to snuggle, and my oldest boy would be almost on top of the baby because he was obsessed with 'seeing his eyes' (don't ask- it was a very odd obsession). I would get so overwhelmed and anxious, and eventually end up angrily telling them to get off me. Then I'd feel the heavy weight of guilt. Sure, the newborn baby is allowed to be on me, but not the big kids? How fair is that? Even my partner would ask me why I was being so abrupt with the other two. Truth be told, if I didn't have to have the baby attached to my boob, I would have been doing my own thing, not being touched by anyone. I realized after reading that article that not only what I was feeling was totally normal, it also had a name. Being touched out.
Since realizing and recognizing that I quite often am touched out, it's helped me figure out how to fix it. What would you know, saying no to touch is the number one way to fix this feeling. Sometimes it may seem daunting, telling your littles that you need your space, but believe me, when you feel the need to take back your space, and you actually do it, you’ll find yourself in a much better mental space. Sometimes this means only gaining back your own personal bubble for an hour throughout the entire day- this seemingly small amount of time (when spread throughout different periods in the day) can be quite significant. I spend most of my day snuggling littles, kissing ouchies better, hugging the tears away, and nursing a hungry baby. I have essentially given up my personal bubble, which I have always been very fond of having. I've never been someone who likes people being close to me, I don't love snuggling, I like my space. Then I had kids and it all changed. I love the snuggles. I love that they pretty much always want to be touching me. But I sometimes don't, and I've learned to tell them no sometimes, without feeling guilty as heck for it, because it’s okay to own how you’re feeling- and it’s okay to do something about it. You have to fill your cup at some point right?
So, how do I manage not to feel guilty? Because I know if I always allow them to be touching me, and allow myself to get to the point of being overstimulated and anxious, I become a mom I don't want to be, who is no longer patient and kind. She's impatient, she's grouchy. So if by allowing myself some personal space a few times in the day I can assure that doesn't happen, you're darn right I do it guilt free.
I wrote this blog after an evening of having kids wrestle on me, laying on me, full on fight each other on top of me all while nursing a newborn. I found myself bursting at the seams, not being able to figure out why in the world I felt so anxious about them touching me so much. Then, as though the internet somehow read this tired momma’s mind- I read about this term ‘being touched out’, and I had my ‘aha moment’. I realized there was a perfectly logical reason for how I was feeling, as well as that I was not the only momma bear out there who felt it. There’s something so comforting in knowing you’re not alone in how you’re feeling.
In the evenings I tend to let my partner do the snuggles before bed (other than with the baby,he nurses/snuggles before bed and that's about where I max out). I get my 'me time' which consists of cleaning up, and doing other things around the house. I never would have thought that doing some cleaning would be my time to recharge but hey, becoming a mom changes a person and their needs. It allows me to by my own person, in my own bubble, doing my own thing. I never truly understood how important my personal space was to me until I rarely got it. Now it's something I cherish when I get it, rather than expect to have it.
So, to all the mommas out there who find themselves getting overwhelmed with your wiggly littles laying on you, or like in my case, wrestling on you, those of you who feel guilty because you suddenly don't want to snuggle, don't feel guilty. We have enough to feel guilty about (but never should), we don't need another thing bothering us. Before we had kids we had all of the personal space we wanted. People asked before they touched, we could say no to them with no guilt being had. Then suddenly you bring this precious little personal space stealing soul into the world and you no longer feel like you can say no to being touched. But you totally can. I mean, not when your kid is sobbing from scraping their knees on the pavement, then you really have no choice, obviously. I mean when you're sitting down to relax and they immediately want in your lap, you can totally say no. They aren't going to hate you for it, they might be angry in the moment, but they'll get over it because they're kids, and they don't tend to hold grudges. One day your littles will realize you had to take care of yourself just as much as you had to take care of them.