You know that feeling: you just want to scream, and crawl out of your skin—your kid just won’t stop touching you.
With a 22-month-old and a 4-month-old nursing baby, there were times I would cringe and almost jump off the couch from the claustrophobia. It didn’t take long for me to figure that I needed to do something and do it quick if my kids were to have any hope of making it to their next birthday.
I’m kidding (mostly).
Feeling “touched out” is something most moms feel at some point or another. But I’ve become increasingly aware of moms asking for help…venting a kind of urgent frustration and exhaustion—and guilt—around wanting some personal space.
First off, we can ditch the damn mom guilt. It’s a load of crap we’re buying into that’s making this harder than it needs to be. It isn’t unreasonable to want to sit in a chair without someone trying to climb all over you. It isn’t unreasonable to want to go to the bathroom without having to hold your toddler’s hand. If you need to put your kiddo in their playpen or on the floor with a toy and tell them Mommy needs her body to herself and they cry…so be it.
They’ll get over it.
And you’ll get some much-needed breathing room.
There’s nothing wrong with not giving your kiddo everything they need every second of every day [of course you’re smart enough to know I don’t mean not giving them the food or diaper change that are normal, gotta-have needs].
Teaching your kids to self-soothe and amuse themselves is a valuable skill that will serve them and you more and more as they grow.
Secondly: what do you do if every time you put your kiddo down, they scream like they’re being stabbed with a stick? Are they sick, tired, hungry, or wet? No? Have they had some snuggle/play time with you? Yes? Then put them in their crib or playpen and step outside and breathe for a minute or two…honestly, it means the difference between getting your sh*t together or doing something you’d normally never do.
Let me tell you the story of my absolute best friend in the world—so much so, we call each other “sisters.” Well, her second daughter, Leah, was born furious that she couldn’t yet get to where she wanted on her own. That child screamed at the top of her lungs for months!
I’m surprised my sister isn’t deaf.
Anytime you’d walk by her house you’d hear her daughter screaming like she was being tortured. Frequently, the dad would come into the suite, grab her, put her in the stroller…and my sister would listen to the sound of her daughter screaming at her in the distance as Daddy took her for a long stroll. And about an hour later, she’d hear the sound of Leah’s cries announcing her return home.
My sister took advantage of every opportunity to get a break from her daughter, including, say, putting her in her crib in the other room, so she could have a bath with her big sister and have some one-on-one time with her.
So take the offer from your trusted group of friends and family and let them help. You don’t need to be a martyr.
As an addendum: the day little Leah could scoot herself around, she stopped crying like someone had turned a switch off.
Lastly, you need to know that this will pass—and that, one day, you’ll realize no one has been crawling all over you like a bee on a leftover sucker. As your kids grow and become more independent, you’ll get better at taking care of yourself so you have something to give to your kids. Remember, you can’t pour from an empty cup. Being a Mom is a seemingly endless calling: so creating boundaries for yourself to care for you is vital.
And in turn you’ll teach your children that their bodies and space matter and that, my dear Moms, is what parenting is all about.