Today I am going to talk about what it’s like to be a highly sensitive parent. Just a quick disclaimer: the featured image is purely for dramatic effect. I was not really crying against Abigail’s cot lol! If you’re not sure what it means to be a highly sensitive person, I did a post a few years ago about it here. Also, back when I had a YouTube channel, I did a ‘Highly Sensitive Series’ about what it’s like to be a HSP whilst travelling, in a relationship, at work etc. If you want me to bring this back on my blog, please let me know down below. Without further ado, let’s get into it!
Being a HSP at any stage of your life can be overwhelming, but once you have a child, all of your sensitivities are magnified. As a HSP, you can be affected by smells, lights, sounds, violent films, tastes, textures and more. I am super reactive to sound, which was extremely difficult to cope with when my newborn ‘colicky’ baby spent the majority of her days screaming her tiny lungs out. It’s bad enough seeing your child so unsettled (especially when you’re an anxious, first-time parent) but when you’re a HSP, it can be unbearable. Her cries hurt my ears. I felt dizzy and shaken a lot of the postpartum period. There were days when I had to physically remove myself from the room just to calm down. It was really tough and a big part of why I had baby blues. I couldn’t take the loud, shrill wails. It made my head so muddled.
Too much sensory stimulation can be a nightmare for HSP’s. In other words, more chaos = extremely unsettled parents. Both my husband and I are highly sensitive, which is a big reason why we aren’t having anymore children. The thought of screaming, fighting kids is enough for both of us to shut down mentally. It is much easier for us to cope in everyday life with one child. This is why it’s so important to reduce stimuli whenever possible and carve out quiet time just for us. When my daughter naps, I don’t do an inch of housework. It’s actually easier to do chores when she’s up and following me around. I use my break to recharge and unwind with a non-stimulating activity. I read one article from a HS parent that said she’s struggling now that her son no longer naps, so I am preparing myself for when that luxury is no longer available. My husband and I also thrive on a routine, which is essential for the average HSP. Abi generally eats, watches nursery rhymes, does activities and naps around the same time each day (which is also beneficial for sleep training). It’s great for her and perfect for us. There’s something so comforting about operating this way. I can tell she likes being able to anticipate what’s coming too.
Let’s move onto the many advantages of being a highly sensitive parent. We are very much attuned to her emotions and needs. Having such a strong sense of empathy allows us to understand what is going on beyond the tantrums. We also take the time to get things right because we care so deeply. Whenever I can see something isn’t working (for example, fussy eating), I research and explore new ways of making it a more positive experience. HSP’s need calm environments so my husband and I do our best to create one for Abigail. She is already becoming aware that home is an emotionally safe place. I try to use different ways of saying no like: ‘let’s play with this instead’ or ‘come over here and mummy will sing you a song.’ It’s a more gentle parenting approach with a lot of positive reinforcement.
Having such an acute awareness is both a blessing and a curse. Francis and I are constantly questioning whether we can do more to enhance our daughter’s education and well-being. Whilst that sounds stressful, it’s also a powerful motivator to make the most of every opportunity. We have been watching parenting YouTube videos lately on how best to teach Abi shapes, colours and the alphabet. We both put in so much time and effort; reading and singing to her all day long. She goes to playgroup, swimming and Mini Maestros every single week to interact with other children and have fun whilst learning. I love seeing her face light up at the smallest pleasures. That is the key to being content in life – finding joy in the little things.
I even purchased the book below 150+ Screen-Free Activities for Kids so I can get creative with my daughter and not have her stuck in front of the television for hours on end. I listen to recommendations from other parents and strive to improve myself as a mother and woman constantly.
Finally, I will say that being a highly sensitive parent does not have to be limiting. Just because we thrive on a routine doesn’t mean we aren’t willing to go outside of it. Just because I’m sensitive to sound does not mean I don’t take Abi to crowded places. In fact, I take her to noisy play-centres all the time. It’s about understanding what you need to do to recover from those daily activities and how to avoid getting overwhelmed. Is it more challenging to be a HS parent? Yes…but it’s also extremely rewarding and I do feel that HSP’s make some of the best parents out there. Is Abigail a HSP? Only time will tell. If she does end up being one, we will be able to help her navigate that world with all of the knowledge we have.
I hope you enjoyed this post. Are you a HSP? Do you have a HS child? Would you like me to make more posts on this subject? Thanks for reading!
Peace & Love xoxo