Sensory Overload – Parent Edition

By now, those of us that spend any time on Facebook have likely seen the meme with the same title. You probably even shared it because it resonated with you. I know that I did. It hit me hard when I first saw it – like so many things that I’ve seen during the last six months or so – I wasn’t able to quite put my fingers on what I was feeling, much less verbalize it.  But this meme, that I saw for the first time last week, was a HUGE light bulb, an AHA! Moment, if you will. And I promptly saved it to my phone.

For those of you that haven’t seen it, I’d like to touch on some of the “thoughts” you may experience during the day that qualify as Sensory Overload in adults.

I can’t take a call when all I hear is arguing in the background.

For those that spent any time working from home, this is likely something you’ve experienced.  I know that I have. And I’ve had to tell my coworker on the other end that I had to tend “these children before they kill each other” and that I’d call right back. A quick Come to Jesus conversation would occur and then they’d behave for the next few hours so that I could make all the calls I needed to.

I can’t unsee the mess in my home.

This was a big one for me.  I was originally working from home via my kitchen table, with a clear view of the living area, and I would always find myself taking a break to pick up something or fighting off the thoughts of what needed to happen when I got off of work. Personally, I converted a spare bedroom into my office (and eventually the kids’ classroom) so that I didn’t have a mess distracting me from my daily responsibilities at work.  I stay in my office for my work hours and tend to the mess after hours or on the weekends. Only my sweatpants friends are allowed to visit.

There are toys everywhere and I can’t ignore it.

This goes with the mess that can’t be unseen.  I spent a lot of the summer feeling guilty for yelling about tidying up.  I couldn’t figure out why all of a sudden this was “getting my goat.” My husband would try to have a conversation about something and I would find myself staring at the toys in the living room or going through the layout of my kids’ rooms to figure out where I was going to put something.  It was surreal when it happened. My brain would start organizing and cleaning and I couldn’t stop it, the problem was that it never transferred to my hands.

Everyone wants to be physically close to me and I just need a bit of space.

Our evening routine consists of something that my family refers to as “snuggle time”. About a month ago, there were a couple of nights that I cried myself to sleep because I snapped at them to “stop touching me!” during our snuggle time.  Can’t exactly snuggle without touching, now can you.

I’m having a hard time focusing with all of the simultaneous sounds.

The noises! The bickering, the Xbox, the TV, the tablets, the singing – oh my God in Heaven – the incessant singing and questions and shows and stories.  I know y’all feel me on this one.

My husband and I often comment to each other that our ears ring in the silence that follows our kids’ bedtime routine. Anyone else?  Sometimes we sit on the sofa and exchange deep long sighs and relish in the silence because the activity of the day was just too much. And I used to feel so much guilt about the thoughts that would creep into my head during these quiet times. But this meme helped me to realize that I am not alone; we are not alone, and you are not alone either.  This is a lot to handle on a normal day and during normal times, much less coupled with the stresses that accompany a pandemic. These are trying times and we need to support each other so that we all come out on the other side. Find your tribe, go on “Mom Dates” and engage in some self-care.  It makes a world of difference.

Kelly Atchetee
Kelly is a Baton Rouge born and Acadiana raised Environmental Engineer. She is married to Bryan and they are parents to their six-year old twins, Oliver & Amelia. After many years in Louisiana’s “Cap City”, she and Bryan decided to move their family closer to home and now reside in Youngsville. When Kelly is not working, she enjoys traveling with her family, playing the silliest games her kids can come up with, and starting craft projects she never seems to finish. She is an LSU alum and can be found sporting purple and gold on any given Saturday. While she enjoys football, LSU baseball is her true love; but don’t fret Cajuns fans – she and her family will always show UL some love, as long as they aren’t playing the Tigers.


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