How To Manage The Sensory Overload That Comes With Parenthood

Day-to-day life as a parent can be incredibly overwhelming at times. Between trying to manage everyday tasks, making sure the kids are taken care of and trying to find time for self-care amidst all the chaos, every parent experiences sensory overload from time to time. 

Whether it’s the noise of children bickering, trying to focus on several activities that are happening at the same time, or dealing with the sensory overload that comes with looking around at a house that just won’t stay clean– it’s enough to make even the most patient parent grumpy.  

Fortunately, there are some techniques and strategies that can help parents overcome this sensory overload. From finding ways to create a personal sanctuary to learning how to disengage from stress triggers – these tips will make all the difference in helping you stay calm, relaxed, and collected. 

What Is Sensory Overload? 

Let’s start with the basics: what is sensory overload? It’s a condition where your body is overwhelmed by multiple sensory inputs or stimuli. These include sound, sight, or touch. If left unchecked, continuous sensory overload can lead to exhaustion and emotional fatigue for both parents and children alike. 

Signs Of Sensory Overload In Parents 

Being a parent can be a gratifying experience but also an incredibly stressful one. When you find yourself in a situation where your stress levels are rising, it’s essential to recognize the signs of sensory overload. Doing so will allow you to better recognize when it’s time for you to take a break and regroup. 

Signs of sensory overload include: 

  • Being easily overwhelmed by loud noises, bright lights, or other sensory input 
  • Having difficulty focusing on tasks or conversations 
  • Feeling irritable or anxious for no discernible reason 
  • Becoming easily frustrated with others 
  • Feeling overwhelmed or having trouble managing your emotions 

If you’re noticing any of these signs in yourself, it could indicate that it’s time to take a breather and find a way to reset. Taking care of yourself is a crucial part of being able to take care of your family, so make sure that if you’re feeling like you need some time away from the hustle and bustle of parenting life, you give yourself permission to do so! 

Identifying Triggers 

You can take an active role in handling your sensory overload! One of the most effective ways to do this is by identifying and understanding the triggers. This can include things like lights, sounds, and even smells. 

For example, you may get overwhelmed when you’re in busy places with the kids or during times of the day when you feel rushed. Whatever it may be, writing down potential triggers can help you address them and prevent sensory overload in the future. 

Strategies For Managing Sensory Overload 

You may not know it, but you can take steps to help manage sensory overload, which will make you a happier and more patient parent. Here are some effective approaches to do just that: 

Establish A Quiet Space 

Find a designated area in your home where you can go when you feel overwhelmed. This can be hard for parents of young children, but it can be as simple as a corner of a specific room. The bathroom or a back entryway are great choices for parents of kids that don’t need constant supervision.  

Create A Schedule 

Create a schedule for daily tasks to make it easier to keep track of your day. This can reduce stress and anxiety. It can also help you stay well organized throughout the day, which reduces sensory overload.  

Use Calming Strategies 

When you feel overwhelmed by sensory overload, it’s important to have calming strategies in place. These strategies can range from yoga exercises to playing games on your phone and everything in between.  

Take Deep Breaths 

When you start feeling overwhelmed, take a few deep breaths. The simple act of breathing deeply and slowly activates the parasympathetic nervous system, which helps reduce stress levels and brings your heart rate back down to normal. 

How To Learn Better Self-Regulation As An Adult 

Being a parent can bring a lot of unexpected surprises. One of them is often learning that your self-regulation skills aren’t as good as you thought they were. Luckily, there are some easy techniques to help you manage it better.  

Self-regulation requires being mindful of where your emotions come from and how they manifest in your body. It also requires awareness of what triggers negative emotional responses and how to respond to different situations. Working on these things can help you stay in control when faced with overwhelming amounts of information or stimuli. 

Here are a few ways to improve self-regulation: 

  1. Take Breaks – Taking regular breaks throughout the day helps regulate energy levels which enables you to stay focused on tasks for more extended periods. 
  2. Eat Nutritious Foods – Eating healthier foods can reduce the impact of stress hormones on your body, which can help you better regulate your emotions. 
  3. Connect With Nature – Taking nature walks and participating in other outdoor activities helps reduce stress levels by allowing you to focus on something other than the chaos in your life. 
  4. Practice Meditation – Meditation is a great way to increase self-regulation skills. It helps you learn to process thoughts without judgment, let go of worries and calm your mind when you are feeling overwhelmed.  

The next time you find yourself overwhelmed by the chaos and uncertainty of parenting, take a deep breath and turn to the strategies above to help you overcome sensory overload. 

When sensory overload gets in the way of daily activities, it’s important to find ways to help you manage it. Sometimes, all it takes are a few simple changes. If these changes do not help, consider seeking help from a professional counselor. 

I’d love to hear from you!  

What things in your life cause sensory overload? 

What coping strategies have you used to overcome it?  

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21 responses to “How To Manage The Sensory Overload That Comes With Parenthood”

  1. Lisa - The Zing Collective Avatar
    Lisa – The Zing Collective

    Great tips and useful advice for those that suffer from this

  2. Oh man, as an introvert, sensory overload is a real issue. It’s hard for me as an adult, so I really feel for kids who go through it. Great tips to remind us all how to cope!

  3. Parenting can be a very rewarding experience, but it can also come with its own set of challenges. One of these challenges is dealing with sensory overload. Thank you for sharing these practical tips on how to manage sensory overload, including taking breaks, using calming techniques, etc

  4. This is a fantastic resource! Sensory overload is something we don’t often think about as parents, but it’s easy to get overloaded.

  5. Sensory overload is so real, and I’m continually surprised that there isn’t more conversation about it. I loved raising the kids, but the hecticnes of it all and the stress of balancing it with all the other adult things I had to do really got overwhelming.

    1. There definately needs to be more conversation about sensory overload! I think a lot of us feel like we are alone in this struggle, but every parent experiences it.

  6. Stephanie Grillo Avatar
    Stephanie Grillo

    This article is a great read for parents. There are so many things we don’t understand when we have children – sensory overload is certainly one of them!

    1. There are so many things that get left out of most parenting books!

  7. Very helpful advice on understanding what sensory overload is as well as managing it as a parent. Great read for parents a future parents alike! Thank you for sharing!

  8. Lately I’ve been feeling a bit more overwhelmed than usual. I didn’t know how to fully describe the feeling but after reading this post, I found all the answers. I’m experiencing sensory overload and I would say that a part of it is due to lack of sleep, just because my eldest son has been waking up during odd hours of the night for more than a week now.

    1. A lack of sleep can really impact us a lot! I hope his sleep gets better regulated soon so you can get some rest.

  9. Ive experienced most of these symptoms and always just called it stress and put more pressure on myself. This post helps to balance that a lot. Thank you

  10. As a parent, I love that I am open to learning new things on the journey. I was aware of any of this. I will now look out for them.

  11. Knowing what the triggers are can really help. Identifying strategies as early on as possible is important as well as eating healthy foods. Nervines will also have benefits here.

  12. My nephew struggles with sensory overload. I never thought about how it could affect him as an adult. Thanks!

  13. Barbie Ritzman Avatar
    Barbie Ritzman

    Taking regular breaks throughout the day is a must for me. And I always love to go for a walk for lunch! Gives me a boost for the day

  14. Nnniiicccceeee…you went all very crafty on us today, Momma! I love this and no momma out there should suffer from sensory overload. We all can do something to make their load lighter.

  15. As a parent, managing sensory overload can be challenging. It’s a common misconception that being a parent means sacrificing your own needs for your children. However, as you mentioned, it’s essential to recognize the importance of taking time for yourself and implementing strategies to manage sensory overload. By doing so, you can avoid burnout and improve your overall well-being, which can benefit both you and your family in the long run.

  16. Self-regulation of our own emotions is important to keep in mind. Those are some great tips especially for first time mothers

  17. I’m facing this situation with my children. It’s good that you share tips to overcome this. Very necessary for me.

  18. Being a full-time mother especially if it’s your first year, it can definitely be challenging task strong enough to get sensory overload. It’s important to know the signs and how to take care of it.

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