No More Mommy Tantrums

mommy tantrums

You see it everywhere: Parents pushed to the limit.

At Macy’s, a dad mocks his sobbing child.  “Wahh wahh, I’m being such a baby!” he says, winking at me as if to say, “Aren’t kids ridiculous?”  The boy cries even harder.

At the library, a mom yells at her child, “Be quiet!  We’re going home now because you can’t remember to be quiet in the library!”  She drags her out kicking and screaming.

On the sidewalk I overhear a dad saying to his boy, “Man!  It’s only 8:30 in the morning and you’re already annoying me!  I seriously can’t handle you right now!”  His boy looks defeated.

You can tell I’m an eavesdropper from this post.  Sorry-not-sorry!  It’s partly an HSP thing– this hyperawareness of others’ emotions.  It’s almost impossible for me to pass over a parent and child in conflict without taking it all in.

Trust me, I’ve had my meltdowns, too!  I’m not really hot-headed or prone to anger, but when I reach my limit, I tend to get cold.  I shut down. I might roll my eyes and give a guilt trip.  I think that kind of coldness is just as hurtful as a full-blown mommy tantrum.

But fortunately, I’m steeped in enough awesome parenting resources that remind me over and over to be calm. Breathe. Be cool.  Your kids are people, too, even when they are acting crazy. It’s normal for them to act crazy.  They deserve to be treated with respect all the time, not just when they are angels.  I repeat these things like mantras almost every day.

Janet Lansbury calls it wearing your superhero suit like a shield.  I love that image.  Because to your child, you are a superhero.  You are your child’s fearless leader.  You are bigger, stronger, wiser than they.  You are their role model for how to handle overwhelming feelings.  We add fuel to the fire when we are anything besides calm, consistent, and compassionate.

It’s so very hard to exude this zen attitude when your kid is crying and flailing in the frozen foods aisle and you have to leave your cart full of groceries in a hurry (I speak from experience.)  But you’ve got to fake it til you make it. You’ve got to exercise those zen muscles until a chill response is second nature.

Here’s what it looks like for me:

Your child hits another child in public.  You are mad, embarrassed and panicked.  Breathe, walk over, and calmly but sternly say, “I won’t let you hit.”  Hold down his hands and look him in the eye.  If he hits again, repeat “I won’t let you hit.  We need to go home now.”  Pick up the kid and go home.  As he throws a royal tantrum in the car, say “You sound frustrated and mad.  You wanted to hit and you wanted to stay at the park, but I am taking you home. You can cry and let it all out. I’m here if you want to talk or cuddle.”

Calm, cool, empathetic.  I guarantee, this strategy works better to simmer kids down than a mommy tantrum or that cold passive-aggressive thing I do. Promise.

Why I Dislike Talking on the Phone

i hate the phone

That invasive ring-a-ling that comes out of the blue and fills you with a slight dread.  Uhhg.  I was so relieved to find out that hating the phone is pretty normal for HSPs.  I guess I’m not the only one who avoids the phone whenever possible.  This post made me laugh!

This phone aversion goes way back for me.  I used to beg my mom to make my phone calls for me, even as late as college.  I know, this is so ridiculous!  Now that I can’t rely on mommy, I try to set up appointments, RSVP for events, and order things online or via text instead of the phone, even if it usually takes longer that way.  I also prefer to text friends to set up face-to-face get-togethers, rather than have lengthy phone conversations.  For my bffs who live far away, I do make exceptions because I love talking to them and want to be a part of their lives.

So why do HSPs hate the phone so much?  What’s the big deal?

Here’s my take on it.

  1. The surprise of a phone call.  It kind of activates a fight or flight response in me.  Sometimes I’m really in the zone- cooking, or cleaning, or just reading in bed, and then that ring just startles me.
  2. Awkward. There is some inevitable awkwardness that goes along with phone conversations.  The small talk, the dead silences, the interruptions, the lengthy goodbyes.
  3. You can’t rely on facial cues.  HSPs are really tuned into facial cues.  It’s hard for me to get the full story if I can’t see the person’s face or gesticulations.
  4. I can’t follow.  People talk too fast or don’t enunciate, which makes me flustered, and then I really miss what they’re saying.
  5. Traumatic past events.  I’ve gotten some pretty tragic phone calls (ex-boyfriend dumping me, notice of my dad’s death, etc.) so it makes me nervous when the phone rings, like “Great, now what??”
  6. Multitasking is not my strength.  It’s so hard for me to parent my kids while also talking on the phone.  Because everyone knows as soon as you pick up the phone, the kids need you desperately.

Who else is with me?  Thank goodness for texting and email.  And to my friends who love the phone, you are well worth the sacrifice 🙂

HSPs and Labor: Why Home Birth Suited Me Best

birth should take place where you are comfortableLabor should be as comfortable as possible.  I don’t mean painless, although I do have a friend who claims she didn’t experience pain during her quick 4 hour labor.  I mean as stress-free, emotionally calm,  and positive as possible.

Home is where I’m most comfortable.  At home, I can control the level of stimulation, the music, lighting, temperature, who is present, what I wear, when to push, what position to labor in.  HSPs like control because we are so easily overstimulated and have to protect ourselves.  Home birth gave me a chance to control the aspects of labor that are controllable, which gave me more confidence to face all the scary unknowns.

I personally don’t like the hospital vibe.  I don’t like bright lights, beeping machines, sudden announcements, bleachy smells, and squeaking sneakers.  I know, I sound like such a princess right now.  I really try not to be high maintenance or make a fuss, but if I can avoid things that rub me the wrong way, I do.

I am also super intimidated by doctors (“white coat syndrome”) and tend to do whatever doctors say (or at least pretend to obey) whether they make sense or not. I feared not having the guts to stand firm if doctors recommended an intervention I wasn’t comfortable with.

For all these reasons, I decided to pursue a home birth.  Working with a midwife was so intimate and comforting. I never felt rushed or pressured or wrong.  They are trained to watch and wait, to let labor follow it’s natural course and pace.  They tend to not see every tiny hiccup as an emergency.  HSPs do not like to be rushed or pressured to “perform”, and I loved that I could just relax and let my labor instincts kind of take over.

Now, there’s the issue of emergencies.  HSPs tend to think and plan and worry about the future.  I did my research, and knew my midwives’ stats were far better than the surrounding hospitals.  Much lower C-Section rates, lower episiotomy rates, etc.  My chances of successfully birthing at home with no interventions was 90%, much better odds than in any of the local hospitals (the nearest hospital has a 60% c-section rate!)

HSPs supposedly feel pain more intensely, so why would I put myself through an unmedicated birth?  Because the thought of laboring in a hospital, hearing the screams of laboring women, dealing with the possibility of bratty nurses or curt doctors scared me more than the pain.

I can imagine some HSPs would prefer to labor in a hospital because they feel safer there and there is more backup in case of emergencies.  Maybe the hospital procedures are a comfort.  More power to you!  Like I said, birth should take place where you’re comfortable- at home, at the hospital, at a birth center, in a taxi (jk.)  Do your research, do some soul-searching, and honor your own decision.

Did your HSP qualities affect your birth plan or labor?  How so?  Please share by leaving a comment!

matteos home birth

Welcome to Highly Sensitive Mom

highly sensitive mom tahoe I’m Kristin, and I am a Highly Sensitive Mom.  My sensitivity affects every area of my life, and always has.  I was supposedly a very stressed out, tearful baby, as evidenced by stacks of baby pictures with my nose red and eyes swollen.  I was a cautious, quiet but extremely creative child.  I was a bit of a loner.  I had friends, but just one or two soul mates at a time.

In High School and college, I felt fake and phony and didn’t understand why.  I strived to be perky and outgoing on the outside (cheerleader, drama, student government), but was nervous and scared on the inside.  I did well in school because I’m conscientious and enjoyed the peaceful ritual of studying. But my good grades didn’t come easily.  I felt like I was working twice as hard as everyone and struggling to stay ahead. I was trying to keep up with the pace of my peers and feeling burnt out.  And I wasn’t even in the “real” world yet!

I’m now in my 30’s, and I’m definitely in the real world now.  It’s intense.  I’ve owned several small businesses, some have failed and some haven’t.  I got married. I suffered the loss of my father to suicide 5 years ago. But becoming a parent rocked my world more than any other event by far.  It brought my HSP qualities to the forefront.  There were so many times when I thought I was just not cut out for motherhood; I’d never get the hang of it.  I wanted my old life back.

Reading The Highly Sensitive Person changed my life.  Not only did it explain why I feel so frazzled, overwhelmed, and emotional much of the time, but it showed me that I’m not alone.  I’m not broken.  I’m not crazy.  I’m just a highly sensitive mom living in a highly-stimulating world.  I realized I CAN do this parenting thing!  I just might need to do it differently.thanks for your support!

There are so many ways that being HSP has made parenting hard.  So very hard. The mommy guilt, the sleepless nights, the screams of a newborn are intense enough, but what if you experience the world in high definition? There are also myriad ways in which it’s made me a more thoughtful, empathetic, responsible parent. I can say now that I’m blessed to be highly sensitive, and that my kids are blessed to have me.

That’s what this blog is about.  It’s my attempt to wrap my mind around what it means to be an HSP parent.  To find the joy in my sensitivity and to accept the burden it brings, too.  Most of all, I want HSM to be a safe place for other HSP parents to come and learn, reflect and say “Yes, that’s sooo me!”  Because doesn’t it feel good to know you’re not alone?