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Let’s talk about feeling touched out, this weird phenomenon that what feels like all moms know about but don’t talk about. Here’s how I come by this feeling: By the end of the day, I am done. So done. I have held hands and wiped boogies. I have pushed hair out of faces. I have snuggled and hugged. I know I have bedtime forthcoming (which 9 times out of 10, I love!). But y’all, at the end of the day, I feel so touched out. So. Dang. Touched. Out.
Feeling touched out can be hard to describe, yet I feel like every mom knows that feeling. When talking with other moms, all I have to do is say, “Man, I feel so touched out by the end of the day,” and she instinctively knows that feeling.
What contributes to this feeling? It feels like a thousand things… and it also feels like nothing at all. For new moms, feeling touched out can stem from feeding a baby for what feels like hours on end. Holding and rocking a fussy baby. Having a little one that is only calm when being held or worn or wrapped tightly against your body. Touch is absolutely beneficial for young babies, and at the end of the day, that cumulative experience may feel a little overwhelming to moms.
In other words, you can feel touched out.
For more experienced moms, feeling touched out can arise from little nagging and needling. Physically helping a child to focus on putting on shoes, getting dressed, guiding them out the door. Sure, these are the things BTDT moms tell us “younger” moms that we should appreciate and feel grateful for, but it’s hard for me to feel gratitude when I feel so touched out that it feels like my skin is crawling, and I have this bizarre aversion to touch.
Let me tell you a secret: feeling touched out is normal.
Dr. Christiane Manzella, clinical director of the Seleni Institute provided this insight that helped me to feel so much better about myself when I started thinking I was a bad mother and wife for feeling touched out by the end of the day:
From breastfeeding to rocking a fussy baby, it can be so physically intimate and emotionally demanding that you may not want to be touched any more than you already are. You may be in physical pain, or you may feel claustrophobic. You may also just feel protective of your body. These are all normal reactions.
So we’re normal. Fantastic! And it’s not just a setting on a dishwasher or washing machine.
Now that we’ve established that it’s normal, what should you do when you feel touched out? Here are some tips that I’ve learned and am working on myself.
1. Acknowledge and own it.
This one is a bit tricky, and I’ve found that once I can properly identify what the real issue is, I feel an immediate release and rejuvenation. Maybe I’m tired or resentful or hungry. I find that when I take a minute to calmly breathe, focus and scan myself, I can typically find what the real issue is.
2. Make room for you.
This one is emotional and physical. Take the 2-3 minutes to just breathe. Hand the kids over to someone else. Wake up a little early and enjoy your coffee in the sunlight. Stay up a little later with a glass of wine and binge on Netflix. In your to-do list of life, you have to make time for you.
3. Know that this, too, shall pass.
I guess this is where the BTDT moms have a leg up on us new kids. I know that, in the far too near future, my children will trade snuggles for Snapchat, giggling for group dates, and cuddles for college. In the blink of an eye, I’ll be packing them up to move onto new adventures, and our time together will fade into distant memories for them… but for me, those lazy evenings reading Curious George together will be etched upon my heart with such fervor and desired to return once more.
So! What do you do when you feel a little touched out? What are some tips, tricks and hints that work for you?