“Exhausting both physically, emotionally, and mentally.”
What are these parents describing?
How hard it is to be a parent to a child with extreme sensory needs, or SPD.
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So much of the focus is on meeting your child’s needs, that it’s easy to overlook your needs as human being.
Here’s a couple things you can do today to equip and encourage you as you do the hard work of parenting a sensory child.
You have Sensory Needs
The more you learn about sensory processing, the more you’ll learn about your own needs. (Remember, everyone has sensory needs!)
Become more in-tune with your body and try to meet those needs. You’ll find yourself better able to handle the upheaval of a sensory household, if your brain is happily sorting sensory input without adding to your stress.
I’ve noticed in myself that when noise levels rise, so does my tension. And while I can’t run off to a quiet spa, I do know that proprioceptive input is great for everybody! I might grab a toddler and plop him on my lap while I read him a book so that his weight can calm me. Or I might do some jump squats or climb some stairs two at a time.
I know it seems counter-intuitive, especially when you just want to crawl in a hole. But I’ve been shocked at how my body handles life better when I am purposeful to first recognize my needs, and then meet them throughout the day.
You have Emotional Needs
Guys, sensory parenting is tough.
I vacillate between tears and rage pretty regularly.
The pressure is huge and it often feels like no body “gets” it.
While other parents are worried about their child’s swim team record, you can’t get your seven year old to take a bath (just me?).
Then you’ve got all the people who judge your sensory parenting techniques. Or maybe your spouse doesn’t believe your child has SPD.
You need a tribe of people that share your wins and pick you up when you’re down. (I LOVE our FREE private group of like-minded sensory parents and hope you’ll join us!)
One book I’ve found especially encouraging to my soul is Different: The Story of an Outside-the-Box Kid and the Mom Who Loved Him by Sally Clarkson. It will spur you on like nothing else!
Mama, you can do hard things.
The words of Charlotte Mason ring true here.
“Mothers work wonders once they are convinced that wonders are demanded of them.”
Your Child is Not Just a Sensory Being
Your child’s sensory needs are consuming and in your face on a daily basis. But please don’t forget to see the forest for the trees.
Your child is a unique soul, a whole person, gifted and flawed, beautiful and broken.
Don’t forget to nurture the person behind those meltdowns.
Don’t forget their heart.
You’re not going to always meet their sensory needs.
There will be meltdowns. And that’s not the end of the world.
Your child’s character is being refined. They’ll learning how to do hard things too.
Tend to their soul. Nurture you own. You can both do hard things.