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  • How to Get Alone Time Without Feeling Like a Lousy Parent

    You love your child with every ounce of your being. You put your child first, because that’s how our society says parents should be. But you’re starting to feel like your true self is slipping away. What about your dreams, passions, goals? You’re craving some time for yourself, to relax, to hear yourself think, to have some peace and quiet. Then the guilt washes over you, mixing with resentment, and you feel like a crappy parent again. You cry, you yell, and the cycle repeats itself again. Nothing is wrong with you. You’re a highly sensitive parent.

    As a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP), you have a unique trait, not a disorder. Scientifically called Sensory Processing Sensitivity, you process things deeply, are easily overstimulated, very empathetic, and you can sense subtleties with amazing precision. These are really great life skills, but it’s daunting when your toddler or teenager is being difficult. Just another day in the life of a highly sensitive parent.

    The truth is that carving out time for yourself is like oxygen to you. It’s not a luxury. Your psyche needs the time and space to figure out the daily jigsaw puzzle of your thoughts and emotions. You can’t just let it go. You need to process it all first. Listen to music, read, meditate, exercise, daydream, zone out…but please don’t do the laundry! Twenty minutes is better than nothing, but hopefully sometimes you can squeeze out a few hours of alone time. Then you can effortlessly be a loving parent again.

    Sometimes we consciously know this, but the guilt still creeps back in. Most of your friends and family may not be like you. After all, HSP’s are only 15 to 20 percent of the population. Sure, every parent would benefit from having breaks. But you just might morph into the Incredible Hulk if you don’t nurture your soul. That’s when you have to utilize some positive self-talk, and remind yourself to let go of the comparisons and self-criticism. Accepting yourself and validating your needs is the essence of self-care. Plus it’s good behavior to model for your kids.

    Sometimes you will have to advocate for your alone time. Your spouse might not really get it. You have to inform the people in your life about the HSP trait. If you can’t accept this as part of your body chemistry, how will they? Acceptance may arrive in waves. Sometimes it’s easy and full of grace, other times you may wish you were like everyone else. Remember all the positive things about being highly sensitive. You are empathetic, conscientious, intuitive, perceptive, detail-oriented, polite, spiritual, and appreciate the arts. And you are a damn good parent.