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Feeling ‘Touched Out’? Ways to Honor Your Needs and Recharge

As caregivers, we love our children more than anything. But sometimes the thought of little hands touching our faces or pulling at our shirts can make our stomachs squirm or our skin crawl. If you’ve ever experienced these feelings, you might be “touched out.”

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The term “touched out” means feeling overwhelmed or emotionally drained due to constant physical contact with your child. It often leads to a need for personal space and a break from touch. Usually when caregivers feel touched out, they’re experiencing sensory overload from all the demands of raising a little one. This can impact breastfeeding people in particular, as they’re constantly holding, cuddling, and feeding their infant.

Feeling touched out is very common for caregivers of young children. When you notice these squeamish or claustrophobic feelings creeping in, it’s time to focus on your mental and emotional health. For some caregivers, it might feel too difficult to take time for themselves, but it benefits both you and your child. When caregivers are feeling steady and calm, they’re more prepared to face whatever life—and their child—throws at them. Here are some simple ways to help caregivers rejuvenate:

  • Develop a simple routine for yourself: Routines can help our children feel steady and secure, but they can also help us as caregivers. Try creating a short 5- to 10-minute routine each day that helps you unwind and recharge, such as journaling, reading, or sitting alone with a hot cup of coffee or tea. 

  • Connect with a support network: Reach out to friends, family, or a parenting group where you can discuss your experiences and challenges openly to gain emotional support.

  • Get some fresh air: Outdoor activities like walking, jogging, or simply spending time in nature can help clear your thoughts and give you some personal time. If you don’t have access to babysitting support, you can try going to a park with your child and encourage them to play independently where you can keep an eye on them.

  • Relax through meditation: Explore free meditation apps or YouTube videos to guide you through a mindfulness session and help you manage stress. Even just five minutes of mindfulness can make a big difference. Some caregivers also light an aromatherapy candle or enhance their practice in other unique ways. It can be helpful to use moments when your child is sleeping or engaged in independent play to focus on your breathing and practice mindfulness, even if it’s just for a few minutes.

  • Trade child care favors with friends or family: Coordinate with a trusted friend or family member to occasionally swap child care duties, allowing each other to take a break and recharge.

  • Try a fun creative or physical outlet: Explore hobbies like dancing, yoga, painting, or knitting to express yourself and enjoy a break from parenting responsibilities.

There are also a few ways you can prevent getting touched out.

  • Set healthy boundaries: Establish clear boundaries between yourself and your child by communicating your needs, giving yourself permission to take time, and teaching your child about personal space. You can try communicating your boundaries in a child-friendly way by saying, “I love you so much. But I need a little rest right now. How about you try [independent activity] and I’ll join in soon!”

  • Share parenting responsibilities: As much as possible, lean on your partner or family members to ensure everyone is engaged in the child’s caregiving and to help balance the physical and emotional demands.

  • Give yourself some grace and understanding: Parenting is challenging and demanding at times, and it’s okay not to be perfect. Allow yourself the grace to accept and learn from difficult moments.

  • Encourage age-appropriate independence: As your child grows, gradually introduce activities that promote self-reliance and independence, like self-feeding or dressing, to ease physical demands on yourself.

  • Communicate your feelings: Discuss your emotions with your partner, close friends, or family members to support each other and seek solutions to ease touch fatigue. When appropriate, it’s also beneficial to share your feelings with your child. It can be a great learning opportunity for them to see you identify your emotions.

  • Create a calming environment: Designate a space in your home as a “relaxation zone” where you can retreat for a few minutes to recharge and briefly escape from the demanding aspects of parenting.

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