As a homeschooling stay-at-home mom, I’ve always spent a lot of time with my four children—by choice. Even before COVID, I have strategically designed our lives to allow me to be around them as much as possible.
However, although my days were always filled with my crew, our frequent activities kept us very busy. Under normal circumstances, we participate in two co-ops, go to church, and pursue each of my kid’s interests through extracurriculars. Life kept us out and about, bustling from one thing to the next, and then, with COVID, the world seemed to shut down overnight.
Suddenly, everything stopped. We stayed home for weeks. Even my husband’s job turned remote. And I found us all together more than ever. Day and night and night and day. Truthfully, as a mom of many who’s home all the time, I was touched out even before COVID. But now? Thanks to our family’s nonstop interaction, I have never felt more emotionally spent, more needed, or more on the brink of cracking.
Let’s Talk About Being Touched Out
When moms talk about being touched out, you may wonder what exactly that means. Well, it means exactly what it sounds like: moms are literally physically touched out.
Let’s take a look at my daily routine in the morning as an example of what being “touched out” means. My day typically starts with two of my children greeting me by crawling into my bed before dawn. Next, we have breakfast together, which amounts to them scooting their chairs closer and closer together and my two-year-old eventually finishing his breakfast while sitting on my lap instead of his chair. After I get the four and nine-year-old settled with their morning work, I take my morning shower—with the seven-year-old following me upstairs, sitting outside the shower curtain peppering me with questions. And my 2-year-old? Definitely not playing independently amidst all this. Nope, he’s usually in the shower with me.
Sigh. And it’s only 9 AM.
Truthfully, this was my normal before quarantine, but now that I’ve lost our homeschool co-op and playdates and church, my level of “touched out” has reached something else entirely. I’ve never felt so grateful while oh so-very-needed every minute of the day.
More Than Mom
In the beginning of the pandemic, it was alright, I suppose. I tried to make it fun, like an extended holiday break. I mean, in the beginning it was supposed to be just a few weeks. But then weeks turned into months and my children lost all semblance of self. Even my normally independent kids gravitated towards me as their world crumbled.
They raged and cried and mourned. They asked questions I didn’t have answers to. All of a sudden, I wasn’t only managing my emotions brought on by COVID, I was also balancing those of four little ones.
Without our regular routine, my kids lost their interaction with their speech teacher, their Sunday School leader, their coaches, and the parents of their friends. I became their one and only. So not only were they following me to the bathroom, they were staying up late needing to snuggle, napping in my bed asking to hold hands, climbing into my lap every time I sat, and begging to join me on my workouts.
And I couldn’t say no.
I couldn’t ask for space because despite my efforts to shelter them from many of the stresses COVID brought about, they sensed it all. And they needed me. It was my job to be their constant. Their safe place emotionally and physically.
So I gave. And continue to give.
My tolerance has no doubt increased. I used to think I was touched out and now I recognize all the breaks I truly had. I reflect on them longingly wondering when things will return to normal—while simultaneously hearing that there will be no going back. This is it. This is life now.
Our New Normal
Realizing that my touched-out time may be here to stay, I have worked on a few solutions to get through. For instance, in an attempt to create some distance (and sanity), I was able to fully transition my toddler out our king size bed. He’s not in his own room yet—just a toddler bed nearest to my side, but still, it’s something. It meant my husband and I finally had our bed back.
I also set up a daily schedule for my seven-year-old Velcro boy. By giving him a routine of independent work, then something with me, my goal was to separate him a little while still allowing him to yo-yo back for those frequent touches his heart so desperately seemed to need.
But it’s not perfect. Some days, I am literally being touched by someone nearly 24/7 and most nights, I will end up sharing my pregnancy pillow with a three-year-old while trying to fall asleep to my in-utero baby’s kicks.
And that’s where I’ll stay: full of non-stop emotional and physical touches with no end in sight. There is no quick fix to the issue of being touched out as a mom; just prayers and the constant reminder that I can do this.
I have to believe that I can give my kids what they need and continue striving to capture some peace—and reclaim my pillow–so I’m ready to be there for them again tomorrow.
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