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I’m just a sensitive mom raising a sensitive son in a loud and chaotic world.


I cry at commercials and beautiful art. I feel deeply moved by music and poetry. Too much noise and commotion makes me anxious. Criticism hurts for days. I notice the small things most people don’t pick up on. Strong smells are an assault to my senses.

I am part of the 15-20% of the population carrying the trait of high sensitivity.

I have written about the challenges and joys of raising and loving a sensitive son, but what about the challenges and joys of being a sensitive mother? Do you carry this trait as well?



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Here are some signs according to Elaine Aron, author of The Highly Sensitive Person:

  • During busy days, do you feel the need to withdraw to a darkened or other quiet space to find relief?
  • Are you easily overwhelmed by strong smells, bright lights, loud noises, and coarse fabrics?
  • Do you have a complex inner life?
  • Do you try to avoid violent movies or television shows?

Motherhood is a roller-coaster ride for the senses. Children are, by their wonderful natures, exuberant, spirited, energetic and loud.

My ears have been subjected to both quiet coos and high-pitched screams. My nose has experienced a range of smells, from light and sweet baby shampoo to dirty diapers and chunky vomit. My eyes have witnessed bloody noses that nearly made me pass out but also the sight of a peacefully sleeping baby that I grew inside my own body.

I’ve tasted sweat from forehead kisses and the “banana milk” experiment my 7-year-old made in a dusty teapot. I’ve experienced the gentle caresses of a loving toddler and the painful yank of a fistful of hair.

Many times, I’ve been overstimulated from the barrage of sensory information to the point of being completely frazzled, and I’ve felt the need to escape to find peace and quiet.

This isn’t always easy to do, especially when children are very young and you are the sole caretaker at the moment you find yourself overwhelmed. This overstimulation can cause sensitive moms to get irritable, and because of our sensitive and often perfectionistic natures, we sometimes carry guilt both for feeling the need to escape and for becoming agitated.

I can become easily overwhelmed if:

  • My kids have made a huge mess or there’s a lot of clutter.
  • I’m wearing something uncomfortable or the temperature isn’t right.
  • I have too much on my to-do list.
  • The kids are loud in public or spill a drink at a restaurant and people stare.
  • My son’s emotions are high.
  • I don’t have adequate downtime.

Although high sensitivity can be a challenge, it also brings joys. I believe this trait is a gift, and our strengths of compassion, intuitiveness, and noticing are strengths that the world very much needs. We make the very world that overwhelms us brighter, softer and kinder.

Being intuitive helps me assess my children’s needs more easily and understand them better. I often know what they are feeling before they verbalize it. I feel the joys of motherhood intensely, and my heart nearly bursts with pride and love each day.

Learning to manage my sensitivity has been important in helping me show up at my best for my family. When I practice good self-care, I’m not as easily overwhelmed, and I just feel generally calmer and more patient.

Here are 5 ways sensitive mothers can manage their superpower trait:

1. Say “yes” to a slower, more intentional life.

I just can’t be the mom who plans big parties and has my kid involved in every single sport and extracurricular out there. There have to be blank days on the calendar for cozying around the house. These free days are essential for allowing my nervous system to rest and recharge.

2. Cultivate strong emotional connections.

Just as I discussed how sensitive kids need a positive bond, so do mothers. Those bonds with our partners and kids can sometimes become weakened due to busyness, relationship struggles or just not being intentional with our time together. But all humans have a basic need for positive bonds that allow us to rest in love, be who we are, and feel supported and accepted. Because sensitive mamas are often more emotionally attuned, a lack of connection is felt deeply.

3. Create a sanctuary.

I turned my bedroom into a calm and delightful area with ambient lighting and a soft comforter. Plus I filled it with books. If you can’t transform a room, take over a small area. Fill it with things that are pleasing to your senses. A soft pillow. A lightly fragranced candle. Go there and listen to something calming or inspiring, write in a journal, read a book or just sit quietly.

4. Set boundaries.

Just as it’s important for our sensitive kids to learn to set boundaries, it’s important for us as well, both so we can model what that looks like for our kids and because it helps us avoid certain triggers and overstimulation. This means that I consciously protect my space, including my head space, my spiritual space and my physical space. I’m careful about what and who I let in. Guarding our spaces is critical for sensitive mamas.

5. Cultivate an atmosphere of peace at home.

I really work hard to make home a haven. While it does get loud and messy at times, I’m focused on creating a place of emotional rest, which is not only needed for my sensitive son but for all of us—no one needs a place of emotional rest more than I do!

I’m also constantly working on helping my boys have a positive sibling relationship because a house where there is constant bickering is not a place of peace! Home must be a place where the most sensitive of us can let down our guards and soak up lots of love.

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Jessica Simpson's life seems perfect. She has three beautiful kids, a wildly successful career, a seemingly solid marriage...she has it all, at least as far as we can see. But recent revelations prove that no one really knows what anyone else is secretly dealing with—and Jessica, by her own admission, has been struggling with alcohol issues.

The singer-turned-business-woman recently sat down with TODAY's Hoda Kotb, and it will air on NBC's TODAY Wednesday morning.

"I had started a spiral and I couldn't catch up with myself…and that was with alcohol," Jessica explained. "I would say it openly to everyone. 'I know. I know, I'll stop soon. I'll cut back'," Jessica continued when asked if she realized things were getting out of control. "For me to cut back, like I'm an all or nothing girl, and so I didn't know it was a problem until it was...I completely didn't recognize myself…I always had a glitter cup. It was always filled to the rim with alcohol."

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She's hardly alone. The rise of #winemom phenomenon is well documented and many parents struggle with substance abuse problems. But Simpson's story proves there is a way to get your life back.

Simpson quit drinking in 2017 after she found herself unable to get her kids ready for a Halloween party. She says she'd started drinking before 7:30 in the morning, before accompanying her husband, Eric Johnson, to a school assembly for their oldest daughter. Later that night she was unable to get her kids dressed in their Halloween costumes. The next morning she was so ashamed. Feeling like she had failed her kids she slept until they left the house, then got up and drank some more.

That episode was her tipping point. She quit drinking (as did her husband, Eric Johnson, who supports her in her sobriety.)



As parents, we know how overwhelming the demands can be...and how easy it is to sink into habits that don't ultimately serve us well. For Jessica, the way to heal was to sever her relationship with alcohol.

"I had to give [drinking] up," Jessica said. "I'm not going to miss another day. I'm not going to miss another Halloween. I'm not going to miss another Christmas. I'm going to be present."

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Babies come with a lot of stuff. And when you're out and about, a roomy, comfy diaper bag is the place for everything you need to be prepared for whatever the day throws your way. But is a cute, trendy diaper bag that doesn't scream, well... DIAPER BAG, too much to ask? It's not, mamas.

We've rounded up our favorite diaper bags that don't actually look like diaper bags, but instead like the cute, super stylish bags you might have carried before the days of finding crushed up puffs at the bottom of your purse.

These bags prove you can get the job done, mama—and look darn good while doing it.

Freshly Picked City Pack

Freshly Picked City Pack

This simple, modern backpack can easily take you from a day at work to dinner with the kiddos. We love the hardware details, the lightweight design, and the hidden back pocket.

$150

Vogshow Waterproof Bag

Vogshow Waterproof Diaper Bag

A sleek look, plus a padded laptop compartment, anti-theft and insulated pockets and magnetic buttons instead of zippers. 🙌

$34.99

Skip Hop Travel Bag

Skip Hop Travel Bag

With a large zippered main compartment, there's plenty of room to keep all of the things. We love the adjustable straps—you can wear as a backpack, cross-body, messenger bag, or attach to the stroller.

$99.99

Companion Quilted Backpack

companion quilted backpack diaper bag

Are you off to sit on the beach for a few hours, or taking your toddlers to the zoo? No one will be the wiser, mamas. We love the quilted look, padded straps, and roomy interior.

$178

Mommore Diaper Backpack

Mommore Diaper Backpack

With a water resistant exterior, wet clothes pocket and a main compartment that completely opens up, you'll love having this to tote around.

$34.99

JJ Cole Brookmont

JJ Cole Cognac Diaper Bag

As stunning as it is functional. It has 15 pockets and a removable liner on the inside so you can easily clean up messes in no time.

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Little Unicorn Boardwalk Tote

If you're looking to keep things simple + stylish, mamas, this is the bag for you. It's versatile, functional, and will get tons of use well past the diaper days.

$69.95

Presidio Vegan Leather Diaper Tote

Presidio Vegan Leather Diaper Tote

This stunning tote would make the perfect on-the-go bag. It comes with a changing page and a couple pockets on the inside to keep everything organized. Don't forget to personalize it!

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Ticent Tote

Ticent Diaper Bag

With nearly 500 reviews, this one has incredible ratings. It offers multiple pockets, including an insulated one for snacks or bottles. The waterproof cotton material is ideal for those inevitable spills.

$30.99

Fawn Design Original

Stylish and versatile, this bag can be worn as a cross body or as a backpack. It's roomy without being bulky, and has a total of 10 pockets for awesome storage.

$159.99

Skip Hop Greenwich Backpack

No one would ever know this bag is packed full of baby's items. 😉

$69.99

Rosie Pope Highbury Hill

Highbury Hill Diaper Backpack

If you're looking to up your style, this chic backpack will help you get there. Lots of inner pockets and zippered compartments make it simple to organize your stuff, and the top flap and wide opening make for quick + easy accessibility.

$159.99

Babymel Robyn

Babymel Robyn Diaper Backpack

We love everything about this effortlessly stylish faux leather backpack. It's easy to wipe down, converts to a cross body bag, and even comes with a changing pad and drawstring bottle holder.

$90

Petunia Pickle Bottom Pathway

Petunia Pickle Bottom Diaper Tote

This two-tone canvas bag could not be prettier. We love that it easily stands upright when set down, and that it's super functional as a diaper bag yet super stylish as an everyday purse.

$159

Skip Hop Duo

Skip Hop Duo Diaper Bag

The timeless stripes on this 11-pocket bag means it will never go out of style, and the durable cotton canvas means it will stand up to years of use.

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We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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Frustrations and emotions were at an all time high for both us. I was worried that my lack of patience would get the best of me, leaving her feeling let down and frustrated with me on her new journey of becoming a “big girl." And selfishly, I was tired of washing wet underwear. For her part, my daughter was tired of being asked for the hundredth time if she needed to use the potty.

We both were feeling a little defeated in this new adventure.

I have found too often as a mother that I expect my child to respond new things, like to potty training, as fast and as close to the last blog post, book or opinion I heard or read. What I have learned is that no two children are alike and the moment I release my expectations for where mine should or should not be, we are both brought back to peace and patience.

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So maybe a break was all we needed to start fresh the next day. We headed to our favorite spot by the lake and had a picnic. My daughter munched on popcorn and chatted away about the weather and pinecones, and listened for the sounds of helicopters—which you hear quite often living on an aviation military base.

Sometimes in the daily struggles of motherhood I have noticed that I can forget who I am and the strength we possess as mothers. It may not come easily at first, but I grow with each new day. Even potty training—this mundane human activity that is emotional and (quite literally) messy, teaches me much about the meaning and purpose of motherhood.

Potty training has taught me a huge lesson on patience. Patience to be present, to pay attention to what is right in front of me. To be encouraging, to not rush the process, to not place expectations on timing or play the comparison game we often play as mothers.

Patience is needed in every area of parenting and potty training is just one way where we can see as parents where our patience is wearing thin.

I have found that it's when I come from a place of patience and presence that I can then glean wisdom from those messy, mundane, time-consuming tasks of potty training, and find that the waiting, sitting and hours of time spent in the bathroom gives me an opportunity to be present in my child's world.

Whether it be the grocery line, a traffic jam, or cleaning up wet bedding, I learn the art and joy in the small and big moments in motherhood. Giving our children space to fail and try it again as many times as it takes encourages them that they too can cultivate the gift of patience in there own tiny lives.

My daughter speaks to me everyday, inviting growth that sometimes feels really hard and frustrating, she provokes patience to be felt and sensed through every minute of the day. And for this I am grateful. Because to truly live and be present in my child's world means “I learn from her, and she learns from me." Even in potty training.

Our children have so much to offer to who we are as individuals and they have so much to teach us. In fact, I have come to live for these exhausting, beautiful, and downright messy moments in time. When I push myself to embrace them, rather than just find them frustrating, I stretch and grow and evolve. I become the mother I hope to be.

And to you mama, whether in the midst of sleepless newborn nights or toddler tornados or the midst of potty training, may you find strength as a mother, as a wife, and as a person to let go of any expectations or judgements you place upon yourself.

May love and gratitude fill our hearts and peace be with all of us on the journey that motherhood is.

Life
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