Are You a Highly Sensitive Mom?

Are You a Highly Sensitive Mom?

I didn’t know I was a highly sensitive person until I became a mother.

We were living in a small city with a lot of noise. Regular, everyday noise didn’t bother me.

Loud, thumping base, however, was the first thing to start setting my sensitivities into high gear.

And then factor in the intense, often psychotic-feeling of serious sleep deprivation that goes along with taking care of twin infants.

That’s around the time I started feeling the effects of being highly sensitive.

Every high pitch or low pitch noise made me cringe. Too many things happening at once in the same moment can also bring on a sense of overwhelm.

And, some of my sensitivities have only gotten worse over time rather than better.

The sounds don’t go away. The intense feelings don’t just evaporate into thin air.

But, creating all of the tools in The Abundant Mama Project help immensely.

In fact, without practicing my own daily tools, I quickly end up in Land of Bitter and Sour.

That’s when I started rising early to take time for myself before my day began.

That’s when I started creating my own self-care plan that involved writing and other life exercises to keep me grounded and centered each day so I could be strong and calm as a mom — even when I faced sensory overload.

Recently — upon realizing that both of my daughters are also highly sensitive beings — I began really reading about this phenomenon and how it impacts ME, as a mother.



Are you a highly sensitive mom? How do you know?

It’s pretty simple. Here are some of the common traits of a highly sensitive person:

  • Overwhelmed easily
  • Aware of subtle changes in environment
  • Sensitive to pain, noise, smells and touch
  • Desire to withdraw into solitude often
  • Overwhelmed by light and sounds
  • Extremely conscientious to the point of being insecure
  • Easily annoyed and frustrated
  • Avoid violence and confrontation, including on TV and news
  • Changes and transitions are very challenging and anxiety-inducing
  • Easily overwhelmed by too many options or choices

If any of these traits stand out for you and you’re realizing you are highly sensitive … congratulations!

You’ve been given a gift. A gift of being able to see, hear, taste, smell and feel at a heightened state.

And this also means you may feel more overwhelmed in your life as a mother than you wish.

Children are filled with chaos, disorder, loud noises and the constant barrage of too many requests, demands and ideas. Children naturally bring conflict and challenges. When your child cries, you feel so much more than sadness. You may feel their pain in your skin or in your stomach. You long to ease their sadness.

And when you cannot you may feel like the world is caving in on you and you feel dizzy, overwhelmed and even angry.

Being a highly sensitive mom can disrupt your inner compass to being peaceful, playful and present as a mother and a woman.

Many of the mothers who have gone through my online program over the last two years have been highly sensitive mothers. I know from the way they confess why they are taking the course. They’ll say things like … I yell a lot, or I want to be more present or I want to feel more connected to my child.

Feeling overwhelmed by the sensory overload of motherhood keeps us disconnected, lost and wanting to crawl back into bed if we are not mindful of how we handle our sensitive nature.

A highly sensitive mom cares so much it hurts. She feels so much she often can’t make decisions. She stands in emotional gridlock.

And yet she often doesn’t even know that it’s her true nature to be sensitive and that she can slow down and make appropriate changes to cope with the sensory explosions happening on a daily basis.

As a highly sensitive mom myself — and I’ve known this for years — I have to take really good care of myself so I can care for my family well.

That begins with understanding my own sensitivities and how they are playing out in my relationships.

This is the first in a series of blog posts I’m writing on this topic of being a highly sensitive mom. 

Discuss: Are you a highly sensitive mother? How do you know?

Are you a highly sensitive mom?


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66 Responses to Are You a Highly Sensitive Mom?

  1. Wow, I have been called “too sensitive” many times in my life, and this list is me to the letter, lots of which I didn’t realise until I became a mum when all the quiet me time that I had neede to function was no longer an option. Very interesting read x

  2. I discovered that many of these symptoms for me were connected to ADHD and anxiety. I tried meditation and several other approaches but found no relief until I tried medication. It has changed my life. My son commented just yesterday that I haven’t yelled in a really long time. I can finally be the calm, nurturing mother that I always wanted to be.

    • Interesting! Human beings are such unique creatures … just when we think we understand ourselves we really begin to understand ourselves. Thanks for sharing your story. Meditation has worked pretty well for me but I do many things all day long to help alleviate the overwhelm as well.

      • Hi there! I’m not a fan of medications. I use all natural soothing and self-care for my own anxiety. I would talk to your doctor for sure!

  3. Thank you so much for your wisdom. SO many people must read your posts in a day, and so many must have no time to reply. I never do, so I am taking the time today to give thanks that you speak such truth and share such joy and life lessons. Keep up the amazing work in our lives. We are so grateful.

  4. I knew about the trait of High Sensitivity several years before I became a mother. I really underestimated how the trait would be such a factor as a mother. Before children, I was able to manage my sensitivity with lots of self-care, and that of course diminished after my son was born. He is also highly sensitive and my daughter is not. Sensory input is an issue but for me the biggest is the sensing my children’s pain. I think we’re already tuned into that as mothers, but as a HSP it’s like I have a doppler radar for all my children’s emotions! My son will be seven in a couple of months and I am struggling with my sensitivity and related health problems and with helping him learn about the trait and what he can do with all the extra inputs into his body, mind, and spirit. I am learning to see this as a gift and I hope he will experience that too. I am grateful for the growing resources and that high sensitivity is being talked about more and more. Thank you for this post.

    • Yes, it is wonderful to see this topic discussed so much more frequently. I totally hear you on being in tune with their emotions and feeling tied up in them as if we are responsible for causing — or healing them. Sometimes they just need us to understand how they are feeling and not actually fix it.

  5. This is me exactly! I have found ways to cope when it is sensitivity to my own life, but when my kids are upset in anyway it hurts me so much I almost can’t hold it together. My older son is also highly sensative and just started preschool. Within the first few classes he was being picked on and I almost resolved then and there to homeschool! (I was able to talk to his teacher who was very responsive and things are much better now) When they are crying and can’t fall asleep I almost have a panic attack – which does nothing to help them get to sleep, let me tell you. In most things I think it makes me a much better mom though, so over all I’m grateful to be a hihgly sensative mama. Thank you for focusing on this issue!

    • I agree … the hardest part is tapping into their needs. And the worst? When we know what they need and they won’t accept it! Ack, I hate that.

  6. Oh my… I have twin boy and girl. I don’t get breaks and sometimes I feel torn in two. I love and adore my twins. That’s the problem, I lack time for me!

  7. I agree, there are heaps of highly sensitive Mum’s in AMP, and I’m one of them :) The cost of being HS is great but so too is the reward. We get to feel the world in all its intensity, full colour and glorious. The joy is ours for the savouring so long as we can tune down the pain and overwhelm. Gratitude and self care is going a long way to allowing the music and colour and chaos back into my life – I love it! Looking forward to more posts on this topic x

    • Once we know what works, we can control those feelings of overwhelm but it does take a lot of experimenting because the wrong self-care act can really do more damage.

  8. Wow! This is so me! I’ve always known that I’m a sensitive person, but it has gotten worse since having 2 kids! I really crave silence and order on my everyday life. I find my girls are also very sensitive! Crazy!

  9. I have always known i am very emotional but it is only when reading about intense sensitive kids to understand my daughter that i figured i was highly sensitive in more than my emotions. It is a daily struggle to work our own sensitivities along our children’s.

  10. So glad I found this post. I think this is the underlying reason for some of the problems I am having right now. I have already recognized the need for more self care. I am trying to implement changes slowly to make them lasting. I look forward to the rest of the series!

  11. You could have written this about me! I’m a mom of twins also! Our boys just turned 4 and the amount of noise in our house gets to pretty high levels at times. Thanks so much for your honesty! Can’t wait to read more in this series!

  12. I am a definitely a HS mama bear. I knew I was HS before I became a mother, but now I am super super sensitive. I feel so much more vulnerable and raw about terrible things you see on the news, I feel my daughters pain tenfold, I can sense by the way she looks if some things not right. I have become so sensitive I don’t know if I can continue with my nursing career as it effects me too deeply. Currently on AMP course.

    • That sense — that internal intuition — is SO DANG POWERFUL. It can be for good, so much good but we do have to balance it. That’s where AMP comes in, right? :)

  13. Yes I am a highly sensitive mama- thank you for writing about it. Naming it helps so much. In AMP and LOVING IT. You are a lifesaver Shawn.

  14. I had to take some leave this week to be on my own (check 1) as I am feeling overwhelmed at work due to my drive to do everything perfectly (check 2). I took myself off to a yarn shop to pick something out for my next project. Over an hour later I finally managed to stop dithering and decide on which wool to get (check 3). I then had to go and get some lunch and sat nervously and anxious in an unfamiliar coffee shop (check 4).

    I do wonder though; Is there a fine line between your descriptin of being HS and the symptoms of depression?

    • I love this share … but I wanted to say that I think depression is very different. That gets in the way of your ability to function like go to work, leave the house for everyday things. But if you aren’t sure, check it out with your doc, Mama!

  15. Wow! So many of theses traits describe me. Not all, but many. And, I’m a first grade teacher with 2 young boys. That’s why I keep coming back for inspiration. Thanks, Shawn!

  16. I found myself thinking about this post a lot during the day today after reading it yesterday. I’m very sensitive — and it results in me getting very frustrated with my children and really being unsatisfied in my marriage because I’m never ever happy with how much my husband is contributing. Looking forward to some help figuring all this out and being happier and more fulfilled in the day to day.

    • You should definitely get on the wait list for the next AMP program then, Mama! We’re all about this during the four weeks!

  17. For a long time, I thought the outside world chaos was affecting my sensitivity. After having one child, I could balance the outside world with the solitude I shared with my infant daughter. Now that I have 3, our home world is a bit loud and chaotic, but most of the time we can find solace in eachother. It’s also become my new normal to be accustomed to too many distractions, which stresses me out! Slowing down this chaos would be a dream.

  18. Thank you so much…it feels so good to know that “this” is “something” that happens to more moms and that can be controlled or at least understood. My older kid is 11 now and I get so overhelmed when he is upset about his relationships, when he feels different or alone. But the worst is how I felt when I discovered he was hidding information, or worst, lying…wow I felt betrayed and hurt me to the bone. Later I discovered that more kids do, and mothers treat it as normal…not for me. I’ll be all aware for your informations. Thanks again.

    • I totally feel you on how we parent vs. others who aren’t sensitive. I think they are so much more easy going and so much less stressed … but are they as connected and engaged to their child’s needs? I just don’t know … good points on both sides, and not, I suppose.

  19. Thank you for this….. I feel like you pulled this article right out of my daily life. It puts many things into perspective once you read the words written by someone outside of yourself. Thanks for the reminder to get up in the morning and ground. I often like to do it again in the middle of the day and before bed. Again I couldn’t thank you again for this post!

  20. Thank you for posting this! It’s as if I found this at exactly the time I needed to read this the most and know that I’m not crazy. This is a great reminder that I need to take time to center myself sometimes before I can tackle anything else.

  21. At various times in my life I have been told ‘oh you’re too sensitive’ thrown as an insult. I thought I just needed to grow up. I haven’t thought about it much really. But I have gone through times when I literally can’t bear to read the news because it’s so awful (but then I start to read if again as I feel it’s a moral obligation to be informed about world events). I often feel paralysed when trying to make decisions to help my children, and I feel more than sad when they are sad (or bad), I feel desperate. I can’t sleep at all if my husband is just breathing heavily which he finds ridiculous.
    Having read this I also now see how my 4 year old son is sensitive, not just touchy/prickly, so different from my 2 year old son. Thank you for this – I will look into coping strategies (for both him and me).

  22. I’m so glad someone has decided to write about this topic. There is not enough information or tips out there to help highly sensitive parents raising highly sensitive kids. I’m looking forward to reading more of your posts.

  23. i think you have just described me! I have been learning more about myself in the last year than I have in a long time. I have come to realize that I do get sensory overload. But to read this, helps me to feel “normal”. I’ve thought this “weakness” was a weakness & that I was just being a mean mommy. But a lot of my issues stem from being sensitive or overloaded. I am definitely an introvert in a very extroverted home. I am learning my triggers & my hubby tends to help me when I get overloaded. He tames the kiddos while I try to chill. But when I am home w the kiddos by myself, it isn’t as easy to retreat when I am overloaded. Rarely do I get a night out by myself. I have friends who like to do lunch, but that can be over-stimulation for me. So I just get to where I want to burst b/c I’ve had way too much stimulation for days & days on end.

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Shawn Fink - Abundant MamaFrom Our Founder

I created The Abundant Mama Project to inspire overwhelmed, busy mothers to slow down and let go of the worries and concerns that are holding them back from experiencing joyful motherhood. Read More »
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