If you have kids, chances are you feel "touched out" at least some of the time. Breastfeeding moms may feel it even more frequently because nursing a baby or toddler is so physically demanding. While it's not a scientific term, "touched out" generally means you're tired of having a baby and/or toddler(s) nursing, crawling, jumping, and snuggling on you. This feeling usually reaches its crescendo at the end of a long day when all you want is a minute to yourself. When you're in the thick of it, it's normal to wonder: When does feeling touched out go away? It's hard to give a precise answer, but many mothers find relief after carving out time for self-care, going back to work, weaning a nursling, or simply as their kids get older.
"As I discovered after weaning my daughter, the touched out feeling will still come up from time to time even after your breastfeeding relationship has ended, so finding what works for you now will have lasting benefits," wrote Kendra Atkins-Boyce in La Leche League's "Getting In Touch with the 'Touched Out' Feeling." Even if you're not breastfeeding your child, there is still a lot of touching going on, from holding them during a bottle feed to rocking and other comforting behaviors. It's normal to feel this way. The self-care habits you develop now to cope with feeling touched out will serve you well down the road.
So how do real moms cope with feeling touched out? "When I am feeling touched out, it usually means I am stressed out and that the role of wife-and-mother is suffocating me. It means I need some time to reconnect with myself— even if it means turning on the TV for the kids at a non-TV time so I can get on the yoga mat; even if it means shuffling out the door for a walk when my husband gets home and I should be feeding everybody dinner," wrote board-certified lactation consultant Wendy Wisner on her website.
In an article for EverydayFamily titled "Feeling Touched Out? You're Not Alone. This is Why Moms Feel So Touched Out," former labor and delivery nurse and mom of four Chaunie Brusie wrote that "I happen to be a very introverted person and need lots of downtime and alone time to recharge my batteries. So those early years of little people constantly hanging on me and needed everything from me — physically, emotionally, and otherwise — were incredibly, incredibly draining. Without fail, there came a point at every evening when I just wanted to not be touched."
Because no two people are completely alike, every experience of motherhood will be a little or a lot different. And some kids are clingier or crave more physical proximity than others. However you experience the touched out feeling, and whatever works best to help you cope, is 100 percent fine. Personally, I've found it helpful to read more about personality traits such as introversion or the highly sensitive person. Getting to know myself better helps me understand why I feel the way I do, and how I can better care for myself.
Sometimes feeling touched out can affect your relationship with your partner. If you're home during the day and your partner is at work, they might not understand why you resist physical contact, sexual or otherwise. Talking honestly about your experience and feelings can help stave off feelings of rejection. And while it isn't always comforting in the moment, remember that this too shall pass. As plenty of random strangers at Target love me to remind me, some day your snuggly toddlers will grow into older kids who turn the other way when you lean in for a kiss.
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