We have a few little challenges happening in the Chapman home right now. I’ve mentioned the sleep issues. Related, this morning, I got up and every noise and every light and every movement was physically uncomfortable. I recognized it pretty quickly when I was cringing away from my husband’s voice as he was talking to a kid across the room. It felt a little like he was yelling at me and I wanted to cry.

Wait, what?

My first thought was meds. I feel pretty jumpy pretty fast if I miss an antidepressant (which is primarily for anxiety right now). But I was up on those, so it had to be something else.

Oh… right. Sleep.

Because I’m not in college anymore, a lack of sleep does some annoying things. I mentioned inability to function. I get really stupid. It also cranks up the volume on every sensory input. Given that I’m already highly sensitive, this makes for some hard days, especially when I am too tired to figure out what’s happening.

Today, because of grace and a lot of practice, I saw it immediately.

Here’s how we salvaged a morning of out-of-control high sensitivity:

I was honest.

First, I needed to be realistic with myself about today’s limitations. I needed to pare down to the essential items on my list and let the rest go. Also, the answer to a lot of the kids’ requests necessarily needs to be “no.” No, we can’t listen to the Lion King sound track right now. No, you can’t make me coffee with unknown ingredients.

As I was saying “no” to everything, I needed to be honest with the kids, too. It’s not their fault I don’t have bandwidth for music or messes, and they need to know that, while it looks like a low-privilege day, it’s not. I just need some help maintaining margin.

I looked around.

Visual clutter is mental clutter, so I looked around for the most obnoxious space. The table was totally overgrown with nonperishables from yesterday’s shopping trip, so I tackled it quickly.

We slowed way down.

I’m pretty crappy at multitasking anyway, but when I’m overstimulated, I really can’t. So I very carefully did one thing at a time as we made it through the morning. We made it to school, then lunch then nap time when I had time to reset. (We can call this “self-care time” but it’s really “kids watch Netflix” time. It’s fine.)


I don’t want to pretend like I have a handle on this. (By now, you can’t possibly believe it anyway, right?) But today, it worked. I was grateful to understand early and I appreciate (?) enough practice to know some tricks to mitigate the hypersensitivity.

How about you? Anything that takes you out on the regular? How do you work around it in your life?


This post is part of a 31-day series called “Grace in Failure.” Other posts from the series can be found here.

31days of grace in failure 4-3

Published by robininalaska

Robin Chapman is a part-time writer, editor, and birth photographer and a full-time imperfect mama, wife, Jesus follower, and normalizer of failure. She’s trying hard to learn how to do this motherhood thing in a way that doesn’t land the whole family in intensive therapy. She has a heart for helping other mamas buried in the little years with hope, humor, and solidarity. You can find her hiding out in the bathroom with an iced dirty chai, writing and editing and making spreadsheets for KindredMom.com where she is a cheerleader for mamas, or online looking for grace in her mundane and weird life. She lives in Fairbanks, Alaska with her four delightful (crazy) kids—some homeschooled, some public schooled, some too young for school at all—and her ridiculously good looking husband, Andrew.

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