As moms, the voice in our head isn’t always our biggest supporters. How can we get through the tough moments, particularly the sensory meltdowns? Today I am sharing my one secret trick that has carried me through each and every sensory meltdown my boys have thrown at me.
What It’s Like for Moms During Meltdowns
Anyone who is a parent has dealt with a meltdown or two in their lifetime.
But parents who don’t have sensory kids or children on the Autism spectrum can’t really understand what it’s like to have a child who is having an honest to goodness sensory meltdown. This isn’t a slight against any parent. It’s just a fact.
Trust me. I’ve seen and experienced my share of severe tantrums. But a sensory meltdown is a whole different ball game.
I was recently visiting my folks, standing in the guest bathroom, and had a flashback to a particularly memorable meltdown my son had while we were visiting.
At this point in my life, I don’t remember what set off the meltdown. The sad thing it was one of hundreds upon hundreds of meltdowns my son has had over the course of his nine years. What made it memorable was it was the first severe one my parents witnessed and it was the meltdown that helped my parents truly understand what my husband and I were dealing with on a daily basis.
It was the meltdown that helped my parents truly understand what my husband and I were dealing with on a daily basis.
During a meltdown, a child doesn’t actually register their environment. They are not mad about not getting the toy or being denied ice cream. They are not due for a nap or acting “like a brat.” They are having such a visceral reaction to their environment, they are sent to a place that is either fight or flight, and their body enters into extreme fight mode.
The thing is that while you are looking at your child melting down, you can look into their eyes and see that they are not really there. They are so deep down the rabbit’s hole that nothing you say or do will register.During a #sensory meltdown, they are so deep down the rabbit's hole nothing you say/do will register. #autism Click To Tweet
The Meltdown That Helped My Family Understand
On this particular day, I was getting Vman was getting out of the bathtub, and I could see him spiraling down. Before I knew it, he was in full blown meltdown.
At this point of our journey, I already knew I had to ride the wave out. With him arms flailing and legs kicking, I held him tight. Tight compression was my best chance of helping him settle down faster. I also was afraid of him hurting himself. At the time, I wasn’t worried about myself at all (even though he had broken my nose once).
So we settled in on the furry bathroom mat.
My mom, however, wanted to intervene. She’s a mom. She worries for me. And so, as any mom would, she tried to come into the bathroom to see what she could do.
From my perspective and experience, her presence would have only added to the stress of the situation. She would have wanted to talk it out. She would have wanted to try to snap Vman out of it. She would not have recognized that the grandson she knows and loves was completely checked out.
There is no reaching a child in a sensory meltdown. You just have to ride it out.There is no reaching a child in a sensory meltdown. You just have to ride it out. Click To Tweet
And so, when she tried to enter the bathroom, I promptly kicked the door closed with my foot and yelled over Vman’s screaming to just let me handle it.
I didn’t know at the time that she waited outside. I didn’t know at the time that she timed how long we were in there (well past 20 minutes). I do know that she was there when the tsunami had passed and I was thankful for her understanding and for respecting my own decision as a mom to keep her out.
When she told me that Vman had been flailing and screeching for more than 20 minutes, she made some similar comment to “I don’t know how you do it.”
But I do know how I got through those meltdowns… and I’m going to tell you how.
How I Discovered the Secret to Riding Through a Meltdown
Let me take a step back first, though. I was in my mid 20s and working downtown at a ridiculously stressful public relations firm. I’ve never been one for working out, but somehow I got roped into a cardio kickboxing class and found it was one of the only stress relievers I had.
This kickboxing class studio would hold upwards of 100 people. The sound of the class hooting and hollering was deafening. The pounding of the music even more so. I would show up early to that class to make sure I was going to be in the very front row.
The instructor (a ridiculously gorgeous guy, which didn’t hurt) was more than happy to call you out if you were slacking. He knew everyone’s name. And he was the reason I came back to that class time and time again.
It was the quotes he would repeat over and over that became a sort of mantra to get me through.
It wasn’t his good looks (but, again, that didn’t hurt), it was what he said during the class. It was the words he said that reverberated in my head throughout the next day. It was the quotes he would repeat over and over that became a sort of mantra to get me through.
And when I started having to manage Vman’s meltdowns, it was many of his words, morphed into my own, that became a mantra that helped carry me past the tsunami and into the clear.
My One Mental Trick for Moms During Your Child’s Sensory Meltdown
Much of riding the wave of a sensory meltdown is mental. Sure, it’s physically exhausting trying to keep your child from opening his skull on the nearest cabinet or wall. But it’s the mental challenge of sensory meltdowns that is so unbelievably exhausting.
What I found during these meltdowns was I returned to many of the words my old cardio kickboxing instructor used to say, peppered with my own one sentence affirmations to get through.
I’m sharing those one line affirmations with you. Because you know you’re tougher than you give yourself credit for.
Just because you’re exhausted after a meltdown, even feel like crying, doesn’t mean you aren’t one tough broad. You have the power to get through those meltdowns. You aren’t walking away. If anything, you’re walking into the fire! Don’t you see how amazing that is?!?
It’s time to start giving yourself credit where credit is due. No, you don’t do everything perfectly. No one is supposed to. But the fact is you stay in the fight. You are fighting for your child each and every day. Even though your body is fatigued and your soul is ready for a vacation, you have the heart of a lioness. Don’t forget that.
During your child’s next sensory meltdown, repeat these one line affirmations to carry you through. Before you know it, they will become your own unsung mantra, sprinkled in with your own affirmations. I hope you add some to the comments section of this post.
You got this.
Behind the cloud, the sun is still shining.
Believe in yourself.
You are stronger than you think.
Be stronger than your fears.
Ride the Wave
Take One Little Step at a Time
And my personal favorite that I use all of the time:
This too shall pass.
Do you have any one line affirmations you use in your life? Share in the comments!