How I Cope with Feeling “Touched Out”


If you are a parent of a young child, or in my case, two young children, chances are you are familiar with feeling “touched out”. This phrase is coined for moms or primary parents, who feel emotionally and physically exhausted by being needed. It is primarily associated with physical touch, but can also come from emotional baggage we carry from others. Feeling touched out can come from tending to the constant needs of those around you, ranging from the family pet, to your kids, or even your spouse.

I have two wonderful and loving children. They are extremely physical with their love, which I am aware is a blessing. My youngest is going through a particularly clingy stage. There is not a day that goes by that my kiddos don’t fight just for my general affection. It makes me feel ungrateful, that I find myself so “touched out” most days. Being needed so much all of the time has left me feeling drained.


Don’t get me wrong, I love being showered in hugs and kisses. That being said, I do sometimes feel like I am an object to those around me and not a person. I can struggle with my body and how it changed in motherhood. This feeling can be compounded when I feel like I am constantly being pulled on, smushed up against, or touched. I will never downplay the joy of being a safe place for my children, but I also need to make sure I am a safe place for myself.

While physical touch is one of my main love languages, I needed to regain the boundaries I had lost. I want to set a good example for my kids by using my experience to help them develop, making this a teachable moment.

I use this feeling to showcase three important things to them when I feel “touched out”:

My needs are just as important as others

I am a helper and a giver by nature. I am also a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP), which means I am super susceptible to taking on the baggage of others. My children will always know that they are my number one priority. But, in order for me to take care of them, I also need to be my number one priority. I always think back to when flight attendants say in the case of emergencies, to secure your face mask before assisting others. Simply put, you can’t help others if you are dead. While I understand this is a gross oversimplification, it stands true. There is such an importance to teaching the art of being there for others, but not at the expense of ourselves.

I want to take a moment to say that this one was particularly hard for me to showcase because until having children, I never honored this. Thinking of yourself is not selfish, it is necessary. When I had children, I realized that these tiny sponges are taking in everything I am showing them. They are learning about the world, and how to approach it, from me. So by ignoring my needs as a person, I was teaching them to do this too. That was not what I wanted. By learning to be more “selfish”, I became a better mom, friend, worker, wife, and person. While at the same time, I am teaching my kids to be true to themselves and their needs.

Consent: My body, my rules

This one is HUGE. It’s a big deal for everyone, but raising two boys, I find it’s my responsibility to drive this one home. I do feel a little guilty sometimes telling my kiddos that you need to ask before touching my body. That being said, it does not make it less true or important. I remind my kiddos often that I love them with all my heart and soul, but that doesn’t change that I need to feel like a human and not an object.

Boundaries are so important

Similar to the idea behind my body, and my rules, I need to show my children boundaries so they feel comfortable setting them. By respecting my boundaries and talking to my kids about them I am showing them that boundaries are healthy, telling people about them is healthy, and respecting the boundaries of others is a requirement.

How to cope with feeling “Touched Out”

This brings us to how to deal with this feeling when it creeps up on us. Honestly, it’s going to be different for everyone, but I will lay out how I respect my boundaries.


This being my top trick will not surprise anyone who knows me. I am the queen of talking about my feelings and take every opportunity I get to assist my children in talking through theirs. I find it is always most helpful for me to tell my partner when I start to feel this way. He will work with me to find ways to get me a little space and just that bit of support gives me some relief. This helps the feeling not build up too much, as I like to avoid feeling like I need to take a month-long vacation or run away from home.

I also think it’s important to communicate with my kids and be honest with them, as I referenced above, to make it a teachable thing. After all, mommy is a human and she too feels complicated emotions. That being said, it’s important to make sure you are communicating in a healthy, developmentally appropriate way. For example, while I might want to say “stop touching me” or “that’s it! Everyone needs to stay ten feet away from mommy!”, I don’t. I take a minute to breathe and let my kids know in a non-blaming way that mommy needs a little space. I also make a point to not apologize (which is hard for me). This shows them that while they didn’t do anything wrong, I also am not doing anything wrong by setting a boundary, especially around my body.

Find a way to Redirect

Personally, while my kids can be receptive to my boundaries sometimes, I find they are the least understanding when I need it the most. In these cases, I try to find a way to redirect them. This will always be a delicate balance between honoring their needs while also respecting mine. This can sometimes feel like negotiating a hostage situation, where you are the hostage. Though I always try, very rarely does the parent swap out work (sorry dad). I like to instead do the body part swap.

“I know you want to sit on my lap right now, but would it be okay if we held hands instead?” While this doesn’t regain our independence, it does give us back a little, much-needed, space. Often we can find some weird in-between that works for both parties, such as a foot on my leg instead of them laying on top of me like a human-weighted blanket.

This can also come in the form of doing an activity that leaves your children more hands-on with something else, regaining some of your personal space. My favorites are painting, going on a walk or bike ride, or building with Legos. Something that you can do together and feel connected in a different way.

Tap Out

I find that when all else fails, taking a time out is the most important way to combat this feeling. This will vary based on how I am feeling at the moment. Do I need a couple of minutes to shower? Is it a night out with friends that I need? Do I need to sit alone in a quiet room? I always try to listen to what I am feeling at the moment and make sure to honor my feelings. I am always one to lean into my hobbies in these moments (reading, writing, crafting).

Remember, You are not alone.

I end most of my pieces, by reminding moms they are not alone. Parenting is alienating and isolating. It can be so easy to feel shame or guilt by needing space, but it’s human. Believe it or not, you are not only a parent, but you are also still a person. Feeling “touched out” does not mean you don’t love your children and it does not make you a terrible mom. I would argue that admitting when you need space or a break makes you a better mom. As the saying goes, you cannot pour from an empty cup. So, go forth and fill your cup, lady. 


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