Sensory Overload….by Karolien – There’s life after kids



Driving through town the other day and subsequently through another neighborhood close by something struck me quite hard. Something that has bothered me for a long time but I could never quite put my finger on it.

When have suburbs changed so much that our surroundings resemble a futuristic movie scene in the sense that every house looks so much the same. Every house, every garden, every newly built  neighborhood  one passes. Not only the miles of sameness in certain areas, I mean, I don’t know whether I would find my house in such a labyrinth after a night out on the town and might end up in a strangers bed!!

What I also noticed was even in the older neighborhoods people are very much inclined to paint their houses 50 shades of either grey, beige or some mix of those two colours. More often than not it is not just the outside of the houses that are painted and decorated in these tranquil colour-schemes but the insides as well. It got me thinking as I made my way to Ceres for a friend’s fortieth birthday bash.

Why do we choose to dress our surroundings in such drab colours? My five cents? I think that whenever we leave the ‘tranquil’ setting of our, maybe drab is too strong a word, bland comes to mind but that also don’t feel right as I’ve been in some beautiful houses decorated in 50 shades of grey or beige. I think when we venture out from our safe havens we are so assaulted with sensory overload from the minute we get into the car, driving on the roads, entering our place of work, venturing into the mall or any other shops along our way during the day that we cannot but wish to be back in our small havens of calmness and tranquility that we work so hard to create.

Not that the bombardment stops there, the assault on our senses continues doesn’t matter how hard we try to stop it at the doorstep as social media continues where outside influences couldn’t enter. Even as I sit here writing I am clenching my teeth at the fighting sounds coming from the X-man’s PlayStation 3 and the radio blaring in the background, Facebook notifications popping up every few seconds, WhatsApp’s pinging and more. Thankfully I don’t own any toddlers or screaming babies any more at this point in time because I don’t know whether I would be able to survive.

Speaking for myself and drawing from my own experiences, I do now get why people go ‘grey’ or ‘beige’ or 50 shades thereof. Teaching 4-5 year olds at a preschool means that my sensory overload is guaranteed on a daily basis. Not mentioning going to a shop or worse even the Mall!!! A dreaded word in my dictionary. I took the kids to Canal Walk for my birthday to enjoy a shopping treat, it being on a Friday I can honestly say that it was one of the worst decisions I have made in a long time. I came out of there reeling from the lights, the music, the advertisements in every shop window, the people pushing and pulling and just in general the noise. I felt so overwhelmed that I couldn’t even enjoy the time spent there as I felt assaulted from all sides. I was so happy when we left as were my kids. I often feel so overloaded after a day of school and little ones that I feel the need to shut myself in my bedroom and just reload my sanity. Doing that though triggers my guilt for not being able to deal with my own kids as I am so stressed that I need to just decompress. I am so fortunate that they are now at an age where I can explain it to them and they give me the space I need, doesn’t eliminate the guilt but it does help a bit.

So, what’s the bottom-line? I personally don’t like look-a-like neighborhoods too much but hey, each to it’s own. I too have tried to carve out some calm realm where I live to escape the madness of what we call life and I do too bunker down often not keen on the noise and craziness. But thinking about the topic made me aware of many other things, it makes me grateful for my little haven. I am grateful for having somewhere to escape. It makes me sad that we feel the need to escape the madness and hide away from one another but this is the world we’ve built.

Enjoy your tranquil safe place if you are lucky enough to have one and take a break from all the bombardment of your senses 24/7!  I do believe at some point enough is enough! Switch off the tv, the radio, don’t read the newspapers, shut down the Wi-Fi for a few hours, don’t answer your phones and just chill with the ones closest to you!

 

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