June 25, 2017

Parents – Take Care of Yourselves!

If you’re the mom or dad of a difficult child, especially one that’s ODD, ADHD, or RAD, then you know how physically and mentally tiring that can be. These kids can really drain your energy, and you absolutely must take steps to take care of yourself. If you aren’t healthy and well rested, you just can’t be of any use to your kid at all.

The most important thing for you to do as a parent is to stay calm and upbeat, always having a smile (or at least smiling eyes) to offer your child. If your eyes say “Go away, don’t bother me” instead of “I love you!” or “You’re OK” you’re just not in any place to parent that kid. The problem is that some kids need that type of affirmation every few minutes, all day long. It’s pretty easy to get tired, right?

So what can you do? Here are ten ideas that we’ve learned through the years:

  1. Good nutrition and vitamins. Very important to not deplete yourself physically. High stress requires replenishment of vitamin B and Calcium. Make sure you take a supplement, and eat lots of fruits and vegetables.
  2. Exercise. Get 20 to 30 minutes of aerobic exercise at least 3 times a week.
  3. Sleep. Make sure to get plenty of sleep, 10 to 12 hours per night at first. If you’re a 2 parent family, you might have to stagger sleep time.
  4. Take some time off. At least once a week do something for yourself that you enjoy – bowling, gardening, a bubble bath, take in a movie or dinner out – whatever works for you. “You” time.
  5. Call in the reserves. If you’ve got some friends that can watch your kids for an hour or two once a week, take advantage of it.
  6. Couple time. If you’re married, make sure to spend some time together as a couple – at least once a month, and hopefully 2 or 3 times a year take a weekend a way. It’s amazing how much a relaxing weekend can rejuvenate you.
  7. Check yourself for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or Depression. Nancy Thomas in her book When Love is not Enough has 3 checklists for Depression, PTSD, or secondary PTSD. If you’re the parent of a Reactive Attachment Disorder kid, you almost surely suffer from secondary PTSD.
  8. Don’t wonder “Why did they do that?” Many parents spend countless hours trying to make sense of why the kids do what they do. Stop it! That’s the whole point – it’s crazy behavior! We learned this point in using the Total Transformation program. It points out how kids love to see if they can be in control by getting you to join in the crazy behavior.  It doesn’t make sense. Don’t try to make sense out of the senseless!
  9. Establish a support system. We have found this to be crucial. It’s easy to get isolated and totally obsessed with parenting, and sometimes you just need to talk about other things with people who understand what your life is like.
  10. Laugh! Figure out a way to get a few laughs in, even if it’s at yourself! Yesterday, my wife and I laughed really hard about something that had happened that way that was just silly, but it sure felt good!

These are a few ideas on how to take care of yourself – I’m sure if you start putting your mind to it you’ll think of many more!

Looking for more parenting help?

One tool that we’ve used is the Total Transformation program by James Lehman. It’s given us a lot of solid, common sense ideas for parenting our challenging children.

About the author: By

Matt is the parent (along with his wife Julie) to five wonderful kids. He has been self-employed for 25+ years and is the owner of the Parenting Allies website.

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Disclaimer: We are not psychologists, counselors, or therapists. We are parents of children with special challenges, and the techniques, tools, and programs we recommend on this website have worked for us on our parenting journey.

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