Yes!!! I am back!! I don’t know about you, but the pandemic years have been a challenge for me. Like most humans, I like predictability. I feel safe in routines. And this covid junk has turned all of my comforting rituals and routines topsy-turvy! Would you like to know how down-trodden and exhausted parents can get some peace? We are going to talk about the dreaded word…..self care.
I literally cringe at the word “self care.” Yes, I know it’s important. I know that managing stress is life changing, life saving stuff. Chronic stress not only impacts our mood, after all, it also impacts our physiology. It decreases immune response, increases cortisol, blood pressure and heart rate. Not good! And yet, to parents who are already stressed, adding in self care just feels like another chore, another “to do.”
I know from my personal experience, that just talking about self care used to fill me with a resentful kind of simmering rage. “Must be nice to have time for self care!” Us parents who are raising kids with challenges (mental health, medical, socio-economic, learning differences), we experience a different kind of stress.
I’ll take you back to the days when I had one child with ADHD and another child with a seizure disorder. Doctors offices, therapy, pharmacy, doctor, school meetings, tutors, extracurricular activities, long bedtime chats to calm the nerves and prepare for the next day, disagreements with the spouse on how to approach these challenges…..do you get the picture? A grueling and exhausting schedule.
Self care is so often needing to ADD an activity or practice. I need to start working out, reading books, get a pedicure……For me and other parents like me, the thought of adding a self care practice is not only unlikely from a logistical standpoint, but also an additional burden to carry. Another “should” to feel badly about.
This is how I found my favorite self care practice. SUBTRACTION. For over extended introverts like me, crawling under a rock and hiding sounds preferable to ADDING more items to my to do list, even fun things that are good for me.
So instead of adding, I decided to SUBTRACT. Here’s how it works. Make a list. Of all your stuff. Your to dos. Your shoulds. Get it all out on paper (not computer). Then start subtracting.
I subtracted Christmas cards.
One of my businesses.
And yes, this blog.
And I never felt better.
I held myself in a prison of shoulds and to dos. Learning to subtract, to take that list and find anything that I could eliminate? That felt amazing. Sometimes I subtract listening. “I’m sorry I can’t listen tonight, my ears are already full. Let me recharge so I can listen in the morning.” Take that list and physically cross out the thing or things that you want to subtract, FOR NOW! You can always restart when you feel capable. Give it a try and tell me how it works for you!
So although I hate self care as a buzz word, I really think it means doing what feels good to you. That is different for everybody. There isn’t a recipe or formula. When I freed myself from the shoulds, I found my groove.
So now I am back! I have crawled out from under my rock (for now) and plan to post at least once per month. If you are struggling. If you are a parent to a child who is struggling and you need support, reach out to me for a free consult. I offer a few options for parents that can help get you started. Until then, get out your list and start subtracting!