Category: Self-Care Techniques

The Importance Of Exceptional Parent Self-Care-How To Push Through Your Saboteur’s Agenda

I have been practicing very good self-care since I had a burnout six years ago,  and was quite proud of my track record in taking care of myself over the last six years. Other than a few small instances of neglecting me which I quickly fixed, I have moved forward with the tools I needed to stay in top shape as an Exceptional Mom, wife and woman.  These have been and remain; prayer, mediation, yoga, exercise, writing,  reading good fiction, time alone on nature walks, home baths with a few yearly hamamm baths and massages, and quality time with my friends and family. I also took with me tools I learned in therapy about self-love and loving kindness that I make sure to show towards myself in meditation practice and in my life.

Lately though, I have been letting things slide slowly. First, I have been neglecting my yoga stretches in the morning. Then, I did not do my nature walks for several Sundays and even skipped church for two weeks.  I have also stopped my personal exercise regime. What has been stopping me? I have been stopping me. Things at home have been challenging on the personal front, and instead of taking the time to rebuild me, I have been working against myself thinking I had to do it all.  I have been writing and meditating, but I have been feeling this block to being able to handle obstacles in my life and feel at peace with me and those around me. Today I woke up and realized the block has been me. I have been standing in my own way. I have been stopping myself from putting me first, thinking that was selfish. In truth, it has been what has been pushing me down. Putting me first is the most selfless thing I could do.

This morning as  I was sitting in the car after dropping Michael off at day camp, I had said to myself it is a beautiful cool morning to do my nature walk in a nearby park. I sat there for a good five minutes while my critical negative worrying side reminded me of all that was waiting for me at home, both pleasurable work and housework. I wrestled with my critical self and reminded her that my bursts of anger, my stress and worries all were arising more often lately due to not nurturing me. A nature walk would revitalize me for the day, and bring me inner peace so I could go back home and write, handle other responsibilities, and be the advocate and parent Michael needed. I’m happy to report that my nurturing self won, and as I walked through the trees and looked at the water around me, my mind and soul were reborn.

The birds were chirping and nature’s healing power reminded me how I was one with everything and it with me. I left reminding myself that my once a week walk must not be skipped. In fact, in summer when I have a little more freedom,  I will take advantage and go more than once. My family and I need me to be strong and positive. The thing is I was my own saboteur on the self-care journey. I thought I’d gotten past neglecting me, but when things get tough or busy at home, I, like most women, tend to put my  needs last. This is the worst thing women can do. The stress catches up to you fast. You have less patience. You get angry quickly, and you worry more. As soon as I recognized my saboteur, I very kindly spoke to her and told her, it’s time for you to chill out. You need a break. It’s time for you to let me take the wheel so you can heal. And that’s what I did.

The me that came back from that walk was calm, peaceful, and filled with hope.  Self-care is not just a cheesy catchphrase parents. It is real. It is vital. It is necessary if you are to live your best life, and help your family live their best life. You are your child’s first example of how to live. So live well.

Exceptional Parents, how good are you at recognizing when you are faltering at self-care? We all make excuses and remove the things that help us when we feel it may interfere with family or work commitments. But remember, if you are not well, work and family will not get your best. You will not get your best and enjoy the gift of your life and what it is you are supposed to be doing. Don’t be afraid to say you are scared, tired, angry, need a break. Don’t be afraid to rest. Ever. Do what fuels your body, soul and mind. And listen to your gut. It will always steer you to living your most exceptional life and show your child how to live theirs. Until next time.

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When You’ve Had Enough-How To Deal With Your Frustrations Before They Escalate With Your Exceptional Child

What parent hasn’t had that moment, that moment when your own frustration, stress and exhaustion causes you to lash out at your Exceptional Child’s latest meltdown? Well, I had one of those moments this afternoon. I usually make a point to check in with myself and see if I am feeling calm and in control of what I am feeling BEFORE Michael comes in through the door. This afternoon however, I skipped this step due to it being one of those days where my coming home was about two minutes before he walked through the door. It had been a busy day at work, my seasonal allergies were flaring up even with meds as they have been for the past three days, and well, as he lost his cool escalating over a fear of being in trouble with his Educator over some challenging behaviors last week that I had shared with her, and unfortunately so did I. I tried to redirect him to his room to calm down, only I forgot to redirect myself until it was too late. Then I stormed out of the room angry and frustrated and he stormed out right after me. Sigh. I failed him and myself, I thought.

When it all calmed down and I had gone outside on my patio to regroup, which for me was having a cry, then doing some meditative breathing followed by a glass of wine, I realized that I had needed to do the regrouping for me right away on the patio or in some other quiet contemplative place.  I needed to be honest with myself and see that I was in no shape to help Michael through a crisis until I was calm and he had calmed down too. Neither of us were hearing the other one, and both of us were escalating the other one, meaning each of us was driving the other’s frustration.

This brings me to talking about the importance of parents handling their own frustration, exhaustion and stress, before attempting to help their child with theirs. And yes, this is easier said than done. That is why taking stock of how we are feeling on the inside is so important. Had I done that today, I would have seen that I was not yet equipped to talk to Michael about his stress, and though he would probably have gotten upset that I was not ready to talk at that moment, had I taken even five or ten minutes only, that could have been the difference to the afternoon ending on a better note. Good things to do to check in? Take a few deep breaths. See if you are experiencing any tightness or pain inside your body. See if there are any resentments or anger from the day you are holding on to. Most importantly though, be gentle with yourself. If you are kind to yourself, it will be easier to be kinder and more compassionate to your child as you are coming from a more loving place inside.

Exceptional Parents, have your frustrations ever caused a major escalation in your child’s behavior? You are not alone. You are human and you are entitled to your feelings of anger, stress and fear too. Just remember that unless you get those feelings under control, it will be hard to help your child through their fears.  Don’t be afraid to admit when you’ve reached your limit. Take time to regroup, and you’ll come back to parenting with a fresh perspective. Until next time.

Creating A Calmer Environment by Being Direct With Your Exceptional Child

I was the queen of metaphors with my son Michael, and even now, when I know it is hard for him to understand them, as a writer, it is hard for me to stay away from them. Still, I have learned the hard way over the last three years after recovering from my own burnout, how important it is to be direct with your child who is exceptional. It does not matter how verbal they and how much they understand. They will still get confused, anxious and get overwhelmed which could lead to a meltdown. How can a parent better their chances of their child not escalating? Here are some tips:

  1. Talk in simple language: This means spell out exactly what kind of behavior you expect and what kind of circumstances lead to not following that behavior.
  2. Stay calm: This is tricky, but mandatory for grounding the child. If they see you are calm, they will feel calm and organized too.
  3. Decide in advance with your partner on all things child related: Mom and Dad must be on the same page for all our children. For exceptional kids, it is beyond necessary. If they see divergence, it is divide and conquer, and man, are they good!
  4. Make sure you are operating at 100% capacity: This is a tricky one, but the way I gauge how I can parent at my best is my patience level. If every little thing gets on my nerves, it is time for a walk, workout or bath. For you, it can be something else to reset your body. Go for it. As they say, oxygen mask on Mom and Dad first to parent the best they can.

Exceptional Parents, what are some of your success stories in helping your child move towards positive behavior? What didn’t work? As long as we learn from our mistakes, our kids will benefit from it and grow as well. And if you ever need help, don’t hesitate to reach out to your special needs community, virtual or in person. You are truly a family who will get all the hardship, joy and fulfillment in raising an exceptional child.  Until next time.

 

Exceptional Tween Mood Swings-5 Tools To Survive Them And Thrive As An Exceptional Family

So it’s another late afternoon at my home and Michael is angry about something small that I said that sounds like it is a criticism of him, his way of doing things, or simply a “less try things differently” approach. I am getting better at going with the flow with Michael’s mood swings. There is the I like you Mom, I don’t mind being in the same room as you Mom. This lasts about ten minutes a day, to you’re ok, but don’t try and hug or touch me, give me a high five if you’re proud of me, to get away from me and trying to control my life as you want me to stop watching my videos now! Yep. And because he’s exceptional, the rebellion is quite over the top.  A book gets tossed across the room, a swear word (or words) are uttered, and repeatedly Michael will say things like I want to be with  my friends, stop being critical or the eye rolling. I almost laugh at that one. Yep. It’s all normal, relatively speaking.

So, back to the tween mood swings and how I survive them? They are quite similar to what my mother and father used back in the day, only tweaked for exceptional kids.  Here they are:

1) Make sure to keep your sense of humor: I know. Your exceptional tween is having the meltdown of a century, how  do you laugh or even begin to? Well, you may not laugh during or right after it, but later on you remember the tumultuous hormones that is puberty. You remember how confused you were as a neuro typical youngster, imagine your child. You also say that this is just a phase. Sooner or later they will outgrow it like they did toddler and preschool behavior. And then you pour yourself a cup of coffee or wine (depending on the time of day), and say to yourself, “this too shall pass.”

2) Put yourself in their shoes: This is similar to number 1, but also a little different. Remember not feeling like you knew who you were? Remember, feeling so alone and frustrated and hormonal? Well, your exceptional child has this and their different brain affecting their outlook on the world. In Michael’s case, ASD, ADHD, and Type 1 Diabetes. In your child’s case, whatever challenges they face. Be patient. Give them opportunities to try again. Don’t enable them or have them use their neuro diversity and challenges as an excuse, but make sure they know they can learn and grow from their behavioral mistakes.

3) Give them space to physically and mentally vent: This is a work in progress as their interests change, but it is important for all kids to have a space in the house to let loose. Physically vent means they can have places to scream, punch a pillow, jump on a trampoline, cry, or do whatever they need to do to release pent up emotions. Mentally vent, make sure they have a journal or place to draw or sketch how they feel. Make sure when they and you are calm, the two of you can sit down and talk together about what happened. It’s important you both learn from your mistakes.

4) They are communicating! Yes!: Again, a day ago when my tween was angry and yelling at me I would not have been enthusiastically preaching this, but afterwards when he calmed down and regrouped, I realized that a meltdown, an outburst, or any display of emotion means that they are authentically communicating their needs to you and you know what they need to work on (and you too). Celebrate this and move forward with your team. Your child is telling you how they feel!

5) Self-Care: I’ve said this time and time again and will continue to do so, but only when parents are taking care of their needs (physical, mental, spiritual), can they parent from their soul and see the child as a whole. If you are tired, frustrated, depleted, you will not be strong enough to help your child through any crises. Self-care does not have to be fancy. Taking time to curl up and watch a favorite tv show, read a good book, spend time with your partner and friends, take a bath or a walk and exercise, are all important to overall mental well-being. I can’t emphasize enough how much guided meditations help too. For me, they saved my life and showed me how to remain in the moment with Michael. When I have forgotten, I would immediately think about breathing and refocusing my energy. I also would ask myself, when was the last time I had “me” time?

Exceptional Parents, how do you survive the tough times? We all have tricks of the trade, as they say. As long as they speak to what works for you as a parent and individual, you are on the right track. Until next time.

 

The Truth And Lies About How Exceptional Children Make You Stronger

Your child’s challenges will make you stronger and more resilient.

You will wake up as an advocate when you see your child struggling.

You will learn things you never knew existed.

You will need to turn this all off eventually in order to stay strong and help everyone around you, including yourself.

As Exceptional parents of Exceptional Children, we hear all of the above repeated to us MANY TIMES, but the last sentence, about turning off talking about special needs, our children’s challenges, and our challenges as parents, we don’t often hear this, and it’s a message we need to hear. Why? Because if Exceptional Parents don’t remember what made them who they were BEFORE having their Exceptional Children, they will not be much good to anyone, including their children. Resentment, anxiety, stress, and anger will build. Feeling overwhelmed at handling unpredictability and other emotions in our child will build. And when well meaning people tell us about articles, tv shoes, videos and other such things, if we are not strong in who we were PRIOR to our child’s diagnosis, we will collapse. I know this because it happened to me. Family and friends had a hard time relating to me. I had a hard time relating to me. I was a walking, talking, exposition on autism. I did not think or talk about anything else happening in the world. You see, to do so would have meant losing time on helping my son catch up, do well, thrive. This was normal to think then.

All parents  think this at the beginning. But the truth is, it is not realistic. Our kids need us to be healthy, balanced, happy and calm. This means that our lives as exceptional parents have things in it that concern our child. We do immerse ourselves in it, but then decide at some point, I need to focus on other things. I need to see friends, watch television again, read books, go to concerts, exercise. In my case, I do not watch shows about autism at the moment. I plan to in the future, but for now, working and living in special needs, means my evenings are spent honoring the rest of my life. This is for both my sake, my husband’s and Michael’s. He needs a Mom that is whole. He needs a Mom that does what she did before having kids and is proud of it. He needs a Mom that has her own interests outside of him and how his brain works. Now, this does not for one more minute mean I do not still read up on other articles, blogs and books that talk about what it is like to be in Michael’s mind. However, I do not immerse myself in it like before. And Michael sees the difference as I do. The other day, his parting words to me as I left for an evening out with a good friend at a spa were:

“Enjoy yourself Mommy and relax.”
It was great that he is catching on and seeing who I am, what makes me whole. I hope as he grows he will find things outside of his diagnoses, to live his life whole too. He is a great kid with such a cool way of seeing the world. This is not due solely to his different brain. This is due to him being Michael.

Exceptional Parents, when was the last time you did something outside of research for your child? When was the last time you did something fun for yourself or with your child without thinking of milestones or catching up? If it’s been awhile, give yourself and your child a break. There is a time for therapy, and then there is a time to just be the person you are and let your child be the person they are. This will eventually bring the two of you back in balance in your life so that there is no burnout, resentment or any negative feelings on either part. And remember, don’t apologize to anyone for your feelings. Feel them, live them, work through them, and teach your child to do the same. Until next time.

Are you the parent of an Exceptional Child struggling with how best to handle challenging behavior? Are you worried about development, anxiety, or doubting your abilities to help your child become the best they can be? I can help you find your confidence as a parent again. For more information about my journey and coaching programs, check out my website: http://www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com. Let me help personalize tools that will help your Exceptional family thrive! 

How Healing Your Own Anger Can Help You Parent Better

I had so much anger buried underneath the surface of my polite facade for years. It came out in passive aggressive ways, through tears, lots of tears, and through martyr type things like self-denial. All of this spelled disaster to me before kids, and then after Michael came along, I pushed all of this down so far so I would’t have to think about myself. After all, it I put the baby then child first, this meant I was a great Mom and a worthwhile human being. My needs did not matter as much as my child’s. Wrong answer as any healthy Mom will tell you. If the Mom or Dad is not feeling good, neither will the child be feeling good. It’s the whole oxygen mask on Mom so that things can be taken care of in a healthy way, scenario.

So basically once I saw that this had been what I was doing for pretty much most of my early adult life, I realized that I had a lot of work ahead of me. This work involved getting my own personal anger and stress under control so that I could be my strongest and healthiest self, and be the best parent I can be. It’s a humbling thing, getting your anger under control. It means acknowledging what you are angry about, who are you angry at, and why are you angry? It’s not as easy as it sounds. There are usually emotional layers underneath all of the anger that need to be acknowledged and unearthed before you can get better and tackle your issues. This take time and patience. You will have relapses, both alone and in front of your child. At least I did. That was the most embarrassing for me. However, the good thing is that it helped me see I am human and not superwoman. It helped me show this to Michael, as well as show him that it is ok to fall down. You just get back up again and try.

Of course when we have that attitude, we usually succeed. It’s important for our exceptional kids to see that failing is ok as long as we learn from it. We learn that we can become stronger by bouncing back and our kids see that too. Many of our exceptional kids have anger issues, anxiety issues and bury their feelings as they don’t know how to deal with them.  When we show them that we are tackling our personal demons, they can develop courage to tackle theirs and see that their is no shame in doing that.

Exceptional Parents, how is your anger? Are you in control of it or is it in control of you? If you are struggling with your anger there is no shame. We’ve all been there. Don’t give up. You may fall down occasionally, but remember you will learn from each fall and become stronger. Your child will also see that they can overcome their own weaknesses over time with hard work and patience. Until next time.

I am a writer, speaker and parent coach. I blog about how my exceptional son with Autism, ADHD, OCD  and Type 1 Diabetes is raising me to a better human being and exceptional mom. My mission is to empower other exceptional parents to trust in their parenting instinct while letting their exceptional child open their eyes to all that is possible! For more information on my coaching services and to download a copy of my FREE EBOOK “5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL FAMILY ANXIETY” see my website, http://www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com

Navigating Exceptional Stay/Vacations With New Issues

So it’s been awhile since I’ve posted. There is a reason. Our family has been on a sort of vacation/stay cation and well, it’s been tough. Very tough. Never in all our summers has one been this challenging for us as a family.  Ok, the end of last year kind of takes the cake with Michael’s  type 1 diabetes diagnosis, but that was only at the end of the summer. This year, well, I knew it would be hard. Michael’s aggression had come to head and once he was off the medication that was controlling some of the hyperactivity.  His energy level has become high too. Also he and Dad are struggling to get along as Dad’s energy level does not  match Michael’s for various reasons and Michael has hit puberty. Yep. It’s been crazy for all of us. I have felt caught in the middle between my boys, feeling for Dad’s challenges and Michael’s as well as my own feelings of stress and helplessness on how we can all get along together. We have had our good moments, but there have been many more stressful moments as Michael sees Dad and I at different emotional stages in our lives.

Thank goodness for the good therapy team we have as well as support from family and friends. This has helped me through the summer as a family, knowing that with time, changes that are in the works, and patience with myself, Michael and Dad we will move forward to a happier place. This patience has meant that I have learned to be gentle with myself. I have learned to say no to doing certain thing where my energy was not present. I have learned to take time for me to unwind at night even if it’s late by reading, a bath or writing. This has been my solace and my comfort, and how self-care has helped me. I also got the brainchild idea this week of asking Michael’s favorite babysitter to take him to the park after dinner so I could take that time to catch up on errands that are hard to do with Michael this year, like groceries and back to school shopping. Don’t get me wrong. He LOVES  going to stores, but his hyperactivity is unpredictable and exhausting for me to handle on some days. Where I can simplify, I am learning to simplify for all of us. On another note, my fiction writing has exploded this summer. Whether because of family chaos or in spite of it, I have finished a first draft of a YA fantasy series I am writing, as well as started working on two other fiction stories. This has also been what helped me look at the summer in a balanced way for me-some good moments, some tough ones. With Michael, I have done the same. He has excelled at camp and at sports this summer as well as getting back into cooking. These are the things that have kept me going.

Exceptional Parents, how have your family vacation/stay cations been? Have you encountered more or less obstacles with your Exceptional Child and/or family? If so, take heart. You will get there. Pain and struggle are often necessary parts of growth in all families. In exceptional ones, it’s important to keep in mind that every age is a new stage of growth through positive and negative experiences. If you find yourself repeating old patterns of thought or behavior, stop and pause. See what you can change in how you relate to your family and yourself. Take time to see the good moments, as they are always there hidden in the background even on tough days. And most importantly, do yourself, your child and your partner/family the biggest favor you can, take care of you every day in small ways. Recharge your batteries! That will be the best way to take a positive step as a family and grow in a healthy direction. Until next time.

I am a writer, speaker and parent coach. I blog about how my exceptional son with autism and type 1 diabetes is raising me to a better human being and exceptional mom. My mission is to empower other exceptional parents to trust in their parenting instinct while letting their exceptional child open their eyes to all that is possible! For more information on my coaching services and to download a copy of my FREE EBOOK “5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL FAMILY ANXIETY” see my website, http://www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com.

The Art of Sleep And How It Can Fix Your Relationship With Your Exceptional Child

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So I hit rock bottom last Friday night as a Mom. Michael’s behavior had been progressively getting more impulsive and hyperactive now that he was off his medication for aggression that had dulled an important side of his personality. My son was not smiling, did not have a lot of energy and was putting on weight. However, I was not prepared for the pre medicated Michael to emerge that quickly and emerge he did. I’d been handling the stress by staying up late pretty much for a month to have “me time”, to write, and to have personal space. This was all wonderful, but it came at a big price-the price was my sleep.

Yes, sleep dear parents. We yearn for sleep when our little ones wake us up at night to eat and be changed. And then we yearn for sleeping in. And as they get older, it usually gets easier, but not always. When your child has additional anxiety and behavior challenges, it wears you out in ways you may not even realize until the end of the day when you say silently to yourself, “go to sleep so I can have some peace.” You know what I mean! You want to sleep at night, but you know you need your adult down time to be the best parent and human being you can. The thing is though, that when you sleep less, your patience runs out. I know this. I tell other parents this, but I fought it in myself this summer until, low and behold, my patience expired last Friday night. Everything became a battle with Michael from the time I picked him up at camp. He was not any worse or challenging than he has been this summer. It was just the adding up of his challenges with my frustration and sleep deprivation. When Dad came home and it all exploded in his face,  he took over and took Michael for his nightly park outing to burn off the excess energy and I went to lie down in the bedroom. I did not actually fall asleep till close to ten pm, my usual bedtime when I am not burning the midnight oil, but the rest, oh the rest was better than anything I’d had in awhile. That’s when I realized, I was physically and emotionally exhausted. Why didn’t I admit I needed sleep sooner?

As parents, especially Moms, we tend to put our own needs last, below everyone’s. Sleep is the first thing to go. Now, I’m not suggesting you don’t stay up late if it helps you. I am a self-confessed night owl, and though I tend to get up early to get a head start on my boys, (even though Michael now sleeps in, yeah!), I still find I do my best work and thinking at night. So it’s all good if I go to bed a little later most weeks. But I was reminded again at the end of last week, that when my thoughts start becoming more negative, I feel irritable and impatient, it is my body’s way of telling me to go to bed early for a few nights. And if I’ve been exercising and doing everything else I usually do to feel energized and don’t, sleep is what is lacking.

I used to find this unproductive to the rest of my life, but guess what? If you are yelling, have no energy, and are stressed to the max, you are no good to your child, yourself or anyone around you, right? The first thing I noticed when I got up Saturday morning, was that even when Michael had his challenging moments, Buddha Mom was back. That is, the Mom who didn’t react and make the problem worse. And why was she back? The body that housed her had rested. Interestingly, Saturday my body gave me a message to sleep early again. I had a massive allergy attack. And Sunday. Wow! Patience again. I truly was reminded how sleep can make a big difference.

So, how can you prioritize sleep in a busy life? Here are some tips:

  1. Go to bed an hour early for a few nights.
  2. Try grabbing an early afternoon cat nap.
  3. If your child is young and napping, try lying down when they nap. Even a rest is good if you don’t actually sleep.
  4. Having some “me time” set aside in the day. A ten or fifteen minute pause with your coffee or tea.
  5. Set the alarm early and then stay in bed for about fifteen minutes resting. Say a prayer or meditate. It is very refreshing and calming.

 

Exceptional Parents, where does sleep rate on your priority scale? Remember, in order to be at your best, you need to be balanced in all areas of your life-physical, mental and spiritual. Sleep will help with all of these and restore to you the greatest power of all, your serenity which you can then pass on to your child. This will help you both through the challenging moments of exceptional family life. Until next time.

Feeling stressed about special needs parenting? You are not alone. I have been there and lived these very words before realizing the gift of who my son is and what he has helped me realize. If you want to have more information about me and my journey, check out my website http://www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com and my FREE E-BOOK “5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL PARENTING” at http://www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com/ebooks.

 

 

 

 

Stepping Back and Getting Clear On What You And Your Exceptional Child Need Now

Our weekends have been getting progressively better, though there is still aggression, frustration and anxiety as Michael continues to hone in on his ability to control how he feels and what he does to us and himself. Regardless off how frustrated and overwhelmed I sometimes feel, I am proud as I see him making progress slowly in so many areas. Some days are better than others. Some days I am more tolerant and stronger than on other days too. And on some days when I feel like throwing in the towel completely, I find myself suddenly knowing exactly what direction I need to take. I call this my spirit talking to me. Prayer and meditation have made this voice very strong, and when I can’t hear it, I get quiet, physically and mentally so I can hear it more clearly. This weekend I heard it when it said we needed to take Michael off a medication he is on. I have been wanting to do this for awhile, but was worried. This medication originally helped so much with aggression, and what if things got much worse if he went off it? I did not like the side effects of it, and the new me has decided she will not fear the unknown. The only way to see what worked, medication and therapy and frankly life-wise, is to try and risk failure. And what is so bad about failure anyway I found myself thinking this weekend? It really means we are alive and human. Mistakes make us grow stronger. They make us appreciate the good times. Just like when we are sick we appreciate being healthy. You get the drift.

This summer has been another summer of growth for Michael and our family, and not just in terms of his health and challenges. Dad and I are being pushed to make personal changes too, as well as changes in our marriage, and in what we can expect from one another as each lets the other one grow. There have been LOTS of growing pains. There have been lots of moments when I have felt angry and said, why is it so hard? But, at other times, things have gone so smoothly, so easily. Decisions like taking Michael off his medication is so far going well. Encouraging Michael to join another soccer league has been a success. Pushing myself to clean out the junk, literal and figurative in my home, mind and heart, is helping me to see myself for who I am now, and what I want to change or improve upon, no excuses, no self-pity. We all have our crosses to bear as a good friend once said to me. She is so right. I am often awed by people who do not let life’s stresses and strains make them bitter. I decided five years ago to devote myself to becoming one of those  people. Those closest to me say I am. And when I start to stray from those good intentions, family and friends help me find my way back.

Now that I am back, wow! What a difference it makes being my body. What a difference it makes in how I treat myself, advocate for my son, and treat those around me. Even on hard days, I see my negative emotions for what they are-transient and temporary. I recognize exhaustion, self-pity and anger as things that I haven’t addressed and so I do and make the necessary changes. As a exceptional parent, I have been able to make positive changes and relate to Michael in a calm and loving way, due to operating from my soul upwards. Parenting with your gut is not easy work, but as long as you take care of you, remember the beauty and uniqueness of your child, and stay positive no mattter what, your heart and soul will guide your mind to the right place, people, and therapies for your child.

Exceptional Parents, are you feeling stuck wondering how to help your Exceptional Child through a rough time? Are you personally feeling stuck? As hard as it is, step back and look inside of yourself. How are you feeling? Are you tired, angry or scared? Before you can help and hear your child’s cry for help, you need to hear your own soul’s cry for help and heal yourself. You will know you are on the right track when your thoughts about life are more positive, you practice gratitude in even the most challenging times, and you admit when you are overwhelmed. Meditate, pray, exercise, reach out to others. Get counselling. Do what you need to do so you can get back in the flow of your life and give your Exceptional Child what they most need now-hope and love from the most important person in their life-their parent. Until next time.

I am a writer, speaker and parent coach. I blog about how my exceptional son with autism and type 1 diabetes is raising me to a better human being and exceptional mom. My mission is to empower other exceptional parents to trust in their parenting instinct while letting their exceptional child open their eyes to all that is possible! For more information on my coaching services and to download a copy of my FREE EBOOK “5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL FAMILY ANXIETY” see my website, http://www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com.

When You and Your Exceptional Child’s Boundaries Become Blurred-How To Get Back Your Personal Space

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As I sat next to one of my closest friends filling out the health card before my yearly massage at a spa for our ladies getaway, I came to the health section where it asked about diseases and medications. Almost immediately, my pen was about to check off the box that said diabetes and under medication list the medications Michael is on currently. I took a deep breath and said in my head, “Joanne, that’s not your medical record. This is medical paperwork for you, not Michael.” I then tried to laugh it off and made a joke with my friend about confusing my health with Michael’s. Man, did I need this spa getaway, but then I thought about it. Was it so far from the truth? Mothers carry their children in their womb for nine months. We are connected instantly with one another, and then after birth it is usually Mom who is dong most of the care giving. It is not only normal, but even sometimes socially acceptable that Moms and their babies and  later children bond like one person, until it sometimes becomes unhealthy. A woman should never lose her identity in another, whether it is in a romantic or platonic relationship with an adult or as a parent. Yet this happens all the time. And when a woman is in a care giver role, she automatically becomes so invested in her child’s welfare, it feels like her welfare. Even all the worrying we do about our child’s health, especially exceptional parents, feels like we are worrying about our own health, except it isn’t. I have to constantly remind myself on the days I start to feel sorry for myself for the extra stress worrying about Michael’s emotional and physical health, what another great exceptional mom said to me, “and it’s not even happening to you.”  True. It’s his life not mine.

No matter what, our children’s health and problems are their problems.  We are just there as guides to help usher them into the world with strategies to handle their stress, anxiety, anger and other challenges. We can’t know what is going on in their heads. I read books and blogs written by other exceptional autistic and ADHD individuals to see what is going on in their heads. This helps me understand Michael better as a lot of it is closer to what I see him expressing. I am doing the same now with people who have diabetes. This gives me a little glimpse into Michael’s brain, and also shows me that though I love him, I am not him and he is not me.

It is not healthy to merge to the point that you forget who you are. My annual spa getaway as well as other little mini rituals I have daily, remind me that I am a separate person besides being Michael’s Mom and advocate. And he needs to see,  especially as he gets older, that he is more than just my son. He is an individual with his own tastes, preferences and rights, which his Dad and I are listening more to everyday. We don’t force him to do activities we think are great if he really does not want to do it. Still, I was disturbed when I almost wrote down his medical profile on my medical record for the massotherapist. This showed me that I have been inching a little more away from my personal identity, and not making the time at night to be Joanne. Me.  That has to change. It was both easy and difficult to relax on my weekend getaway, but though feeling only a little guilty over a more expensive meal than I usually engage in, I was happy that I got away from being a Mom and wife for 24 hours. I was a woman out having fun with another close woman friend. My biggest problem was which spa pool to soak in, should I indulge in desert, and do I sleep in or get up early to write?  All Moms need to have mini times to themselves every day to get re-acquainted with who they are, as well as nightly or weekend sabbaticals once in a while to remind themselves and their families what is important. Self-care goes a long way to healing body, mind and spirit.

Exceptional Parents, do you ever blur your identity with your child’s? If so, think back to the last time you had a Mommy or Daddy night out alone. If you can’t remember when it was, it’s time to book one whether it is a local massage, a walk or coffee out alone, or just going out for dinner with a friend. Remember, you will only be a good parent once you nurture yourself first. You cannot pour from an empty cup.  Good luck on your self-care voyage. Until next time.

I am a writer, speaker and parent coach. I blog about how my exceptional son with autism and type 1 diabetes is raising me to a better human being and exceptional mom. My mission is to empower other exceptional parents to trust in their parenting instinct while letting their exceptional child open their eyes to all that is possible! For more information on my coaching services and to download a copy of my FREE EBOOK “5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL FAMILY ANXIETY” see my website, http://www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com.