Category: Self-Care Techniques

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.

 

 

 

 

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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.

Throwing In the Towel When Exceptional Parenting Becomes Exhausting-Why This Mom Take Regular Bubble Baths

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It was a difficult evening with Michael. Not in the way some evenings are difficult. There were not extreme behaviors or aggression, but there was testing, worries as he had a new bus driver who made some mistakes coming home, and lots of it mixed in with wanting Mom to spend LOTS of time with him. I, as well, had had a busy day, and was on alert for the bus being early or late so not my usual serene Mom waiting for Michael to arrive home. He also did not have any homework, so was looking to structure his evening differently. That he did. And for the first part of the late afternoon and early evening it went well. He had his snack, talked to a good friend where he behaved appropriately on the phone, and then had dinner with me. Things started to fall apart with him losing his patience at misunderstandings after dinner, and then though I spent some time playing video games with him as Dad got in late, he became impatient at my playing and demanded his turn before I finished mine.

After that, there was the mini fight to stop what he was doing when it was time for shower (though I had given him warning), and then making a mess with body cream all over the floor just because he thought it was funny. After he finished cleaning it up while I was hanging on to my last shreds of sanity and screaming on the inside, 😉 came the worries about him controlling himself and being able to live peacefully at home without angering anyone on his team. Sigh. I had gotten no housework done, no writing done, and was a bundle of nerves. I had been going non stop since morning, and when usually I take the short time when I arrive home to center myself for Michael, today with the heavy rain and bus being late, it did not happen.

When Michael finally got to bed close to 10:00 pm after a long talk about how much Dad and I love him, how he needed to use his strategies to behave better, I realized I was wiped out.  I reminded myself what the remedy was when my soul was feeling depleted. The ideal? A massage and a Whirpool or Hamamm. Tonight? Not possible, so I did the frugal woman’s version- a long hot bubble bath with a glass of wine and soft piano music playing in the background. This actually was something I now did weekly- the bubblebath, that is, even if it meant I went to bed late. This is how I recharge my batteries- by having a good soak. It gives me perspective on things, and helps energize me for whatever free time I will be engaging in. This is self-care. This is nurturing yourself so as a parent you stay calm for the whole exceptional marathon of parenting, not just the sprint.

Exceptional Parents, what is your go to activity to recharge your batteries when they are low? Remember, there is no one right or wrong answer. It’s whatever reminds you that you are a separate human being with feelings and a body and mind that need a Mommy break. Take that time, whether it is reading, a bath, meditation, watching tv, listening to music. You deserve it. Yes, I got to bed later, but I felt rested and recharged in my soul. That is what will carry me, (and you), farther on your exceptional parenting journey. 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.

 

How Listening to and Healing Your Inner Spirit Will Help You Parent You Exceptional Child Better

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As soon as I was alone in the car the tears came, slow and gentle off on and on. I knew when I woke up Sunday morning that I was feeling tired, tired and heavy. I did not have the answers to help Michael, and though the day before had ended beautifully with Dad and I having our first date night post-diabetes and now possibly ADHD, it had been anything but beautiful until the sitter came to watch Michael that evening. Sure there were some nice pockets of moments that Michael behaved and listened, but it was not when he was alone with me or Dad. I was feeling so tired and fed up of the roller coaster of emotions we were all riding as a family, but most important of all, the mother who always trusted her own parenting instinct was having an identity crisis.

How come with all the hard behavioral work we had been doing with Michael, particularly over the last two years, but let’s face it, pretty much over the last ten years, as well as the new medication which were helping, did we still have bad days like these? Where was I going wrong? Then, another thought hit. I don’t have the energy for this anymore. I am tired, fed up. I want off this train right now and want my old pre child life back, when I only had my own stresses and strains to worry about. The life where I didn’t have to handle filling out ABC charts, carb  counting, charting side effects of drugs. Enough. I’d had enough. I wanted someone else to take over and take over being Michael’s Mom as of that moment. I did not want the stress, the heartache, and had lost trust that I could do the job in spite of so many of my Mom friends and family cheering me on and telling me what a great job I was doing. I thought back to the last time I was excited to do anything with Michael. It had been awhile. Even when things were going well, I kept waiting for disaster to strike, unfairly too. Sunday had ended up being a great day for us as a family.

Anyway, back to the drive home from church. So as my tears dried up I heard a soft voice inside whispering to me that I needed to go to the lake. We have a beautiful nature park near our house. It was not far from church or our house. I did not question this voice, but drove the lake. Once there I texted Dad that I would be home in about an hour as I needed some more alone time. I waited hoping all was well at home and I could do this. It was.  After that, more crying ensued in the parking lot, until I felt calm, serene and ready to go for a nature walk. From the second I stepped outside and heard the crunching of my shoes on the gravel, I knew the voice that was whispering to me was my spirit. She was reminding me of how I healed my feelings of exhaustion, fear and self-doubt as a mother five years earlier and was reborn. It was through meditation, yoga and walking in nature. It was through making time to charge my personal battery. As I walked I started thinking, Michael’s behaviors have not gotten worse. I have gotten more tired, burned out, and have not been able to handle them as well. He needs help, reminders to use his strategies, but none of that will happen until I get a handle on my stress and fix my health. Soon I came to a bench and I looked out at the beautiful shimmering lake. It was a cloudy cold day, but it felt so good to be out in the fresh air, in the quiet with only the odd jogger and hiker to contend with. And then I saw the ducks swimming and quacking away in the water. I smiled for the first time at one of them as he continuously dunked his head in and out of the water. I watched other bathe themselves.

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And then I started to pray. I started to pray to God to show me the way, to give me strength to be Michael’s mother, but before I could do that. help me be Joanne again. Help me be Joanne who makes time for exercise, alone time to read and unwind, as well as  writing, all my writing. Help me be Joanne and schedule regular date nights with her husband and get back to her girls’ nights out. Help me be Joanne and do what makes me feel alive, peaceful and grateful for all my blessings. I knew I had so much to be grateful for even in the challenging moments. Friends had been reaching out to me and I’d been pushing them away. This was not due to me being in denial about needing a  break, but due to total exhaustion and a bad sinus infection I am still fighting. I realized sitting there on that bench, that I would be alright. Michael and Dad would be alright. I just needed to take care of me and get strong. After that, it would all fall into place. The answers would come. And as I walked back to my car, I felt the first bit of peace I’d felt in a long time. And I felt happy, happy to be going home to see my boys.

Exceptional Parents, do you  have fantasies about running away from being parents? Do you feel tired, angry, fed up with your child, with yourself sometimes? You have every right to be feeling overwhelmed, but the best way to tackle your feelings of lack of control, are to control the one thing you can control-you. Ask yourself when was the last time you made time for things that recharged your batteries. Remember, if  you take care of you first, it will be much easier to ride out your child’s storms until you figure out the best solution to help them. Also, if you find yourself losing patience with your child, think of the last time you were patient with yourself. If it’s been awhile, this could be why you are having a harder time with your child. We can only love and support others once we are doing it one hundred percent of the time for ourselves. Take heart Moms and Dads. You are doing the best you can. Now it’s time to take care of your spirit so you’ll have that much more to give back to your child and for yourself in the long run. Until next time.

 

I am a writer, speaker and parent coach whose son with Autism and Type 1 Diabetes has shown me a whole new way to see the world and embrace the joy of  living in the moment! I believe in empowering parents to trust their own instincts when it comes to their children, and in helping them parent with love, respect and confidence on their own exceptional parenting journey.

For more information on my coaching services,  for a FREE 30 min consultation, and to receive a  copy of my FREE E-BOOK “5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL FAMILY ANXIETY,” see my website: www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com. 

Put Your Own Oxygen Mask On First- A Lesson Learned By This Exceptional Mom

I knew as soon as the words “Put your own oxygen mask on first,” appeared in my head that it was the Universe telling me I’d messed up. I was frustrated, angry, patience gone. Michael was testing me from the minute I got up in the morning. He was “off.” We’ve all had those days, right? Things are just not working well. We are tired, sick, not feeling like ourselves. As I mentioned yesterday, I have been under the weather this week with a cold, and was still feeling sick myself today. By evening I was better, but the toll of the day, emotions riding high, a trip to the pediatrician to make sure we were both up to date on Michael’s health changes, as well as new health requests  for Michael, (more on that Monday), and well, I’d had it. But I’d pretty much had it when I woke up this morning. I did what I always tell other Moms not to do. What I tell Dad not to do. I woke up feeling negative, stressed, worried about the day and gave into that worry.

The morning insulin injection is always the toughest. Michael stalls and there is usually the pressure to make sure he does it in time, eats right away, and gets ready for the bus on time. Then it’s me running to get out the door and to work, though luckily I usually have at least fifteen to twenty minutes after his bus leaves to do that. On days like today, when he and I were home due to a doctor’s appointment, there is a different pressure for Michael. I think it is the pressure of a different schedule and the stress that produces. From the second we could not get a proper blood glucose reading due to not getting enough blood on the sample strip (sorry for the gore), both Michael’s and my nerves started deteriorating. It pretty much went down hill from there. We managed to get ready and get to the doctor’s office on time, but then the wait for the doctor caused super hyperactivity in the examination room that more stress built up. Coming home I gave in to not sending him into school as it would have only been for an hour and a half of work, and the afternoon was stressful with him not knowing how to keep busy while I had so much catch up with being sick this week. When I did talk to him he was confrontational and wanted to go out while not understanding that I had things to finish up before. With all the anger, tears and confrontation, I did not take him anywhere. We hung out in the backyard together, then I went inside to do my meditation and yoga. Michael came in shortly after, and then we did his evening injection and had dinner.

I realized that not doing my meditation and yoga this morning was a major way I did not put my oxygen mask on. Why? I was waiting stressed to get Michael calmly into the day. That was not possible though. How could I do this, when I was not calm? And then, when was I going to realize that I could guide and show Michael where his tools were, but that it was he who would decide how his day would go and which tools to use? I had to stop trying to take care of what I could not control, and control what I can, which were my emotions and thoughts. The evening flared up briefly again until Dad and I redirected Michael to strategies and told him that to live at home he needed to follow rules of respect and politeness. I think we got through to him, but most importantly Dad and I were reminded of how important taking care of our masks were. When we didn’t, we were that much more stressed and it was harder on us and the family.

Exceptional Parents, have you been putting your needs first? Don’t be embarrassed if the answer is no. We’ve all been guilty of that. Don’t beat yourself up. Start fresh the next day with doing something special just for you. It could be anything-big or small. The important thing is to show yourself self-care and self-love. Make sure your partner is doing the same thing. You and your child will feel that positive strength and it will be a talisman against any of the stress you and your child are feeling. Until next time.

I am a writer, speaker and parent coach whose son with Autism and Type 1 Diabetes has shown me a whole new way to see the world and embrace the joy of  living in the moment! I believe in empowering parents to trust their own instincts when it comes to their children, and in helping them parent with love, respect and confidence on their own exceptional parenting journey.

For more information on my coaching services,  for a FREE 30 min consultation, and to receive a  copy of my FREE E-BOOK “5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL FAMILY ANXIETY,” see my website: www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com. 

 

Confronting Your Own Exceptional Fears for Your Child’s Diagnosis While Being Strong For Them

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The other day as I let out some more therapeutic tears, it occurred to me how though Michael’s new diagnosis has been hard on our family, it is also making Dad and I open up to one another and ourselves  about our own personal fears. My two biggest fears prior to diabetes coming in our life, was having to raise a child with a physical health issue. I always  marveled at my friends whose children were on medication and had physical as well as psychological challenges that required round the clock care. I often joked that I could never keep track on charts with numbers and hated the idea of giving needles or medication. I’m a writer and a words person, not a nurse. When Dad used to chart his food for the day when he was losing weight, I was amazed at how he had spreadsheets and logged it all. I’m so glad I don’t have to do that, I thought. Well, guess what Type 1 Diabetes requires daily of the individual affected and their caretakers. You got it. Spreadsheets to log carbohydrates and keep track of sugar, as well as many rounds of injections with needles to make sugar blood sugar is normal and that the insulin we are injecting is in doing its job. I almost laughed when I saw what would be required of Michael and me. See, he hates needles and numbers too. Yet both of us are becoming incredibly prolific with both. Michael is so brave with the injections, even when he is not comfortable doing injections, he has not refused to have them, and does it well. He is way better than I would have been with this diagnosis. He especially likes if his blood sugar is low at night. This means he has to have a little snack before we test the blood glucose number and give him his insulin so he gets to stay up later.  He makes us laugh even though we worry about his body with each high and low, a normal thing at the beginning of diabetes from what I have been reading. It is the same thing with autism. All Exceptional parents know this.

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I am incredibly overwhelmed with doctors’ appointments, diabetes and autism wise. We are working with an educator to help him with self-regulation and control, as now even more stress has entered his life and ours with the diabetes diagnosis. We are getting there though. All of us. I finally got back to self-care on Friday night. I want to my local Hamamm and then Saturday took a long, hot, bath complete with candles burning and soft meditation music  playing. Sunday morning I awoke for the first time since August 30th, the day Michael was diagnosed. I have had many beautiful happy moments since then, of course. I love my job. I love writing. I have talked to many friends and of course family who have been nothing but supportive. But I felt like I was not really touching the ground. The last time I felt this was long ago when Michael was first diagnosed with autism. The shock takes a while to adjust to, even after you have accepted a diagnosis. For me, it has been like I am watching myself going through the motions of life. I also have not really been able to relax. Where this has been most visible was in my meditation and yoga. It helped a little bit with being present centered, but again I felt like I was watching me in a detached way, and not the way I wanted to be detached. I knew once I brought self-care regularly back into my life my soul would heal along with my body. Yesterday was the first complete day that I felt healed and ready to really resume and tackle all the stuff that goes with coming to terms with another diagnosis, while continuing to help Michael with his other challenges.

Exceptional Parents, what scares you about your child’s diagnosis and why? Do you feel you can’t or don’t want to do it? It’s perfectly normal. For the last few weeks even though I know I would never act on it, I’ve had a reoccurring fantasy of driving off to the airport with a one-way ticket somewhere. This is the normal reaction to a highly stressful situation in the beginning. As you develop good self-care and coping mechanisms though, (or put old ones back in place), you will be able to face  your child’s (and your) challenges with calm, grace, and maybe even a laugh or two. I found myself laughing this weekend and making jokes for the first time in a month. That’s how I know I am doing better. Take care of yourself. Do little things to recharge your batteries. Then you’ll see that you’ll be better able to face the stresses ahead. Until next time.

I am a writer, speaker, parent coach whose son with autism and Type 1 Diabetes has shown me a whole new way to see the world and embrace the joy of the moment! I believe in empowering parents to trust their own instincts when it comes to their children, and in helping them parent with love, respect and confidence towards their child.

For more information on my coaching services, see my website: www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com, and for a free 30 minute exploration/consultation session contact me at joanne@creatingexceptionalparenting.com. Also to receive a copy of my FREE E-BOOK “5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL FAMILY ANXIETY” click on www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com/EBOOKS.

 

Recharging Parenting Batteries Builds Patience And Love For Your Child

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So today when I was sitting down after the bus left before I started getting ready for my work day, I realized why lately I have been feeling overwhelmed by motherhood and spending time with Michael. Obviously, our family has been adjusting to all the new things we have had to adjust to, but though I knew it in my mind, I had not really thought of why I was stressed. Then it occurred to me. Oh yes, self-care during this time has been non-existent for me. The more stress we feel as parents, the more we need to take time to nurture ourselves. However, most of us do the exact opposite. We tend to burn the candle at both ends trying to please children, partners, work, family, everyone but ourselves. And guess what happens Moms? It is us who feels the burnout, the resentment, the tears and stress. It is our bodies that fall apart, our minds that explode, our souls that feel depleted. Then, no one wins.

Watching Michael working with a new Educator today who was teaching him about his anger and anxiety building and how he needed to recognize it in terms of numbers, made me realize when was the last time I did this? When was the last time many of us busy parents did this? It’s ok if we didn’t prioritize it in the past. But now that we know, we need to start putting ourselves at the tops of the priority list-right up there with other family members who we care about. Why? Well, because if we burn out, what then? Who will be our child’s best advocate, cheerleader, and caretaker? Also, what kind of life would we lead? Yes, you Mom! You deserve to have fun too. You deserve to laugh, play, experience joy. Actually, not deserve but need to experience this to feel fully alive and teach your child how to feel fully alive. Why? Because that is part of what the Universe has in store for you.

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I am a big believer in the Universe or God having a plan for you, your child, all of us. This plan means that we will experience ups and downs on our life journey and that we must be strong to fulfill our destiny and help our child fulfill theirs. Life is nothing if not an adventure, and if having an Exceptional Child has taught me nothing else, it is that this child has helped me see the adventure and the beauty of the journey is even more important than the destination. For all Michael’s anxiety and stress, he will say things once in awhile that helps me open my mind and heart to how I am growing or need to grow. I know I do the same for him. He makes me laugh during the challenges most of the time, and even when I cry, tears are good. They help strengthen me, make me see where I need to heal, and help me help other parents and children on their path to healing. We all have a job and a vocation in this world. For some, the two are combined. For others they are two different things. Still, regardless we are just as much  here to help others as be helped ourselves. That is the human mission and condition set in practice.

Exceptional Parents, are you taking care of you? Are you scheduling in time to unwind and explore who you are as a parent and person? If not, it’s time to start. Your child will thank you. Your family and friends will thank you. And most importantly, you will feel so recharged that you will not be able to think anything negative no matter what happens. Your life will unfold as you practice self-care and teach the same skills to your child. Until next time.

I am a writer, speaker and parent coach whose son with autism and Type 1 Diabetes has shown me a whole new way to see the world and embrace the joy of the moment! I believe in empowering parents to trust their own instincts when it comes to their children, and in helping them parent with love, respect and confidence towards their child.

For more information on my coaching services, see my website: www.creatingexceptionalparentingg.com, and for a free 30 minute exploration/consultation session contact me at joanne@creatingexceptionalparenting.com. Also to receive a copy of my FREE E-BOOK “5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL FAMILY ANXIETY” click on www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com/EBOOKS.

7 Ways to Be Gentle With Yourself And Your Child When Handling Their Diagnosis

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I feel so angry right now, angry and full of self-pity. It is not a fun stage, not in the least. I am feeling angry that once again our life has been thrown up in the air and our whole family has to deal with another big diagnosis- Type 1 diabetes. Lots has started making sense. I am seeing patterns, like blood sugar highs and lows and temper tantrums in between that Michael has had. I am also seeing how healthier eating will now definitively be a part of our family life. We have no choice unless we want to watch Michael get sick and suffer again. But I also keep reminding myself daily that diabetes is not happening to me. It is happening to Michael. It is his burden to bear, not mine. I am merely an instrument to teach him how to shoulder this new challenge appropriately, as optimistically as he can, and learn how the anxiety management strategies he learned last year can be put into practice. This is not as easy as it seems. I have good days being an Exceptional Mom and not so good days. I have days when crying is what gets me through. Others where I laugh and can see the lighter side of things. More and more what this latest challenge is showing is that life is all about balance. It is about learning how to live by eating right, exercising, treating others with respect ,and living in harmony with the world. This can only be done when you are living in harmony with yourself.

Forgiving ourselves is also at the top of the list. Things don’t happen to us because we did something bad. That was something I thought when I was a kid. Things happen for us, not to us. I am really trying to embody this now in my life and teach it Michael. Our family was struggling for a few years with nutrition and food. Dad and I have both struggled, as do many married couples, with communication as parents and as a couple. Well guess what? When your kid has diabetes all you do is communicate. You have no choice unless you want your kid to get sick. For a lot of couples, when children get sick it destroys the relationship. In our case, when Michael has struggled he has grown stronger, and Dad and I have grown stronger as a couple. With autism, we were brought closer together eventually, though there were lots of ups and downs on the way. I feel the same thing happening with Michael’s diabetes. We are all growing stronger though there are definitively moments of weakness that we are all acknowledging. You can’t grow if you don’t acknowledge and live through pain. It gets easier with time.

In going through this latest challenge, I have been combing my brain remembering how I handled coming to terms with Michael’s autism seven years ago. I am remembering how I went from blame, anger and fear to acceptance, forgiveness and happiness again. I realize that a huge portion of it was due to self-care and compassion towards myself and my child. Here are 7 ways  that self-compassion and care to yourself and your child can get you and your child through acceptance of the diagnosis:

  1. Don’t fight the 7 stages: First things first, do not fight going through all the stages to acceptance no matter how long it takes. For some it is faster than others, but getting to the end will happen just like in any race.
  2. Make time to laugh and unwind: This is a tricky one especially if you are in the anger or denial stage, but laughter is so important. Watch a funny movie. Read a funny book. Spend time with your partner or a friend that makes you laugh. It will restore your soul as your mind comes to terms with something major.
  3. Remember your child is still your child-not a diagnosis: It is natural you will be focusing on helping your child handle their new diagnosis. However, remember that this diagnosis is not them, just a part of them.
  4. Do something for you alone that brings joy: What brings you joy? Is it going for a massage, a workout, a lunch? Is it meeting a friend, going for a walk, curling up with a good book? Do what makes you feel alive to remember even during difficult times you are still alive, inside and out.
  5. Enjoy doing things with your child that you did before: Don’t let a diagnosis stop you from playing with your child in a fun way, enjoying their quirkiness and doing things like going to the park, baking, watching tv together. They are still your children and you need not change how your treat them.
  6. Remind your child (if they are old enough) that their diagnosis is not THEM: If a child is old enough to understand, remind them not to use their diagnosis as an excuse not to live a full life. If they are babies, just don’t let their challenges mentally or physically mean they can’t strive for perfection, or what perfection will be for them. We all have a gift and something beautiful to offer the world.
  7. Seek support as a parent and for your child if they need it: Don’t be afraid to seek support for yourself and for your child if you both need it in dealing with a new diagnosis. Find other parents to talk to and playgroups for your child to attend where they could meet other children like them and form relationships. This is also important for healing purposes.

 

Exceptional Parents, how have you handled accepting your child’s diagnosis? Where are you now in the process? It’s ok if you are stuck at a stage. In time, you will move to the next one and may bounce around for a while before acceptance. Your child too will be struggling. Be patient with them. Be patient with yourself. You will both find your way if you take it one day at a time and remain kind and compassionate towards yourself and your child. Until next time.

I am a writer, speaker and parent coach whose son with autism and Type 1 Diabetes has shown me a whole new way to see the world and embrace the joy of the moment! I believe in empowering parents to trust their own instincts when it comes to their children, and in helping them parent with love, respect and confidence towards their child.

For more information on my coaching services, see my website: www.creatingexceptionalparentingg.com, and for a free 30 minute exploration/consultation session contact me at joanne@creatingexceptionalparenting.com. Also to receive a copy of my FREE E-BOOK “5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL FAMILY ANXIETY” click on www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com/EBOOKS.

How Avoiding Conflict Does Not Help You Or Your Exceptional Child

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So I have had to face something recently that I am not really proud of. I say those words, but then I add to myself what I learned in therapy many years ago, “It’s ok. We are all human. We all make mistakes. You are doing the best that you can.” What I am not really proud of is how I have slowly been letting my worry over Michael having an emotional or aggressive outburst cause me to give him chances when he has been acting up. The acting up has been more little testing her and there; rude language, minor emotional blowups, but I sat down last night and thought that I have been worried about him escalating to his aggressive point of a few months ago, and I have been unintentionally giving him the green light to be rude at times. I also have been giving up going out with friends when he would have trigger moments with Dad. I stayed home to defuse the tensions, and rightfully believed this was  helpful. I realized it was not subconsciously, and last night decided that a little tiff between Michael and Dad would not stop me from going out. It almost did, but I told them to deal with it and I left. What helped me? I’d like to say it was all my own inner resolve, but as always, Michael gave me the push I needed when he said, “Mommy, you need to stay home. Daddy and I will not be fine.” The thing is he said it with a little smile on his face. Gotcha Mom! I’d been had for  awhile. The lesson I learned is that being afraid of a reaction and putting the brakes on our children’s emotions, does not help any of us find better strategies and move forward. I was guilty of putting on the brakes.

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Several friends have recently gently chided me for backing out on plans due to worries about how Michael will do. They were all so understanding about my situation of the last six months, so I thanked them, and told them they were right. Somewhere along the line I had forgotten that we teach our child how to treat us, how resilient they and we are by our actions, and that playing peacemaker and being afraid of conflict comes at a huge price to us and our children. We send the message, unintentionally, that we and they cannot cope. Going out with friends or alone sometimes also means parents are practicing self-care which helps them become stronger and able to see when old habits that are not healthy are slipping back in. Last week, I went for my seasonal Hamaan. Yes, I now go once a season. It’s an inexpensive way for me to relax and recharge my batteries in the saunas and whirlpools. I sometimes go with friends, but love going alone too. As a close friend once commented, that is when you can truly relax and unwind-when there is no one else to talk to. And I felt not an ounce of guilt that I was doing this for me. It took me a long time to get here-four years. There are still times I do feel guilty about taking care of me. It is a process, as they say, but I am getting there.

Exceptional Parents, what bad habits have you seen creeping back into your parenting-such as avoiding conflict and not prioritizing self-care? Don’t feel guilty. We all do it Moms and Dads. We all see our friends struggling and give them great advice that we don’t follow ourselves. Next time you find yourself slipping, try this trick when you start talking yourself out of your fear and not facing it; “What would I tell my friend to do in this situation?” Chances are it will be to stay calm, direct, honest and to take good care of your self so your patience is as strong as it can be. And if it isn’t in that moment, forgive yourself and learn for the future. You’ll get there. Until next time.

I am a writer, speaker and parent coach whose son with autism has shown me a whole new way to see the world and embrace the joy of the moment! I believe in empowering parents to trust their own instincts when it comes to their children, and in helping them parent with love, respect and confidence towards their child.

For more information on my coaching services, see my website: www.creatingexceptionalparentingg.com, and for a free 30 minute exploration/consultation session contact me at joanne@creatingexceptionalparenting.com. Also to receive a copy of my FREE E-BOOK “5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL FAMILY ANXIETY” click on www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com/EBOOKS.