Category: self-care

How Gratitude Opens You Up As An Exceptional Parent

Parenting Michael has been nothing but not interesting. We have had many ups and downs on the road of exceptional family life as I’ve shared in this blog, but one thing that has truly struck me as extraordinary has been how practicing gratitude in the rest of my life by meditating on my blessings, has helped me see all sides of Michael’s character (as well as my own) in a whole new way. It is so tempting when things are stressful or going wrong with you or your child to think all of life is doomed or that things will never be calm and happy again. This is so not true. Life, like our kids, always has its ups and downs. By practicing being grateful for the small and big things in our lives as human beings, all our lives, as individuals, parents, partners, friends etc., we are opening ourselves up to seeing everything in a more positive frame or in a growth framework.

Michael has made MASSIVE improvements in how he has been learning to self-regulate. He has grown up a lot too and shows greater maturity in how he is handling everything in his life these days. But what has helped me see all of this has been my own massive growth as an individual. Through meditating, nature walks, writing, going regularly to a spa or soaking in a bath to connecting with like minded women friends, I have been finding my center. I have been rediscovering who I am deep inside and the blessings I want to remember each day and share with the world. I know that the way I am living my life is reflecting this as I have received a lot of, “you radiate a positive energy” “you are always happy and calm.” I also think that Michael senses this ease in my mind and attitude. It has helped our relationship a lot too as it takes another turn where Michael moves away from being dependent on me for everything and moving towards relying on himself to make decisions. Yet, he still knows I am there to bounce ideas off of. I think he senses I am calmer to do this with. I do my best to reiterate this calm attitude to him by talking about my personal self-care strategies that help me be strong. Michael knows I start the day with meditation and usually yoga stretches, and that meeting my writer and Mom friends are at the top of my list of priorities for self-care. They all make up my list of things to be grateful for. Family is also on that list, and I make sure to stay in touch as much as I can with family so that Michael knows he has a center and a lot to be grateful for.

Exceptional Parents, how has gratitude or showing gratitude changed you as a parent? Do you parent better when you count your blessings? Of course you do! Don’t ever be afraid, especially in the more difficult times of parenting your child, to look at the silver lining. This does not make you unrealistic about your life or your child’s. It reminds you that though there are hardships in your child’s life and yours, you also have many beautiful happy moments in your life that complete your journey as a human being. You can share this gratitude with your child and then they will learn about balancing all emotions in life. Until next time.

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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! 

The Struggles Of Being An Exceptional Parent And What It Has Taught Me So Far

Most of my posts about raising an Exceptional Child and being an Exceptional Mom have been positive and optimistic, because after all, if our kids can handle a world that is not always set up to help them succeed, then who are we as their parents to complain? Yet, there are times when as a Mom and a woman who blogs about helping special needs families and lives it, I  want to run screaming into the wilderness saying, let me out alive! These thoughts used to frighten me. Not any more. I see them now as a necessary thing, a way to balance all my sides,-mother, wife, writer, coach, woman. It’s not always easy. But once I started sharing my parenting journey and my own personal human journey on this blog, my life became even more rich, as did my fiction. But that’s another story.

I have to say that coming to terms with how Michael and helping kids like him has changed me as a person, has been quite a journey. Our kids, all kids, teach us life lessons every day. They build us up and break us down, only to build us up again. They make us realize the work we have done on ourselves and may still need to do. They help us stay honest with who we are and who we want to become. So, on that note, I want to share what parenting an Exceptional Child  has taught me so far:

  1. I am stronger than I think.
  2. Self-care is the most important thing. If I fail in prioritizing my health, I fail everyone in my circle.
  3. Being a parent  feels like a spiritual calling most days, and it’s important to treat it that way.
  4. Sometimes you want to run away from being a parent and that’s not only ok, but normal. Go deeper and see what’s missing- More alone time? More sleep? More time with friends?
  5. Your personal time will be compromised as you prioritize the child. Make sure you schedule, and I mean schedule in everything else or it will never get prioritized.
  6. Your child will open up worlds you didn’t know existed.
  7. Your child will test your beyond anything in the universe.
  8. You will grow as much from the painful moments as from the beautiful. Don’t regret either of the lessons.
  9.  You may think another parent would do better for your child when you are the parent your child needs.
  10. You are your child’s teacher and advocate. They are your teacher and spiritual guide. Together, you will do amazing things.

Exceptional Parents, have you ever felt overwhelmed in a good or bad way by parenthood? Both are normal states of being. Your child needs to see you experience all the emotions out there. This way they will know that it is normal and ok to be angry, happy, sad, fearful, fearless and brave. As we teach them how to navigate the world around themselves, they teach us the same. Keep striving to learn from each other and when times are rough, remember you are both human and will get through it together. 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! 

 

Tackling Your Own Exceptional Impatience While Helping Your Child With Theirs

I have a problem with patience. There, I said it. I feel better now. What has been hard for me to admit is that I need to build this skill really well as an Exceptional Mom because Michael’s patience is worse than mine and that’s not saying much. Most days and nights I can reign in my impatience, stress, and anger when Michael pushes limits, but then there are those days. You know the ones I am talking about, parents. They start tough with you feeling frustrated that in spite of all your best efforts your Exceptional Child will not compromise, and they end with two meltdowns-yours and your child’s. That was Michael and I the other night. I realized some common denominators in why we clashed. We were both overtired, not taking the time to hear one another or sympathize with the other one’s viewpoint, and we both were stubbornly holding on to the fact that we had it right. As it turned out, neither of us had the situation completely correct. It was an evening that called for some negotiating, respectful listening, and patience with the other tired person. Neither of us possessed it that night as we had our own agendas. “Do you hear me, do you really hear me?” These were the words both of us were uttering while the other was clueless. Each thought the other one was uncaring when really two tried people who loved each other clashed and clashed badly.

After as I lay in bed totally wiped out by the tough evening not even having the energy to take a calm warm bath as I had planned, I thought to myself,  there were some steps I wish I had followed to stay calm and centered. As a model to Michael, I may have been able to prevent the evening from at least getting worse even if I could not have prevented the fighting we did.  I vowed to follow these steps and recognize what I needed to do the next time there was a conflict and I know that there will be conflicts with an opionated tween in the house!

  1. Evaluate my mood: Before Michael came home, I needed to recognized how tired I was and what would charge my batteries in a positive way. Then it was time to do that before the bus pulled up. Probably doing some yoga or listening to soft music my cup of coffee or tea would have helped.
  2. Review the strategies to use: The strategies would include what I would use to calm down and what I know would work for Michael. If necessary, having them on paper close by to refer to may have been a good option for both of us.
  3. Remember not to take my kid’s anger personally: This is a tough one, but most kids act out due to THEIR issues not their lack of love or respect for you no matter what they say or do. They are on the egocentric side, and so pain is all about them. As the parent and adult in the relationship, I needed to recognize that Michael was in a bad mood due to HIS issues and not MINE.
  4. Validate some of his anger and mine calmly: This is also tough, but as I tell Michael, anger is not bad, but reacting to anger with aggression of any sort in unacceptable. Just because Michael yells I do not yell back. The same goes for physical aggression. I am guilty of yelling only, though I have been known to slam doors, not my proudest moments as a Mom. As the adult, I need to model how to be angry and use tools to get control of myself. Also, it’s important to acknowledge mistakes and anger with an “it’s ok. we move forward,” and no blame game. We all make mistakes. It’s not the end of the world. I may say it, but I need to do it too.
  5. Don’t make assumptions about what is being said-communicate clearly from the beginning: What got Michael and I in trouble, was that we both assumed the other one was deliberately trying to hurt and disrespect the other one. This was not the case. We had a BIG communication problem. With a neuro typical brain and an autistic one, it can happen all the time if we are not careful. Once the snowball got rolling, it was hard to stop. I saw now that I assumed falsely as did Michael  what the other one was saying, and that made things worse for both of us. Next we need to be direct right away.

Exceptional Parents, do you feel like you are losing your cool more than you want to with your child? Do you feel like you have it under wraps and then suddenly explode and you can’t see why? It’s time to look at your own parenting tools for YOUR anger and anxiety. Do they need a tune up? Do you need a reminder of what helps to calm you down? It’s ok to use bad nights as a learning curve for you and your child. That is what we do in our family. After all, if your Exceptional Child sees that you lose it sometimes and recover from mistakes, they will eventually learn not to be too hard on themselves. Take heart if you are an impatient person. There are ways to build patience- get enough sleep, meditate, exercise and eat right, and take time for you to recharge your batteries doing things alone that can center you as a person. If you need to, seek outside help. There is never any shame in doing so. You will be a more patient parent and human being because of it, and your relationship with your child will only get better. Until next time.

Are 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 Prioritizing Mom Nights Out Helps You Truly Grow As An Exceptional Parent

I have never enjoyed Mom nights out as much as I have in the last two years as things got more stressful at home. What, you say? Isn’t that when it’s the worst time to go out, when your Exceptional Child’s issues are wiping you out and you feel exhausted? Well, yes and no. Though there have been times I have backed out of Mom nights due to exhaustion or stress, most of the time, I see that the best therapy for me (and for Michael and Dad), is me going out, kicking back with the girls over a good meal, a good glass of wine, and a good conversation and just bearing my heart and soul. Or sometimes it has been about laughing and forgetting it all. Whatever has worked for me has usually worked when I have gone with what my heart needs me to feel and do. Solo nights out for me have been a must to survive some of the most stressful parts of exceptional parenting and married life as an exceptional parent and spouse.  These have included my writers meetings a must to connect with other creative souls. Date nights with Dad have served another purpose to remember who we were before Michael added his own unique touch to our lives, but also took us so out of ourselves that Dad and I began forgetting what made us fall in love with one another in the first place and how we’ve changed all these years together. Nights out with my school friends, that also reminds me of a time when I was single, no partner or child, and keeps me centered in my roots. I miss that group of friends and am planning to try and see more of those wonderful ladies this year.

But my Mom friends, well, what can I say. They are my soul sisters. I have bared everything to them, and there is something about talking to a Mom like me, with challenges like me, who will not judge, will support, will laugh or rage with me, will encourage me to take the step I need for me or Michael, and will celebrate all the big and little moments that an Exceptional Child brings in only the way they can. Why? Because they are living it. Every. Single. Day. They know me in a way that no one else can or ever will, and for this, I believe that Mom dinners or outings of any kind, is part of a great string that keeps me together mentally, physically and spiritually.

Some women don’t like to go out or are tired or have other commitments. That’s fine. But I encourage you, no matter what form it takes, connect with other Moms. Do this either in person at support groups meetings, courses, online, and if you are lucky enough to form friendships with these wonderful ladies, take it to the next level. Many of the Moms who I have the privilege to meet for dinner or evenings out, once were Moms I only saw at daily support groups or at Michael’s schools. We exchanged information about therapists, education, medical issues and the ups and downs our children took us on in the course of exceptional parenting. Eventually something miraculous happened. The Moms who were my sources of information to help Michael succeed began to help me succeed not only as a parent, but as a human being. They became my sounding board when I was stressed as a parent, and my cheerleaders when things went well. I began to share other things with them, the fact that I am a writer, my new career direction, things in my family that were good and not so good. They helped me continue to grow as a woman and a human being. And now, I can truly count them as a close part of my team, team Joanne, as  I call it. I believe every woman needs a team (your name) behind you., just as your child needs a team behind them. When you have this kind of support, you have your village, your village to help raise your child AND you to be the best you can be.

Exceptional Parents, how many of you have Exceptional Mom or Dad Nights or days, if that works better for you? Remember, you are a person that needs nurturing too. You need to fill your cup so you can give to your child what they sometimes don’t get from the world- acceptance, love, room to grow, and belief that they can do anything they set their mind too as people who love them are behind them. When you as a Mom have your team behind you, anything is possible. Imagine your child feeling this same way too. So here’s to our special Moms out there who laugh, cry and celebrate with us. It’s thanks to them we can get through the tough times and move forward with courage. 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

Being The Harbor For Your Exceptional Child

How many times have most parents thought what the heck have I gotten myself into in becoming a parent? I can tell you, I have thought this SO many times as an exceptional parent. I love my son more than anything in the universe and could not imagine life without him, but oh, to have the experience I have now in parenting him years ago. And even now, there are times I think, where do I go from here? Puberty, multiple diagnoses, and just general testing of boundaries, makes exceptional parenting a  minefield for most parents. But what I have learned in the hard moments is to trust in my parenting gut when I know and do not know what to do. When I know it, I do it. Easy enough. When I am unsure and on new ground, I meditate and calm my inner mind. Next I ask God and the Universe for guidance. I ask to be directed to the right people and resources to help Michael. I am never let down. Within days, my path is cleared and I have new tools. My confidence builds and I move forward again.

Michael has taught (and continues to) teach me SO much about my patience, anger, strengths and limitations. I have been broken down and rebuilt as a Mom, woman and human being. He has humbled me to work on my frailties while helping him work on his. I have had my eyes opened when I have misinterpreted what he is feeling. I realize that no parent can know any child one hundred percent, whether they have special needs or not.  And I have also learned how to make the tough choices. How to do things he does not like. How to teach him to cope with stress. This is a daily struggle for both of us. How to navigate my marriage with an exceptional child in puberty, how to navigate and practice self-care with an exceptional child in puberty, and most importantly, how to admit when I need a shoulder to cry on-family, friend, deity or all of the above. I do not hesitate now, even with all I’ve learned, to say  “I’ve had it. I need help. I need a break.”

Every parent has to learn to do this. Every parent has to learn to teach their child to do this. Every parent needs to know when they need to switch on or off. If you do not know, talk to someone about it. If family or friends don’t understand, seek professional help. The sooner you are in good shape, the sooner you can help your child reset and understand them better. In the meantime, keep these tips in mind to be your child’s safe harbor:

  1. Sleep Enough
  2. Eat Enough
  3. Laugh Enough
  4. Share Enough
  5. See Your Child As Struggling In Themselves, Even In Their Darkest Moments With You.

Exceptional Parents, are you often your Exceptional Child’s safe harbor? If you feel that lately you are the one needing that harbor, it is ok. Remember, even when you feel you can’t go on, you will find a way to do so. You are your child’s safe harbor. Keep your own lights on and your vehicle ready to help, and you will be able to see your child through any challenge. 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.