So I did it again. I know better. I know how audio visual, and nighttime anxiety, and testing behaviors come out at night. And still, still I gave Michael a chance to get a later start on his bedtime routine. It quickly became a bedtime battle with Michael getting upset and me yelling. Really, I’m more disappointed in myself as I know better usually. He’s a great kid, but like any kid, he will do what he has to do to stall going to bed.
“I’m not tired Mommy. I can go to bed at 10:00 pm.” Yeah right. Then his eyes are closing at school, (his own admission) and I can see by the end of the day he is fried. So, I said it before but I did not stick to it. Sometimes, even with good intentions us Moms make mistakes. Starting tomorrow, I will be more firm that with a heavier bedtime schedule he needs to start earlier or else do a shorter routine. And I will plan on enforcing this more strictly and holding myself accountable. Another thing I did wrong was that I was not forceful enough after school that I needed to work. Michael was testing and rude, then apologetic and clingy, so much so that I got no work done after school then no work done after dinner due to fighting about bath so I was, well, feeling sorry for myself and licking my own wounds so to speak. I know now that this will not help anyone so I will not do it anymore.
Last night made me think of all the ways I can learn to hold my emotional stuff together and give other parents tips on what works for me. Some of these are harder to implement than others even though I know better, but I am getting there. So, here are my 5 tips:
- Rid yourself of your own emotional angst: Lots of parents, Moms especially, keep their own feelings in until they burst. Don’t do this. You don’t help your child or yourself and you cause lots of stress that is not necessary. If you feel anger or resentment at your child, yourself, your partner, find a productive outlet to release it and do something positive for yourself.
- Make sure you are sleeping enough: Sleep deprivation or exhaustion does not help anyone in your family. A person will not tolerate stress well until they are rested and calm. The world will still turn if you go to bed early a night or two. Try it.
- Remind yourself your child is not trying to make your life miserable: It is hard sometimes when we are frustrated and tired to see challenging behavior for what it really is; a child’s cry for help and attention. We need to not take it personally, see what is bothering them, and go from there. But, we need the emotional distance from our own feelings before getting there.
- Breathing and meditation: I know. I’ve probably said breathing and meditation a million times in my blog posts (and will put them in a million more), but it is so important to take are of yourself with mindfulness and staying the moment. Even when I fail to do this, yoga and meditation have showed me HOW to get back on the right track.
- Exercise regularly: Finally am getting back to a regular exercise routine in 2017. I always am shocked how I make excuses not to do something that makes me feel wonderful inside. I was having some mini anxiety attacks earlier in the week, and then I realized why: tired and not exercising to handle stress. I did one workout this week and am planning two more, but even after one I felt like a million dollars. I did a 2o minute Zumba routine. Do anything Moms. Walk. Go on a treadmill, swim, bike. Your body will thank you a million times.
- Get a massage or go to a spa: For those of you lucky enough that your partner can do it, ask for one and give one in return. It’ll spark something else. For everyone else, go every few months if you can afford the splurge. Lots of spas have gifts cards, discounts and I like to go to a Hammam experience at a local spa near me. It is in my price range and can tide me over till I get a one hour or one hour and a half massage.
- Make quality time with your child before bedtime to bond: When you are truly bonding with your child in all senses of the word, you will feel the connection. They will not need to act out and will feel secure and you won’t get upset.
- Find out what about their behavior is triggering you: This is something I just learned about recently. What our kids do that bug us is usually what we did to our parents or how they responded to us. See if you can get to the bottom of it by journaling about your feelings or talk to a therapist.
- Spend time out with family and friends: This is important to do alone and with your child. You’ve got to see them in a good context and not just in when they are misbehaving.
- Cry, scream, write, get it out of your system: Don’t be afraid to let out your emotions when you are alone and it is safe to do so. You need to leave room for everything in your body, mind and soul, including the bad emotions. As long as it is cathartic and does not make you delve deeper into depression, it is the way to go.
Exceptional Parents, do you have your own tricks to stay calm with your children that are different from those above? If so, great. I’d love to hear them! If they work, more power to you. If not, feel free to try any and all of the above. The important thing is to remember we all have our breaking point, but to try to not let yourself get to that point for everyone around you. Until next time.
I am a writer and parent coach who is passionate about empowering parents to trust their own instinct when raising their exceptional children with autism, and remembering that parenthood is as much a journey for us as childhood is for our children. For more information on my parent coaching programs, and to book a FREE 30 Minute Consultation Session, see my website: http://www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com.
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