I want to express a few thoughts and see if they resonate with any of you.
You may know that within our family we have special needs, attachment disorder (and reactive attachment disorder which is the upper end of that spectrum) mental health issues in addition to that; language delays, social delays; just all these special needs type things going on, and Post Traumatic Stress (PTSD) and OCD , ADHD — and more alphabet soup!
What’s a mom to do!? I’ve learned that if you are all wrapped up in the family, the children, their special needs, and the relationships that attachment disorder has really put a negative spin on (with multiple kids and family members!) then it can really put you in a rotten space. If you have your own identity all wrapped up in the nature of being a parent of the alphabet soup, special needs, chronic illness and all that goes along with attachment issues that is.
The children are growing up and trying to forge their own identities. Some have additional issues with identity — identity crises — because of their past.
Now think about the parents. Moms in particular (and dads, I am not trying to exclude you but you know, I can relate most to moms).
What about your identity?
Your identity cannot continue to be wrapped up in the relationships and in the roles that you have — the roles that are changing — the roles that are up one day and down the next — the roller coaster ride that is this life, without some real damage, without losing yourself, without losing your own identity.
So, you MUST regain and/or hold onto your identity in Christ.
Your identity as God’s child.
Your identity as someone of value and intellect and purpose.
You can hold on to your true identity:
Whether or not a particular relationship goes haywire;
whether or not a particular illness continues or gets worse;
whether or not you have to deal with a mental health crisis that day;
whether or not behavioral issues pop up;
And whether or not other people judge you as someone who should handle things differently than you do, or should parent differently than you do, or is even the cause of some of the behaviors or issues with your children.
And so, who are we doing this for? Are we really just doing it for ourselves? No.
For our children? Yes! But not just for them.
If you are like me, then you agree we are really doing it for God.
And for our love of God.
And in obedience to God.
So we do it for our kids – yes, but as God gives us love and loves our children and our families through us he gives us the ability desire. And HE is the one we are really doing it all for!
He knows your heart.
He knows it all.
He knows these children.
He knows their background and he knows their needs. And furthermore, God is able to take them, continue to work on them, and maybe do it through you or maybe through other people or other ways. So it’s not all on your shoulders. Put it back on his, where it belongs.
That’s all of my rambling thoughts. I hope you ae encouraged. If you are, feel free to share and follow Yesterday’s Orphan for more.
How do you get your own bucket filled so you can pour into your family when you’re feeling like there isn’t much left to pour out?
Below I share a few ideas for quick pick-me-ups to help when you’re running on empty. But I am fully aware that there can be such a deep dark pit that it takes more than just a few quick bucket-filling ideas to make much difference. Please do not give up hope and do not give up searching and reaching for the help that you need. It’s there. Keep looking and keep looking up (to God and his help and ginormous love for you)!
I found some things were not so helpful before things began to be noticeably different. Some things were helpful, but it took a while. If you are interested in more of what helped me rise up out of the deep, dark pit I found myself in not too long ago, please reach out. I know not everyone’s situation is the same and there will be different needs. So I don’t presume to know exactly what your situation or needs are. I’m certainly not a medical person so nothing I say here is intended to diagnose, treat or cure.
But I do know everyone needs Jesus. And he is the great healer. He can use all manner of resources or none at all! That said, here are some quick and easy ideas for bucket-filling on days you need a little pick-me-up.
Self-care “Bucket List”
Dawn’s TOP Ideas for Re-filling a Poured-out Parent’s Bucket
As a mom of seven, I am familiar with the constant need for parents to pour themselves out for their families. I’m also familiar with the feeling that you are running on fumes. That bucket is feeling pretty dry at times.
We sometimes tend to feel like we are being selfish to do something for ourselves that is more than tending to basic needs. I’ve felt that way myself at times. But I’m learning that I am my own best resource. And taking care of me as a good steward of my resources is necessary to offer the best I can to those I hold most dear. When taking care of yourself means taking better care of your family, I don’t think that’s selfish or self-centered.
What exactly is Stewardship?
“stewardship expresses our obedience regarding the administration of everything God has placed under our control, which is all-encompassing. Stewardship is the commitment of one’s self and possessions to God’s service, recognizing that we do not have the right of control over our property or ourselves.” ~ Institute for Faith, Work, and Economics
When our self-care is from a motive and perspective of stewardship rather than selfishness we can then understand that taking good care of ourselves is our responsibility. As a Christian, I know that I am not my own. I belong to God and have a responsibility to him to do the best with what he has given me. If I am an emotional wreck or sleep-deprived shell of myself, I may need to do some adjusting.
Without further ado, here are a few of my top ideas for getting that parent bucket filled. You can use this as a jumping off point to add more ideas of your own that will likely be even better as they are personal to you. This is by no means an exhaustive list.
#1 Connect with a (non-judgmental) friend.
If you can do it it’s great to connect face to face; otherwise take a few minutes to connect in the best way you can whether that be a call, text or video chat.
#2 Let something go so you can get more/better sleep.
However you do it whether you go to bed a bit earlier, sleep a bit later or slip in an afternoon nap it’s ok to get some rest! Do you know that sleep time is very important for certain hormone production?
At night, I like to use essential oils to help me relax and get some shut-eye: One of my favorite sleep blends is Cedarwood, Vetiver, and Lavender together in a diffuser or roller bottle topped with a carrier oil like olive oil or in a bedside cool mist diffuser.
#3 Read or watch something lighthearted.
Laughter is good medicine and can be just the thing to lighten your perspective. Watching a fun movie with the family can be a good way to soften built up tensions with a shared experience.
#4 Indulge in a special snack.
It doesn’t have to be the most calorific snack or anything guilt-laden. But just as a snack can diffuse the “hangry” in kids, it might help us too!
#5 Deep Breathing.
At one point, during a particularly stressful time, I set alarms on my phone to take a few moments and do some deep breathing throughout the day. . . . In 2, 3, 4 . . . out 2, 3, 4 . . .
#6 Take a luxurious bath (or at least a long shower break)!
Self-care may be getting back to the basics if you’ve been in survival mode. Using delightfully scented soaps, shampoos, and bath salts and following up with a light lotion or skin oil can make you feel pretty pampered.
I like to use toxin-free soaps and shampoos infused with essential oils.
#7 Get Moving!
Perhaps it’s not resting you need as much as to get moving. Exercise, even just a little, can be a good pick-me-up. Plus, as an added bonus, exercise can even help you to sleep better — provided it’s not too close to bedtime.
#8 Drink something.
Even slight dehydration can get you feeling yucky. So drink water or another hydrating beverage to stay hydrated. *One of my favorites is Ningxia Zing!
#9 Go Outdoors!
For eons, parents have known to send their kiddos outside for better health all over the world. Guess what? It goes for adults, too! Fresh air and the sunshine vitamin (vitamin D) are necessary for each of us.
#9 – Listen to Happy Music!
Alone or better yet – – with the kiddos – – listening to music (and even sing and dance along) is a great way to bring on the smiles.
#10 Take time to read a Bible passage and pray.
This is important to me as a Christian. The Holy Bible is God’s Word, his messages to us. I speak to him through prayer and he speaks to me through his Word.
Would you like to know more? I’d love to share how you can become a Christian and have this personal relationship with one-on-one communication with The God of all Creation!
And if you are interested in finding out more about how you can get started with essential oils and related products, let me know. The ones I use and recommend have the Seed to Seal commitment that is an important quality control measure that puts them head and shoulders above the rest.
See my Virtual Business Card for ways you can contact me for more.
With children from hard places, there are many who are triggered into rages rather than the typical childhood and teen behaviors such as tantrums and sulking which are unpleasant to deal with but not generally dangerous. In talking with experts about best practices in dealing with extreme behaviors the key is always for the parent (the adult) to remain calm in the midst of the meltdown/rage/storm. It sounds so simple, so . . . logical.
BUT . . . HOW?
Of course, we should be the adult, the one in control when they have apparently lost it. But imagine you are in the midst of a tornado. You remain calm, mostly, and then it is over and you are able to assess the damage and realize no one is hurt badly and there is just a bit of material damage. Then the next day, another tornado. And another after a couple more days. You start wondering each day if there will be a tornado today and brace for the coming storm. Your nerves get a little shaky when the winds howl. You are still cleaning up (and healing) from the previous storms and wondering how much more you can take of this before something gives. At this point, remaining calm may be a stretch.
Prayer and Faith that God is in control and is working ALL things out for good is key for me.
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
In addition, I’ve come up with this list to help me focus on remaining calm in the midst of the storms and realize that it will blow over. Perhaps it will help you as well.
C. A. L. M. M. O. M.
C. Self-CONTROL & CONFIDENCE (not reactive)
A. Look AWAY (not in their eyes) & ACKNOWLEDGE their frustration
L. LESS talk. (Wait ’til later)
M. MODEL better behavior & posture & calm with a MATTER-OF-FACT voice that communicates “everything is okay.
M. Get them MOVING with me (if do-able within safe limits) walking, jumping, dancing, etc.
O. OPT OUT if violent or verbally abusive (safety first)
M. ReMOVE myself, others, possible weapons/projectiles away for everyone’s safety.
For [C] I wanted to remind myself to show my own self-control and my own confidence so that it does not appear that I am out of control to my child or others. If they perceive that I am out of control in the least, or that they have “pushed my buttons” it validates the mistrust of my attachment disordered children.
For [A] I want to acknowledge their frustration if possible. I need to do this whether it seems to sink in or not. Look away means I do not need to push them to look me in the eye during their storm/rage/meltdown, which puts added pressure on them (though it comes across as highly disrespectful to me). I may need to sit/stand beside them instead of in front of them to avoid looking directly into their face. If they are able to hide their eyes as part of self-calming I want to recognize that that is okay for now.
[L] is a tough one for me because I want to talk them through it and get to the bottom of whatever is at the root of the disturbance. (Can you imagine trying to discuss with a tornado what caused such a disturbance?) Less talk is something that is difficult for me and may need to be zero talk to keep me from opening the floodgates, making matters worse.
[M] is similar to [C] above, in that I remind myself to be the adult and model better behavior to the child/teen. Not only do I want to avoid anything that could be perceived as a lack of confidence and self-control, but I want to overtly speak and act in a way that they may copy, such as speaking matter-of-factly with an un-shakeable, assured tone, one that assumes everything is or will be okay. Not dismissing their frustration or upset but not entering into the fray with them, either. This is a detached sort of stance that is new to me but may be more tolerable for my attachment disordered children.
[O] is Opt Out, and may pre-empt strategies that require the child or teen’s cooperation to a degree, like taking a walk. When they are violent or verbally abusive I need to be able to disengage in order to keep my calm and safety, and to model healthy boundaries. This is not a time to talk them through anything or try to reason with them.
The last [M] is another “Move” – – “Re-Move“ myself and others, along with items that could be used as weapons or projectiles for everyone’s safety. Not only in the midst of the storm, but in preparation for future storms items may need to be secured and a safety plan for other children in the home, as well as the one with the extreme behavior, parents and pets can be made. It may seem extreme and out of the ordinary to make a safety plan for when a child or teen is exhibiting extreme behavior, but it is a precaution that can be necessary for everyone’s safety.
I compiled the above tips for myself in preparing to deal with my own attachment disordered children. Your children certainly may have different types of behaviors and needs, requiring different strategies from you.
I have found that taking care of myself is key to being able to handle the stresses of an emotionally challenged child or teen who sometimes has extreme behaviors. Many things have helped, including the use of naturally calming essential oils that are available from Oils for Orphans. Feel free to contact me for more information on ways they might benefit you.