Tag Archives: Support

Self-Care Parent “Bucket List”

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.

~Dawn

 

Help! My Adopted Child is Terrified of Sleep

For the first year or so home, my youngest (adopted) child literally screamed himself to sleep.  One of my adopted daughters would often yell out in her sleep (still does occasionally after 10 years), never fully waking up and never remembering it in the morning.  Another one of our adopted children used to get to sleep okay, but get up during the night or wee hours of the morning, unable to fall back to sleep (and wander the house which also caused problems).

Adults may be able to self-talk and work through their night-time anxieties, but kids have less experience and big imaginations!  Even as adults we understand that worries, fears, concerns often loom larger at bed-time, weighing on us.  But children from traumatic backgrounds may have an even harder time with all of this.  It’s harder for them to separate what’s real and what’s not, especially at night.  And it can really affect their sleep which affects their days and the rest of the family, too.  The cycle can spiral downward if it doesn’t stop.

Lack of good, restful sleep on an ongoing basis can affect a number of things and can be detrimental to their health.  It is during sleep that our brains make a clean sweep of accumulated toxins, so among other things we can think clearer the next day.  It’s during sleep that production of several hormones rises, including growth hormone.  Ever hear that children grow in their sleep?  Lack of growth hormone can impact not only growth in height but even cellular repair.  Another hormone, lack of melatonin, the sleep hormone can cause greater sleep problems.  A strong immune system is supported by good sleep.

Sleep is should be restorative and our children need even more sleep than we as adults do in order to function optimally during the day.  I recommend making sleep a priority for your entire household.  Try not to deal with stressful issues near bedtime.  If you can table it until morning, do so.  If there is always conflict over pajamas or tooth brushing, drop the issue or do a workaround – – maybe brush teeth right after dinner so it’s over and done long before bedtime, for example.

We are super careful not to use supplements with food coloring or msg (an excitotoxin to the brain).  But using melatonin has helped so much, as well as other supplements depending on the person,  and specific essential oils that are beneficial for sleep either for calming or with a sedative effect or to help alleviate racing/troubling thoughts.  Some are effective to help with pain that may seem worse at night and be a hindrance to getting to sleep.  There are different ones for different issues.  With my large family, we have had lots of sleep issues which vary from person to person.  I know I personally cannot take anything that will up my blood pressure.  Essential oils have been a huge help to me, too as well as my kids.  Wish I had had them sooner!

I want to emphasize that there are a lot of reasons you or your child may have difficulties sleeping.

IMPORTANT:  I am not a doctor and nothing in this post is meant to diagnose, treat or cure anything.  Please see your healthcare provider for any medical issues.  I am not giving medical advice here.

And please don’t give up looking for the right solutions.  There ARE solutions and it IS important.

When you become your own sleep detective you may gain new insight as to what you can change in your daily routines for optimal sleep to take place.

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Real life is often emotional and kid’s from hard places often have overwhelming emotions. As a parent, I want to help my children learn to use positive coping skills and give them helpful tools. 

Contact me to request my free “Sleep Detective” PDF booklet to download.  It’s a fun way to help your child or teen start to focus on their need for sleep and empower them to be an active force in making positive changes.

And if you like the content on this blog you might like to check out Yesterday’s Orphan on Facebook with the link in the sidebar.

 

 

Finding Hope in the Biggest Storms

Never give up hope.  And don’t give in to isolation and despair.  

This is my advice to the adoptive/foster/step-parent who finds yourself in an ongoing storm that seems to engulf them with no way out, like a spinning tornado that keeps hurling debris at you.

The new book by Mike Berry, Confessions of an Adoptive Parent, has been one of the Love-bombs God has recently dropped on me as he shows me an ever-widening break in the storm clouds that have permeated my life for a while.  Mike uses the analogy of a storm in the book (no wonder I relate so well!) and the reality that the sun still shines, even though hidden temporarily by the storm clouds.  (He puts it way more elegantly – – so you really need to read the book to get the full heart-boosting effect.)

Being on the launch team for the book was very timely as it arrived just when my husband and I were/are stretched thin and enveloped in a struggle to find a way to deal with one of our adopted children and get them the help they need while keeping everyone safe – – an increasingly difficult and frustrating process as this child’s difficult behaviors were rapidly escalating.   Reading the book during this period has given me a helpful re-grounding and perspective.  When your world spins out of control, to hear from those who have “been there done that” and come out on the other side, PLUS who have the same faith and values is HUGE!

The over-arching premise of Confessions . . .  is that “You are not alone.”  And it is a message of hope.  Isn’t that what we all need, what our children need, when we are in the middle of an ongoing storm?  We live in an area where tornados are sometimes a threat.  We learned to go to an interior room without windows whenever a tornado threatens.  We also pray.  And we monitor the weather radio.  We have not had a tornado hit our house, but have had friends and family who have.  Thankfully the damage has not extended to loss of life, but that is always a concern and possibility.  Growing up with the threat of tornados I have not felt fearful of them since I can remember.  I tended to feel secure in our routines that I and my family would be okay.  Not because I am unaware or in denial of the devastation they can cause, but because of my faith in God, and the many times he has provided protection.

What procedures do you take to get through the difficult storms with your kids? Just like when severe weather threatens, prayer is number one.  But also, gathering together (rather than dividing and isolating ourselves as we may feel like doing) can help us and our children feel calmer and confident.  So WE need to be calm and confident – – and that comes with faith and the disciplines that as Christians we lean on and embrace even more in the storminess. Remembering the storms we have faced before can be helpful.  And hearing from those who were hit and suffered damage, but survived can give us hope.  Keeping our ears alert to any changes – for the better or worse just as with weather emergencies can help us know what to do and when.  Certainly having our emergency plans in place can help us weather these types of storms as well.

We recently had a homeschool group field trip to a local fire station.  We learned a lot about their duties and capabilities such as that here, each fireman was trained (or training) in paramedics as well and that each firetruck was outfitted with the same equipment as the ambulances except a bed to transport someone to the hospital.  In learning about community help for our daughter, I had to learn what was (and was not) available from the different sources in order to navigate the best path and plan for her.  I am happy to say that we now have the beginnings of a plan in place for her and I am seeing a bit more sunshine as the clouds are opening up.  The sun really is still there, shining all along.

I received no compensation for recommending this book and my opinions are entirely my own.  I was thrilled to get the book (and journal) free for previewing it and highly recommend it to you as well.  Get your copy here.

 

Self-sabotage

20171226_092851.jpgThis may seem an odd topic for Christmas time.  But it’s an issue I think many people face, including many once orphans.

It is incredibly frustrating to a parent or one who is trying to motivate or help the child who seems bent on self-sabotage! My best conclusion is to work around it as much as possible.  And let myself be okay with that!

I do recommend (to myself as well as to you) to be aware that behind this behavior is a need. Perhaps a deep, hidden wound that is crying out for attention, soothing, healing. Perhaps fearful feelings of the unknown, overwhelm, loss of control, or pressure of expectations.

“But I will restore you to health and heal your wounds,’ declares the LORD” ~ Jeremiah 30:17

Just as with a surface wound, like a gash on the knee after a bicycle wreck, the thought of it being touched and  further pain, can result in a flinch or pulling away from the very treatment that would bring relief and speed healing.

(At the risk of overdoing this analogy, I ask your indulgence.)

We can see the open wound and know it needs cleaning. Hopefully we can explain to our resistant child that it needs cleansing, treating and bandaging, in a simple, gentle way. Hopefully they will trust us enough to cooperate and bear the fearful touch that they are so wary of for the brief moments necessary.

But with the hidden wounds that show up in frustrating behaviors it is not always so clear what is needed or how to go about getting cooperation from our child.

Because the underlying wound is hidden, it is likely that neither the child nor the adult completely comprehends what the wound is or exactly how to “treat” it.

Why my 15 year old daughter decapitated all the gingerbread cookies is just one of her baffling behaviors.  Her refusal to come out of her bedroom for our simple Christmas family meal and the next day skipping out on going across town to spend holiday time with extended family from out of town is backwards to what we would normally expect. Plus declaring she doesn’t like any of her presents seems strange!

From what I have gleaned from other parents, this is a mild version of the types of behaviors many children have, especially on special occassions.

My youngest child has an all or nothing reaction that is self sabotaging.  If he cannot have something now it must mean never. If he cannot have all it must mean none.

Unraveling the effects of early childhood trauma and helping the children heal from it is a long term process.  For me, it has taken a great deal of prayer, research, commitment and self control as well as active listening to arrive at some glimpses into the woundedness of my children.  Every layer of healing is progress!

I am happy we made it through Christmas with as little overall turmoil as we did.  One of the lessons I have been practicing is that my joy comes from the inside out.  It cannot depend upon the emotional state of my children or their behaviors.  The more they are out of control, the more controlled and non-reactive I must be.  The more I have to find my peace in my relationship with God.

Two or three of my children exhibit behaviors associated with Reactive Attachment Disorder.  While I am not a doctor and do not presume to know all the ins and outs of RAD, as a parent, my opinion is that at least some of these behaviors stem from their traumatic (painful) background in which their trust in adults, primarily those who were supposed to protect, provide for and love them, was broken.  Broken trust is a difficult thing for an adult to deal with – -ask anyone who has been through a divorce — but for a young child, who may have been physically injured/damaged by abuse and/or neglect, the broken trust trains their young brain to view the world as suspect, ESPECIALLY those who get “too close”.  The self-sabotaging reactions  (which seem to them as self-preservation) to perceived threats are sometime difficult to unravel.

Baby steps are progress.  Once hidden pain points have been partially unravelled in starts and stops in our family. We have also made some great baby steps in healing this year.

My job is to protect the progress.

I hope my end of year ramblings have given you pause to think about the possible pain points behind any of your children’s self-sabotaging behaviors and helped you some way.

ASIDE:  By the way, I have found a lot of success in general in calming anxiety and impulsive behaviors, and to support focus and overall health with a group of natural wellness products that support not only my adopted children, but the entire family!  They are available for purchase through me with Oils for Orphans. If you would like to know more just let me know and I’d be happy to share what is working for us!

Wishing you & your families —

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

 

 

 

 

 

Facebook Group

  1. If you are a parent/caregiver of a former orphan you can join the Yesterday’s Orphan closed Facebook group and find more helpful and insightful information and other people in similar situations who can relate to your struggles.  This month is our new membership drive and I’m giving away a free resource book on January 1st to one of the new members. Link below20171202_211318.jpg so check it out! https://www.facebook.com/events/1744034098941137/?ti=cl