7 Strategies to Keep Your Mental Health Needs in Focus
1. Get Informed
ADHD is a very complex disorder. It’s not simply about being hyper and distractible. If you are stuck in this simplistic view as a parent you are prone to perpetual frustration and worse manipulations by “others”. There is so much diversity in how this condition can look and demonstrate itself in a child. You will have to learn about ADHD in your unique child.
There are several disciplinary areas of ADHD. There are the health and medical aspects, there are the education aspects, there are the relationships aspects, there are even people talking from a spiritual context about ADHD. Some of these or all of these may be relevant to your child.
Why is information important to self-care?:
- You are an intelligent being, learning new information and skills is stimulating to your own brain and personal development.
- Your knowledge enhances your understanding and critical evaluation of the expertise of others. Not everything is right for you or your child, or your family.
- Your knowledge will empower you to communicate your needs or expectations confidently and clearly to others about your child or family. When you know what you are talking about, more people will listen.
2. Invest in Friendship with other Parents of ADHD Kids
One of the biggest unspoken barriers to having a supportive community around yourself and your child is the discomfort or intolerance others in your circle reacts with towards your child’s atypical behaviours. It is exhausting work to constantly explain and defend your child to others. Being with peers who are familiar with the lived experience of ADHD and raising a child with ADHD is an emotional comfort. These families are sometimes reported to be more accepting, more supportive, more empowering, and just more relaxing to be with. Relaxed to be with, not just for you, but for your child to be with too. You need that for you.
3. Get Childcare or Respite Regularly
“I’m so stressed out because I can’t get or keep a babysitter because my child’s oppositional behaviours are more than others can tolerate,” you might be saying to yourself. I know, I understand. I know families whose children have been expelled from daycares, had babysitters quit mid shift on the first day, etc.
What I want to suggest is you search or recruit from a different source. Persons who have been more successful working in respite or childcare are those who:
- Have specialised training, like nursing students, psychology or education students
- Are mature but active adult age who can meet up to the physical demands of your hyperactive child.
- Have siblings, other family members, or close friends who also have special needs
- Are paid well and treated with kindness and appreciation. Don’t be impersonal and aloof. Treat them as life-saving personnel.
- Are other moms of ADHD kids who are willing to do childcare swaps.
4. Establish A Grounding Mourning Routine for Yourself
Wake up 15 minutes early and give yourself some time for personal self-care before any interaction with the children. This should give you more power to go through your days.
5. Exercise. Get More Active
Exercise is one of the most powerful self help habits you can develop. It is not just about losing weight and looking good. The greater benefit of exercise is feeling good.
- Fact 1: Exercise increases the release of “happy” hormones that can causes you to feel more satisfied and positive about life.
- Fact 2: Exercise reduces the negative stress related hormones which are associated with depression, anxiety, overwhelm, and insomnia.
Stop using the mirror or the scale as an indicator to exercise. Start being mindful of your mood.
6. Ask Special Needs Child & Family for More Contribution
Children with ADHD or other special needs can develop a self-concept that they are always the ones in need, that others need to support them. Sometimes parents can get locked in this frame too causing us to overwork ourselves in the caregiving role. One of the best things you can do to reduce your own feelings of overwhelm is to start enrolling the assistance of others. Make requests like “Can you plan what you want for snacks this week?” “Can you load the dishwasher?” “Please help your sister Mary with her project.”
Sometimes a simple admission of limitedness and vulnerability can inspire the troops.
“I’m feeling so tired this evening, what can you do to help me get the dinner done so that we can have movie night earlier?” ( I understand you make talk and talk and talk about your needs and this frustration can cause some cynicism. However the asking often works better without any tone of cynicism or sarcasm )
7. Make Sleep a Priority
Laura, a stay at home mom of 3, has just had her last battle of the day getting her sons to fall asleep. Matt, the eldest, who has ADHD went through the expected resistances. She turns off the room lights and walks into her own bedroom. She is exhausted but instead of falling off to sleep she is restless, wired, unable to relax. This is the routine for many parents who push through in survival mode all day. (Coaching moms to find their night-time calm is part of Help for Families Canada Self-Care course).
3 Sleep Secrets To Fall Asleep Easier
For you I’ll open up and share 3 of our most popular wind down secrets:
- Use your bed only for sleep and intimacy. Do not use your bed as your work, thinking, reflecting, mentally planning space. Do that somewhere else then go to bed.
- Invest in high quality aromatherapy. Scents like lavender are helpful for most, but you might have another scent that is soothing for you. Some stores have pillow sprays.
- Routinise a cool evening bath or shower every-night. Some moms make it a special spa-time. They may use their special bath soups or salts, maybe play some of your favourite soothing music, light a scented candle. You do not have to do that every night, that may add to your stress, which defeats the purpose. There is a key factor that I must highlight – night-time showers should be cool instead of warm because increasing body temperature increasing alertness.
Self-care is not selfish. Also, self care is not an abstract idea trending in social media spaces. Care is an active word. You don’t have to implement any of my ideas. There are an overabundance of posts about self-care online, but, do something! What small action are you ready to take this week to take better care of you?
Challenge a friend or your local ADHD parents support group by sharing this with them.
SHARE – Someone’s sanity could benefit
Help for Families Canada provides counselling for children and youth who struggle with ADHD. Additional services are specific to parents to empower them to be the best support for their child at home and advocate for them in the community.