Self-Care Isn’t Just Bubble Baths

I love the idea of self-care. Everyone needs to take care of themselves. It can, however, become somewhat of a burden, when you are struggling just to get out of bed. Those are the days that brushing your teeth seems too hard.

I’ve had those days. I don’t like them, but then who does?

Putting Effort into Yourself

You are worth the effort you put into yourself. Even if it is rolling out of bed at 2 PM and putting on a pair of sweats. That means you’re moving and attempting to put yourself together. This, to me, at least, is a form of self-care.

Bubble baths and face masks are fantastic. I am not knocking them at all. I do a face mask once a week. The self-care that I discuss in this post is a bit deeper.

Bed

Questions to ask yourself:

  1. When was the last time I made an appointment for or went to my annual physical checkup?
  2. When was my last gynecological/prostate checkup?
  3. When was my last dental appointment? (I know lots of people hate the dentist, but this is an important one.)
  4. If you have a chronic medical condition, when was your last appointment for it? (Some have as needed check-ins, like migraine, and if you don’t need appointments for that, then give yourself a pat on the back.)
  5. If you are in therapy when was your last session? Are you on track?

After answering these questions, take a moment to make a list of the appointments you may need to make. Taking care of your physical and mental health is key. These appointments may not be delightful but you may feel better after.

Fruit

An Easier Daily Routine

In the midst of a hard time, it can be hard to get out of bed. Motivation can be hard to come by when you feel like there is a mountain of chores and/or work in front of you.

How can you get past those thoughts? How can you do the minimum and still function?

  • Give yourself a certain time limit in bed. After that, it is time to get out of bed. That’s it.
  • Eat a small meal or snack.
  • Try a small task first, like sorting mail or picking an outfit, then build up.

Take a break if this seems to be too much, then come back. If it feels okay, build up to a shower. Maybe try the dishes. The idea is to not push yourself too far because that can create even worse feelings.

The more self-care you do, the better you will feel about yourself, even if you don’t see it at first. In time, you may want to do more.

Expanding The Knowledge

If you do enjoy pampering yourself, manicures and spas might be a good place to go. So are bookstores and parks just to walk around- quiet, peaceful and just as fun.

Self-care is also about finding things that you enjoy and doing them. These activities help combat feelings of stress and depression among other emotions.

I do want to make something very clear: self-care isn’t selfish. This is about doing what you need to so that you are the best person possible. It can even be the steps that occur so you get out of bed.

Take these tips and get a checkup. You and your health are worth it.

Do you have any helpful self-care tips? Feel free to share!

Pics courtesy of unsplash

Alone Time Is A Wonderful Thing

Everyone needs “alone time”. This is time to recharge your batteries, appreciate the quiet and not have people in your face asking for things. I like this time. I used to absolutely hate quiet time because I didn’t like to be alone with my thoughts. These days, I appreciate it a lot more. I can relax, color and read in peace, among other things.

Creating Space for Yourself

Besides the quiet and lack of demands from others, there are other benefits. Being alone can be relaxing, allow for time to reflect on your current situation in life and maybe even focus on hobbies and get things done. You can also do what you want, not just what someone else wants to do or have to come to some sort of compromise.

Not everyone is happy with the idea of alone time. Many extroverts are not into the idea, because they thrive on being around others. I hang out with a lot of extroverts. It is important, even if this is you because everyone needs to be alone sometimes, just to get away from the noise. It’s okay to need time to yourself.

Some ideas to ease yourself into alone time are:

  • taking short walks
  • cooking
  • trying a new workout class- without taking a friend
  • sign up for volunteer work
  • go to a bookstore/window-shop

For those of us who have had some practice with being by ourselves and actually liking it, here are some advanced ideas:

  • Go to a yoga class. I go to a class every Sunday. It’s recovery-based and I love it. I was very nervous about it at first, but my anxiety has lessened a lot. I sat next to someone last week and she actually thanked me for sitting with her. Wow.
  • Have a solo picnic.
  • People watch- at a coffee shop, in a park, wherever you feel comfortable.
  • Go to a movie by yourself.
  • Try an evening class.

If you want to go for the extreme:

  • Take a road trip.
  • Go to a concert alone.
  • Go hiking.
  • Go to a meditation or yoga retreat.
  • Start a home renovation project.

Have I tried any of these ideas? Sure. Not all of them. I’m a work in progress, so some of these are definitely on my to-do list. I’ve always liked to people watch, but it’s always been more fun to do it with someone else. I would like to try that one soon. I live near a large park so there are always people to watch.

Time for You is Good Time

It may be hard to squeeze in the time for yourself, but it is necessary. It may mean walking to the bus stop on a sunny day to get your kids, but you’ll have those 10 minutes of a good walk. Walking is exercise and a way to clear your mind a bit. It’s a two-for-one deal. A whole day isn’t possible for everyone, so don’t feel guilty for the time you can’t give to yourself.

When you’ve had time to yourself, you feel refreshed. You feel ready to face the next challenge ahead. Who doesn’t want to feel like that? It’s a nice feeling. If you’ve had your nails, hair or toes done, you look better. That’s also a great boost. This isn’t meant to encourage living a life of solitude unless you really want to, but to encourage time to yourself so that you can breathe. You can get to know yourself a bit better. What do you like doing? How do you want to spend your time?

Do you have ideas to add for the list of ideas of things to do alone? Leave them in the comments!

Kids: Is It All In the Timing?

I’ve had a lot of time to think about this topic. Fourteen years, in fact. Cameron turned fourteen recently and I had just turned 22 when he was born. Fast forward and here we are. He has two siblings and I have gray hair.

The Clock Goes “Tick Tock”

Timing can be interesting- eighteen months is all that separates my kids in age. That was not planned, as I’ve discussed in previous posts. Three kids in three years is not for the weak or people who like to sleep.

I like my sleep and I am so damn glad that my kids do. Once everyone slept all night, it’s been great around here unless someone is sick. Julian needed some help in this department- I’d love to shake the hand of whoever discovered that Clonidine helps with sleep. He sleeps great these days.

Figuring Out What Works

Matthew and I really didn’t have much of a plan- we just knew we wanted kids. He wanted two, I wanted four, and then Cameron showed up in 2005.

Matthew got two. I changed my mind. Forget four- Cameron was a difficult baby and I was not up for a repeat. Eighteen months later, I got “the Buddha Baby”, known as Julian. Eighteen months after that, Lily made her appearance and I shut down the baby factory.

I was done. You can read Rewind and Fast Forward to get the full story.

What worked for us doesn’t work for everyone. Some prefer to have kids early. Lily was born two months after my 25th birthday. I had hoped to be done having kids by 30, so I was done a whole 5 years early.

I was worried about the chances of birth defects, the extra wear and tear on my body (which happens no matter how old you are) and my energy levels. I also just wanted to get this part of my life over with. Pregnancy and the younger years of a child’s life are hard. Might as well be young and get it done, right?

The money part isn’t fun to figure out. I think that if you’re a bit older when you start having kids you may have a better shot at being financially stable. I’ve read that many older parents are more patient- in that case, I’d be ready for menopause before I had kids.

Two main worries for women that wait until later is the chances of birth defects or difficulties with getting pregnant in the first place. Luckily, there are maternal-fetal specialists and fertility specialists that can assist with these issues.

The Big Questions

Should you start early? Should you wait a few more years? I think it is up to each couple to decide what is best for them. Having kids is a huge, life-changing decision. Don’t go into it lightly.

Look at where you are in your life- financially and emotionally. How is your health? How will your life change if you do decide to have a child? These are just a few questions to ask yourself.

This post is not meant to talk anyone into or out of having kids at any point- just to bring a few thoughts to the surface.

Did you have kids at an early or late age? How do you think it impacted your life? Do you wish you had done it differently?

Pics courtesy of: Unsplash

Twin Mummy and Daddy

The Truth About Shutdowns and Meltdowns

There are many parts of parenting that we would rather not have happen- stomach bugs, dentist appointments, braces.. the list can go on for a while.

If you’re a parent of a child (or children) with ASD and/or ADHD, a couple of things on that list probably includes shutdowns and/or meltdowns. Neither are fun and we would do just about anything to wipe them off the map. I know I would. Julian’s had both and there’s nothing fun about them.

Let’s take a look..

A shutdown is when the following things occur with your child:

  • may not move, blink or speak
  • may appear as avoidant, escaping or ignoring to others that may not understand what is going on
  • may find a dark, quiet space to get away
  • curl into a ball or fetal position

Why do these occur?

  • Extreme stress
  • Sensory overload (noise, visual are usually the biggest trigger)
  • Frustration

A meltdown is when the following things occur with your child:

  • potentially dangerous and/or aggressive behavior (kicking, biting, screaming, yelling, throwing, etc. Julian almost broke my nose during one when he was smaller) Self- injury is also possible.
  • Bolting
  • Destroying property

These can be stopped, or at least lessened, if you learn your child’s triggers. For example, Julian hates Bath and Body Works because of the many different scents. I avoid taking him in there if I can. If I absolutely have to take him, I am in and out within minutes. We went to the outlet in Daytona Beach, and we were out as soon as he said, “Mom, we need to go, right now.” That’s his code phrase for “I’m done and we need to go.” I already knew what I wanted. This comes from years of knowing my son, plus he had a massive meltdown when he was younger in the middle of our local store.

It may take a few incidents and some tears but learning your child’s triggers is the best thing you can do for everyone. My personal motto for this is “Know your kid”. Your child’s triggers may change as they grow, but some may stay the same.

The reasons for meltdowns are pretty similar to shutdowns. It depends on the kid and situation. Julian is more likely to have a shutdown than a meltdown these days, but I wish he didn’t have either one. He still has bursts of anger, but he’s 12 and there’s a thing called testosterone. Public meltdowns are the worst, and any parent that’s had to deal with that knows that awful feeling. Everyone in the area is staring at you and your child, you just want to go, and all you really want is your child to calm down.

From a parenting perspective, watching your child go through either is heartbreaking. I spent many days crying because I couldn’t stand to watch Julian throwing things, screaming and scaring his siblings. I was relieved when he finally stopped having meltdowns. It hurts my heart when he has shutdowns because I can’t reach him. I have to wait for him to speak- he’s a quiet kid and expressing feelings isn’t easy. I try to put myself inside his brain and remember he lives in a different world than the rest of us.

What Can You Do?

If your child is having a meltdown:

  • Assess the situation. Is everyone safe? Is there anything you need to move to make the area safer? If so, move toys and other objects out of the way.
  • Move other people out of the room that don’t need to be there. This is the most important thing. If your child self-injures, make sure they can’t hurt themselves. If your child is becoming truly dangerous to themselves or others, please take them to the closest emergency room or call 911.
  • Don’t try to reason with a child that is verbal if they are screaming or yelling at you- they are well past that point. If you want to try to talk to them, you may want to wait until they are calm.
  • Remain calm. This is very important. Things can get a lot worse if you become agitated. Your child needs you to remain calm.
  • Limit communication. Your child has enough going on in their mind.
  • Give your child time to recover. Meltdowns are exhausting. They can talk later.

If your child has shut down:

  • Give them the space and quiet they need, as long as they are safe. They may or may not respond to anyone or anything until they are ready, and this may take some time.
  • Don’t rush them, this may make the situation worse.
  • Give them any sensory supports they may need.
  • If they want to talk afterwards, let them talk.

These can be difficult moments, no matter when or where they occur. It’s our job as parents to understand and try our best to guide and love our kids through whatever they bring us.

Pics courtesy of Unsplash

Information courtesy of

My Asperger’s Child

Bristol Autism Support

Psychology Today

The Autism Analyst

Twin Mummy and Daddy

Broken Wings Part 3: What Your Child Thinks About Your Divorce

by Wrae Meredith Sanders and Bonnie Harris Price

We all know the hard truth; divorces affect kids. Even when they say they’re okay, you must know something in them breaks when a couple decides to call it quits. Kids may withdraw, eat or sleep too much.

They may even get fed up and tell you how much they hate you.

However, your special needs children may be unable to put it into words, but they know their lives have changed. Children with special needs feel loss, sadness, and pain just like the rest of us.

Most parents don’t split into friendly terms. Even when you try your best to keep it civil, kids feel the tension between you. Sooner or later, the signs of their stress begin to show.

Verbal and non-verbal cues

Anxiety and Fear

Kids can become very anxious about not knowing what is coming next, where they will be living, going to school, etc. They may fear to lose the other parent, friends, and the home if they have to move, and more. This may lead to problems sleeping, eating and withdrawing from friends. This can also cause issues with concentrating in school, which may be picked up on by teachers.

Sadness and Depression

Kids can feel as if they are losing their family. This can leave kids very sad, which is normal. They may feel sad at having to move, missing the other parent not being in the home daily, the changes in daily life, seeing their parent sad, etc. If the sadness is not addressed, or if it is under an extreme situation, this can become depression and the child may need to see a professional.

Anger and Aggression

Some kids are angry about their parents splitting up and may become aggressive towards them, siblings or other family members. They may become aggressive towards others. This may be a big change in a usually non-aggressive child or may not be in a child that has had issues with aggression in the past. Some kids have issues with saying what they feel and this is their way of saying that they are angry with their lives. Either way, this should be addressed immediately to prevent further issues.

In non-verbal children, aggressive behavior can become a big issue. They can also regress any recently learned behaviors and need extra help and reinforcements to get back on track with positive behaviors. They may also need help with expressing their feelings in positive ways- art and music therapies can be helpful.

How to Help When Divorces Affect Kids

Help your child through this trying time

Just as your divorce wasn’t easy, the road to building emotionally healthy children isn’t either. If all it took was love, you’d already be there. However, to make sure that your children adjust, take a look at some of these suggestions.

Acknowledge your child’s feelings

This is important for all children. Let them express themselves, and for non-verbal kids, this can be difficult. They can draw, write or try other ways to express their feelings. Some kids cry, yell or scream. Some kids withdraw and become quiet, and that may become a cause for concern. Let them ask questions– it’s normal and they do need to know what will be happening. It’s also okay for them to be angry. It’s a big change, and many children are not happy that their parents are divorcing.

Give age-appropriate responses to conflict

Younger kids need fewer details because they may not be able to grasp as much about the situation, but older kids may want to know more.

Parental conflict can damage kids, so try not to fight in front of the kids if possible. Also, try not to make them feel like they have to choose between their parents or criticize the other parent in front of them.

Provide as much structure as possible throughout the separation and divorce. This gives kids a sense of stability. One day, they may seem to “get it” and one day, be a bit unsure. Remain patient– it’s a big change.

Be consistent with the other parent

Try your best to work out a way to “co-parent” with your ex. Parenting peacefully is easier for everyone involved.

Take care of yourself. This means physically and emotionally. If you need therapy to deal with the split, see someone. Furthermore, keep yourself physically healthy so that you are able to deal with the strain of a divorce.

Incidentally, allow the kids to give input on visitation, but remind them you and your ex-partner remain responsible for the final decision.

Conclusion

Going through a divorce is like going through the grieving process. After everyone deals with the shock and denial, then here come the emotions. Anger, sadness, and depression will be a part of your special needs child processing.

In an ideal situation, both parents should work together to help kids through the transition. On the contrary, if you find yourself dealing with it on your own, by all means, please seek help. There are free and paid resources to help you make it through.

Comments?

What about you? Are you or did you go through a tough divorce? How did your child seem during the transition? Please share your stories with us below.

This five-part series will continue for the month of June if you haven’t already we invite you to read parts one and two. Please share with friends or family that may be going through this difficult time. We want them to know they’re not alone.

Broken Wings Part

Broken Wings Part 2