The parent of a child with ADHD is always on high alert. Because children with ADHD have poor impulse control, they have trouble following rules and staying safe. They may struggle to interact well in the community and they may often break things at home. You may be busy running to appointments and running interference with the school. This can be exhausting, stressful, and frustrating, which means you need to make an extra special effort to take care of yourself. We share our best strategies for dealing with it all below.
Identify your stresses and get a hobby (Tiffany Cook)
Parents are often the last people to take care of themselves because we are always busy taking care of our most treasured blessings-our children. When that little blessing has needs beyond that of a typical child, taking care of ourselves as parents can be pushed even further from our thoughts. But, it actually needs to be at the forefront.
That sounds selfish, at first, but if you, as a parent, are falling apart physically, mentally, and emotionally, how can you help your child through his or her issues that can also be physical, mental, and emotional? The first step to taking care of yourself as a parent rearing a child with ADHD is to identify the source of your stress when dealing with your child.
This often involves taking a step back and perhaps journaling about a stressful situation you had with your child, how you reacted, whether that reaction was positive or negative, and why you think you reacted that way. Being able to identify the source of stress between you and your child with ADHD can go a long way in reducing the stress in your home.
Secondly, find a hobby, preferably one that does not involve your kids so that you can have an outlet that is totally yours and be able to socialize with others of similar interests. Sometimes, just having some time away from the everyday cares of parenting in general, let alone special needs parenting, can be helpful in recharging your batteries. Also, strategies such as mindful meditation, regular exercise, and replacing negative thoughts with positive ones can be very helpful in preserving your mental and physical health as you help your child manage his or hers.
Make life simple (Kereth Harris)
Oh golly, I hear you. Looking after you is so important, but as parents we are so prone to self-sacrifice. Yes, I could tell you date night is important, or having time to get your nails or hair done, or putting the kids in daycare while you work out in the gym, and of course all of that stands. The most important thing I think is taking care of you is making life simple. Limit kids’ activities to one a week, have a simple menu plan, and remember not everything needs to be made from scratch. Don’t get caught up in social media parenting. Remember not everything we read is true, even if they are our friends. You and your family are special and that is what counts.
Seek out time alone and support from others (Lesley Scott)
Parenting a child with ADHD can be daunting and exhausting and you may even struggle with it yourself. You can help your child overcome their challenges, but to be at your best, you need to find ways of looking after yourself as well as your child. Make time for yourself away from your children, even if only for a few minutes a day. Having alone time does not always mean a weekend away, it could just mean a long bath or a movie with your partner. Remember to eat healthily, exercise if you can, and find ways to reduce your stress, whether by having quiet time or finding a hobby.
You may be concerned about whether other people are going to be able to cope with your child and may avoid taking time out for yourself. People are willing to help, and you should not hesitate to accept help when offered. It may be helpful to seek the support of other parents in a similar situation or to attend a support group.
Let it go! (Amanda Whittington)
Parenting children with ADHD is hard. And as the parent of children with ADHD, I have had to make “Let It Go” my theme song. Every day, I need to make a conscious choice to let go of things that are less important, such as keeping my house perfectly clean or having children with perfectly combed hair and neatly pressed clothes. Letting go of things that are stressful, but less important, is one way that I take care of myself.
It also means I have more time for the things I need to do for me, such as exercising regularly and preparing healthy meals (most of the time). I also carve out an hour after my children are in bed to watch Netflix on my tablet and chat with friends. Taking a little bit of time each day for myself reduces my stress load, which means I can take better care of my children.