Parenting is hard. Parenting children with ADHD can feel impossible.
The truth is that families who have a child with ADHD live with a significantly increased amount of stress compared with families of neurotypical (non-ADHD) children. If you have two children with ADHD, the amount of stress, more than doubles.
Why? Inattention and distractibility can be extremely frustrating. Hyperactivity can be utterly exhausting. Impulsivity can be dangerous and leave you wanting to tear your hair out. And, of course, there is the fact that children with ADHD are often highly emotional and sometimes even aggressive, violent and in and can seem to lose control of their actions at the flick of a switch.
These children have more issues with behaviour than their neurotypical peers. They have a neurodevelopmental disorder of self-control. So, parents have to become and facilitate the child’s self-control. And that is exhausting.
The lack of peace and joy in your home can take a toll on you. And if you have two or more children with ADHD and/or any comorbidities, it can seem absolutely unbearable. No matter what punishment you dish out, no matter how often you yell, nothing changes. In fact, every day, it gets worse.
I know this feeling. How?
I am a Mum to three unbelievably amazing, precious treasures: two with ADHD – Combined Presentation.
And for years, I yearned for peace and joy in my home but what I kept getting was turmoil, escalation, fear of the future for my children, self-doubt and that constant feeling that I had stuffed my kids up for life. I was severely depressed and anxious. I felt that there was no end in sight. I had lost all hope.
Looking back now, I see that I lacked the skills and tools to parent children with ADHD. I didn’t understand that you can’t parent the same way as you would a child without ADHD.
Fast forward several years and I have learned so much along the way. My toolbox is filled and expanding daily! It’s full of strategies, tools and resources that I use to parent to the best of my ability. I still have so much to learn, but I am now living life, with joy, hope and peace – well, most days!
One of the most important things I have learned is that we are not superheroes. We can not live consistently with stress without eventually losing it! Take time to look after yourself, so you can take care of your children with ADHD. Easier said than done, I know, but there are little things you can do starting today to reduce your stress.
Plan something every single day for yourself. Now, before you switch off here, I am not saying to book into for a spa weekend or sitting getting your hair done for hours (although if you can – go for it!) However, many of us can’t afford the time or money to do extravagant self care! So here is something I have learned:
Self care can mean taking pause.
Breaking the stress in your day, simply by pausing and intentionally doing something for yourself. Plan one thing you will do each day this week to take pause and intentionally de-stress.
Go out to lunch with a friend, go on a date with your partner (if COVID restrictions allow in your area, otherwise, plan an at home date night!), go to the gym, get a trusted friend or family member to come and play with your kids while you have a nap.
If you can’t do any of that that, how about patting the dog? Putting on a DVD for the kids, getting ear phones and do a guided meditation app? Bundling the kids up and going for a walk, or taking them to a park to let them run around?
What about ordering a book to read, or borrow one from the library, and read a couple of pages before going off to bed. How about actually taking that lunch break, if you work outside the home and go for a walk, or listen to a podcast or buy yourself a new mug to sip on some nice tea.
Commit to doing something for yourself every day. Plan exactly when you will do it. If it isn’t in your plan for the day, chances are it won’t get done.
Use this plan (below) to write it down. Put it on the fridge, so it reminds you and so it doesn’t get pushed aside. You are important. You need to be taking care of yourself and intentionally and actively de-stressing. Remember, you can not live with the constant stress of parenting a child with ADHD, without taking pause.
Share in the comments what you are planning to do to take pause and de-stress this week! I will put together some of your ideas and put it together into a resource for other parents with ADHD children, so we can all get ADHD Done Differently.