On any given day, as a mom of ADHD children, I alternately encourage, strategize, corral, advise, bite my tongue, worry, structure, monitor, reward, stifle, enjoin, persuade, tempt, set boundaries, beckon, subdue, referee, smile, laugh and occasionally tear my hair.
Can you relate?
There's common ground in that (partial) list of things we do: they are for the benefit and guidance of our children. That's appropriate. Our children are important, often the center of our lives.
But when do you allow yourself to receive … encouragement, rewards, laughter and a deep sense of renewal? If your answer is: “I don't enough time for ‘me,'” then Houston…we have a problem.
Two Glasses, One Mom
One of my first coaching mentors used two wine glasses to show me the value of refreshing “me.” She filled each one half full of water (not with wine, to our mutual disappointment). The water represented her energy.
Then she told me that each client she coached took a little bit of energy, so a splash of water was poured from one glass into the second one. As she talked, she poured more and more splashes of water into the second glass to represent more and more clients, until the first glass was empty.
“This is what happens when we give and give and give to our clients,” she said quietly. “We end up completely exhausted. And then we have nothing to give anyone, at any time, anywhere.”
The same analogy applies to moms of ADHD children. Moms splash more and more energy onto their children, depleting their own precious reserves. And if a mom also has ADHD, the energy drain is even more dramatic.
If you continue to shower everyone else with kindness, generosity, concern and compassion -- without jumping into the shower, as well -- the result can be resentment … and a powder keg of anger.
A Simple Answer, in 5 Steps
The answer, of course, is to take care of you.
“Yeah, right,” you mutter under your breath. “You should see my To Do list of things that never get done. There are too many other important issues to deal with.”
Stop right there!
Are you saying that YOU aren't on that list of important things? Do you realize that if you stumble and fall, you literally cannot do anything on that list? And what kind of modeling are you offering your children, ADHD or no? Are you teaching them to give until they drop, then give a little bit more?
It's time to reset your tipping point.
That means stepping back from the day-to-day and looking at your life, then rearranging the list a bit to include ‘you time.'
Here's a step-by-step set of recommendations for mama-rejuvenation:
- You are already filling up 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You cannot simply shoehorn something else into your life – it will never stick. You must make room for you. This will require letting go of something you are already doing.
- The quality of “you time” is not measured by its longevity. You can retreat to your room for 10 minutes of meditation and emerge as refreshed as you might with a day off (well, almost).
- If you have forgotten what refills your “glass,” take a walk backwards in your mind to a younger era when you were more carefree. What made you jump out of bed with excitement? Painting? Swimming? Reading a new novel? That can give you a hint as to what might feed you again.
- Teach your children and other members of your household that your “me time” is sacred. No one disturbs you, no phone calls (turn OFF that cell phone) and no screaming fights. Ask for their cooperation. After all, your renewal time benefits them, too.
- Finally, when you have precious little time for renewal, follow the suggestion of my coach: send positive energy to the outside world, then receive it, refilling your “energy” glass. It takes just a moment to pause, notice your positive thoughts going out into the world, then returning to you as tranquil serenity.
The good news is that even a smattering of attention to yourself will reap long lasting rewards – for you, and the whole family! You are literally demonstrating to your children (and the rest of the world) that taking care of Number One is the most important step toward self-reliance and success. It's a lesson we all need to remember regularly.