When people said stuff about Caring for the Caregiver to me early on in this journey, I just looked at them like they were crazy. Who has time for that?! I needed to believe that if I said, did, taught... just the right thing(s) that my child would heal, and I knew that if I didn't... then it would be my fault that my child was broken.
So put your foot down and DEMAND that you get time for yourself. Fight for it. Carve it out. Put a priority on it.
What fills your bucket is unique to you. For me, it helped knowing my love language. Since my primary love language is Words of Affirmation then I tend to lean toward finding ways to fill that need.
- DO SOMETHING THAT'S JUST FOR YOU!
- Splurge a little on a treat just for you. Remind yourself that if Mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy!
- Buy your favorite kind of chocolate (or other treat) and hide them for when you need them. (Tell someone or write down where you put them! Nothing worse than not being able to find your special treat when you absolutely need it right now!
- Pay someone for a mani/pedi or have your own little homemade spa. Can be a fun thing to do with a regulated child.
- Keep a little jar with reminders of the times you've done something right. It can be a quote from someone else, a thank you card, a note you wrote yourself about a recent achievement. It can simply say, "I'm good enough. I'm smart enough. And doggone it, people like me." (I have a Positive Affirmations folder in my e-mail for when I get a positive comment on my blog, or my boss tells me I'm doing a great job, or my kid has a special achievement that I know I had a hand in -even if that "hand" is raising an amazing kid.... Sometimes if I'm feeling down, attacked, or judged, I open that folder and remind myself that I am a good person and I'm not the only one who thinks so.)
- After everyone is in bed, I love a bubble bath, a good book that has nothing to do with trauma or adoption or anything (my fav is the funny,romance novels by Katie MacAlister), and maybe some candles and/ or a glass of wine.
- Turn on Spongebob. Let the kids zone out in front of the TV while you take a break.
- Have your kids come up with a list of things to do when they're bored (check out this example) and then encourage them to do one or more of the activities while you take a break.
- Tell them that room time is at 7pm, whether they're tired or not (and change the clocks if need be).
- Buy a cheap alarm for their bedroom door so you don't have to worry about where they are.
- Sing along to the radio! It's amazing how much better you feel after singing.
- Find something to laugh about - watch a silly video http://www.parentsociety.com/daily-quickie/videos/forget-all-about-that-bass-these-moms-do-a-hilarious-parody-called-i-just-cant-clean-this-place/, read something funny
- Call the friend that is always saying, "let me know if I can help," and say, "YES! Please come by my house at 7pm and watch my kids for 2 hours."
- Call a fellow trauma mama who "gets it."
- Join the annual trauma mama Christmas Gift Exchange.
- EXERCISE - Turn on an exercise video and work out - if the kids want to do it too, great! If not, then they can sit on the couch and watch. I love Richard Simmons for the low impact work out and easy to learn routines. Try Christine Moer's (Welcome To My Brain) hoop challenge (30 minutes for 30 days)
- Start a snowball fight in the backyard (or if you're in Texas like me, a water fight or run through the sprinklers!).
- Find a regulated kid and cuddle (borrow a neighbor child if you have to!).
- Read Healing from Hazardous Parenting by Brenda McCreight PhD.
- FIND A SUPPORT GROUP of people who "get it." If you don't have anyone local, try online. You can find anything on the internet these days!
- Start a co-op with other trauma mamas.
- GET ENOUGH SLEEP. Take a nap whenever you can. Go back to sleep after the kids leave for school.
- EAT WELL.
- Make something special just for you, and let them eat cheap boxed pizza on paper plates.
- Give the kids the "burned" pieces. Don't always take the bad stuff for yourself. I always have my own bowl next to me when I cut watermelon and the best pieces go in MY bowl.
- LAUGH! Find whatever makes you lol and check it out daily. Whether that's People of Walmart, an iFunny app or Spongebob. One of my personal faves is 99 Ways to Drive Your Child Sane by Brita St. Clair - This short little book is full of wild ideas and hysterical humor to bring the laughter back into a home with an emotionally disturbed child. It includes lots of "one liners" and silly, fun ways to help parents avoid anger around tough topics. Written by a very experienced and loving Therapeutic Mom with years of success helping tough kids heal.
Almost every Monday for the last 2 years, I have met a friend at IKEA for breakfast. We met casually in a fabric store one day and started chatting. She is not a Trauma Mama, and we have very little in common. She's about 15 yrs older than I am. Has grandchildren the same age as my kids. She's an artist (makes beautiful art dolls). Grew up in Germany. Living green is very important to her... She lives about 1/2 an hour away from me, and we almost never meet or talk at any time except for these couple of hours once a week. We vent, talk about our kids and husbands, and shopping, and religion and family... I consider her one of my best friends. Sometimes you just need a person to go to, who is not part of your everyday life, but never judges you. Who is always glad to see you and always willing to listen.