How do you balance it all on a hard parenting journey?
by Debra Delulio Jones, M Ed, Founder and Owner of Parent Intervention & Training
Some days it seems like there just isn't enough of Momma or Daddy to go around. We have so much to juggle between the meals, the wheels, and managing all the feels!
Housework? Schoolwork? Yardwork? UGH! A never ending list of "to-dos! So much to do and so much to be concerned about as we protect, teach, and provide for our littles and bigs.
Parenting is tough enough these days when our kids are exposed to so much through media and social media. It is challenging to protect their fragile, developing minds, and they are influenced by so much that seems beyond our control.
It feels like we need to have several extra pairs of eyes to keep our precious ones physically, mentally, and emotionally safe. Add the extra pressures of parenting a child with early risk factors such as abandonment, neglect, abuse, trauma, and/or substances in utero and the balancing act is even tougher.
We need to spend many additional hours with connecting strategies to build trust and secure attachments as if starting over with an infant, but in a much bigger body. Their resistance can make this quite difficult and try our patience.
Many kids from early harm require intensive therapies such as speech and language therapy, occupational therapy, play therapy, or programs which address various learning differences and processing problems. Some children do well with equine therapy, music therapy, or may require specialized appointments such as neurofeedback, auditory processing programs, or brain integration therapy. Special education meetings and teacher conferences may also fill our calendars.
It is a lot to prioritize and manage. These scheduling demands can drain our energy and leave us feeling quite overwhelmed as the laundry begins to form peaks that rival a small mountain range and our feet stick to yesterday's spilled Dr. Pepper on the floor.
Here's a few suggestions to help keep it balanced and in perspective:
1) Determine what must be done by you. Most of us are not great delegators. We tend to try to do it all, but clearly the things that can only be done by you should be top priority. What builds relationship? What makes my child feel safe? What routines and rituals help attach my child to me? That is where my time is most needed.
2) What therapies or treatment programs are most helpful at this point in time? At times in our need to help our son reach his highest potential, we did too many interventions. They all seemed important, but if it kept us running around and feeling rushed or irritable, it became counterproductive. It can feel like all your time is spent in appointments, and in reality parents are sacrificing the more important building of skills in attachment and felt safety.
3) Learn to say "No." This is easier said than done. Making your world smaller during the tough parenting years is an investment that requires you to be mentally attuned and well-rested. Outside commitments may need to be limited for a season while parenting your child's unique and complex needs. It is okay to say no and be on the receiving end rather than the giving end of ministry. In fact, receiving care is one of the four skills of a securely attached adult, and we are modeling that for those in our care.
4) Ask for help. Speaking of receiving care.... how well do you negotiate your own needs when life is overwhelming? Can you ask a friend to watch the kids? Do you answer truthfully when a church member or neighbor asks how they can help out? Or do you proudly pound the giant S on your chest and hold tight to maintain your SuperMom image or (Super Dad)? Many people are not educated about the complex and unique needs of high-risk adopted or foster families. They won't understand if we aren't honest and forthcoming about our need for help.
5) Hire menial tasks when you can. There is no need to feel guilty that you can't get it all done. If someone can scrub a tub, mop the floors, or mow the lawn, then you can spend more time playing with your kids. Child directed play is the pathway to building a healthier brain and a more securely attached child. Many problem solving skills and relationship skills can be taught through play, and I mean the kind of play that doesn't involve a screen!
Balance is vital to keeping yourself physically and emotionally healthy for the long haul. If we as parents run ourselves ragged, we can't model healthy skills for our children and teens. So rest well. Be intentional about where you spend your time. And don't feel guilty for making relationships with your spouse and your kids a high priority during this season of your life.
What tips can you suggest for keeping a balance?
P. S. To prioritize your relationship with your spouse, why not join us in beautiful Lake City, CO for a Parent Training Mini Vacation this July. 13th - 16th. Check it out. We still have scholarships available!