We all know that when we are tired, stressed, hungry or juggling too many things we start to become undone, we fray, our good intentions on how we parent our children slip away.
I remember having those moments of parenting my four children when it all got too much and I just needed a pause, a break, a stop.
On one occasion my daughter found me standing stock still with my jumper over my head. I had been in the process of getting dressed but the cocoon of my jumper had been so inviting I’d ended up staying inside it.
“What are you doing?” She asked.
“I’m having a break.” I said.
She accepted this and wandered off. I realised then that I was onto something and I began finding moments (and I do mean brief moments) to take little mini breaks. A few seconds of quiet, squirreled away, just breathing, turned out to be pretty essential on days when it felt like the chaos was in full swing.
We can only keep going for so long if our only breaks are those brief restorative moments like my jumper mini break. However, finding those moments in our day when we remember to reset, breath and ground down can help us tap into our reserves, enabling us to be more like the parents we want to be.
Remembering to reset and breath can be problematic when you are a neurodiverse parent. We can be quite disconnected from our bodies as our attention is focused elsewhere and we can miss the warning signs until it’s too late and we erupt. The eruption is often our only sign that we needed to recharge!
Three things have helped me;
Self-compassion. This has stemmed the guilt spiral as I have learnt more and more about myself through coaching and have a clearer understanding about my neurodiversity and how it affects my parenting. Meeting other parents in neurodiverse families has helped to normalise my experience. This new understanding makes it so much easier to parent compassionately particularly around my sons’ neurodiversity and their eruptions.
Practicing for the moment rather than while in the moment. This involves systematic mindfulness – little time outs of 2 minutes, 5 minutes or 12 minutes outside of the moment. Practice ‘in’ the moment is still tricky but my eruptions are less and are shorter as they trigger the need to recharge and go on a ‘mini break’.
Repair. If an eruption has upset my children I will repair and own my behaviour. This is helping my kids to get better at owning theirs. We are all practicing how to communicate in the moment whether this is an overwhelmed adult or a child who does not want his screen time to end!
When it all feels too much, what keeps you going?
We’d love to see your answers in the comments.
Lynne and Katie are the founders of Gold Mind which provides coaching for neurodiverse families. If you want to take some more time out, to think and explore how you can parent on purpose in the way that you want, we run a group coaching program which is for parents of school aged autistic children. We are taking bookings for our next courses now. Group Parent Coaching Program Information
What previous participants have said.
“A safe, productive, and encouraging space in which to hone parental coaching skills & gain a greater/deeper understanding of autism/neurodiversity.”
“I learned a lot and found the group absolutely lovely & incredibly supportive. I’m profoundly grateful to you all.”