Under the best conditions, parenting is the hardest job you'll ever do for free. Taking care of your little ones while also managing the house and other responsibilities can feel impossible. Add that to the unique struggles of parenting children who have had traumatic experiences and you may begin to feel like there is just no way to manage it all.
If you have ever wished you had eight arms or 40 hours in a day, don't worry. You are not alone. Remember that caring for your family means caring for yourself! Here are some ways you can value yourself while caring for others.
Self-Care for Adoptive Parents
If you have ever been on an airplane you have heard about the emergency oxygen masks. The instructions say to secure your own oxygen mask first, before helping others. The same thing is true in your everyday life. That is what self-care is all about.
How do you secure your oxygen mask? Here are 7 essential self-care acts that every parent owes themself.
Get Plenty of Sleep
Yes, I am stating the obvious. We ALL need more sleep, right? Starting now, you need to make sleep a priority. Maybe that means you have to ask for help to watch your little ones while you catch a nap. One thing is for sure. Sacrificing your sleep is not helping anyone!
Eat 3.5 Meals Per Day
The only thing worse than no sleep is not eating! In fact, hunger affects your ability to make good choices and behave empathetically. When parenting a child who has experienced trauma, empathy is one of the most important traits.
If you find yourself skipping meals, try supplementing with protein shakes, granola bars, or other quick snacks. There is nothing wrong with the occasional can of soup or frozen dinner if it means keeping yourself fed.
All work and no play will make a parent cranky! Playtime for adults is just as important as for children. Make sure that a part of your schedule is set aside for enjoyable activities outside of your family unit.
Some days it can feel like any conversation with another adult is a rare treat. If you find yourself looking forward to going to the grocery store just to talk to someone your own age, you need to spend some time socializing!
Make sure that you take time to connect with your support network. Making friends with other families that have adopted can help you develop a supportive community.
Just as your children may need the help of a licensed therapist, you may benefit from the support of a mental health professional. Talking to a therapist can help you process your emotions in a safe space. Developing appropriate coping strategies for yourself will help you teach your child those same practices.
You Are Enough
Remember that the adoption process doesn't end when you sign the first set of papers. You and your child will have hundreds of appointments and check-ins throughout your journey together. For children with unique psychological needs, the demands on your time are even higher.
Self-care is essential for caregivers. Remember that you deserve to be loved and cared for, just as your child does. To reduce your stress and promote healthy feelings, practice self-care every day in some small way.