The Year of Radical Self-Care

While you’re busy breaking all your non-resolutions, let’s spend a little time talking about what really needs to happen this year. I proclaim this to be the year of radical self-care. I want to encourage all of the RAD mamas and papas to make this new year (and new decade if you are in that camp) the year that you go to bat for YOU. Let this be the year that you focus on you more-or at all-compared to the years past.

So, what is the year of radical self-care? For some of you, it may look like doing any self-care at all. Going to the bathroom with the door closed. Not fixing four different dinners like a short-order cook because no one likes the same food. At its worst, dealing with a RAD kiddo who has threatened you or physically or mentally abused you. With no end in sight. But hopefully you have found a bit of what self-care looks like, so you can dial that up and get radical in 2020.

The New York Times sent me this great article about how to be kinder to yourself this year. So many of the ideas were perfect for the exhausted RAD parent. The ideas of doing nothing at all and turning regrets into a learning experience (my personal favorite) are spot on. The list seems to hone in on what we as RAD parents beat ourselves up about and what we are needing in terms of self-care.

But as a fellow RAD parent, I know there’s even more that’s required if we want a year of RADICAL self-care. If we want to really put our needs to the forefront (even temporarily) we have to put in some work. And I know that sounds ironic but the payoff will be big. Trust me.

  • Find good respite care: If your RAD kiddos are little and you cannot leave them alone and more importantly their behaviors are such that regular sitters or family are not qualified, start now. Find good respite care. A person or a family who can take your children overnight, once or twice during the year. If you’re not on Facebook RAD groups I’d start there. Your therapist or doctor may know of some resources. Interview, plan, do anything it takes to be able to get away alone or with your significant other for a night (or two!)
  • Ask yourself the questions you ask your children: Are you hungry? Tired? Thirsty? Sad? When we are caught up in “parent mode” it is difficult to take a moment and check in with our own needs. Or even if we do notice, we often brush them aside. Stop doing that. Ask yourself the questions and listen to yourself for the answers. And then take care of what your body says.
  • Set boundaries: This is probably the hardest thing for a RAD parent to do. But also probably the most essential for radical self-care. Close the bathroom door! If your child is screaming at you, don’t take the bait. I know it is so hard. There is a benefit I have right now with August being where he is that when he calls and starts to get angry with me I can hang up. I will give him the chance to calm down and change his tone and I tell him I will not stay on the phone and be yelled at. But if it doesn’t change, I hang up. He calls back again and again and I don’t answer. After a few hours, when he calls back I will answer and he will be calm and apologize. He knows I don’t deserve to be talked to like that but sometimes he can’t control himself. You don’t deserve it either.
  • Don’t miss out on joy: If you have the opportunity to do something that brings you joy, do it! And do not let your RAD kiddos behavior get in your way. If you have are having a good day, keep having it. If you get a chance to have lunch with a friend you haven’t seen in a while, make it happen. If reading brings you joy and you can’t remember the last time you sat down for an hour with a book, prioritize that time every day. Change your priorities so that the things that bring you joy do not fall to the bottom and then off your to-do list completely like they have in the past.
I love Anne Lamott!

I am sure you can also think of some things that will make 2020 a year of radical self-care for you based on your life. But whatever it is, keep it up. Don’t just make January feel good and be back in the depths by Valentine’s Day. I will check in throughout the year and see how things are going. Self-care only works if it’s consistent and if you keep it top of mind. Making a better you makes you better for everyone in your life. But you knew that already, didn’t you?

Until Next time,

Shannon

New Year’s Resolutions-Love ’em or Leave ’em

Well a whole year has passed since my last post. And depending on how you look at it a whole decade too. I am in the camp that feels that 2020 is the end of the prior decade so the next decade will not begin until next year but to each their own. But the best explanation ever of this occurred here:

Whatever year it is, with the New Year comes New Year’s resolutions. Inevitably made and inevitably broken. The tradition goes back over 4000 years to the Babylonians who celebrated (then in mid-March) the planting of crops as the beginning of the year. They resolved to be good so the Gods would grant them a good harvest. When Caesar moved the beginning of the year to January, the practice continued because Janus for whom January was named looked both back into the past and ahead into the future. So, worshiping that deity meant promising good conduct for the coming year.

If you’re wondering what all that has to do with reactive attachment disorder, well not a lot. Except that it was as unrealistic to expect fulfillment of resolutions then as it is now. If you’ve been with your RAD kiddo for any length of time you know that saying or writing down a list of promises one day of the year, even a major holiday, won’t make the world change suddenly. They are not going to wake up in 2020 and have a magical “Aha” moment where everything that they didn’t understand in 2019 now makes sense. The synapses in their brains aren’t going to grow back overnight.

But you can start 2020 with a clean slate. It’s so easy to hold on to grudges and anger and resentment. I know, I’ve perfected it over all these years. My birthday happens to be New Year’s Day and August called. We were about five minutes into the call before I asked him if he called for any other reason than to say, “Happy New Year”. He rattled off a couple more ideas and since he was on speaker phone his brother coughed out “birthday” to try and save him. He heard it and caught on that it was somebody’s birthday but couldn’t catch on that it was mine! There have been years I would have gotten angry that he forgot but I gave him some grief and laughed it off. His memory hasn’t ever been great but he tries.

Starting the new year with a clean slate means letting go of any current battles you and your RAD kiddo are waging. Maybe lifting any current punishments even. If possible, have an honest talk about those issues and acknowledging that you are willing to start this year with a clean slate and offering that olive branch. You may get a great response from your RAD kiddo. You may not. But it’s about unburdening your heart, not theirs.

If you’re just not a resolutions person (like me) try some of these interesting alternatives. Many could be adapted into whole family projects! And if you’re looking for some more “practical” or “real life” ideas, these are great! But be warned, they will hit you where you live…

One of my favorite ideas that I’ve heard to replace resolutions is a gratitude jar. Have a jar and slips of paper available in the house and whenever you are grateful for something you write it down and put it in the jar. At the end of the year, you open the jar and reflect as a family on the things you all wrote and have to be grateful for. It doesn’t have to be in place of resolutions necessarily but it certainly puts the past year in perspective and gives you something to consider for how to move into the next one!

Thank you all for joining me on my journey with August this past year. I hope I have helped a little maybe. It is hard to put into words how much writing here helps me. Happy New Year to you all!

Until Next Time,

Shannon