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 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,