As a parent of a special needs child, it is all too easy to get lost in the mix of meltdowns, trips to school because of "incidents," therapy and doctor sessions, never-ending search for information and ways to help your child, every day home and work requirements, and pure mental or physical exhaustion that comes with the territory. It can seem like you are pulled in a million ways and there is nothing left to enjoy.
When you have so much on your plate, (pun intended!) it's hard to imagine adding one more thing to your already very stressful lifestyle. Do you find yourself too tired to think about healthy meals and end up choosing fast food or easy, quick, heavily processed meals to give yourself a break? There is no judgment here - that was me for a very long time, even after I knew about the negative impacts of those choices!
Taking care of yourself so that you can show up fully in your role as a parent is important, but when you add a child with ADHD or an autism spectrum disorder into the picture, it is crucial to your survival. You must be at the top of your game, functioning at a higher than normal level to keep up with the pressures of such a demanding, yet very rewarding job.
It just so happens that the dietary changes I recommend for our children are also very helpful for you as the parent. Do you want more energy, more mental clarity and focus? Do you want to feel like you are super-mom (or dad)? Do you want more patience and to be calm in the midst of the chaos? Do you want to feel more alive and vibrant than ever, ready for the challenges ahead and up to the wonderful task given to you?
These dietary changes aren't a magic cure for ADHD or autism spectrum disorders. They are a whole-body, whole-mind, natural solution to our general lethargy and degenerative conditions. I had applied these changes for myself before I ever tried them on my child and knew first hand the difference I felt internally. That was my first clue that I should try them for my son, and for my whole family, in fact!
It may sound too simple to be true, but the foods that we put into our mouths have more to do with our overall health and well-being than any miracle pill the pharmaceutical companies could ever invent. Taking care of our children's health should start with taking care of our own. Personally eating a healthy, whole-foods diet is the first step you should take.
Before you implement changes for your children, try them out for yourself. Be your own guinea pig! Our children look to us as an example and when they see us reaching for good food choices they will do the same. If you have a pattern of not eating those foods, it may take some time, but it will come.
Mahatma Gandhi said, "Be the change you want to see in the world." Let's make it real simple and be the change you want to see in your family.
Start taking care of yourself with a good diet and exercise. Take baby steps if you need to, but commit to at least one new dietary upgrade today. Then commit to another when you are ready. Go at the pace you need to, just really commit to doing it. When you are functioning at your highest level you will have the energy, clarity, mental attitude, and desire to do more.
Besides the obvious good diet and exercise principles, don't forget to take the time to rejuvenate yourself, connect with your spirit and focus on self care habits. Everything you do impacts your ability to care for your children, and the more you do for yourself, the more you can do for them.
What have you done for yourself lately? If your answer is not so much, are you ready to start taking care of yourself a bit more? Pick one area to focus on and make a true commitment to yourself. Your family will thank you!
Are you already well-practiced in the fine art of self care while raising a special needs child? Do you have any tips and ideas to share about what helps you? I'd love to hear from you about what you need more help with or about works for you.