“Parenting a child who lives in dysregulation is hard. And it’s not the big meltdowns that are the draining part, though those suck. It’s all the other stuff that comes along with dysregulation that is harder to manage on a long-term basis. Because you have to manage it all the time. Constantly.
It’s the extra messes at dinner. It’s the need for reminders to follow all the basic routines – ‘shoes off,’ ‘flush the toilet,’ ‘bike helmet on.’ It’s the extra shampoo and body wash that gets wasted and the extra water on the bathroom floor to clean up. It’s the greater amount of eaten food and the greater number of wrappers and crumbs around the house. It’s the messier body and house from dirt, crafts, and sensory play combined with the bigger need to engage in messy activities. It’s the louder voices and the more forceful and abrupt touches. It’s the need for greater supervision and the interactions that go well one moment and are failing miserably the next, along with the child who becomes angry that you’re ‘being mean’ if you set boundaries around the interactions.
It’s the amount of time it takes to get dressed and leave the house. It’s the control and the boundary-pushing and the amount of repetition that’s needed. It’s the amount of planning on your part it takes to have a successful outing. It’s the constant vigilance of your own brain and body to maintain safety – to watch for objects impulsively thrown, to diffuse a meltdown before it starts, to in a moment decide whether this is a battle worth fighting. It’s the bruises and scrapes and scratches you have from when your vigilance wasn’t enough. It’s waiting for the other shoe to drop on good days. It’s the disappointment that comes when the stretch of good days didn’t last, and the shoe finally dropped.
It’s time. And energy. And the patience that’s required from you that is so draining. Because it doesn’t ever seem to stop. And there are seasons when it may not even feel like it’s getting better…like it will ever get better.
So, if you’re tired, especially right now during this pandemic, know you have a right to be. Don’t compare yourself to parents who aren’t caring for dysregulated kids. Don’t feel guilty if you can’t find the energy for that cool craft project someone sent you or to bake cookies with your kids.
Let me reframe it this way…if you are dedicating your energy to caring for your child’s needs instead of to a craft project, academic task, or home-cooked meal, YOU. ARE. NAILING. IT. Your priorities are right. If engaging in those other things feels good to YOU, energizes YOU, or makes it easier on YOU, then bake the cake, nail the craft, and ace the homework. But if you must choose where your energy goes because all the things suck the energy out of you, do not feel guilty for prioritizing your child.
And don’t feel guilty for admitting they’re difficult to parent and you’d like a break.
There’s no shame in the truth.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Stephanie Grant. You can follow her journey on Facebook. Submit your own story here and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
Read more from parents during quarantine:
‘This may come as a surprise…but we aren’t on a routine. My house is not a school. My children do work when they feel like it.’: Mom gives herself ‘grace’ during quarantine, ‘I don’t feel bad about it’
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