We all know that we should take time to replenish from emotionally draining experiences (from the loss of a loved one to getting over an illness) but what about the everyday experiences of life? Sometimes we need time to replenish from those as well. Most often we don’t even think of that need because we do simple little acts each day to renew ourselves from taking a walk to most commonly (anymore) picking up our phones and checking Facebook out (although that can be depleting too!). When life gets a little complicated, even from simple things like waking up tired, we need to remind ourselves of the pleasure we take in everyday actions from the simple moments of calm before the kids wake up or the ones before we fall asleep to stretching and enjoying a well earned deep breath.
In the past couple of months I have shared a few articles reminding parents (well everyone) of the need to take time to replenish ones self so I have finally decided to make a post with those links so they are in one place for a quick reminder to take care of yourself on a daily basis. It is always important to take care of you and your family following a traumatic situation but the little things that make each day a little easier to deal with (not just when life is too much) are also important.
As a foster parent I have learned trauma comes in many shapes and sizes, and that trauma even includes things you thought you conquered. For me I never realized how traumatic losing my grandfather was until I said goodbye to our first placement. It was only then that I realized how that trauma shaped my life and how I wasn’t truly over the loss of my grandfather when I was only a toddler.
The article, Protecting and Taking Care of Yourself by Dr. Sue Cornbluth, reminds us that trauma is not something we can simply recover from in a day and that it is alright to feel overwhelmed. In her article she gives us six ideas of ways we (and our families) can take steps towards recovering from trauma.
Being foster parents mean we need to know how to deal with our own trauma so that we can help our foster children deal with theirs. The biggest trauma anyone ever has to deal with is loss. Sadly every time we help a family re-unify (and are excited about that reunification!) it also means we ourselves are dealing with loss. Even if we do get to be involved in the lives of the children that used to live with us there is still trauma because they are no longer in our everyday lives. One way we deal with this loss is to take time for ourselves as a couple. We use the home trial period (given to birth families to see if reunification will work) to do things for ourselves. We can still give support to our former foster children and their family while getting to go on a date, make repairs to the home because our schedules are a little less complicated, go on a vacation just for us, spend time with friends we do not get to see as often, and do things spur of the moment that you can’t do when you have children in your care. Once the home trial period is over (and usually successful) we let DCS know we are ready for another placement. So far this has helped us heal and renew enough that when the next placement has come we are ready to deal with all the challenges that comes with a new placement.
Everyday challenges don’t always seem challenging because we find outlets to replenish ourselves but even with those outlets we can find ourselves feeling a bit overwhelmed when the daily challenges pile up or become too much. The article 101 Self-Care Suggestions When It All Feels Like Too Much, by psychotherapist Annie Wright, is a great list to read through whether you need a new outlet or just a reminder or reaffirmation of the things you do every day to make life more enjoyable.
For me, it is my outlook on life (finding magic in ordinary everyday things) and how I treat life daily that is the greatest way to remind myself how I replenish and renew. That reminder can give me a greater appreciation not just of what is around me or the magic of ordinary things but for myself and my time (trust me I am far from perfect and self-deprecate often!). This “reality check”, as I call it, has reminded me that I am who I make myself, I can only do what I can do, and to not be so hard on myself. It is not fair to compare myself to others because while we all have comparisons we are all unique due to our DNA, our family, how and where we grew up. So I need to take care of me the best way I can and how I recharge is not necessarily going to work for anyone else.
Here is one more link: 5 Steps to Managing Big Emotions. While this is targeted at helping you and your child manage their emotions, I feel some of these reminders are great for us adults as well. If I feel like a big emotion is taking over maybe it’s a hint that what I really need is a time out for myself and a moment, or more, to recharge.
What are some of the ways you like to recharge?
My top three are:
- Walking at the mall. It lets me burn calories and people watch at the same time. I can do this activity with someone or solo.
- Cooking (or Baking). Not just the everyday “I have to cook so we have dinner” but because I want to make this meal as the smells remind me of childhood experiences, family, and love!
- Creating. This could be writing a blog post, sketching, painting, crafting, or building something in my garage. Just the simple act of making something gives me a feeling of renewal and of self-worth.