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Parenting author, Ann Douglas, discusses parenting a child with a mental illness /disability, and practicing self-care so we are available as care-givers.

 

This week on the podcast/ blog I welcome Ann Douglas, author of numerous books on parenting with over half a million copies sold. Ann and I discuss her newest book titled “Parenting Through the Storm”, which is a guide to parenting a child who is struggling with Mental health, neuro-developmental, or behavioural challenges. We also focus in on self-care for parents (and supporters), and discuss why it is important, tips to practice self-care, and how to create the space for yourself.

 

Parenting Through the Storm

In the writing of this book, Ann interviewed 50 other parents that have been through it, and she found many common threads through all of their experiences. She took her research findings as well as her own personal experiences and wrote this book to provide practical advice for parents. 

On the podcast Ann shares, “I wrote this book because all 4 of my kids had some sort of challenge, and at the time I thought ‘ I must be doing it wrong.’ I desperately needed to know that things could get better – and they have! Parents are resilient, children are resilient, and families are resilient. It is possible to go through all these storms together and to come out stronger and more connected on the other side”

You can learn more about the book at www.anndouglas.net.

 

 

Is There a Right Way to Parenting?

On the podcast Ann shares, “There is a right way for your family, and you figure that out over time. Each of my 4 kids needed a different approach to parenting. It isn’t cookie cutter, because everyone is different. There were times that 1 of our kids needed ¾ of the parenting energy, which left only tiny little slices for the rest of the kids…. I felt guilty about that… but there are times when our attention had to shift around.”

  

What is Self-Care?  and  Why is it Important?

On the podcast Ann shares, “Sometimes people think about self-care as self-indulgence, for example, sitting on the couch eating bonbons. But, that isn’t how it usually plays out. Mainly it is about taking good care of yourself so that you have something left to give to the family member who needs you. When you are parenting a child, who is struggling you can’t afford to get completely burnt out and depleted. Without you your child will be lost.”

 

“Even though it can feel selfish I would argue it isn’t selfish, it is self-preservation.”

 

 

Practicing Self-Care

We are all unique in our own ways, and the best way for us to practice self-care is unique to us. We all have a self-care tool box filled with tools to refill our energy tanks, sometimes we just aren’t opening the toolbox frequently enough.

 

Ann provides 3 tips to practicing great self-care.

1) Physical Activity – Move your body in a way that is right for you. For Ann, this means taking 2 walks per day. (For me, this means breaking a sweat every morning by running or biking. Physical activity supports our physical health, and also enhances our brain function.)

 

2) Social Support – Ann shares, “It takes a village to raise a child, and I would argue it takes a village to support the parents that are supporting that child. Accept help when it is offered, and ask for help when you need it.” When you have help use the space to practice good self-care to fill your energy tank.

 

3) A Creative Outlet – Ann Shares, “Creative outlets take the focus away from worries, and brings our focus into that activity. There is research that shows that when our brain is actively engaged in a different activity (a hobby, etc.) it leaves us feeling more refreshed vs. vegging out on the couch.”

 

Tips For Creating the Space for Self-Care:

> Let others help you, and take a slice of that time to do something kind for yourself.

> Ask for help. It is a great opportunity that you are giving someone else when you ask them to help – lose the guilt about that.

> If we need to find the time then look at where you are wasting the time. For how many hours are you watching TV, or on your phone?

> Don’t be seduced into the that zoning out, find a creative activity.

> Be intentional about creating the space in your day for self-care. (I block off the first 2 hours of my day to break a sweat, read, meditate)

 

Ann shares her personal story of falling into bad habits that resulted in poor sleep, anxiety, and gaining 100 lbs, then breaking the cycle, building positive self-care habits, and loosing those 100 lbs.

 

I thank Ann for coming on the podcast/ blog to share the what she has learned on her parenting journey, and for sharing her wealth of knowledge on self-care to help us live happy and healthy lives.

 

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Love & Respect,

Eric

 

Resources:

Learn more about Ann's Books: Click Here

Contact Ann Douglas on Twitter: @anndouglas

 

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