When you’re raising a kid with ADHD, life can become crazy (is that an understatement or what?!). 

And when kids are really struggling, one of the first things that gets neglected is a parents’ self-care. 

Now, if you’ve been following my work for any period of time, you know that I’m a stickler for self-care. We all know the saying, “you can’t pour from an empty cup…” and your kiddo requires a LOT of pouring from you. If you’re empty, you’ve got nothing to give. 

And yet, I see the look I get when I tell parents they need to commit to self care. Their eyes glaze over, and they politely look at the floor. It’s the adult version of sticking your fingers in your ears and yelling “la-la-la-la”!!!!

The other day a mom wrote to me and expressed that while she knew self-care was critical, she literally could not add anything to her day. She knew she should be exercising regularly. She should be walking the dog daily. She should be making healthy meals. She should be journaling. 

This mom was “should-ing” all over herself. 

The prospect of feeling like she had to set self-care intentions, followed by an inevitable failure to follow through with those intentions was extremely exhausting and was generating a lot of guilt and shame. 

Well, that’s certainly not self-care!

I get that cycle, and am offering a little tip today. 

Sometimes self-care doesn’t mean adding to your day. Sometimes self-care means figuring out what no longer fits – what you can begin saying “no” to. 

Saying “no” to things that you currently do fit into your day will help you create some much-needed space and down-time in your life. 

Don’t create space just to fill it with more stuff. Create space for space sake. Soak it in. And only after time goes by can you think about filling it. 

How do you do this?

First, think about a normal week in your life and write down all of your different obligations. Ones you think about, and ones you do on autopilot. 

Once you have all of these written down, see which ones you can begin to cross off the list. Do so by asking these three questions: 

What would really happen if I stopped doing this thing? 

For example, do you really have to volunteer to lead the kids’ Valentine’s day party at school? Do you really have to have the kids in swimming lessons right now?

Indeed there were semesters that we banned all extracurricular activities. It was just too much for what we could take on given the circumstances at home! I’ve learned there was a season we needed a break, and a season we were equipped to take on the extracurricular challenge! Honor the season.  

Why are you doing this activity? 

  • Do you need to do this activity? 
  • Does it bring you joy?
  • Are you actually stuck doing it because you’re worried about what other people might think if you stop? 
  • Are you motivated to do it because you just always have and haven’t considered another way? 

 Is there another way to get the end result in a different way? 

  • Can someone else do it? 
  • Can you make it easier somehow?

For example, maybe you begin to order groceries to be delivered instead of forcing yourself to go grocery shopping. Maybe your spouse can take on a responsibility you’ve always taken on yourself. 

After going through these kinds of exercises myself, I’ve learned that I do a lot of things that don’t really matter. When I drop them, the world keeps spinning. The sun still comes up the next morning. 

And most people aren’t paying enough attention to me to judge… and I’ve learned their opinions of me are none of my business.