3 Self-Care Myths All Parents of Neurodivergent Kids Need to Know

Jun 17, 2022

Parents, do you really need another condescending person telling you that you should be practicing self-care?

I mean, it’s just another thing on the list when we’re already so tired and stressed and frustrated. Right?

That’s why I prefer the term self-respect, or self-honoring. Those don’t take extra time or require us to do anything at all. It’s a mindset. A mindset we can model for our kids.

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Let’s Dispel a Few Self-Care Myths:

1. Self-care is self-improvement. No. Self-improvement comes from a perfectionist mindset. It assumes there’s something wrong that needs to be fixed, which is a false premise. You are already whole and worthy of self-respect simply by being here. Self-care doesn’t need to be earned, and it isn’t about changing you. Authentic self-care supports your inherent goodness. 

2. Self-care is self-indulgence. No. There’s nothing wrong with numbing out, but if you feel regretful afterwards, that’s not self-care. When we avoid our stress, it will still be there to deal with later. 

3. Self-care is specific things on a list that's written by someone other than you: Do one of them to check off the box for self-care. No. You get to define what self care is for you. You have agency. You get to define what self care is for you. Does it fit into your life? Does it have a positive impact within 30 seconds? How do you feel afterwards? What’s the long term impact? 

You also need to take responsibility for making space in your life for self-honoring. We can’t expect others to know what we need, and self-respect has to come from our SELF. 

Authentic self-care nourishes, energizes and grounds you by working on the root issue: the unnecessary backlog of tension in your body. 

How Does Your Backlog of Unnecessary Tension Impact Your Emotional Regulation?

I don’t want to go around holding on to all of the stress that has built up over the years of advocating for my neurodivergent kid in a world that dehumanizes them, and being expected to figure it out on my own as an unpaid second or third job. Of COURSE we don’t have time for spa days!

The thing is, our kids are learning emotional regulation by watching us. Self-regulation can’t be taught, it has to be modeled. Mona Delahooke's recent book, Brain Body Parenting, explains the science behind this in a groundbreaking book for parents. Her blog post on microbreaks has some very do-able suggestions. 

"With so much suffering, it’s more important than ever to take care of yourself. Not only will it benefit your physical and mental health, but you will be better able to co-regulate your child’s nervous system, one of our most important roles as parents.
You may find that notion laughable. “Who has the time for self-care?” you may be thinking. “I’m too busy falling apart!”
It’s a vicious cycle: we’re exhausted, we don’t have time to care for ourselves, and that makes us feel even more stressed and burned out."
-Mona Delahooke

Authentic self-care doesn’t use up your time or energy, it frees up your energy by giving you more awareness of what is, and isn’t, serving you. If a self regulation practice isn’t useful in 30 seconds, stop doing it. Try something else. 

Thanks for coming to my Ted talk, haha!

Parents, Let's Redefine Self-Care to Fit Our Lives!

If you'd like some self-care ideas to try out, you can find many on my YouTube channel, including this fun cooling breath. Read this blog post with 7 quick mindfulness tips, in my courses, and from my free cheat sheet just for parents of intense kids: Mindful Meltdown Cheat Sheet. You'll get 4 quick and simple mindfulness tools just for parents of neurodivergent kids, plus my 4 meltdown essentials based on my core values. These are the strategies I've used to stay calm and connected with my kid when he's having a hard time. 

Please comment below with your favorite simple self-honoring, self-respect or self-regulation practice. Let's reclaim our autonomy and redefine self-care to fit our lives! When we are more regulated, we will not only be there for our kids, we will be present for ourselves. 

I work with parents because I know it is the most direct route to impact the future I want/need to create for my son. I can’t do it alone. I work on myself first, and then within my family, and then parent-to-parent. We’re breaking cycles to co-create a more inclusive future. I believe in that future, and I know you want it too, or you wouldn’t be reading to the end of this post. Thank you for going on this journey with me. 

Will you join me? On substack, I've recently been writing about how mindfulness helps me navigate parenting my neurodivergent kid in 2022: Mindful Parenting in an Ableist World. I write my raw thoughts with no agenda or frequency. My podcast, Mindfully Parenting Atypical Kids, is on every podcast player, and the new season is on video too at Spotify and YouTube. Your comments, ratings and reviews mean a lot to me, and help other parents find our community. If you'd like to connect 1-1, you can do that through this link.

Remember to comment below with your favorite simple self-honoring, self-respect or self-regulation practice. Thanks and be well! 

Stop Walking On Eggshells!

Gentle yoga to release your stress and shift your mindset about struggle.

If you get your buttons pushed often by other people's issues, you may be hypervigilant. You might feel it in your body as clenching, tension, or chronic pain.

You'll become more grounded in awareness of your body.

Stop Walking On Eggshells