Being a parent is hard.
I could sit here and say "being a special needs parent is hard," but that wouldn't be fair. Raising any child, neurotypical or not, is tough. You're held up to so many standards it's ridiculous. You're ruining their brains by letting them have screen time, send them outside more. Make sure you use sunblock! But don't use brand X of sunblock because it causes cancer. They will be smarter if you read to them in the womb, but only these particular books. If you don't breastfeed, your child is going to be slower, overweight, have a lower i.q. and won't have any friends. Feed them only organic, homegrown food or they'll be sugar addicted spazzoids. You're a bad parent if you let them watch television. Their x (allergies,special needs, handicaps, etc.) are your fault because you x (vaccinated too soon, didn't breastfeed, gave them a candy cane on Christmas, etc.) You get the picture. And that's just from the parenting "experts." The pressure put on us by our peers on the wicked vice of social media is even worse. You sit there and look at all their perfect pictures of their perfect family outings, and hear about how little Timmy eats only green vegetables and gets ready for school all on his own, and Janey plays first chair violin in the first grade orchestra and is reading at a 5th grade level. Meanwhile you're at home discussing for the hundredth time the importance of wearing pants with your son and trying to convince your daughter that reading for 5 seconds doesn't count as reading for 20 minutes.
It's overwhelming, I know. Let's see if we can figure out how to stop this runaway train of stress and anxiety, shall we?
First things first.
Stop comparing your kids to other people's kids, and your parenting skills to other people's parenting skills. You are not raising the same children. They are raising their kids. You are raising yours. You do what you think is best for your kids, and just because your BFF isn't doing it the same way doesn't mean that your decision is wrong. (And I'll let you in on a little secret. Social media is lie! All those perfectly perfect posts of perfect perfection? Yeah. All Lies.) So do you, folks. Don't worry about them.
Second, take everything with a grain of salt.
What that means is that when you hear a "recommendation" from an "expert" on GMA or The Today Show or the like, research it a little bit more before you act on it. They may not have your best wishes at heart. 9 times out of 10, they're just looking to line their pockets.
Third, take a deep breath and ask yourselves this:
Are your kids happy?
This is the most important thing. Whether you live in a 3,000 sq ft house or a 300 sq ft apartment, if your kiddos are happy then you're doing it right. It doesn't matter what the "experts" on that morning talk show, your BFF, your acquaintance from high school or the girls in your mom group say. If those kids look at you every night with those adoring eyes, then Mom/Dad...you're nailing it!
Lastly, you're probably wondering what a good way to deal with your stress is, because let's face it everything I just said is much easier said then done! I don't have all the answers, but here are a few suggestions.
-You can definitely talk to a therapist. There is absolutely no shame in finding someone to talk to that is outside of your situation. They can help you find better ways to cope with and manage your stress and anxiety.
-Exercise. Go for a walk. Take a bike ride. My favorite is yoga. Getting your body moving is a good way to relieve tension. Your adrenaline will start pumping, which will release endorphins, which will help you to feel better!
-Meditate. There are a ton of mediation apps out there! If you don't want to download an app, look up guided meditations on YouTube. Even if it's only for 3 minutes, trust me. Taking the time to find some inner peace will help to put things into focus for you!
I feel all your pain when it comes to the stress, folks, trust me! Just remember to breathe, keep your heads on straight, and know that no matter what, your kids love you!
Until next time, my friends.
Peace and Love