The benefits of the cry it out method

cry it out (2)

‘Crying it out’ was never something I was comfortable with trying with my children, but when it comes to myself and my own sanity – it seems I have unwittingly reached my own ‘cry it out’ phase.

I never realised I had so many emotions bottled up inside me, until a routine visit to my kinesiologist took a turn for the teary. In searching for what emotions I was storing up in my body, the big one was fear. It was languishing in my right kidney apparently, and although this sounds weird  – I was pretty sure I didn’t want it taking up residency there any longer. Upon releasing it using Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), she set about finding the source event that lead to so much fear camping out inside me. It’s here when the waterworks started flowing unabated. My own inner-wisdom knew straight away what it was … and through tears I explained to her everything I felt when we found out Jarvis had facial palsy. How in those moments of fierce love for my baby, I had so many fears of what life would hold for him and so many unanswered questions and I guess I did what any mother does – pushed these all deep down and set about being the best mum I could be to my son. Fast forward four or so years and all this feeling swallowing was doing me some damage. This year in particular, with the countdown to primary school, all the fears and unanswered questions were looming ever larger than before.

It’s been about six months since this first attack of the ‘cry it outs’ and there have been quite a few public displays since, and I must tell you that though embarrassing,  they have all been therapeutic and on reflection have let me know that I’m on the right track with decisions we’re making regarding Jarvis’s therapy and schooling. My latest struggle to keep the tears in was at a Prep info night at our chosen school last week. There were quite a few times when I was on the verge of tears as the Principal and other staff talked with pride about their school and what they believe education should look like.

The one that had the waterworks silently flowing was when the prep transition officer said that she was often asked if a certain child is ready for Prep. She said that she didn’t want to hear that question anymore, what she’d like to hear asked is ‘Is your school ready for my child?’ and answering her own question she said ‘we are’.

This question and its answer hit me in a lot of soft spots. The place that still holds residual anger about words a family member said, that got back to me, to the effect of ‘there’s no way that kid will be ready for school next year’ (among some other choice ‘observations’), the words of our pediatrician warning that he may need to go to special school (despite not knowing the results of an IQ test) and that part of me that has held fear since the day he was born. There’s still a little way to go but my heart is telling me that we’ve found our school and that my little boy will be one of many splashed over Facebook next year in his too-big school uniform heading off to big school. Although the tears flow sometimes when I think about my boy, and the challenges he faces,  I know that he is strong and capable and that many surprises lie ahead of us. I am happy to fight alongside him and make sure he gets the additional help he needs and though I may cry it out in public, that I too am strong.

So although ‘cry it out’ is not something I advocate for babies – I definitely advocate it for parents … particularly when the fear threatens to overwhelm and you don’t know what your next step will be. So tell me, when have you had to ‘cry it out’?

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5 sanity saving tips while caring for sick kids

looking after sick kids

It would be an understatement to say that last week kind of kicked my arse a bit. Hugo was sick with a virus and then an ear infection and the poor little guy needed his mum ALL the time. Which is fair enough, but with being needed in such an intense way comes a side of exhaustion that I think all parents can relate to. Getting up at 4.30am everyday, being woken at night and then gaining only an hour reprieve during the day (if I was  lucky) can quickly send you a bit crazy, which I realised when on Sunday morning at 4am I screamed at my awake children that ‘I’m not depressed I’m just tired! Go watch TV if you won’t go back to bed’ Yes, friends it was not my finest parenting hour, but that’s what a week tending to the sick on no sleep will do to you!

So, given that there will be many times when we all experience the ‘joy’ of sick children, I’ve put together five lessons from my week of snot mopping and panadol-filled syringe toting for you all.

1. Embrace the helplessness

Looking after sick kids is such a helpless feeling, but the first step to staying sane is embracing that helplessness and then get stuck into what you CAN do. It won’t be something that takes away the pain entirely but it may be something that gives your child a little bit of comfort when they’re feeling anything but comfortable. These things will almost always be excruciating for you (like watching endless repeats of Charlie Bear), but your child will feel that little bit better for it.

2. Embrace the inconvenience

It’s an unwritten rule that children will get sick at the most inconvenient of times. For me last week it was during the end of the production schedule for the magazine I work for. Print deadlines wait for no child, however sick – but having a stressed out mum, trying to do it all is no help to either party. So, I hatched a plan. With one story to finish, I went into work to get the files and information I needed, while Mr P negotiated with his work to start late. I then let my work know I’d finish my final story at home and would be in touch by email. The story was finished later that day and sent for appropriate approvals in time for the sick boy to be wanting my attention. I can’t pretend it was quite as carefree as that sounds as I was quite stressed about it, but by embracing the inconvenience and coming up with a solution that would work for me, my sick boy and my employer I felt more at ease with moving onto point number 3 …

3. Be, not do

As discussed in point one – sometimes a sick child just wants the comfort of their parent close AT ALL TIMES, as my Hugo did last week. I’m not always comfortable with sitting down for lengths of time – my head whirs with all the things I want to get done and why is my house so dirty and I need to hang out the washing and gosh, I haven’t blogged for ages (you get the picture). I found that I could feel more relaxed and almost relish my extra caring duties when I just let go of the need to DO and embraced the need to just BE. All those other things can wait … a sick child is a call to be in the now, to pay attention to what is and what won’t be for much longer.

4. Sleep when you can

It’s so tempting to use the time’s they’re asleep to catch up on all the things you didn’t get done while partaking in enforced couch time. But I found a little nap, even if it’s for half an hour, is enough to charge the batteries and improve the mood. I also put myself to bed early instead of staring blankly at a TV or computer screen and awoke the next day a lot happier for it. The day after my 4am crazy yelling bout, my husband got up to the boys while I enjoyed a couple of hours extra rest and here I am a day later feeling like a completely different person. It’s OK to insist on some extra sleep, I promise you’ll feel better!

5. Escape if you can

This one also falls into the self-care category and although it’s last on the list, it’s definitely one of the most important! Being home with a sick child all week, with noone to talk to in real life can make you go a little bat-shit crazy. So, take any chance you have to escape once the child is asleep and in the care of someone else. I didn’t feel like going to my usual yoga class but I made myself go and found a little bit of myself while doing so and on Friday I arranged to meet a friend for a meal and a glass of something bubbly. This human contact made me feel less zombie and more human and ready for whatever the next day threw at me.

So, these are just 5 of my lessons from caring for my sick child last week. What’s your best tips for looking after you while looking after a sick little one?

Putting the me in family – a six step plan

Be kind

I wonder as mothers why we struggle so hard to put ourselves first? Is it for fear of being accused as ‘selfish’? Is it a warped kind of guilt that if we’re not busting our arse for our family all of the time that we’re failing them? Is it that lingering societal pressure that women have to keep a perfect house, perfect children and be perfect themselves?

It’s probably a combination of all of these factors. All I know is that since becoming a mother that I’ve put a tonne of pressure on myself to live up to some impossible ideal. And it wasn’t making me a better mother – not by a long shot. The truth was, I was angry, frustrated, sad and unbelievably busy. Maybe you feel that way too?

It was almost a year ago that I got the biggest wake up call of my life – my family that I was working so hard for was falling apart. Dramatic, yes. And I could hear the whisperings in the wind that I should never have shared that story with the world, that it was my job to put up, shut up and leave my dirty laundry hidden at the bottom of the pile with the hand washing I never get time to do.

But the biggest revelation that came from that horrible time was that deep inside there was a little voice that came out clear as a bell and sat on my lips for the very first time – “I am worthy of happiness and love”. At the time I didn’t know what form it would come to me in, whether my marriage would survive or I’d be doing it alone – but that one revelation gave me strength to start creating a happier future for myself. Continue reading