Archive for Holiday Stress

Tis The Season

Dear Parents,

There seems to be very little predictable about the holiday season except how unpredictable they are when you are parenting a child who has trouble managing emotions.  The remedy is to keep your solid routines of everyday life and just say “no” to too much–too much fudge, too much out-of-town family, too much travel, too much stuff, and even too much fun.  Okay, it isn’t that easy to pull off, but it is well worth trying. 

I have a vivid memory of forewarning my extended family before bringing my easily dysregulated children to their first out-of-town Christmas with all my siblings.  Everyone was excited to meet their new little family members and my little ones were beside themselves to get to go on a long trip to meet these extravagant strangers at the end. 

The car trip itself was unbelievable. I really wasn’t prepared.  We stopped to pee every hour and ate more McDonald’s on that first leg than we had eaten all together from adoption to that date.  By the time we arrived, I had a migraine and needed a nap.  When I woke up, my sisters had indulged my children with chocolate everything.  No kidding.  They were amped so high I was awakened by the walls vibrating. By the end of the day, both kids were screaming they hated me; they wanted to live with their chocolate pusher Auntie; and ultimately every person in the house was standing with their mouths agape and looking like deer in headlights.  Fun times. 

It wasn’t my kids’ fault.  They genuinely could not regulate their emotions and other people did not know (no matter how much I tried to tell them) they could not indulge every whim of children who have weak attachments and only a limp grip on self-control. Every Christmas thereafter I took a minimalist approach.  We still had our wild moments, but nothing like that one where the wheels came completely off the car.

To that end, I am wishing you a very regulated, predictable, low-ley, minimalist and, therefore, delightful holiday wherever you are, wherever you go, wherever you find yourself.

Love matters,

Ce

The Holidays Can Be Lovely With Children From Difficult Beginnings

Dear Parents,

The Attach Place

The Attach Place
Center for Strengthening Relationships

I just met up with my adult children for a pre-Thanksgiving gathering. I found myself marveling at how they are unfolding.  I mean that.  At 21 and 23, they are adults with lives of their own.  They are happy.  They have interests and friends and places to go and things to do.  They are grown up and I no longer worry about them. And that is the point of this post.

I worried way too much when my children were growing up.  Because they came from difficult beginnings and because their behavior was out of the ordinary, I fretted and worried and over controlled them.  I downright ruined every holiday.  Yes, it was me who ruined them, though at the time I quietly thought it was them ruining it for us.  I was wrong.

What I didn’t know how to do then was accept my children as they were.  I wanted them to be the way I wanted them.  You know, a lot more perfect.  Way less messy.  Seriously better mannered.  Definitely well regulated. I didn’t want their trauma to be impacting my holidays–pure and simple. Every year, every holiday I didn’ want that.  And, every year, every holiday they were who they were–traumatized, attachment reactive children from difficult beginnings.  Who needed to change in this situation?  Who had the most potential for change at the time?  Yep, it was me.

I could have accepted my life and my children. I could have changed my expectations and made the environment trauma-sensitive.  I could have been considerate of what they could tolerate and how long they could tolerate it.  Instead, I tried to fit them into my life the way it was before children and the way I thought other children were able to fit in.  My children weren’t other children; they were actually special with special needs during the holidays.  I could have been more loving and less worried about how they behaved. I could have been more flexible.

I learned a lot about myself while raising my children.  Much of what I learned was not pretty or pleasing to me.  Frankly, I wasn’t personally prepared for traumatized children.  I had to learn to be.  I had to learn to let them be.  I wish I knew then what I know now.

My children are unfolding in their adult lives according to their abilities.  That was always their trajectory.  My advice to my former self (who might resemble your current self): worry less, accept more.  I think that is the definition of love.

Happy Thanksgiving,

Ce

The Attach Place Upcoming Events Calendar

Trust-based Therapeutic Parenting Class for Parents of Children from Difficult Beginnings by Ce Eshelman, LMFT will be held in January 2019, from 10 am to 4 pm.  Childcare provided for an additional fee. CALVCB will reimburse this training. Register on our website!

AUTISM Support Group:  Monthly Strictly Social Autism Spectrum Disorder Night for Tweens (11 yrs – 16 yrs) at The Attach Place. Open to the public.  Look for new day in January TBD next year.  Gluten-free snacks provided. Please RSVP to Andrea@attachplace.com so we get enough snacks. This is a  monthly social group for the children; and caregivers will have an opportunity to connect, chat, and chill in a separate space. A donation of $0.00 to $5.00 will be accepted for food and supervision if you are able, but please don’t let that be an attendance barrier because the group is FREE.  ASD kids need a social life and this is a great way to make it happen.

UPCOMING ADOPTION SUPPORT GROUP facilitated by Ce Eshelman, LMFT:  Click Here to join our monthly  Adoptive/Foster Parent Support Group on December 12, 2018! Open to all parents/caregivers at no cost. Support Group is every 2nd Wednesday of every month from 6 pm to 8 pm at 3336 Bradshaw Road, Ste 175, Sacramento, CA 95827.

GIVE A BOOK OF SUPPORT TO A FELLOW PARENT ON THE ADOPTION JOURNEY: Drowning With My Hair On Fire: Insanity Relief For Adoptive Parents by Ce Eshelman, LMFT.  Daily inspirational reading for those who sometimes find it hard to keep hope alive. There is hope for healing.  Buy from Amazon or get a discounted copy here.

Holiday Stress

Americans already live in a state of chronic stress, between the job, the bills, the kids, the house, the spouse, and everything else we pile on top of ourselves. Stress is not a bad thing, in small bursts that results in the expulsion of that energy, and then long periods of rest to follow. We were actually built for this type of stress. What we weren’t built for is this chronic stress, no expulsion of the energy, and no rest or relief from the stress. And then we add holidays on top of our already stressful lives. The shopping, the cleaning, the family, the traveling, the lines, the crowds, the money, the time. This time of year has a tendency to take a lot of us down.

So, what can we do to manage this intense time of year, without running away and hiding until it is over? First, we need to know the types of things we are doing to manage our stress that is actually adding more stress to our life. Things like drinking too much caffeine, working out too much, drinking alcohol, eating fast convenient food to give us more time, or trying to get more work done before bed, these may feel like time managers but they are actually increasing your stress levels and then requiring you to handle more stress in your life. Cutting back on the caffeine, only working out 3-4 days a week, clean eating, giving up the alcohol, and cutting yourself off from work and screen time at a certain time each night will drastically reduce the stress hormones from being released. These are things we need to be aware of all of the time.

But, this is a special time of year that requires a lot of extra stress management. So I am going to introduce some of my favorite stress management tools that I use in addition to the daily ones I listed above. First, meditation, this useful practice has been shown to decrease anxiety, depression, and increase your ability to handle stress. An easy beginner practice is called the 16 second meditation. It is a breathing practice that actually slows your heart rate down instantly. All you need to do is inhale for 4 seconds, then hold that breathe in and count 3 seconds, then exhale for 6 seconds, then hold that exhale for 3 seconds. Having a longer exhale than inhale slows your heart rate down, and having to count your breath requires mindful attention which increases your ability to handle stress. Another great practice that achieves these same goals is yoga. It opens up your lungs and your ability to get a deeper breath while forcing you to focus on your pose. Tara Stiles has great yoga videos that I love doing at my house.

But I have to say, I get the most stress relief from spending quality time with my husband. When the kids are in bed, and the house is quiet, and we can just hang out and let the rest of the world melt away, nothing relieves the pressures of the day than feeling like I am loved and treasured, and deserving of someone’s undivided attention. The phones, the TV, the kids, the housework, all of it gets put aside so we can just be the center of each other’s universe. Now, I know not everyone is in a place in their relationship where they can actually get stress relief from their partner, it’s actually quite the opposite. If this is the case, then do yourself, your stress hormones, and your family a favor and come in to The Attach Place and see me for a couple of sessions of couple’s therapy. Or, you can even do some Skype sessions with me if you are not in Northern California. And if you are single, this can still apply with a loving attachment figure in your life; a good friend, a sibling or parent, even spending time with your beloved animal can be a stress reliever. There are many other ways to reduce stress this holiday season, these are just some of my favorite. Find what works for you and then make a point to actually do it. Your body, mind, and spirit will thank you; not to mention all of the people around you. I hope this helps you get through the next month.

Couples Blog

The Attach Place
Center for Strengthening Relationships

Love Strong,

Robin Blair, MFT Registered Intern

EFT Therapist

Supervised by Jennifer Olden, LMFT for one month, as she has just passed her MFT licensure exams. Congratulations Robin!