Today is Day 21 in the series 31 days to Loving Sensory Parenting. You can read the series here.
Yesterday I talked about meltdowns with your child and getting through them. Today we are talking about meltdowns and you. Recently there was a really great quote going around on facebook that I shared and a lot of you could also relate. I thought I was the only one who felt this way and I’m glad to know that I’m not alone.
(Image Credit: Shared via SPD Connect on facebook)
Here’s what happens in our house. Child has meltdown. Get child through meltdown. Child ok in the world, sometimes it’s like nothing even happened. Other times child is completely “off” the rest of the day. Me on the other hand. I’m “off,” completely fried, feel like the world has ended and I’ve just ran a marathon.
Emotionally, it’s really hard to recover as a parent. You’ve just witnessed an epic emotional, physical explosion in your child that you love so dearly. It’s taken everything you have to help your child get through the meltdown, it’s no wonder we feel exhausted afterward.
A big problem for me has been experiencing PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) from our daughter’s aggressive meltdowns. This summer in working with a new psychologist for our daughter I got faced with having to work through some of this. Trauma stays in the brain, it’s really a challenge to work on.
Miss Sensory’s meltdowns happen less frequently now but because of the aggression when she’s in the middle of a meltdown and she comes towards me to hug me, my nerves shoot through the sky and I start to push her away because my brain is thinking that she will bite me or hit me. So I’m working on retraining my brain.
As a parent what do you do to get through the fog of a meltdown hangover?
My top 5 tips to fight a meltdown hangover:
1. Play. Engaging in silly, goofy, play that connects you and your child can almost start a chain reaction for both you and your child. It’s a hard thing to initiate but it is worth the effort if your child has moved into the meltdown response of being ok. If your child is “off” this is not the best move.
2. Chill. Sometimes the best thing you can do is relax together. Snuggle up on the sofa with a good episode or 2 or 4. Grab some snacks and relax. (Also, a good time to sneak in a nap mommas).
3. Call for back up. If you are able to get a moment to yourself, it may be what you need. Sometimes after explosions I just need to pull myself together, get a little self-care in and then I can move on with life.
4. Guilt. Oh the guilt. This is tough for me especially when Miss Sensory bounces back quickly after a meltdown. Here’s what I’m going to say. Maybe you didn’t handle this meltdown perfectly, but you know what, there isn’t a meltdown manual out there. Did you make every effort to the best of your knowledge to help your child through their meltdown? Ok, then quit the guilt and high five yourself for your best effort. (Sounds harsh right, this is as much for me as it is for you too).
5. Shake it off. In the words of Taylor Swift this is the best thing you can do. Meltdowns have a way of sticking around in my brain. Maybe it’s the trauma. Sometimes in order to recover I literally have to push it out of my brain and pretend it didn’t happen. Shake it off and move on.
Dear parent, that is in a season of constant meltdowns. Where your child has a meltdown from sun up to sun down. You are going to need more than these 5 tips. You are going to need a lot of naps, a lot of support and more patience than you know. And maybe even some coffee, chocolate and wine after bedtime (if you roll that way). For me it was the gym, with child watch and I would run and cry (seriously, wet sloppy running mess cry) and no one was screaming at me for at least 20 minutes it was heaven. I know from experience that it does get better, even if you don’t believe it will, it does. Hold on to that, from someone who experienced several years of constant meltdowns, it does get better. Keep going and don’t give up.