Parents of a child with ADHD spend a lot of time and energy on the health of their child. But, being healthy, emotionally and physically, is just as important for the parents. Everyone in the family where Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is an issue can benefit from improving mental and physical health, but let’s focus on what especially can help parents.
1. At the top of the list is getting the proper amount of sleep. Sleep deprivation can be a common side effect of having a child with ADHD. You must work at setting up your life and training yourself to go to sleep—and stay asleep—for at least seven or eight hours a night.
2. Build in stress reducers into your schedule. These may include a regular walk, an evening out with your spouse, time alone just to think. A stress reducer is whatever helps you relax and enjoy something for yourself.
3. Try to be open-minded and admit when you are wrong. This is an important element of good mental health. This can be particularly challenging when parenting a child with ADHD, but cultivating this attitude will contribute to your own mental health.
4. Eat properly and try to keep your weight at the appropriate level.
5. Take time to exercise—even a short daily walk will help you stay in shape.
6. Get organized. Use an organizational tool, such as a calendar organizer, to help you stay on top of your appointments. Again, this is a way of reducing stress—one that will ensure that everyone in the family of a child with ADHD will reap benefits.
7. Drink enough water. Staying well hydrated is important to good health.
8. Get regular checkups. With all of the appointments you may have with your child with ADHD, you may not feel like seeing another doctor, but regular checkups, including PAP smears and mammograms, are vital to caring for yourself.
9. Limit or eliminate alcohol and tobacco use. These are substances that may make you feel better in the short term, but in the long run they are bad for your health and even for your mood.
10. Try to be optimistic. Studies have shown that people who have a positive attitude towards life tend to live longer. Being discouraged wears you down and can influence your health. As Winston Churchill said, “Success is measured by your ability to maintain enthusiasm between failures.”
I was so tired of calling and making appointments for my daughter that I didn’t think I could pick up the phone and schedule my own yearly checkup. I had let it slide six months past when it should have taken place. When my friend Gina pointed out that it was not going to do anyone any good if I get sick, I forced myself to call. While everything was fine, it felt good knowing that I was doing the responsible thing—for myself for a change!