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“Care of the Caregiver… YOU!” ~Shane B. Kulman

I remember the first time I heard this. How clear and “right” it sounded.  As the phrase unfolded in my head, I realized that I was a caregiver, and that working in a classroom 5 days a week, 8-3:30 and then coming home to eat a slice of pizza and collapse was not going to work for me anymore. That was NOT caring about the caregiver, and I was caregiving for 25 students and a wacky assistant that year.  No more…

I’ve graduated and will occasionally take a several week or month vacation during the school year, is this extreme caregiving for myself?  I think, no.  Some say extreme, I bet some say spoiled…  I now understand the importance of bookends. When I set out to work, I am aware that before and after I must include time where I do something for myself.  It may be a simple cup of tea, or a massage/spa visit.

I believe everyone is a caregiver in some aspect. Parents, Grandparents, Aunties and Uncles, babysitters, teachers, therapists, Nurses, Doctors, dog owners… you get the idea.

The parents I work with that have children with special needs, are constantly caregiving. There have been very few who make the time to withdraw from caring about others and take care of their Self.  So many parents pick food from their children’s plates, or eat standing up, don’t get dressed or spend every last penny on their child. After a while the caregiving well, goes dry. Parents often feel drained, wasted of energy and limited in   options. When I suggest a yoga class, a writing class, or to join in to any group activity that does not revolve around parenting, they look at me like I’m a dreamer, like I’m out of touch with reality, and then I see the guilt forming, “WHAT!?!? spend time on myself?!!?!? When my child is so far behind?”  I even suggested to a Mom to go out to dinner with Dad with a dress on, and I would stay with the children, she laughed at me and said we talk and eat when the kids go to school. Hmmmm, is this the same as wearing a dress at a restaurant?  I think not.

Children learn from watching, this has been researched and proven.  If all the young girls are watching their Mothers caregive and serve constantly, how will they learn to be independent and self expansive?  Special needs children, including non-verbal children see and feel what is going on around them. I see the neediest children become ultra demanding when they are in need of something. What happens after their demand, that may result in a temper tantrum/meltdown?  A Parent is running to serve them. What is the valuable lesson here? Yup, the bigger the meltdown and demand, the faster a parent runs.

Children with or without special needs, even pets, learn how to rule through behavior and reactions. I believe there is always time to be made for caring for the caregiver. Even if its a bath, or journaling time. I would say shopping, but you know who gets shopped for… everyone else.

Dearest friends – No matter who you are caring for. You can serve them on a higher level, if you take time to serve yourself. Your health and those you love will love you for it.

Namaste and love yourself,

Shane

Aloha beautiful friends!

I am eager to share some ways  of chilling-out that you can incorporate in your life.  Your  child, regardless of their special need is constantly learning from what you do, so show them how to chill out!

Shoulder bounces – sit up tall in your seat, relax your shoulders so they are even.  Lift your shoulders slowly up to your ears and let them drop back down. Gradually pick up the speed of our bounces, until you have a comfortable rhythm.  The benefits loosen up the chronically tight shoulder/neck area,  teaches your child that movement doesn’t have to be structured or complicated to have an effect on your state of mind.

Tighten and Release Take one or two breaths, start at the top of your body and work your way down.  Inhale and squeeze your face as tight as you can, and then release all that effort with an exhale. Draw your shoulders up, hold them up for a beat, then exhale and let them drop back down.  Pull in your belly button as strongly as you can, hold for a moment, then let  go.  Clench your bum, thighs, calves, and your feet hold for a beat – and let go.  Once you’ve swept your whole body, repeat the process another time or two. Each time you do, you’ll root out more stress and tension. The benefits target the entire body and systematically release tension from every corner.  Helps you refrain from escalating the situation, and helps you actually do something instead of  just thinking or saying “I need to relax.”

Count Your Breath This is a great stress re-leaver when your running late.  When running late, which I am all too familiar with,  is the perfect time to let your self-importance to run out of control as well as beating yourself up.  Neither contribute to health.  Breathing in for 4 seconds and out for 8 will help to keep you grounded and avoid paying attention to the minutes as they go by on your watch or the dashboard.  This will re-direct your mind. The benefits of this exercise will get new oxygen into your lungs, recharge your brain with more oxygen and lower your blood pressure, which is probably sky high at that point.

Swim In Your Own Sea of Tranquility Locate the indentation between your breasts, about three fingers from the bottom of your breastbone. Bring attention to that area with slight pressure.  If your in public, pretend its an itch. Aim to take twenty breaths while pressing. Release gradually. The benefits open the chest and invites your breath to deepen which triggers the bodies relaxation response, helps regulate your heart beat, and calms the mind.

Seated Spinal Twist Keep both feet on the floor, take a deep breath, sit up tall and twist your torso, each exhale try to twist more. I like this exercise  while waiting in an airplane. You can place your child on your lap, or physically help them twist. The benefits of this are wringing tension of the muscles that support your spine, helping to prevent back pain. It stimulates the abdominal organs responsible for digestion and detoxification so you don’t get an upset stomach that will usually accompany stress.

Mini Loving Kindness Meditation So you’ve never meditated before?  Here is a great way to begin…. A screaming baby/child — screaming back only makes it worse.  Come up with a short sentence, or you can use; May the baby be happy, may the baby be free from suffering. Say this in a quiet and relaxed voice.   Find a rhythm you are comfortable with.  Use this with anyone, your Mother, your boss etc. Say it out loud or in your head. The benefits allow you to feel compassion, instead of hating the moment (or the baby) send him/her some love, you will also feel connected to the child/baby, and not just sit and suffer.

Elephant Swing is a way to beat feeling lethargic.  It’s fun and your children will enjoy the body movement. While standing about 2 feet apart swing your arms and twist your body, the key is to let your arms be loose as possible. Only your toes should point forward, otherwise let it all hang loose, and swing slow in a twist.  Elephants do this when they are nervous. The benefits are tremendous and loosens things up so the energy in your body can travel more freely around your nervous system.

Focus Pocus will calm your mind and relax your monkey mind;) Press between the eyes firmly. This is an amazing technique to show your child how to do. Depending on the age of your child, he/she can do this while taking a test in school. Closing your eyes and deep breathing will add to the experience. The benefits calm the mind, reduce anxiety and confusion and promote clearer, calmer thinking.  This is also used in acupressure to relieve headaches, insomnia and sinus congestion.

Legs Up The Wall Lay with your bum against a wall, and your legs up the wall, your body is at a 90 degree angle.  This will relieve stress and that “heavy leg” feeling. Breathe and relax here for up to ten minutes. The benefits are relaxing and energizing, your legs being higher than your heart creates a relief for your circulatory system and all the hard work it does.  Usually the circulatory system has to work hard to get blood from your heart to your feet, and now you will be helping this system run better! Your body will be thanking you. This is also reversing the effects of gravity, which is what causes wrinkles and varicose veins.

So start a practice of incorporating these steps.  Draw a beautiful sign of reminders to put in your car or in your house.  It’s not easy to start a new regimen, but if you remember how your body will thank you, and what an amazing role model you will be for your child, chilling-out will be common sense.

Aloha and thanks for reading!

Many children both typical and special needs have a problem moving on from one task to the next…..  As this new year begins and we (including myself) have all these wonderful ideas and resolutions that will be introduced into our lives in 2010.  We must also accept transitioning as a process.  Here is my example,  “In 2010, I would like to attend at least 3 yoga classes a week.”  I do have the time to set this into place, I actually have a very flexible schedule to make this happen.  Today January 13, I have attended 5 total.  I had been really hard on myself, not waking up early (to leave my super warm and comfy bed!) or too tired and I’d already found an amazing parking spot at night.  Both excuses help me fail my goal and no one wins……..  As I realized that going to yoga randomly- to- going to yoga to going three times a week, left me no transition time, this goal is not realistic.  So on on a sidebar, if your goal is to stop smoking, eat healthy, go to the gym more etc. realize that transitioning is a part of reaching your goal, if you don’t accomplish your goal immediately and you “mess up”  start again! Start slow!  Relax!  Give yourself a realistic time frame to  accomplish your goal. Why not by next New Years Eve!

Children are not familiar and will not understand why they cannot reach their goals, they don’t even know what the goals are most of the time.  Once we realize that they need to learn how to transition, just as we do, they will be able to use their tools to get to the next step.  Many times clean-up presents behavior such as tantrum or a meltdown.  We can ease this by using a egg timer.  Set the timer WITH your child.  Depending on the child, start with a 30 second time frame, let them hear the bell. Tell them what you expect of them when the bell rings.  For the short time frame of 30 seconds, choose something that is  very simple for the child.    As the child gets accustomed to cleaning up at the bell, the time periods should be longer.  Set realistic time frames for different playtimes.  Use the bell for yourself, show and tell  the child that you too are upset that this time period is over.  “Oh! I wish I had more minutes, next time I will make sure I do______.”  Give your child the language you want them to use, by USING IT YOURSELF.  I can’t stress the importance of this.  The main purpose of the bell is to show your child you are on the same team, its the bell that’s saying time is up, not you the caregiver, alleviating the parent is the enemy syndrome.

Good Luck and Happy Cleaning!

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