Downtime is mission critical for anyone with PTSD.
My flavor of PTSD is marked by extreme exhaustion, angered easily, headaches and an overwhelming need to isolate. Nevertheless, I was learning downtime didn’t necessarily mean lying down. If I was to parent differently, I had to do life differently.
School and PTA
I was never so grateful for school. My kids were gone for at least seven hours a day, which meant I could go to doctor appointments, psychotherapy and just plain sleep. My son, however, was disappointed I didn’t volunteer more like other parents including his father.
The weight of those words were crushing. I barely was surviving my PTSD recovery now my son wants me to prove I care? Obviously, saying I love you, giving hugs, reading stories weren’t enough.
I called the principal and we decided I’d serve on the Diversity Committee. I attended monthly meetings to discuss programs such as our annual Thanksgiving Day Feast where food represented by the manifold diverse cultures was showcased.
That went so well I volunteered to be PTA President his first year in middle school. That was a mistake. I was a go-getter and PTA was very political moving at a snail’s pace. Nevertheless, my son thrived because all the teachers knew who I was and he didn’t mind it. He was proud.
Successful parents speak this language
My son begged to have and attend sleepovers, birthday parties, play dates, etc. I, on the other hand, felt it was stupid to be his activities director. When we were kids, a play date meant we simply slipped out the front door, saw who was outside and played with them.
Play dates, however, are a genius of 21st century parenting. I can drive my son to someone’s home and not have to come back for three hours. Imagine a Sunday afternoon when the house is quiet, peaceful and I’m snoring. Given the opportunity, I was only too glad to open up my home and do same for other parents. I was blessed to get to know parents and they got to know me.
Our neighborhood school was considered a Title One school. The city would offer free after-school care programs that included healthy snacks and kept them on the premises until about 4:30 p.m. What a relief.
Say what you want about 4-H clubs, Cub Scouts, Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts. These American institutions brought us closer together. When my son graduated from Cub to Boy Scout, he was gone once a month for about 36 hours. Can I get an Amen?!!!!
I volunteered plenty so my son could participate on a year round community swim team. I never paid because I volunteered as often as possible. My son learned a lifelong, healthy activity while I networked with other parents at swim meets for play dates, sleepovers, etc.
Before long I was busy being social too, something I desperately needed. I was expert at isolating so God sent me a normal child who wanted it all. I did the best I could and both of us were better for it.
I never would have survived without my son’s healthy need to be social. God knew what kind of break I needed. I needed to break out of my shell and back into life. It meant doing things that bring joy and excitement that require some work but are well worth it.
Posts in this series
Parenting with posttraumatic stress disorder
Discipline requires training, love spelled t-i-m-e
Beatings/Spankings are abuse: plain and simple
Parenting, like marriage, requires work
Parenting is a lifelong-learning proposition
Stop, look, listen and ask yourself questions
The high art of juggling
Downtime: the golden goose of PTSD
Worldwide parenting with PTSD Awareness Day
Parenting is a high call no matter your lot
The drought before the drought
Being misunderstood is a symptom
You are being forged in fire
Awakenings podcast: Parenting with PTSD
For single parents
A tribute to single parents