It is not uncommon for parents of gifted kids to feel drained. After all, you spend an inordinate amount of your lives creating and maintaining an environment for your child in order to promote their development and growth. Often times this means dealing with your child’s roller coaster energy, constant questions, perpetual doctor’s appointments, tutors, and a slew of enrichment activities aside from the normal grind of daily family and school life. It’s normal for you to feel as if there are not enough hours in the day let alone come to a sense that you are rested, balanced, and in control on a regular basis.
But the most important thing you can do is to make sure you are adequately caring for yourself. This can be done in a few simple ways:
- Stop feeling guilty about how much or how little time you are giving to your child. No parent has the perfect handbook that displays the exact amount of your life that you need to give up when you decide to give birth. Being there, loving your child, and keeping a stream of communication open between the family is enough – no matter what quantifiable portions of time you bring.
- When you’re done feeling guilty, try to remember those things in life that give you the most joy. Is it reading for an hour at night with a book in a private space? Is it going to the gym and sweating out the day on the treadmill? Is it taking a walk around the block and listening to a book on your iPod? Is it spending a few moments in the backyard garden? Whatever it is, make a commitment to do it at least once a week and schedule it in the calendar to be respected and adhered just like you would an after school class for your child. Do not break this appointment with yourself no matter what.
- Nurture your friendships. Just because you have a full load at home doesn’t mean you can’t step outside for some bonding with your friends. Make it a habit to reach out and communicate with the people you have common interests with. Make a habit of having coffee or seeing a movie with someone once a month who is not a member of your immediate family.
Although taking the time to carve out these things may be hard at first, with a little discipline and dedication these actions will contribute to a family that is more content, and give you a little space to think, breathe, and laugh.
Dr. Dan Peters, Ph.D., is co-founder of the Summit Center, which provides psychological and educational assessments and counseling for children and adolescents, specializing in the gifted, creative, and twice-exceptional.