When do I make time for me, when I have no time?

When do I make time for me, when I have no time?

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1 answers

I’m at a loss of where to turn? I was already a busy mom, and now with my son’s treatment schedule (groups 3 times a week, medical appointments and mandated drug tests), I hardly have any time for the other kids, my husband, let alone myself. I know that everyone says I have to make time for me…but how?


Dan Griffin's picture

Dan Grffin, MA: What a great question! You are not alone in this concern – it can apply to almost every parent who has a child in recovery. The challenge of self-care – especially in our hyper-busy world – is significant. However, the busy-ness of our lives demands some degree of self-care or we spiral out of control without even noticing. When you have a person with addictions in recovery in your home it seems to be even more important that there be a commitment to self-care from everyone because nobody is spared the effects of the addiction. There is an old saying that alcoholism/drug addiction is the only disease where one person drinks/uses and the whole family gets sick! It is even more challenging when the person in early recovery is your child. 

So, to your question: the answer is simpler than it may seem. I would encourage you to see self-care as something you can do at any time and it does not have to be a major activity. You can get caught up in all or nothing thinking – “I am running late so I cannot go to the exercise class that started fifteen minutes ago!” “At best, I can find ten minutes where I could meditate so why do it?” “I haven’t spoken to [fill in name] in so long that I can’t call them now – or I do not want to bother them.” Whatever reasons we come up with for not taking care of ourselves they are mostly excuses: there is ALWAYS time to take care of ourselves. I do not mean to go all “Dr. Phil” on you but I have found this to be a truth. I would encourage you to view some form of self-care as essential to your daily activities – just like dressing, showering, brushing your teeth and going to the bathroom. The best thing you can do to support your child in his recovery is to heal from the effects of it – and any other previous experiences with another loved one’s addiction. 

Looking at the question more closely I also see that another support you need is a team. It is common for one person from the family – often the mother – to take everything on. I am not just talking about asking your husband or other kids for help but also extended family and neighbors. Sometimes there is a payoff for feeling like a victim to our circumstances – but that never serves you. If your child is old enough to be in treatment chances are he is old enough to find a way to get to the sessions and the drug tests on his own. If not have him join you in different self-care practices on the ride there or home – listening to tapes, breathing, meditation, or just connecting with him in an open and honest way even if he does not want to – nothing prevents you from talking. It may feel uncomfortable but that is how it works at first – you are trying on new behaviors.

Here are several actions you can take to care for yourself:

Some family support groups, like Al-Anon, provide daycare. You can also get a babysitter, your husband, one of your kids (if they are old enough,) or ask a friend or family member to watch the kids.

There are online social networks specifically for people in recovery, like IntheRooms and Time To Get Help.  You can utilize when the kids are asleep at night or, if your kids are young enough, when they take naps. First thing in the morning, just to check in.

There are many podcasts that provide support – you can download them and listen to them any time you would like.

Meditation. The common misnomer is that you have to be formal about it. While it may be ideal to detach from everything you are doing, there is nothing that ten deep breaths can’t make better.

However this may sound, for some, particularly at the beginning of their own journey of self-care, find the bathroom to be their sanctuary. 

At the end of the day, while it may not seem like it, some form of self-care is always available. A lot of us in this country have become committed to not taking care of ourselves – especially emotionally and spiritually.  It has become our default way of being that we have learned from very young. So, if we are to take care of ourselves and be available to the people we love in early recovery (and recovery, in general) we have to make self-care a habit. Once you see clearly how easy it is to take care of yourself and find the supports in your life you need to be happy, it will then be easier to continue. Take baby steps – but take them. You will never regret it.

Helpful Links:

Taking Care of Yourself (PDF)

Lifeboats: Taking Care of Yourself During Your Child's Drug Addiction

Parent of an Addict: What’s it Really Like?