“Do You Need A Time Out?”
If you have (or had) young kids, you’ll find that phrase familiar.
I’ve used it more times than I care to remember. However, my son
Miguel is getting older (turning 9 in a few weeks, I can’t believe
it!), so I’m hoping I won’t have to say it too many more times.
I don’t think I’ve shared this with anyone in these email tips – I
may have mentioned this in my print newsletter once (which, by the
way, I will be starting up again soon) – but, parenting Miguel has
been, and can be, quite stressful.
You see, he was diagnosed with ADHD. He’s somewhere on the autism
spectrum (fortunately at the high functioning end, but no
professional we have worked with can tell us exactly where). He
also has some sensory integration issues.
Any parent or grandparent with kids “on the spectrum”, or with
ADD or ADHD, knows that there is high co-morbidity, or common
occurrence, of these conditions. In other words, if a kid has one
one of these things going on, they probably have others going on
We always felt that Miguel was a little different, even from his
earliest weeks. He was difficult to comfort. He would sometimes
have a tough time settling and getting to sleep. His expressive
language skills developed a little late.
I remember when his first preschool teacher approached me about
having a conference.
I thought, “Wow! His first year in school and I’m already being
called in for a conference? This can’t be good!”
This preschool was run by our church, where they offered
“classes” two mornings per week for toddlers. I enrolled Miguel
because it seemed like a nice, well-structured program with
plenty of playtime.
I probably should have waited a year, but something
instinctively told me to start working on certain things early,
such as socialization, being able to adapt to a learning
environment, being OK with not having mommy around, and so
Anyways, Miguel’s teacher was almost apologetic when she met
with me. I guess she expected me to take offense at what she
had to say. She told me she noticed some things she thought
were significant, and that I should consider having him
You could tell she had had this conversation before and had to
deal with pissed-off parents, who didn’t want to hear anything
negative about their kids.
I quickly put her at ease and told her that our family also
suspected something significant was wrong.
However, I have to admit: hearing it from a professional put a
sort of finality on it. Like, no more dismissing it as
“something he will grow out of”, or maybe it’s not as bad or
significant as we feared.
I mourned for a few days. I processed what we were facing, and
I enlisted my family’s support – which, of course, they were
happy to give. And we got busy.
It’s not always been easy. In fact, at times it’s been
massively frustrating. As in pull out your hair, get in a fight
with your spouse, want to kick the cat (well, not the cat part)
Raising a kid on the autism spectrum- with ADHD to boot! – can
be quite challenging.
At times, I let the stress get to me. For awhile there, I was
runing around as a single mom, working full time, trying to run
another business on the side (in my “spare time”), and parenting
a kid who needed lots of time, attention, routine and structure.
Later, I was blessed to get back in touch with the love of my
life, and we have been parenting Miguel together. So I’ve had
more help. And Miguel has had the benefit of another parent who
Also, my parents and brother have always been very supportive
and very involved with Miguel. So we are very lucky.
For awhile there, my work demands lead me through a period of
heavy travel, which added to my stress and guilt. My constant
comings and goings sometimes disrupted the routines and rhythms
that are so critical for kids like Miguel, whom the slightest
change can set off.
During these years, there have been times when I’ve put less
time – or no time – into my own self-care. I’ve ignored my own
advice (!) and dropped my fitness regimen. I’ve barely kept up
with my breathing and energy practice.
I paid the price.
I quickly learned that this was a terrible mistake. If I don’t
take care of myself, no one else will. And I won’t be present
for my son and the rest of my family like I should be.
It’s similar to when you are flying with your kids. What does
the flight attendant always tell you? “In the event of an
emergency, put on your own oxygen mask first, then put on
your child’s mask.”
While our journey is a work in progress, I am happy to tell you
that we’ve seen remarkable changes during the 9 years this
litle angel named John Miguel has been on Planet Earth.
Miguel is intelligent, enthusiastic, with an infectious smile
and laugh. He’s got the cutest little dimples when he smiles.
He loves to read. He loves building things, like Legos. He
loves his Xbox. He likes to shoot his BB gun, play soccer,
and play army or special forces. He wants to be in the
military, then maybe become a police officer.
He’s doing great in school. He’s active in sports. He has
a few buddies he likes to hang with, and he’s popular with
his classmates at school and at the after school academy he
He still requires a high level of diligence, attention and
energy – but that’s OK. Because we love him and are so very
proud of him.
And because I can’t imagine life without him.
I’ve shared all this with you because I want you to know that
I get it – I GET IT! – when you say you don’t have the time,
or don’t have the energy, or are just too overwhelmed with
life right now to start a new fitness or health regimen.
Even something that requires only a small investment of time –
like most of my programs – can seem out of reach when you feel
like you have little to no time for yourself.
It’s easy to get caught up in the stress and pressure of your
day. You may start the day with great plans and positive
expectations. But invariably things pop up that take you out
of that “constructive” mindset.
It’s easy to get frustrated when this happens. It’s hard enough
to stick to breathing practice, or a nutrition plan, or an
exercise program, as it is. When life throws in extra obstacles,
it can make you feel like you will never achieve your goals.
Well, I don’t have the magic answer that will make all those
challenges, obstacles, and energy depleters go away.
But I do have a suggestion for how you can “take back” most or
all of your energy and focus. It’s something I learned – then
had to re-learn, because I blew it off for a few years – and
it really works.
Put yourself in time out. And practice a few minutes of deep
Doesn’t have to be anything fancy. Just sit (or stand) and
gradually slow and deepen your breathing. At the same time,
focus your thoughts internally, on how you are feeling.
You can actually breathe into the stress and tension by
breathing into the tight spots in your body.
As you breathe into these tight spots, imagine every breath
is unlocking or melting them away, bit by bit.
Every inhalation surrounds them and infiltrates them.
Every exhalation releases them and carries them away.
A few minutes of this type of breathing and visualization
will naturally relax you. It will help you focus more positively
and constructively on what is really important in your life.
And it can help short-circuit any destructive behaviors –
like over-eating, yelling at your kids, being cranky with
your spouse, or kicking the cat – which may have become your
method for coping.
This is no panacea. It’s not going to work 100 percent of
But it’s a lot more pleasurable than the alternatives. And it
helps you assert control over your life, and your behavior, in
a very powerful and intelligent way.
You Can Do It!
Best Breathing Exercises: Transform Body, Mind and Spirit with
Dynamic Energy Exercise
P.S. Whether you wish to improve your energy levels…enhance
your ability to manage stress…or you’re finally ready to lose
weight and stick with a healthy nutrition and fitness
Your best strategy is to get centered and focused with the
magic of proper breathing. The Best Breathing Exercises programs
can help you do just that. For more information on the program
that could be just right for you, visit the Best Breathing website.
Copyright, Karen Van Ness, 2013