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10 Tips for Parenting With Bipolar Disorder

Having a mental illness is never easy. Add in being a parent and things can get… chaotic. This is my truth and the truth for many people around the world. So, how do we manage our symptoms while still being present for our children? While I cannot offer a magical answer, the tips below will help.

1. Keep your doctor’s appointments.

This should go without saying but sometimes it is hard to just do it. Staying on top of your changes in mood is key. Medication isn’t a sure thing and sometimes needs to be adjusted as well.

2. Get up and get moving.

Waking at a set time and starting the day off with some stretching or exercise will get your blood moving.

3. Stick to a schedule.

Make a set schedule and stick to it. Wake up and go to sleep at the same time. This lets you know what and when to expect things to happen.

4. Take a shower.

Washing off the day and negative energy will help keep you going. Sometimes the shower gives you a chance to reflect on what’s going well and to let go of anything you need to.

5. Have a backup.

Choose a trustworthy friend or family member who can step in if needed so you can focus on taking care of you.

6. Let go of perfection.

Your children don’t want a perfect parent. They want a parent who will be there, listen, play and show up. Our kids already think the world of us.

7. Show up

There will be times when it is so hard to do, but show up to that recital, play, game or whatever. Even if you have to drag yourself out of bed to do so. Of course, there will be times when this is not possible. Go to as much as you can. If you cannot go, make sure to engage them in conversation about it later.

8. Take your meds.

Take them. All of them. Set a reminder on your phone and make a habit of taking them at the same time daily. Medication is part of staying stable. It is necessary no matter what but especially when you have kids.

9. Go to therapy or counseling.

Having someone to talk to can make a world of difference. A therapist gives you the opportunity to see your life through someone else’s eyes. They can offer suggestions on ways to keep home life smooth while making sure you are taken care of.

10. Take a breath.

Take time for yourself. After the kids go to bed or before they get up, take time just for you every day. If you need more time, call in your backup or a babysitter. It is not selfish to take care of you. It is essential.

Remember you need to be able to function, not be the perfect parent. Making sure you are able to get up, be present and be a part of your child’s life is key. In order to do that, you must take care of yourself. I know it’s not easy. I have been there. I have exhausted myself just getting out of bed to watch my toddler play on the floor. Some days will be great. Others not so much. What is important is that you are trying.

Photo by Jonathan Borba on Unsplash

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