PAP 078:

Creating a Success Plan for a New Year

At the start of a new year, we usually set new goals and treat it as an opportunity for a fresh start. While I never make New Year’s Resolutions, it is a natural time to start anew. I use the opportunity to reflect and determine what I want to focus on in the coming year — how I want to go forward with intention and purpose. And that’s what I’m outlining for you in this episode of the Parenting ADHD Podcast: how to create a success plan for yourself and your parenting for the new year.  There are three main elements to setting a foundation for success: (1) accepting and understanding that behavior is communication; (2) getting your mind right for raising a kid with ADHD, autism and/or other challenges; and (3) adopting a self-care regimen, including effective stress management. Listen in to learn more about each of these pillars of your success plan and how to create them for yourself and your family.

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Penny Williams: Do you struggle with thinking about a new year with positivity and optimism? Are you just wondering if it's going to be the same old hard drag? Let me tell you, there are some foundational qualities to creating a successful new year to using this opportunity of a clean slate to work to your advantage and to your kids and your family's advantage and this episode I'm talking all about how to create your own tailored success plan for the year. No new year's resolutions. Here we're talking about behavior mindset and our health and wellness and how that affects our kids and our families and the success and joy of everyone around us.

Penny Williams: Hello my tribe. I am excited to have you back here on the parenting ADHD podcast. It's a new one or it's 2020 and today I want to talk to you about creating a success plan for a new year. And when I talk about this sort of thing I'm always talking about in relation to having this special Parenthood right in relation to raising kids with special needs, having a more stressful Parenthood, what are the things that are really helpful and beneficial to us to set ourselves up to have a good year? Of course there's going to be ups and downs.

Penny Williams: I want to start with that first guys cause really there's going to be ups and downs. It is the nature of raising a kid with ADHD or autism or learning disabilities. It ebbs and flows. There's a cycle. Some days are great, some days are horrible and a lot of days somewhere in between. So you have to keep that in mind. You know, don't ever beat yourself up because your child had a great day yesterday and now they can't. They just can't succeed in the same way today has nothing to do with your parenting or you know, any of these things. We just have the times we all do. We have days when things are easier or harder for any of us. And the same is true for our kids. I think it just gets magnified sometimes. So let's talk first about the foundations for success. There are a few things that I have learned over the last 11 plus years of raising my son who has ADHD, autism, dysgraphia, executive functioning delays, gifted IQ.

Penny Williams: He's a whole alphabet soup of course. And I've learned some things over time and, even in the last couple of years, I feel like I learned the real things that are going to help with raising this kid successfully and with parenting successfully. And I mean keeping my sanity most of the time. And not really struggling with a lot of stress and physical health issues that come from stress and those sort of things. So let's start with the first foundation, which is behavior is communication. Behavior is communication guys. It is, it is not a character flaw. It has not a personality identity. It is communication. This is what Ross Greene teaches us in raising human beings and the explosive child. This is what a lot of other people teach us. This is what I teach parents. All of the behavior has some sort of message in it for you because there's always a reason why things happen, right?

Penny Williams: And you can go back and listen to the behaviors, communication episode of this podcast. I think it was all the way back in episode three. And I'll link it up for you in the show notes, but you have to use that as your lens for parenting your child. And I really honestly think that this is the way we should be parenting every kid. Neuro-Typical neurodiverse every kid we should be raising individuals and looking at what are they really telling us that they need. They're always telling us or showing us that they need something and what that might be. And it's not always really blatant. They can certainly be giving you clues. You know, if your nine year old is on the floor screaming bloody murder because he can't have the fruit loops that he wants at the grocery store, then you know there must be an issue, right?

Penny Williams: Because it's not neuro-typical nine year old behavior to be screaming on the floor when a child doesn't get what they want. It just isn't. And so instead of looking at that kind of surface, what does that look like on the surface? Well, it looks like a spoiled brat, a disrespectful child, a child who's trying to embarrass you, trying to humiliate you. Right? It looks like all of those things on the surface. But you and I both know that it's more than that. Our nine year old is on the floor having a meltdown in the grocery store because our nine year old doesn't have nine year old skills to manage frustration, to manage not getting what they expected or what they were envisioning. So many different lagging skills. And different issues can go into that. But to keep the example really simple, they need something from us.

Penny Williams: When your child is in the floor screaming and it's not age appropriate behavior, what are they trying to tell you? They're trying to tell you that they can't handle it, that they need your help. And again, I've used this quote on this podcast I think a million times already in two or three years, but it is so crucial and it's what I personally use constantly as my own barometer. And the quote is, your child isn't giving you a hard time. Your child is having a hard time. Again, your child is not giving you a hard time. Your child's having a hard time. And when you look at it through that lens, now all of a sudden you see it more clearly, right? You understand at least why this might be happening. And it helps you to better focus on the fact that your child is the one struggling.

Penny Williams: It isn't actually you. It feels like it's you, right? When you're the parent in the grocery store and your kids on the floor screaming. And you know they're above age three it feels like it's you as the parent, but it is not your child is the one that is struggling and when we parent from that foundational place, everything else gets a little bit easier because now you're understanding all of it and you're seeing that it's not your child's intention to harm you, to disrespect you, to be rude to you. You know, we use this language so often to characterize and identify behavior, but when we do that, we're cutting off that opportunity to see why this behavior is happening and then to address it so that we can improve it or keep it from happening. At some point we're just cutting it off. If I say, Oh, my son is just being totally disrespectful, he needs to go in his room and be away from me until he can talk to me more kindly and show me some respect.

Penny Williams: I'm his mother. That's really easy to say when your kid is being ugly tier right, really easy, but it's not helpful because now you have sent your child away and you've ended the conversation before it started. You completely burn the bridge and cut off your opportunity to find out why the behavior is happening and what you can do to help your child. Because when you help your child, you're helping yourself, you're helping the whole family, you're helping your parenting experience. But you know, so often we focus on, Oh, I'm helping my child for my child and you are, but it helps everyone around them too because we are all sponges and we all absorb the energy and the mood around us. So it's very important for us to be in the right place with our own mindset and mood, which we're going to talk about more in just a minute.

Penny Williams: So behavior is communication. If you focus on nothing else for the following year, focus on that. I promise it makes huge changes. Read Ross Greene's books, they are so phenomenal. There are other books out there too that talk about figuring out why, you know, listening to our kids, asking the question so that we even have the opportunity to listen to our kids. It is so valuable. Again, this paradigm that we've been taught is the expectation this crime. And punishment. Authoritarian Parenthood is not right for any kid, but it's especially not right for our kids. While you can punish a neurotypical kid, you know, make them fear what might come if they disobey you or make them fear ever doing that thing again, it's not healthy, but for most kids it works, it's not going to work for our kids because there's something underneath that is guiding that behavior. So, so important.

Penny Williams: I just can't stress it enough to you guys. This is really the piece that you must put in place always and I challenge you if you haven't yet, now is the time. Nothing is better than kind of this fresh start that we all feel like we get at the beginning of a new year. So if you haven't been able to really lean on the fact that behavior is communication, if you haven't yet been able to step back and stop taking the behavior personally, this is your fresh slate. This is your time. Please. I beg of you, put it to use. I'm telling you, it's life changing, life changing. I've seen it for myself and for many other families that I've worked with. Secondly, in your foundation for success for your new year, your parenting mindset is everything. And this is the thing that has come to me most recently.

Penny Williams: I got to a place where I was just so tired of being sad and defeated and hopeless and all of these emotions. And it's so easy to get bogged down in when you're raising a special needs child, when maybe your family finances aren't great. There's layoffs or difficulty finding a job. All the things that we go through in life, right? These ups and downs that are really part of life are really created by our thoughts and the way that we think about the world and the way that we think about our own future. And this is really valuable. And for such a long time I thought, well, happy people are just happy people. Like those people I see around me that are always positive and happy. They must've been born that way or they must be really well off. They don't have to worry about money and stuff.

Penny Williams: They don't have the same sort of challenges that I have. So you know, they were blessed with a happy life and I wasn't. That's how I felt until two or three years ago. And I was just so tired of it. And I started looking for, you know, what are the characteristics of happy people? How are we happy, how do we create a happy life for ourselves? And I realized that all of that negative thinking was a self fulfilling prophecy. As long as I thought ADHD was the end of the world, as long as I thought my son could not succeed in school, which meant he couldn't succeed in life, that's what was going to happen. Our thoughts control what happens in, in some ways I will quantify cause I hear some of your head's exploding. Of course we didn't all think about having a kid with ADHD and wham bam, we had one, right?

Penny Williams: We don't control everything like that, but we control the direction of the ship. We're going through the captain of our own ship. And while sometimes there's storms that come along and things that we can't control, we are in control of the direction and the mood of that ship. That's super crucial to having a successful year. Knowing that changing your thoughts about ADHD, about your child, about other things in your life are going to bring about a more positive life experience and when we have a more positive life experience, our kids naturally got a more positive life experience. I've talked about this before too. This example where we have negative people in our lives, you know we are always told if you have someone toxic in your life, the negative Nelly, the sour Sam, you know we need to break ties with them because they are weighing us down.

Penny Williams: If you think about being mom or dad and your household and always being so weighed down by ADHD, school struggles, finances, whatever it is, many things probably you are that negative Nelly running around your house and so how does everyone else in the family feel around you? Think about that. How do you feel when you're around different people that have a different temperament, a different outlook? A different mood. It changes the way you feel. Right? And that's what we want for our kids guys. That's what we want for them to feel better, to know that there's hope for them to be optimistic that they will have a successful happy adult life, whatever that looks like for them. So a positive parent mindset is

Penny Williams: Open, creative, positive, hopeful, grateful, empathetic and understanding. Open, creative, positive, hopeful,

Penny Williams: Grateful, empathetic and understanding. When we are guided by those characteristics, we are going to do monumentally better for our kids, monumentally better. Folks, I promise you, when you work on being open minded, being creative about the way that your child grows up, the way that they get through school, what after high school might look for them, what adult life might look like for them. When you're open and creative, you've already shifted to the positive. You've already put aside those assumptions and sociological expectations and now you can really parent the individual child that you have. There are studies that show that when we practice gratitude, we are automatically going to feel better if we have a daily gratitude practice. Even if that's for 30 seconds each night when you lay your head on the pillow, you say, I am grateful for [blank]. That's all you have to do.

Penny Williams: As long as you're doing it every day, as long as you are noticing the things around you that you're grateful for, the things around you, that they are happier part of your life, that bring you some sort of joy or positivity or happiness. The more we focus on those, the more we have a positive outlook, the more hopeful we are for our kids and for our selves. And lastly, empathy and understanding and validation of feelings too. I will say these are so crucial for our kids. So crucial when we show that we feel for what they're feeling, when we show that we acknowledge what they're feeling, it changes the dynamic. It completely shifts any interaction we have when we are empathetic, when we ask, how can I help you? I see that you're so frustrated right now, you're really having a hard time with it and I'm so sorry.

Penny Williams: How can I help you? That is a much more different outcome than getting upset with your child for lashing out, right? You all see that, right? You can imagine those two scenarios in your head and you can hear the difference. This is all our mindset. It is the way that we look at ADHD, the way we look at our child, the way we look at their place in the world, the way we look at what defines their success and happiness. When all of that shifts, we're suddenly in a much, much better place to be able to work from, to be able to help them achieve and be happy and have some joy in their lives. So that's the second piece of creating a successful plan. Oh, that's a big word. Sometimes a successful plan for a new year, one behaviors, communication to your parent mindset is everything.

Penny Williams: And finally, number three, self care and stress management. And don't tell me that self care is not important because I can prove to you that it is right. I can prove to you that your self care affects everyone around you. We have this whole societal expectation that when you're a mom, you don't matter anymore. If you do anything for yourself, you're selfish and you must feel guilty and shameful and that is so stupid. It's just stupid. First of all, every human being matters, right? We are a human being who didn't give up our bodies and lives for this new being, right? It feels like it many times, but that is not the point. The point is that we also deserve happiness. We also deserve to feel fulfilled and accomplished and when we give every single minuscule ounce of ourselves to everyone else, we can't feel that.

Penny Williams: We can't. We can't celebrate ourselves. We can't feel happy about the person that we are. We can't even find that person that we are anymore and that is tragic because one, we're modeling that for our kids. They shouldn't take care of themselves when they're a parent. And two, it's just an awful way to live. It's not living. It's not living. When you give your entire being to your family and to your children, there's a better way and this better way is actually better for your children. When you take care of yourself, you are able to do better for your children. There are dozens of analogies for this at this point. The oxygen mask on the airplane is one, you're supposed to put it on yourself first before you put it on your kids or anybody else because then you have sustenance to keep going and you're helping.

Penny Williams: Whereas if you help a few other people, you might get three and then you're done. You didn't get your oxygen. If you have your oxygen on, you could just keep going. You can keep helping because you have what you need to be able to keep going and keep doing. For others, that is a big deal. You know, you can't pour from an empty cup is another analogy. If you don't have anything in your reservoir, what are you giving to others? There's nothing to give them because you have nothing within yourself. If you're drained, if you're overwrought and you're just not able to, you know, keep going almost. If you're just struggling to keep going, what are you giving to your children and your family? Nothing. There's nothing to give other than doom and gloom and pitifulness at that point. So you're, so if care is super important for everyone else, I know we need to like make up a new word for it and quit calling it self care and call it family care or something.

Penny Williams: When mom takes care of herself, it's family care, then we wouldn't feel so bad about it. But there are so many ways to get self care and I want to really be clear with you here that we don't have to have a spa day or a weekend away with our friends for self care. In fact, that's not even a self care I'm talking about. I'm talking about your general health and wellness and wellbeing. We're talking about your physical health and wellness, your cognitive and emotional mental wellness and your spiritual wellness and all of these things have to play together in order for you to feel good in order for you to have something in your cup to share with others, in order for you to do the best for your child. And some of this stuff is super important, guys, like stress. Let's talk about stress for a minute.

Penny Williams: Stress causes headaches, high blood pressure, heart attacks, adrenal function issues, autoimmune disorders, thyroid issues. I could go on, there's many more things, but those are top of mind and some of the most serious, our Parenthood is all runny at least doubly as stressful as someone raising a neurotypical child and that neuro-typical Parenthood is stressful. So we are really battling a huge stress load, a huge, huge stress load. And if we don't manage it, it will take us over. It's no secret that I have fibromyalgia. I was diagnosed about seven years ago. I believe I was having problems for five years before that. So about the time my son was in first or second grade, I started having a lot of pain issues. And what turned out to be fibromyalgia. Stress is known to flare fibromyalgia. So, you know, could it be that I didn't manage my stress well enough?

Penny Williams: I certainly didn't have my mind right back then. I certainly was all about ADHD and struggle all the time and it really could have, you know, I really truly believe it could at least be a big piece of developing fibromyalgia if not the majority of why that happened. High blood pressure. Recently a year ago I struggled with high blood pressure. I was so stressed out and I had to sit back and say, okay, what is going on with me and how do I manage it better because I want to be around for my kids. I want to be around for a long time. I want to see them as grownups. I want to see them, hopefully have their own families. I want to enjoy them for a long, long time. And if I'm not taking care of my body and my physical health and wellbeing, I'm not going to be.

Penny Williams: And you know, my husband and I both have chronic pain conditions. So by the time our kids were in middle school, we were really struggling to do things with them. Maybe we spend a lot of time at home recuperating from the stuff that we have to do. It has changed their childhood. It has caused some differences for them from, you know, the quote normal childhood. And that's hard. That's hard as a parent to accept. But it's also just proof that our physical health and wellbeing and our stress management is very, very important. And you know, doctors used to say, and we all the time when they couldn't figure out where the pain was coming from and you know, all the tests were normal but I was still struggling. You need to manage your stress and that's all well they would say you need to manage your stress.

Penny Williams: And I'm thinking, well I can't give away my kids. I don't really want to. I have to work. I don't have a ton of money to just like have people do everything for me. So how am I going to manage my stress? Like I never felt like that was an answer. And what I've realized in the last few years is that they were telling me that I had to deal with it better and I had to let go of some things. That's how we manage our stress. It's not about getting rid of stressful things in our lives because we all have stressful things in our lives and we always will. That's just the nature of being a human being. And so it's not about getting rid of some stressful things now. Yes, if you have this job that is insanely stressful and you don't even get any joy out of it and you can do something else, you know, make the change of course.

Penny Williams: But what I was looking at was things I couldn't change. And so I always felt like their advice was just silly. How can I manage my stress? I couldn't get rid of my kids. I couldn't get rich. What was going to happen, you know? And it took me so many years to figure out that it was about me and how I dealt with my stress and what I accepted as a stressful situation. And what I let go of that was everything. That is what they were talking about. And I'll tell you it works because the better I get at that, the more I have let go, the more I let things be what they are, the less pain I am in and I had a lot of flares of fibro early on. Every little stressful thing. I was in pain all over. I have many, many fewer flares now and it's because I've learned to really let go.

Penny Williams: So many things to let go of y'all. So many things like grades. That's the easy example. Again, I'm going to loop back to it. Grades are not everything. Grades don't identify someone who's going to be successful in life are not successful. They just don't. It's not everything. Those are the kinds of things we just have to let go of. Our kid isn't the most popular kid at school. Okay. They can still be happy. It's okay. You might've been the most popular kid and maybe that was wonderful for you. Your kid doesn't have to be, your kid doesn't have to be a social butterfly to feel connection and happiness. They just don't. These are the things we can let go of. Your kid got an F on the math test last week. Big whoop. I want you just one day when your kid has a terrible grade, I want you to literally say out loud to yourself, okay, big whoop, what the hell?

Penny Williams: Who cares? It's freeing y'all. It's so freeing. And it's so helpful again to managing your stress. Then we talk about, so physical health and wellbeing, your diet, what you're eating, are you eating crap? It's so easy to eat crap. My family loves junk food and crap and I hate cooking. So it's doubly easy for us to just eat garbage. But what I've been doing is focusing on my own health. And if I can't change the teenagers and the grownups in the house, then maybe I can affect myself and maybe, you know, they'll see that it helps. And so I have been eating low-carb and doing the Keto diet sort of. I'm not really great at that one yet, but you know, and, and I see changes, but I also feel, I feel so much better when I put real food in my body. When I get some exercise, you know, I work from home.

Penny Williams: I am not a very active person and that's not a good thing. Got a little indoor rowing machine because I like to go kayaking and I thought, okay, this could be a full body workout in the house and get me moving. And it has, you know, just finding these little ways we need to stop giving ourselves these really high expectations and we just need to take baby steps. Eating a little bit better sometimes making better food decisions, making better exercise decisions. Even if you just walk around the block once a day in your neighborhood once every other day in your neighborhood, that's so much better than not. Right? And that's what you need to do. Just start with baby steps. Quit with the goals. You know, I want to lose weight, I want to lose 50 pounds. I want to, you know, get where I can see my abs again.

Penny Williams: Like that's so pie in the sky. Let's just work on what we can do today and tomorrow. What feels doable? What feels achievable? Start there. It's the same thing we do for our kids. Let's do it for ourselves. Cognitive, emotional, mental wellness. This is all about taking time for yourself and reducing your stress. And when I say taking time for yourself, again, I'm don't mean a spa day, I mean five minutes sitting on the bathroom floor and breathing when you went in there to use the restroom, if that's all you can get in your day, take it because the point is that you're breathing. The point is that you're being mindful and aware for a few minutes. You're recentering, you're calming down. That's the kind of thing that helps you manage your stress and to remain calm with your kids and to really feel good day to day when the hard things come, they're a little bit easier to get through.

Penny Williams: When we've really worked on remaining calm, when we've really worked on managing what we stress about and what we let go of, then those hard things become easier to get through. Lastly is your spiritual wellness. And I don't mean religion necessarily, if that is a big piece of your life, by all means, you know, make it as much a part of your day or your week or your month as you can, whatever works for you. What I really mean by spiritual wellness is doing things that light your soul on fire. What just makes you feel that warm, fuzzy inside? For me, I love to go kayaking. I live in Asheville, North Carolina. We have rivers and mountains and I don't go whitewater or anything crazy. I just like the, you know, a little bit choppy, pretty settled. The rowing, that rhythm just feels so calming to me.

Penny Williams: And being out on the water and you know, the sounds of nature and the water rushing is, is really where I find my Zen, which is kind of crazy. Most people would not expect that from me. Something active in sportsman Lake. But that's just the thing that rowing rhythm is so, so helpful for me personally. What is it for you? Think about the times when you've really felt that warm, fuzzy? Think about the times when you really felt fulfilled. Maybe it's doing volunteer work, maybe it's crafting, maybe it's scrapbooking, maybe it's singing or making music or joining a choir. There's just so many things in the world that we can do and there are different things that light the fire for different folks. What is it for you? Figure that out and make time for it. We really need to get to that place of fulfillment.

Penny Williams: So many of us are just living. We're just existing. We're not even living. We are just existing. What does it take to go from existing to living awareness, mindfulness of what you're doing, going forward with intention and purpose, whether that's in your parenting or in your own personal life, in your work life, in your family life. When we stop and we take a break to really think and then go forward with intention and purpose, it makes all the difference in the world, all the difference in the world. I created a worksheet for you to help you make a realistic and actionable plan for your new year. Yes. It's not January one hello. I have kids and kids with special needs, so there you go. You know to get it out in January to you at all is probably fantastic, but it's just a 2020 annual goal worksheet and it's not about resolutions.

Penny Williams: I hate new year's resolutions. I feel like I'm just setting myself up for failure. I always give myself these crazy goals and then you know, two weeks and I'm done with it and I feel like a failure for the rest of the year so I don't do that. I love this worksheet. I got this from another website which I will link in the show notes, but I've changed it so that it also has a little bit of work for you. Just like two or three questions to help you to make an actionable plan going forward because we can make all the plans in the world if we don't implement them, they're useless. That's a big piece of this worksheet and what it does for you as you choose a word of the year for you. Instead of making a goal to lose 50 pounds, you're just going to pick a word of the year that you want your year to be all about. Mine for this year is fearless.

Penny Williams: I want to stop questioning myself. I want to stop letting weird, odd things. You people around me hold me back. I want to just go for things. I want to go for it. I want to move. I want to travel. I want to see what's going to happen with my son. In a year. He's going to be done with school. At the end of 2020 he will be ready to graduate from high school. That's a whole nother thing. Now we're looking at, okay, what's he gonna do next? Where do we need to be physically? Where do we need to live for that? You know, we're just looking at having an adventure after we've been kind of tied down and tied to one place for so long and a family adventure, not just my husband and I run off and saying, okay, you guys are over 18 now.

Penny Williams: Too bad. We'll see ya. It's, you know, just this whole togetherness of helping our kids to grow and find their success and their joy. And I'm really excited about that. And I think, you know, I've got to start practicing this fearless attitude because I have never really had that attitude. So you know, you can go to the show notes, it's at parenting, ADHD and autism.com/zero seven eight for episode 78 and you can download that worksheet. Make, I mean I only spend like 15 minutes on it each year guys. It doesn't take much time, but it's so good at really focusing your mindset. What am I focused on this year? What am I going to do? How am I going to achieve it? What's important to me and what's not so important to me? These are great questions for parents like us to really get our minds right for being the parent our kids need for the coming year. So with that, this ends the episode and I will see everyone next time. Would love for you to stop by the show notes and leave a comment about what your word of the year is. And what you're planning for 2020 for your family and your life. I'll see you again next time.

Penny Williams: Thanks for joining me on the parenting ADHD podcast. If you enjoyed this episode, please subscribe and share and don't forget to check out my online courses, parent coaching and mama retreats at parentingADHDandautism.com

This episode sponsored by WILD FOODS CO Visit http://wildfoods.co?aff=355 to shop their products.

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