Calm Parenting Secret: “How Do You Do It?”

Posted December 7, 2010 by

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People are always asking me, “How do you do it?” They want to know how I manage to take care of 3 children with mental health issues, work full time, take care of household stuff, etc… My answer, clearly, is that I really don’t know. But I do have one open secret — I take a bubble bath every night. Does that count? I think it does!

As far back as I can remember, I have always taken bubble baths. My mom also took bubble baths. I remember well into my teen years, sitting in the bathroom while she took a bath, and talking about each of our days. When I took my bath I would take a book in with me, or, as a teenager, the phone. I would be in there until the water ran cold and the bubbles were gone!

When my children were toddlers, I’d pop their wiggling, squirming bodies in the bath if they were getting too hyper. It was water therapy! One of my children was popped in the bath several times a day; it was amazing how calming it was for him. He is now a teenager and when he is having a bad day, he will take a shower on his own. It seems to calm all that ails! My 10-year-old step-son will use his shower time as a time to release his anger. We call it “shower tourettes” because he blurts out whatever he is thinking or feeling, says whatever he wants about whomever he is angry at, without retribution. We have not told him we can hear him. It has become a safe way for him to say what he feels. He comes out of the shower much calmer than when he went in!

As for me, I continue to take a bubble bath every night. Typically it is after the children have gone to bed, but I am always amazed when one will ask if I have had my bath yet or am planning one soon so that they do not use up all the hot water. I love to read and obviously I do not have as much leisure time as I would like to indulge, so that is my time to relax and read. Sometimes I will talk on the phone, or listen to a music CD or a book on CD. Sometimes I stay in until the water runs cold and all the bubbles are gone, sometimes I am in less than 10 minutes, but the outcome is always the same. I had “my time.”

My husband always makes sure we never run out of bubble bath, even if it means grabbing Mr. Bubble in a pinch! It is no secret that I do this. And you know what? I think that the more people who know, the better! As a housewarming gift my friend got me a fancy bathtub rack to hold a book and a candle. She told my husband it was a gift for the two of us, because without my bathtime, I would not be able to cope with the everyday stress of our unique family.

What do you do to relax? Please share your ideas here!


I am a mom of two boys, ages 16 and 22, both with ADHD, bipolar disorder, anxiety and depression. I have remarried and my husband has 2 boys, ages 13 and 16. The 13 year old lives with us, and has some behavioral problems and attachment issues. There is always something happening at our house!

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  1. KDC71 (Edit) Report

    Hi Emmy,

    I would love to know how you found out of your sons’ disorders? symptoms etc? and at what age?

    Thanks for the insight!


  2. One Day at a Time (Edit) Report

    WOW ! You sound like an amazing mom! Would love to chat with you sometime for guidance and advice! I am going to try more baths too!
    Thanks for your positive outlook – it is contagious! Keep up the wonderful work you do!

  3. Melody (Edit) Report

    Emmie, You are my HERO! I have two beautifully challenging children diagnosed with bipolar, ADHD, anxiety, and one of them with ODD. I also have a neurotypical preschooler. I look forward to reading more of your posts and getting to know you!

  4. Marty D (Edit) Report

    I loved the post and responses for ideas to relax and re-generate. Its the last thing we parents consider – our own time and re-creation. Guitar playing really works for me most of the time. Parent time is so necessary for appropriate role-modeling too. How many of our children grow up dreading to become parents – especially our boys? It took me while to really want to be a dad.

  5. Emmie (Edit) Report

    MominCanada, Actually everyone asks me about my husband! When we met I was still going through my divorce and shortly after my oldest was hospitalized and diagnosed with bipolar. I made it clear that my kids came first and since my ex was bipolar I was not NOT looking for a relationship. We started out as friends and I kept stating that it was my turn to be selfish and did not want to be bothered with thinking of another person’s feelings, etc..It was that mindset that popped us right into a relationship when we did not even know it. He had worked in a neurological inpatient behavior unit so my kids’ behavior was less than what he’d seen at work. The funny thing was that his parents flipped out! He had gotten out of a bad marriage with an undiagnosed borderline personality and his mom was so worried he’d be saddled with my kids the rest of his life. It turned out that my kids are doing well, got the services they needed and now we have his troubled young son living with us!! His mom actually apologized to me for the things she had said to him and has thanked me for sticking with him through the mess with his ex and his son! Life has a funny way of working out! I just get up every day and hope for the best. I don’t think, I just do.

  6. MominCanada (Edit) Report

    I still don’t know just how you do it, but think instead of showering I should try a bubble bath! I have 2 extremely difficult girls, one with bi-polar and both with depression, and some days I just want to check out and start my life over…
    What I REALLY want to know is: where did you find a husband who accepted your kids? I am still alone because nobody is strong enough or willing to “take on” my teens. How much I wish I had someone to be there and accept us all the way we are. You must be a very special person 🙂 Thanks for the positive outlook!

  7. Laura Rodriguez (Edit) Report

    Thanks so much, Emmie, for sharing this! I love water – although I have not focused on taking baths per se as a relaxation outlet. What is so important here is that you have shown us how vital it is that every parent/person have some daily alone time in which they can really unwind. It ends up benefiting themselves and their loved ones. Kudos to you!

  8. Maria Huhn (Edit) Report

    I listen music. I play and play organ, everything I know. This takes two hours at the end of the day. First it worked well. Now it is not enough as the situation of my young man, 17 years old is becoming worst and worst

  9. Mother On the Go (Edit) Report

    I do Yoga and that helps me calm down in the chaos that is home. I blog and then when I am left with some precious moments, I listen to classical music. Nothing like music to lift the spirit. As far as the children are concerned- “if mom is calm, then they are too”.

  10. Elisabeth Wilkins, EP Editor (Edit) Report

    Emmie, thanks for this post and the reminder for parents to do something for themselves to maintain their sanity. I love how your kids have adopted the same “water therapy” that works so well for you!

    As for me, I try to take a walk every day to decompress, and I also write in a journal. When things get really stressful, I talk to a good friend and have a good laugh (or cry). All these things really keep me sane!
    PS I am taking more baths after reading your post. 🙂



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