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Thursday, March 26, 2015

Keeping it together when the kids are falling apart...

I've been quite the busy Momma these last few months.  Many of you know that when caring for your kids, life can get busy.  It certainly has been the case for me.  I'm a single mom of 4 kids and all 4 kids have weekly appointments with various therapies included, aside from lessons, church and school activities thrown in for good measure.

(I wish I was this organized! Some great ideas!)

Joshua, my son with autism, has speech therapy Mondays, Behavioral Therapy, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday after school at the Center and Wednesday at our home as well as at Church Wednesday evening.  He also has Occupational Therapy on Wednesday mornings and swimming lessons Saturday afternoon.  I'm fortunate to have a personal care worker for him, thanks to the Department of Developmental Discibiliaties 20 hours a week, which has been so invaluable.  I spend a lot of time after school in the car, which can really make keeping up with things at home and making meals, challenging.

An area of interest to many parents is, "How do I not only balance it all, but stay sane in the process?  It's so easy when focusing on your kids, especially when they have special needs, to forget or neglect yourself.  It can get overwhelming fast and so easy to make allowances that you don't normally do and would later regret, all in the name of seeking immediate relief from the chaos.  I have learned that when I am well rested and There are many days I burn the candle at both ends and stay up much later than I should.  I am learning the necessity of developing good self care habits and above all, keeping it simple because we all know life is too complicated enough and that K.I.S.S (Keep it Simple Sweetie) method works for a reason.

I once heard it described that to help balance things out in life, we really need to focus on what's going on in our "Play, Work and Worship" areas of our lives.  It also helps to have someone available who speaks truth in an encouraging way, while also holding you accountable so as to encourage growth.

Some vital things to keep in mind to find balance and encourage sanity:
  • Cherish having a good attitude and sense of humor.
  • When the kids are melting down around you, it helps so much to have something you can focus on to keep you calm so you can RESPOND and NOT REACT.  You may need to take some deep breathes and model what to do for your kids.  Now they don't need to know you are meditating on how good that glass of wine is going to taste later after things have settled down, especially pared with that piece of organic dark chocolate (which is, of course, good for you!).
  • Be patient with yourself just as much as others...change takes time and celebrate the changes, no matter how small they may be.
  • Get good reast
  • Eat healthy.
  • Continue to reach out to friends for support and perspective (It's easy to loose track as to what is "normal".)
  • Exercise and if at the least, do something physical with your kids.
  • See what you can cut out to make life as simple as possible.
  • Develop your own interests even if it's for a few minutes a day.
  • Don't forget to spend time in prayer.  Steal away for 15 minutes, at least, to get your spirit filled up and rest in the truth of how loved you are by God.  Reflect on the love you have for your children and then focus on how God loves you no less.
  • Be willing to be humble.  It's okay to say you need help.  There is a time to minister and a time to be ministered to and, believe it or not, it blesses others to help.  They just need to know how they can help in big or small ways.
  • Set boundaries for yourself.  
Remember that when your child is having a problem, as much as you'd like to fix it (or at the least, to simply have a return to some peace and tranquility), it's THEIR problem.  It's not a reflection on you. You can do what you can within your limits to provide what they need and help them solve their problem, but with kids with special needs, it will take longer for them to figure it out.  They WILL learn but you need to be patient with the process.  Their developmental stages are simply going to take longer than your average kid.  It's process not product...well, eventually, it will be product but don't compromise on helping them learn the "right way" rather than having to try to replace bad habbits if you happen to compromise your standards...just that one time.  Trust me, you will want to take the extra time for kids to learn how to do a task, whether it's tying their shoes, sipping from a cup, riding their bike or how to calm down when they are upset.  

A foster family I once worked with had a code word between the two parents which was "Israel!"  In so much as "Israel doesn't negotiate with terrorists and neither do we."  Our children can act like little terrorists sometimes, insisting on their own way.  Investing in teaching them social skills or what have you, is an investment in your peace of mind and their future happiness.

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