I wake up every day and attack it like a superhero. I get out of bed, regardless of how I feel, and I go about my morning routine determined to make it a great day. Now, most days, all does not go according to plan. In my life, with my family, you have to have the ability to be flexible, adjust, and sometimes just go with the flow. Sounds easy right? Not even close. It would be amazing IF; there was no where in particular we had to be, no appointments scheduled at specific times, and I didn’t have commitments or outside responsibilities. But I do.
If you were to look at my calendar right now, you would think that I am absolutely crazy. Or that I am limitless. While some people have no idea what they are doing later today, or where they will be tomorrow after work, I already know where I need to be on May 7th at 2:00… in 2020! And it’s not because of my job. Now, to a lot of people that may be overwhelming and I’m not going to lie, it is to me too. Sometimes I think about all the things that I need to do and accomplish, I feel defeated before I even get started. However, after wearing myself out too many times and feeling more than once that I just can’t do it anymore, I figured it out. Like everything else in life… it’s about balance.
The truth is, we are not limitless. As a special needs parent, I know that it takes extra effort, patience, and determination to make things work. I see so many people going through hardships, schedules, and treatments that I can’t even comprehend. Yet they are doing it. Still, there is only so much any one person can take; mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. We all have a breaking point. Now some may come to theirs much more quickly than others, and some will keep pushing until they drop. Either way, you arrive and your end. Everybody knows that is not a good place to be. If you have ever let yourself get to this point then you know the recovery is not easy… and not everybody makes it.
So how do you take on the world without losing yourself in the process?
- Schedule – Have a schedule for yourself and places that you need to be where you can see it regularly. This will help keep things top of mind so you don’t forget an important appointment or a meeting that you need to attend. I like to review my schedule for the week on Sunday to ensure I have everything in place to make it work. I also review it with my family so that everyone is involved and is aware of what they need to do.
- Be flexible – Yes, the schedule is important, but it doesn’t have to be written in stone. If you are feeling overwhelmed or like you are close to running on empty, cancel something. Reschedule if it is really important, but if you can just not do it this one time… don’t.
- Give yourself a break – Don’t beat yourself up if everything doesn’t go as planned. Because I can assure you, it won’t. Not always. Now if you are having an epic fail every week? Reevaluate what you are trying to accomplish. Maybe you need to get rid of something on your plate, or maybe just rearranging your schedule a bit will fix the problem.
- Ask for help – You are probably in control of the family’s where abouts and have to get everyone to where they are supposed to be, but it can be too much. Reach out to your spouse, a family member, or a friend that may have a child going to the same activity. Just one less trip may change the whole days timing. It also puts you in the perfect spot to return the favor another time when they can use some help too.
- Say NO – I think this is the one that gets us the most. We feel guilty for not wanting to participate when asked, but it is okay to say no. If your time is already streched thin, don’t add to it. If you want to help out at the school, for example, volunteer once a month instead of every week. There is always stuff to be done and the help will be appreciated whenever you have the time to do it. Trust me, it’s better than wearing yourself out because you think you have to be the one there every day to do the laminating! It will get done regardless.
- Schedule time for yourself – This is very important! You need time to take care of yourself physically and mentally. I personally like to take “Me Mondays”. It rarely works out every week, which would be ideal, but if I get 2 a month I consider that a win! I go to the chiropractor in the morning, then… sometimes I go for a walk, read a book, take a bubble bath, watch a movie, go out to lunch, or take a nap. Whatever you need to do to feel rejuvinated. This is your time. I highly recommend that you do not use this time to grocery shop, house clean, or do yard work, unless those things help you find your zen, save it for another day.
- Scedule time with your spouse – This is crucial. We get lost in the day to day grind and this relationship seems to be the one we skim over the most. Which is so crazy because our partner is the most important person on this journey with us. Do not take them for granted. Share your successes and stresses with them. It lightens the load for you, and I guarantee they want to be involved, especially if they don’t get to be present for events as much as you do! They also need you, your time and attention, make sure that you have something left to give.
We can all be super heros for our families, and without losing our minds to do it. Whatever you have going on in your life, I hope this helps you in some way. I believe the key is to remember that sometimes we may feel like we have this volunteer – soccer – working – therapy – pta – baseball – gymnastics – coach – driver – play date – teacher – house keeper – chef – fun mom role on lock down, and other times we don’t. Nobody is perfect and we were never meant to be. If you are present, making an effort and contributing, you are doing an amazing job. Keep it up!