Everyone is talking about resolutions, but it’s hard to think about resolutions when we’re in the middle of messy, and hard, and you want to scream, “somebody please send me a lifeboat!” As the waves of hard come and go, there are a few things I need to make a priority to keep it together. Things that are important for all parents, but specially for those that parent children with disabilities. So I’ve come up with 5 New Year’s Resolutions for special needs moms.
1. Make time for yourself and do something that gives you life
You give, give, give. But you can only give so much, at some point you need to “recharge.” Take a Zumba class, practice yoga, go to a coffee shop and wear headphones so nobody will talk to you so you can read a book without interruptions. Take a photography class. Go out with friends at night when the kids are in bed. Walk the dog, and if you don’t have one your neighbor’s dog (they’ll appreciate it). Take kick boxing or pound. Just do something, for yourself, whatever it is, whatever gives you life and provides an escape, just do it, you need it. YOU NEED IT!
2. Date your spouse
Marriage is hard. Period. Add children and it gets harder, add special needs in the mix and it can get tricky. Some statistics show the divorce rate is higher when there are children with disabilities in the home. You might even be one of those parents whose marriage fell apart. It’s hard, really, really hard. I raise my hand here and say the most strain in my marriage has come from parenting a child with mental health issues, I’ve slammed doors and bawled over discussions with my husband regarding parenting. It breaks me to know that this can happen, so easily. Date your spouse.
Make it a priority to spend time with your spouse. Your spouse is your partner, you need to be on the same team. Go out on dates. If you cannot afford to go out, then make a picnic lunch and go to the park. If it’s too cold, go walk around the mall and play a game, get creative, my husband and I sometimes watch people and we make up their conversations based on their facial expressions and mannerisms, we get a good laugh out of it (which reminds me we should do this more often). When the kids are in bed, light some candles and dance. Talk to each other about your hopes, your dreams. Dream together. Just do something with your spouse, whatever it is, whatever will help keep you connected, don’t allow distance to come between the two of you. DATE YOUR SPOUSE!
3. Get respite
I know, I know, respite is one of the biggest needs for most families. Look for something in your area. There are churches that offer respite programs. There are agencies that have qualified respite providers. If you need to, go to a local college and put in an advertisement for the need. You never know. But try to find respite. I know, it is easier said than done, I know form personal experience how hard it is to find respite, but it is so important! Connect with another special needs family, swap weekends, you watch their kids one Friday night, they watch your kids the next week. Could you approach a school staff aide and ask if you could hire them for respite? Think outside the box, make the need known, you never know who will step up. But make this your resolution, FIND SOMEONE TO DO RESPITE FOR YOU!
4. Embrace your limits
It is okay to say no. It’s okay to cancel a therapy appointment on a day where you are so overwhelmed you need a break. It is okay not to participate in every single activity at school or sporting event. It is okay to limit time spent with people who hurt you or drag you down. EMBRACE YOUR LIMITS!
I have discovered it’s easily to focus on the hard and messy in life, so instead, focus on the good. Determine to end each day counting your blessings, the good moments, the laughs, the unexpected surprises. The stranger who opened the door for you, the Facebook meme that made you laugh so hard you almost peed your pants. Make the good in your life be what you focus on each day. I promise, it will change your outlook in life. FOCUS ON THE GOOD!
You don’t need long lists of resolutions, you don’t need to lose weight and go to the gym and take up a new hobby and “better yourself.” Those things come when everything on the inside, deep down in our hearts, we have peace. And it’s hard to find peace when we are merely surviving rather than living.
Friend, make time for yourself, if you’re married date your spouse, get respite, embrace your limits, and cultivate thankfulness!