I realize that many of you who are special needs parents may think I’m crazy to suggest that you simplify your life and, in fact, I once agreed with you. The paperwork, the phone calls, the management of your child’s staff is all overwhelming. The life of the parent of a child or with special needs is filled with so much “extra” that you often feel like if you drop one thing, the rest will come crashing down.
Well, I’m here to tell you it won’t. I took my cue this week from the parents I know from my community who are raising neuro-typical children. We are very close with this family and the mom is always asking us to pray that she makes it through her schedule. I know they could benefit from slimming down their obligations, and I’m convinced most special needs families can do the same.
How? You’ll never simplify your life if you don’t first sit down and consider your priorities. Realize that if you are too stressed from all the duties and responsibilities, your kids will sense that and you’ll have more behavioral issues to deal with. I’ve noticed that when mom and dad calm down, the children have an easier time calming themselves down and seem to go with the flow.
Here is an example. My daughter was attending speech therapy once a week this summer and doing great, but once school started I needed to change her appointment. I didn’t want her to miss out, so I took the first option, a Thursday evening so she wouldn’t miss ANYTHING. The bus would drop her off from school, and I’d hustle the kids into the car. I was so stressed out about the times that I missed the first two sessions. Clearly this was not working, so I requested a Wednesday afternoon, when school is in session for a half day. She could miss out for weeks or longer while we waited, but I needed the sanity.
It turned out to be the right move as they had a spot a week later. We now have speech on Wednesday at 3PM, and I have plenty of time to get there and back in time for homework and dinner prep. In addition, my daughter now has a shorter day mid-week, rather than a very long Thursday, and all it took was one phone call.
Don’t wait for an exercise in stress to teach you this. While we all want our kids to be exposed to as many things as possible, we have to know when they are overdoing it. If you need to simplify and don’t know where to start, here are some tips:
The name of the game is simplify, whatever that takes. It will vastly improve your life, and the more you can simplify, the more time you’ll have to relax and enjoy your family.