A Full YearMay 5, 2016
A Full Year and CountingJune 3, 2016
- This a marathon, not a race. Slow down and know that all those phone calls and letters can wait until tomorrow. He won’t know that you refrained, just barely, from calling his school Principal an idiot or that you successfully had his suspension rescinded.
- Get more sleep. It’s tempting to stay up after he is asleep to have some “me time” but in order to work with others you need to be rational and well rested.
- Put down the mop and just spend time with him. Teach him how to bake and let him eat the batter. Play board games over and over. Go to the park. He will remember the wind on his face as you pushed him higher and higher on the swings. If he remembers anything it will be these moments of closeness. It’s these small moments that will carry you through the hard times.
- Get a Babysitter. He is a handful but you have a couple of people willing to be with him. Lean on them. Hire them once a week to give you time alone with your husband. You will grow apart as your son’s needs overwhelm you and it gets worse every year. Don’t let it happen.
- Let your husband help you. Tell him you need him. Open up about how overwhelmed you are feeling. Talk to him about taking over some of the responsibilities with your son. Don’t just use him as the enforcer at school meetings – have him do some of the follow up to the letters you write and the phone calls you make. He is kind and capable. Let him help.
- Try not to Ugly Cry in front of service providers. Tearing up is ok, deep heart wrenching sobs are not. Maintain your composure but be genuine. People will respond favorably when you show them what it feels like to be in your shoes. Certain people will thank you for giving them a glimpse of what your life with this spirited boy is like.
- Write about everything – what has happened, who said what, how you feel. Writing is your outlet and even when it is very raw you are thankful for having written it. Don’t stop or let being overwhelmed stop you. Writing is the key to processing for you and thus is necessary in order to move on.
- Take care of yourself. Take time away from the family, get a pedicure, get your haircut. Be kind to yourself. Do basic things for yourself like going to the dentist and your family doctor.
- When depression creeps in be sure to talk to your family doctor early on. Maybe if you treat the depression early on you can avoid some hospital stays. Go to therapy and stay in therapy, even when things get tough stick it out.
- Love yourself! You are a dedicated advocate for your children but don’t just define yourself by your advocacy skills. You are so much more than that . . . You are a mother, a wife, a friend, a writer and so on. You are amazing.
Tina Szymczak is a 40-something mom and wife with two spirited boys. She has worked in early intervention and as an advocate resource for families with a loved one with a disability. Now she also writes a blog about raising children with complex needs, trying not to lose your sense of self as you parent, and her struggles with mental health.