Thoughts on things I do to reduce stress and remain sane while raising 5 children with disabilities:
Ø I buy each person in my family their own brand of socks. That way, matching them and giving them to the proper person is easy. Also, if the dryer eats a sock, there is always another one to match the spare.
Ø My children have always had a 9:00 pm bedtime. They don’t need to actually go to bed, but they need to stay in their rooms and read, watch television, chat on their cell phones or whatever. This gives my husband and me a couple of hours of “quiet time” and also calms the children down before they fall asleep.
Ø Every evening, during this time, I try to take a bubble bath. I have a nice, icy glass of Diet Coke, read a magazine, (I have to much going on in my brain to read a book and remember it from night to night,) and wash with strongly scented body wash. The scent really cheers me up! If I feel really decadent, I will light scented candles.
Ø I work. I love my job. I get to talk to adults about current events and it gives me a solid foundation to “carry on” otherwise.
Ø I schedule doctor, dentist and counseling appointments in the late afternoon, evening or on a Saturday so I do not have to take time out of work. There are plenty of doctors, dentists and counselors who have evening and weekend hours.
Ø I find places to take the kids where they can have fun, but that fun is contained. They love the local dog park where they can cuddle and play with neighborhood dogs. We go to a small local beach where they pick shells, catch sand crabs, and sometimes even go in the water. We often go to movies such as “Shrek”, “Ice Age”, “Madagascar” “Up” and so forth. There is plenty of adult humor in these movies and I am generally the one laughing the loudest. We go to a clay studio where the children get to make and paint a piece of clay. (My daughter has done so many wonderful dishes that she will have a whole collection for when she sets up housekeeping!) We regularly visit the neighborhood pool where the children love to swim and the ice rink where they love to skate. These are both great self-contained areas where the children can be as active as they want and I can sit on the sidelines and wave.
Ø I find places to eat where the kids can play and I can visit with a friend. I do not have much extra time for a social life, so meeting friends for dinner is important. We regularly eat at a restaurant that has a pool table and air hockey for the kids to play while I get to sit and chat. Being with friends regenerates my batteries.
Ø As I am often in the emergency room with one or other of my children, I have a “hospital bag” packed, not unlike the bag packed by expectant mothers. In it I have several magazines for myself and my child, several dollars in change for the soda machine, and a deck of playing cards to play with my child during the long waits for treatment. I also bring an extra dose of any medication they are on. Heaven help everyone if his/her Ritalin or Concerta wears off while waiting in the hospital. I learned to do this after several hospital rooms were in danger of being destroyed and my child was placed in restraints because they could not control themselves. (I, too, think the oxygen hoses, the emergency buttons and the many containers of medical supplies are interesting, but I am physically able to refrain from playing with them and throwing them around the examining room! My children not so much…)
Ø I get plenty of sleep. If I don’t get enough sleep I am too crabby to face the day! I am also “low maintenance” in that I dress comfortably not stylishly, I wear minimal make-up, and I have an easy hairstyle. I may not be the most elegant mom around, but I can get ready for anything in ten minutes!
Ø I am a “relaxed housekeeper”, to put it mildly. My house is generally picked up, but heavier housework is not “my thing”. I would much rather be off at the dog park with my children than sitting home washing the floor. I do not think that when I die I will say “Oh, I wish I’d kept a cleaner house.”
O I listen to books on CD in the car. It takes my mind off of things and I can be entertained.
O I eat. Yes, eating is bad for you, but I eat things like Cheerios and string cheese. They keep my mouth and hands busy and satisfies my craving to stuff something in my mouth!
O I do not take things too seriously. Shit happens. Move on.
Ø I write this blog. Writing has always been an interest of mine, and by writing this blog, I am able to take some of life’s daily stressors and bang them out on the poor computer keyboard. Thanks for reading this and giving me an excuse to write!!!!!