Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Autism Mom – Finding A Balance

As parents who work to facilitate learning/therapies for our kids who live with autism, we tend to put ourselves last.  I am no exception to this, and I fight the struggle of achieving a balance of priorities in my life regularly.  After all, getting through the day in our sort of household is about prioritizing, right?  I have come to realize over the years that what it really takes for me to feel happy is to have a state of balance in my life. 

When you are a family that is at the beginning of your autism journey, right after you receive the autism diagnosis, you basically just go on “survival mode.”  You do what you can as you prioritize the needs of your child.  As time passes and you sort of get into the swing of things: managing the household while facilitating schooling, therapies and appointments, you realize that hey, if I don’t take a time out to take care of myself, I will eventually get sick or simply burn out of doing the daily grind.   The problem is that we don’t have time to get sick and burn out, but our immune system is at higher risk when we are stressed.  More often than not, our kids get sick, it circulates to everyone in the house, and by the time it reaches us, we don’t have time to rest because we are taking care of one or more little ones who don’t feel well.  We have to stay healthy and well to manage the load, and it is always much more stressful when someone gets sick.  I am guilty of having said "I just don't have time to take care of myself," but what I was really feeling was more like: I just don't have the energy to take care of myself while dealing with a full load.  The only thing left to do to combat this dilemma, was to reshuffle my priorities and not forget to add myself onto the list this time.  In fact, why not just make a new list altogether?  So here we go:

My 7 personal must - haves for achieving a sense of well - being and balance

1.  Getting good sleep and proper rest
2.  Nurturing my marriage, family relationships and friendships
3.  Daily/weekly physical activity - Going for walks, being in the sun, breathing fresh air, stretching
4.  Seeking counseling support services when necessary
5.  Staying plugged in to my autism support group/networks – seeking and providing support
6.  Taking vitamins and necessary medications daily
7.  Staying connected to my creative/spiritual outlets – personal development and achieving  self-fulfillment from the things I love to do.

These “must haves” for me, are things that I have found along my way in my personal journey of being a mother who juggles: parenting a child on the autism spectrum, twins, military lifestyle, with a need for a creative outlet.  These are things that I have found that I cannot give up or live without.  I share these to provide support to others who may be dealing with something similar, in finding your own sense of balance, as you progress in your personal and family journey.  

So take that time out for yourself weekly, and daily and do something that brings happiness to you every single day.  If you wait for some point in the future to do this, you may realize that you’ve spent days carrying on and not having done anything for yourself that makes you happy – how fair is this to our kids?  I see this as equally important to doing everything else on the priority list.  It took me some time to finally get to this point where I am making this a priority.   It takes effort every day to keep it on my conscious and I am much more happy and fulfilled now.  I have found my balance and will continue to work on keeping it daily.  I will close off and wish you happy trails in finding your personal balance and share one of my favorite quotes: “When Mama’s not happy, ain’t nobody happy.”   

To new beginnings!

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