As the year begins and routine sets in, every Mum I know makes a schedule. A weekly spreadsheet of all the activities the children participate in. This helps us and them know what each day will look like, the clothes or equipment needed and the logistics we need to overcome. Every family I visit has a schedule on the wall (whether they have children with special needs or not.) There is time allocated for them to participate in their passions, to be part of a team, or to achieve a goal. A slot of time is allocated weekly for sport, music, dance, drama, therapy sessions, appointments etc. It is hectic and we as Mums, spend our lives, organising, co-ordinating, driving, waiting, watching, cheering them on and making it all possible. This is what we do. This is part of our role.
At the end of each day we are exhausted. We have spent all our energy being a Mum, with no time and no energy to do something for ourselves, until we have nothing left to give, until we have lost who we are, until we become ill, until we find we have lost our relationships.
We say we have no time, yet we manage to find the time for our children to do everything they need or want. So how, when we have a child with special needs, do we find time to still be who we are, to have the very important self care, to maintain friendships, to keep fit and healthy, to see a movie or go on date night. These things unfortunately are not going to happen, they just like in our children lives have to be planned and organised (and I know the logistics can be a nightmare.)
Top Tip for Finding Time For Yourself
So my top tip for finding time for yourself is put yourself in the family schedule! Sounds, strange I know, but I have NEVER been to a families home and seen Mum or Dad in that weekly schedule. It is always only the kids therapies and activities. In order for routine to happen, in order for us to maintain some sense of control we follow those schedules and yet we are not even in them. So today, I encourage you add another line to your schedule – the you line and for each day of the week mark off time that is just for you. What are your goals, dreams or passions? For example imagine if you put in 1 hour each day just for you. Monday might be a fitness class, swim, walk, yoga etc. Tuesday might be seeing a friend, Wednesday might be sleeping/reading and so it goes on. When you put your children’s activities in to the schedule, you make it happen no matter what. You are at that therapy session, or appointment, you organise everything around it. So, use the same skills and do it for yourself! You deserve it, you need it. It will make you a happier person and therefore a better Mum. It will strengthen your relationships and it will give you the resilience you need to carry on through the years. This is your life too!!
I know many of you will be saying/thinking, I have no idea, there is no way I can fit an hour a day for me into my life, then start small, make it half an hour. JUST PUT IT IN THE SCHEDULE, then plan respite, babysitters, or supports around it. You can do this, just like your child with special needs may need therapies, you need YOU time. You make it happen for your children so make it happen for you.
Let me know what you are putting in your schedule.