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The Most Important New Years Resolution For A Special Needs Parent

New Year, New Resolution

It’s that time of year again. Time to resolve all your issues. Time to make that New Years Resolution. Some common resolutions are to exercise, quit smoking, pay off debt, go to church, stop spending so much money, and lose weight. But what if you are a parent of a child with special needs? The only resolution you can think of is one that will help you survive another year without losing your mind.

Where Do I Even Start

Maybe you hope someone will bring you a fire extinguisher. That way you can put out the massive fire that consumed your life. I think that us parents, the ones that have that child at home that takes us to the ends of our patience and depletes all our energy and makes us question if we even know what we are doing, have an obligation and duty to become the best version of ourselves possible. This makes the task of resolving unfavorable behaviors of even greater importance.

Now before you roll your eyes and slam down your computer, let me finish 😉

The Curse Of Being A Supermom

The moms of children with special and medical needs feel this pressure every day. We are always supposed to know what to do, how to handle that meltdown, we are supposed to give love and affection on our worst days and manage the doctor’s appointments and therapy sessions. If being a parent to a neuro-typical child isn’t hard enough (which it totally is) being a mom to a child with autism or epilepsy is practically impossible. We are supposed to make all the right decisions as quickly as possible because if we make the wrong one, our kids will suffer forever and it will be our fault. This is our job; we must be superhuman.

Stop Telling Me What To Do

You dont have to go very far to find a person that will tell you what you should be doing differently or what you should be trying with your child. Try this oil, go to this doctor, sign up for this class, put your kid on this diet. AAAAAAAAHHHHHH

This kind of pressure is exactly the thing that makes us moms feel like crap. We can never be enough; we can never do anything right.

Now, yes, while it usually is true, that there are more things that can and should be done,  if that is ALL we focus on, none of it is going to be done very well, until you…

Take Care of Yourself First

Taking care of yourself and putting yourself first isn’t the same as neglecting everyone else and doing whatever you want. Putting yourself first means to nurture your soul, spirit, mind, and body. If you make a New Years Resolution this year, make sure this is number one.

Your Cup Runneth Over

If you fill up your cup, before you know it, it will be overflowing. If YOUR cup is full, you have so much more to offer everyone who depends on you. If your cup is empty, you are pouring a whole lot of nothing. You are pouring frustration, bitterness, envy, exhaustion, anger, blame, snappiness, etc. Yeah, of course, you give your kids their basic needs, but if your cup is empty, you miss out on the wonder of parenting and the magic of your children.

Missing Out

You obsess about your child’s disease and diagnosis instead of the celebrating their gains and progress they are making in an area you never thought would improve. You are so envious of your friend Suzie of her perfect house and perfect body and perfect life; you miss out on the fact that you were given an extraordinary gift who YOU were chosen to nurture. Our children and especially our special needs children deserve the very best, and WE are the ones that can give it to them.

My World Was Flipped Upside Down

I learned this a couple of years ago when my daughter Remy was a year and a half. It was when she started having seizures and showing signs of autism. Remy was in and out of the hospital, no one knew how to stop her seizures, no one had any answers, autism was becoming more and more apparent, and I couldn’t come up for air. I was drowning in waters too deep to swim in, and all I wanted to do was just catch a breath. If I didn’t have four children and a husband that depended on me being around, the pain and pressure and stress was enough for me to want to end it all. But I would never really take my own life. 

The Nightmare That Never Ended

Then Remy ended up in the hospital for six weeks after being there for four weeks just a month prior. She was having 50 – 100 seizures a day, and we weren’t going to leave until her seizures stopped. I was almost nine months pregnant with our youngest daughter Nora, and our two older boys were at home with Zach’s parents. Zach and I took turns taking care of Remy while the other one slept in a hotel room across the street from the hospital. We were on the same 12-hour shift that all the nurses and doctors were on except we didn’t get any days off as they did.

I Learned What Exhaustion Meant

I was tired, I was stressed, worried, terrified, sad, anxious, the list goes on. We got Remy through seizure after seizure and had to endure watching  IV needles fail and have to be reinserted in her, almost nonexistent, veins while she screamed and cried every time. The stress was at an all-time high, but I didn’t have any other choice but just to take care of my daughter.

Cant…Stay…Awake…Any…Longer

One night, Zach had overslept during his sleep shift, because just like me, he was beyond exhausted. I had been watching Remy that day for nearly 20 hours. I waited and waited for him to relieve me so I could rest. When he finally came, I broke down and told him that we had to make a change because the stress I was putting on myself wasnt good for our unborn child. It was at that moment that I realized why it is imperative to take care of yourself so that you can take care of your children.   

When I think about that moment in the hospital, I understand now what people mean when they say during times of sorrow or crisis, “Don’t forget to eat, don’t forget to sleep.”

I always hate when people tell me that because I always think “if I could, I would”

I Became THAT Mom

When I was a kid, I used to watch the Oprah show with my grandma, who raised me. I loved the shows with the mommy makeovers. They would take some frumpy lady wearing mom jeans and ask her what happened to her life that made her give up on herself. She would inevitably cry and say she hasn’t looked in a mirror in 10 years because all she does is take care of her husband and kids. I always got so mad at that woman and swore never to become one.

Total Judgement Goggles

I would watch these types of shows and even said out loud “How hard is it to go get your nails done? How hard is it to brush your hair and put on some makeup? How hard is it to work out? All you have to do is throw your kid in the stroller, and off you go.”

I was SURE that the woman on TV would never be me. Then when I had four children and one with autism and epilepsy, all that judgment was now aimed at myself. I had become what I feared most, THAT mom.  

My AHA Moment

You don’t shower because your child will be halfway down the street before you even get the shampoo out of your hair. You don’t get your nails done because who the heck is going to watch your children for over an hour? You don’t buy those cute designer jeans because 1. You cant afford them, your kids suck out every penny you have and 2. That extra weight you gained only fits into a pair of yoga pants. But of course, you aren’t doing yoga either. You don’t watch what you eat because top ramen takes 3 minutes to cook and your lucky if you even get that meal in. These are just necessities. Lets not even go as far as to try and fit a girls night out in there or coffee with a girlfriend or taking a bath or spending any real alone time with your husband. Those days are over.

Yeah Yeah Yea

You are aware of these things every second of the day so when you hear people tell you “Just make sure you take care of yourself” you quickly throw up a middle finger at them in your head and smile and say “yeah, yeah, I know.”

New Year, New Beginning

Last year, on new years I decided to take better care of myself.  Whatever that meant, I was going to do it. But here was the problem. My workout regimen, eating habits, non-showering, drinking too much wine and watching too much reality television issues weren’t the problem. Those things were just symptoms of the bigger problem. The problem was my mind was polluted by poisonous thinking which then affected all those other areas. I KNEW that if I wanted to change anything else in my life, I had to reprogram my brain. I didn’t even know you could do that, but I was willing to try. I had to look at what I was feeding my mind so that I could change what my mind produced. AHA

This is how I did it

I decided to put down the TV remote and start reading self-help and spiritual books. Instead of listening to music in the car, I listened to personal development podcasts and motivational youtube videos. I listened to them while I was getting ready in the morning and when I folded laundry. Not only did that educate me, but it also lifted me up and gave me a fresh perspective. I became obsessed with learning. I looked forward to hearing more TED talks or commencement speeches from successful people after putting the kids to bed. I found an entire world of knowledge online that only cost me the price of the data plan on my cell phone. I didn’t even have to sacrifice anything with my family to do so. Having this intention, made me feel less depleted, and I started to become happy and excited about life again. I slowly got off that pity party that I was stuck on for so long

Blurred Vision

I wasn’t able to see the beauty in myself or the world the way I wanted to because my mind was polluted. I spent all of my energy on resentment, worry and anger.  Now that I have a changed mind, I know that everything else is possible. The world is beautiful again. It can be beautiful for you too. All you have to do is recognize that you are not your thoughts, you are the awareness behind the thoughts and you have the power to change your mind. Change your perspective.

You Are Worth It

I tell you this because I want to encourage you to dig deep inside and figure out what YOU want out of life. What is an area that you want to be resolved and changed? What about 2018 do you want to be different? My suggestion is that you start with strengthening and developing a healthy mind. If you do that, you will be able to tackle autism or epilepsy or whatever the needs are of your children. It is possible. I promise!

I would love to hear from you.  

What are some things that you want to change or improve so you can be a better version of yourself? In what ways can you feed your mind, soul and body? 

Please leave your comments below 

If you are interested in seeing some of the tips I use when creating a successful new years resolution, you can download that below as well.

Thanks for stopping by and Happy New Year

Live Well,

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