What about Me? Self Care

self care isn t selfish signage

So, let’s talk about self care. Do you think it is selfish? Do you do it?

Questions, questions, questions……….. I think we all know that it is important.

For any Mom’s out there, it’s difficult for sure. If you are an autism Mom, times that by 1000. That’s right. It’s just that much more difficult when you have children on the spectrum – your time is not your own.

For years, honestly, I did absolutely nothing for myself. At the end of the day, I fell into my bed exhausted just hoping I would get a little sleep before one of them woke up.

The days were long and sometimes the nights were even longer. When our children were younger, my husband sometimes travelled for long periods of time, which left me alone to handle all of the household chores as well as the kids. Coffee was my best friend and sometimes the TV was a good babysitter (yes I said it and we all know that at times it’s what we have to do).

As our kids grew, some of the challenges associated with autism became harder. It was always (and still is) hard to navigate the school system – constantly communicating, constant meetings, constant things they did wrong. It was mentally exhausting every day. To top it all off, add all the therapy as well as specialized learning and professionals trying to help you – people in and out of your house constantly. Was it realistic to think or even want to take care of myself?

In our home, we had therapists in our house for 7 days a week for over three years plus. I had no time for many friends and other social things got pushed to the side.

But what I discovered was that by not taking care of myself, I was not helping my family.

It’s actually only recently (in the last 2 years) when I had health issues and was forced to stop that I even thought about myself and I’m not proud of this. I wish I had paid attention sooner.

Now, my days are quite different. Even though the demands of autism are demanding, every morning before I eat breakfast I get in a short workout. I also have my fitbit so I am conscious about how far I am walking each day. In the winter I will also ride the stationary bike inside and in the warm weather I will go for a bike ride. We have a trampoline in the backyard so I will go on there as much as I can with the kids even in the winter!

I also like to enjoy a nice relaxing bath. By doing these things, I not only feel healthier, I feel more energized because I am looking after my health. If I am not healthy and strong, no one will get taken care of and nothing will get done.

These are some of the lessons that I have painfully learned. But we all know that being an autism parent is anything but easy. It’s a journey, one that takes and pulls us in many different directions, tries our patience and leaves us with very little time to ourselves.

But just remember that you are important. Take care of yourself because your family needs you!

Please feel free to share any of your self-care ideas!

Staying sane during covid

mother and son drawing

No matter who you are or where you live, you are most certainly discovering ways to navigate and stay sane during this covid time.

I know that none of us has ever experienced anything quite like this in our lives and we probably won’t again during our lifetime.

So how do you get through the day? What do you do to stay sane during this time?

Although all in all we have adjusted well and are managing, there are still difficult times and the isolation can be overwhelming. In our house, we do different things.

For my son and I, we are totally outdoors, physical people. So the two of us will take our dog out as much as we can when the weather permits. Sometimes we will go down to the lake and enjoy a nice long peaceful walk which both of us enjoy quite a bit. We also like to go sledding in the winter and be outside riding bikes or playing games when the weather is nicer.

For our daughter, she likes to do any kind of art when she has time and she also likes to play video games. She most often prefers to be indoors rather than outdoors. We also enjoy playing board games together.

I find that for me (and I am sure that most Mom’s will relate) is that there has been an increase in my day-to-day work because there is a lot more home time now. So more food to make, more cleaning to do and it also seems like there is more laundry, although I’m not sure that that makes sense?

For me, I try to find little nooks of time during the day when I can have a cup of tea or just sit quietly. I tend to work out every day for my health so this also really helps my state of mind and keeps me grounded. I also stopped watching so much news as this can be stressful!

Our family is doing the best that we can and some days are better than others.

We all like to do some things together as well we all have our own coping strategies and things we do to just forget sometimes about what is going on in the world. Since covid started we have been spending more time together as a family so that is always a positive in my book.

What are you doing to stay sane?

One Day at a Time

stylish office supplies arranged on table

So, one day at a time, what does that mean to you? For me, it is a reminder to slow down and take each thing as it comes. Sometimes, it involves taking one thing at a time in each day.

In our house, the days are full, the noise can be loud and there is always something to do or to be done.

For me, its navigating and managing all the craziness of our household.

I relish in the short quiet moments of the day to have a snack, maybe drink a tea and just sometimes sit for five minutes in total silence. This is heavenly!

Our days although they are planned with things and schedules to keep, can be also unpredictable at other times. With lots of on-line school happening and all the cooking and general household duties, there is very few moments that are not filled. Sounds crazy right?

Maybe your house looks different or you can relate to some of these things. Unfortunately, there is no convenient time for autism, isn’t that right? It can change your day in a heartbeat for the worse but also for the better.

The worse in our house could be a slamming of doors, screaming, frustration or just non-compliance, but the good stuff like the laughter, the togetherness is amazing!

So we all only have today to deal with. Try to take each moment as it comes and always be grateful that you have them.

Til nextime……….

Struggles

crop doctor with stethoscope in hospital

So normally I talk about my son a lot but for this post, I would like to talk about my daughter.

She was diagnosed with ASD just over a year ago. It came as a surprise o us but then it also made a lot of sense once we started thinking about things that had transpired growing up.

It was a shock for her but also a sense of relief that some of the things that had happened to her and continue to happen finally made sense.

Last night I was in the hospital emergency room with her late into the night. It was her second time that day she was there. As I sat beside her waiting, I looked over at her and I got tears in my eyes because I felt so bad at what she was going through. She was having severe muscle spasms in her neck area. This was happening beyond her control which is why we we there. It was disturbing to watch and even harder as I knew how badly this was affecting her. I knew this was from medication as this had happened with our son many years earlier with one type of medication he was on.

As I sat there, I wondered if she ever felt cheated – cheated of attention, cheated of her diagnosis, cheated of what should have been put in place for her to cope many years earlier.

I already knew the answer to the questions because she’s made it very clear more than once that she didn’t get attention, that she didn’t have a childhood, as well as many other things that I won’t get into. Is she right? Yes and no.

Yes, because if I was in her shoes I would probably have some of the same feelings she did and no because I didn’t know what was going on.

Do I wish it was better that I could have done more? Yes, every day I wish that I only knew what was happening.

II realize though that there is absolutely nothing I can do about what happened and what did not happen. I can only move forward and try to do my very best to ensure she is cared for, has the supports in place that she needs and help her navigate through difficult moments.

Being on the spectrum can be challenging and it is hard at times, especially for her.

As I sat in the emergency room, I listed to her explaining all her diagnosis as I held the bag with all her meds and I was glad that I was there to help her in this moment no matter what happened in the past.

When she finally go a shot that help stop the spasms, I waited for it to take effect, I soon became relieved when the spasms stopped and I was able to see that her body was able to relax.

I realized how hard just getting through some days is for her and I really admire her strength and dedication to getting well both physically and mentally.

I’m thankful for these quiet moments I have with her.

School

person in white shirt with brown wooden frame

I have to talk about school because this is what has been consuming my life since Christmas, which is why I haven’t posted in awhile.

It’s hard for any parent I know to deal with all the changes with school this year. You don’t know what’s going on from one day to the next.

I know some of you who follow my blog do not live in Canada. In our area of Toronto, the kids have not been back to school since before the Christmas break. They have been doing all of their classes on-line.

I have to admit that it is very challenging for me. Our daughter is in grade 12 so trying to keep up with what she needs to have in-tact for university or college next year as well as keeping her motivated has not been easy. The easy part with her is that she can do all of the on-line classes on her own and prefers not to have my interference (go figure!)

But for our son, it is different. Although he’s really good on zoom, he still needs help or shall I say reminder that he has to get on there at a particular time. I also have to make sure with him that he has all of his items needed for the class ready to go. Sometimes I am there to help him and other times I am not. When I am not able to be with him, I actually record the class on his phone so that I can go back and scribe his notes later so that he can just focus on listening and understanding during the lessons.

It is also challenging because he is in high school as well so each “quad” they call them, they take two courses at a time. So every few weeks, I need to communicate his needs to the new teachers who have probably never met him or worked with him and make sure that they are providing his proper accomodations for his work.

Another issue is that he speaks so incredibly quiet on zoom so half the time they can’t hear what he is saying.

On the flip side, I don’t think that it is any easier for the teachers. They have their own challenges and learning and teaching in a virtual environment has pros and cons.

One thing that I really like about this type of learning is that you don’t really need to get dressed or have that time where everything has to be done in the morning before you go to school. So half the time, our son is literally just been awake for a short time before he goes on-line. Also, if he is really tired, he can just have his laptop on his lap in bed and listen to the lesson.

Anyway, I have lots more to say on the subject, but that’s it for now…….. see you soon!