Saturday, October 20, 2018

6 Tips to Finding Joy As a Mom of Special Needs

One of my biggest struggles over the past few years has been finding my joy.  I think a lot of us mothers feel this way regardless of whether we're working in the home or out of it. Whether our children are neuro-typical or special needs. Too often, we feel overwhelmed and stressed by the number of things that are on our plates. 

I have been reading more and more posts about how moms are so stressed.  I find myself nodding wholeheartedly in agreement and tagging my husband in posts because he just doesn't seem to get the mental strain of being the one to juggle all the balls in the air.  My husband is amazing, he really is and is always willing to pitch in.  He's just not pro-active about it. 

Really, wouldn't it be nice if he would stop and think about whether or not the kids had clean socks for the morning or the kids' dishes actually made it into the dishwasher instead of beside it?  

It would be nice if someone took responsibility for the dog without having to be reminded or wiped down the dirty fingerprints from the door frame without being told.  Wouldn't that make my job so much easier?  I would be just so much happier if they all just pitched in more. 


Except who's responsibility is it to make me happy?  Is it my husband?  My kids? No! It's actually me.

Yes, if they did those things my life would certainly be easier.  It'd be easier if every request to my 15-year-old to clean up after herself didn't spiral down into a half-hour discussion (or fight) with me always being perceived as being the bad guy.  

I just don't think it's realistic of me to think that my family is suddenly going to develop the ability to multi-task the same way I do. Quite frankly, my unrealistic expectations have made for an unhappy home.  Have you heard the saying "when mom's not happy, no one's happy"?  It's so true.  

At times, I've felt like I have to just resign myself to being unhappy about the state of my home until the kids move out, which seems like a long ways away.  Only no one can be that unhappy without it spilling over onto everyone else. 

Which brings me back to - who's responsible for my happiness?  

It's me. No one else.  I need to make the choice to be happy, to actively seek contentment in where I am at and with who I am today.  Not worrying about tomorrow or how clean my house is.

Quite often - it's a daily if not moment by moment choice I need to make.

Six Steps to Finding Joy as a Special Needs Mom 

1. Let it go  - it's just a mess, it's just things.  What doesn't get done today will get done tomorrow. The world will not end if a chore does not get finished.  Your time with your family may be short or long, you have no idea.  Is it really worth fighting over socks?  

2. Prayer - I believe in setting my intentions for the day and whether you are a believer or not, setting aside a few quiet moments in the morning as you contemplate your day can set your day on the right path.  I pray for strength and patience.  It's also a good time to remember to thank your Redeemer for the blessings you've been given.  When I am in the thick of things, it's sometimes hard to remember that I prayed hard to be blessed with children. Fifteen years and many meltdowns later, I sometimes need to remind myself of what a gift these children are.

Painting in My Kitchen
3.  Find Your Joy.  Figure out what brings you joy (besides your family) and steal little moments to fill your cup.  Whether it's a 20-minute soak in the tub, or a canvas set up in the kitchen to paint on.  Find something that you can do for yourself.  I started walking one night a week with some ladies from church.  It's a night my husband usually can be home with the kids.  Then I started painting Sunday afternoons. It feels good to be creative again and it's amazing how quickly the kids accepted that this was "mom's time".  They are my biggest cheerleaders when I let them.  Every time I come home with a new art piece - they ooh and ah over it and make me feel like a Rembradt.  

4. Ask For Help.  Make up a to-do list and assign names to chores.  Even for your husband.  Of course, it would be nice if they did things without having to be asked but you might as well ask for the moon.  Maybe in 10 or 20 years, they'll remember the dish goes IN the dishwasher and then again, they might not. It's just a dish and one day there will be no one to leave dishes out.

I started using this magnetic chore list.  I thought this was great since I could stick it right on the fridge for everyone to see.  Using liquid chalk pens, I wrote down the list of chores of tasks I needed to have done each day.  Then assigning each child their own colour, I added their names across the week alternating so that they'd be doing a different chore each day to make things more balanced. 

5.  Essential Oils - I would be remiss if I didn't include oils in my list.  It's amazing at how effective essential oils can be in support your emotional well-being.  A couple of oils that I use regularly are: 

Joy -  I apply this amazing blend every morning over my heart. It has an uplifting fragrance that works to boost positive emotions throughout the day.  Some people even use it as their perfume by applying it to their wrists or neck. 

Stress Away - exactly what the name implies it is to help you combat stress.  I apply this to my wrists as needed through-out the day. I diffuse it and apply it to the kids as needed.

Valor - this oil helps boost my confidence and give me courage. I diffuse it, apply 2-4 drops to my shoulder blade. 

By using the AFT (Aroma Freedom Technique), we can use the power of scent to gently shift awareness away from the negative thoughts and feelings we might be experiencing and instead initiating a positive outlook and attitude.  This results in greater confidence and inner freedom.

Sounds a bit weird?  Well, just think about the last time you smelled apple pie or freshly baked chocolate-chip cookies?  How did those smells make you feel?  Did it bring back fond memories of childhood?  It's basically the same principles.  Familiar smells can help you re-live both positive and negative things from your past. 

(For more information on essential oils - check out this post:  Essential Oils

6.  Goal Setting

Take time and set new goals that will help you keep going towards the vision in which you have been called. 

In the day-to-day grind of life, sometimes we are so busy just "living" or getting through the day that we forget what our true purpose or vision is.  Take some time to meditate or pray on what your purpose is.  If you feel like you're failing, then it's time to step back and re-think on the way you do things.  Sometimes a small change can make the biggest difference. 

Setting even small goals of what you hope to achieve regardless of whether you achieve the goals, in the end, will give you a sense of purpose. 

Don't want to think of the big picture?  Setting daily goals can help you feel like you've accomplished something.  

Of course, this all sounds easier said than done. Change can certainly can be difficult and scary to consider but if you're living in a state of non-joy - not changing would be allowing yourself to stay stuck.  No one wants to stay stuck! 

Remember, it's all about baby steps.  Sometimes it's helpful to confide in a friend or a spouse.  By sharing with someone your struggles they can actually be a help by encouraging you to make those positive changes and if necessary hold you accountable. 

What positive changes would you like to make today? 

I bought my Magnetic Chore Chart on Amazon along with liquid chalk markers.  Absolutely amazing to use.

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