Living in Autismland brings chaos in unimaginable proportions. We multitask, are constantly in the car for therapy appointments, and shove our food down our gullets while we are doing three other things at once. Life is moving at such a constant, quick pace that there just never feels as if there is any time to slow down and take in the surroundings. Being a wife, mother and home therapist means that you have more than enough labels to deal attached to you. As a wife, you’ve got your partner alongside you to share the load of the house, work and children. Let’s freely admit that it doesn’t usually work out that way given the way that mothers tend to hold most of the mental load of the home. When you’re a home therapist, you have activities to research and implement. Motherhood can make all that chaos feel like double. You’re managing the schedules of children of different ages, throw in autism and you’re going to be your own tornado. Where’s the time for a little peace? Where’s the time to sit down and just let out the long breath that you’ve been holding? It can feel like that time never comes up, as if that time doesn’t even exist on your radar.
That time to find a bit of peace and enjoy a little time for just you? It does exist. Finding an inner calm is important, even when you can’t find actual calm amid the chaos. You should never feel bad about wanting to find some inner calm when you have children. You spend every single day slogging it out to save money, keeping up with chores and implementing therapies. You naturally put yourself second. You wake up first to get yourself ready in the morning. You make breakfast for everyone and get the kids dressed and ready, and then you may think about eating something yourself. You clean the house and head to therapy appointments then do the homeschooling. You fit in your shower at the very last second. You’re the last one to bed at the end of the day – sometimes the early hours of the next day. Five minutes of serenity can slow your heart rate, focus your mind and elevate your energy levels. All of this can go a long way to helping your mental state.
Working yourself into the ground and dealing with fatigue isn’t easy. It’s not going to help you to be a better and more hardworking parent. It’s not going to help your children to have a parent that is so strung out on chaos that you collapse in a heap on the floor. Children need parents who know how to be at least 5% selfish in their lives, so that they can keep holding onto their reasons for bypassing their own needs.
Ways To Find Peace Among The Autism Chaos
Breathe. Taking five minutes to breathe is so important. There are apps that you can use like this one to calm yourself down and help you learn to stop, even for just a moment. Take in a long, slow breath and let it go slowly. Just breathe. You can find so much calm in those three seconds it takes. I don’t know about you but slowing my breath can relieve my stress levels and keep me from losing my patience.
Break. Taking a break to a retreat like at Cenacle Sisters (www.cenaclesisters.org)to reconnect with God can be life changing. Spend some time in silence with no one touching you at all times. The sensory overload of a houseful of children, therapy appointments and the buzz of the supermarkets can be a lot to cope with at once. Don’t stress about taking time for you – you need to do it to be a better parent and person.
Dance. Dancing it out is probably the best way to release a little tension and a lot of stress, and you can get the kids involved with it as well. Dancing to an upbeat and fast song can calm you down, pump you up and give you something to smile about. No one can be unhappy when they’re rocking out to their favourite tunes.
Pray. Quiet reflection can happen anywhere and at any time of day. Communing with God is the best way to find a little peace and quiet. You can choose to do this at home or you can pop into your community church while you run errands through the day. There is no right or wrong way to pray, and it’s a time to disconnect from the physical world around you and reconnect with your soul. Belting out praise music also works wonders for me.
Uni-Task. When you spend your entire life multitasking, making a point to stop and focus on just one thing at a time can be a blessing. Decluttering your mind of other tasks is going to help you to manage your schedule and make the things that you need to do feel clearer. There are times when you must multi task but try to take time to do one task at a time as well.
Unplug. When you’re sitting and using a smartphone or iPad a lot, it can be very easy to get sucked into the routine of living life on a computer. The TV, the computer, the phone – you don’t need to be staring at them all day. Get on the floor and construct Playdoh models with your kids. Get out the board games. Walk to the park and get involved with nature. Taking a break from technology and simply unplugging from the online world can freshen your perspective. It’s good for everyone. We have a no electronics at the table rule and spend one day a week electronic free. It gives everyone’s brains time to reboot.
Read. When you are waiting for appointments, get out a book. Getting into the world of someone else’s head and out of your own can give you a calm and peace that you didn’t imagine was possible. Reading something new and interesting can not only broaden your cultural horizons but you can really take escape out of your own life for a moment. Not that there’s anything wrong with your life, but it’s nothing short of peaceful to do it. I k eep a book in my purse at all times and have one in every bathroom in my home. This gives me no excuse not to be reading at some point in my day.
Reconnect. When life is busy and packed with deadlines and appointments and children to manage, you can lose your connection with your friends and even some members of your family. Taking a step back to remember that you do have a tribe to rely on is going to remind that you got this!. Pick up the phone and have a conversation with someone who gets Autismland. Text your bestie something stupidly funny. You’ll be glad you did!
Exercise. You can make this a family affair, or you can do this for yourself. Exercise will help you burn out the frustration and stress that you carry on your shoulders fairly regularly. Flexing your muscles and learning how to stretch your body correctly can help you to work through your stress instead of letting it manifest on you physically. It’s a good way to spend your time, as you are going to be ready for the rest of the chaos that life will throw your way.
Visualization. Sunset. The beach. Crashing waves. Whichever of these – or other – images are calming for you, store one away in your mind. When it all gets a little bit too much, you need an image to dwell on so that you can bring yourself back to your own center and enhance your calm. When you can visualize that sunset or that beach, you can remind yourself to pause just for a moment and relax. I like to think of something amazing Logan has accomplished and remind myself that this too shall pass.
Whatever you do with your ways to find peace, it’s important to understand that life can only be as chaotic as you allow it to be. Children with autism need your help, but you also need help, too. You are not obliged to be under the weight of everything asked of you, because the more you give of yourself to others, the less of you there will be left. Find a piece, a chink of yourself to work on and work with, so that you can be a more grounded and peaceful person. A happy mom brings peace to Autismland.