A story about parenting a child with multiple disabilities
Would you believe that a challenging situation, one that turns your world upside down, can actually help you develop a routine? It sounds contradictory, doesn’t it? Here’s how it worked for me.
As the parent of a child who had multiple disabilities, my life was anything but habitual. It seemed like each day there was a new reason to celebrate and another cause for concern. Every morning, I would wake up and wonder, “What will happen today?” Sometimes I didn’t have time to think for I was often awakened suddenly to Eric’s screaming and would have to rush to his bedroom to find out what was wrong. Morning coffee…. maybe!
On top of all of that, there were numerous appointments with his doctor, physiotherapist, speech and language therapist, occupational therapist and so on. We had other children who required our attention and not to mention, there was our relationship beyond “mom and dad’ and we each had our own individual work and interests. Life was certainly full of activity and at times, quite demanding.
Having the opportunity to exercise was very important to me. I was an active community volunteer, and I enjoyed a part-time job. As a family, we liked to travel, play sports, and visit with friends and extended family.
With a child who required our continuous attention and energy, how did we fit it all in?
The first step was to know and understand what was truly vital to our health and happiness. For me, it was regular exercise, daily coffee with my husband, spending time with my other children, working part time, visiting with my parents and getting together with friends.
I found that I would schedule each activity at roughly the same time every day. I would work around Eric’s schedule and slot everything else in, in between.
Morning coffee with Lou, afternoon coffee with my parents, homework with Adam and Aaron after dinner, taking a walk or doing circuit training in the early morning or early evening and reading a book with the kids before bed, became part of my regular routine. Saturday night was reserved for friends.
Of course, there were the unexpected circumstances such as Eric getting sick or some other unanticipated event. Yet my routine meant that if I had to miss something one day, I knew that it was scheduled in for the next.
It is true, some people might not want so much structure, yet I found that under such challenging conditions, it was the structure that helped me to be less stressed. My daily schedule or routine, provided me with some consistency in an often unpredictable situation.
Did I ever get angry, frustrated or sad? Absolutely. Again, it was the systematic manner of our day to day practice, that provided us with calmness and stability.
I will admit, it isn’t easy to develop a routine during difficult times. Emotions can often immobilize your ability to think clearly and weaken your power to act. I call this, the emotional ghetto™.
For a variety of causes, individuals and organizations can find themselves in an emotional ghetto™, and lose their capacity to reorganize and restructure. A coach is an objective strategist who can assist you with finding solutions, seeing the possibilities and getting back to your routine. Hiring a coach is an investment in you or in the future of your organization.
If you want to leave your emotional ghetto™, hire a coach to help you get started.