As we enter a new year, it’s tempting to make all sorts of resolutions. I’ve done it before.
You get sucked into the whole “new year, new me” mindset and set all sorts of lofty goals. Unfortunately, before you know it, it’s February 1 and things are the same as they were before.
Except, now you feel disappointed and guilty that you couldn’t even keep a single resolution beyond a few days. So you feel even worse than you did when you first felt the need to make the resolution in the first place.
What a way to bring in the new year.
Now, there are many resolutions I’d love to make as a special needs parent. Like you, I always want to do better and be better, as a parent.
However, I know, in my heart, I will never be able to keep them.
Being more patient
I know I’m already more patient than many other parents (it’s something I’ve had to really work on over the years). However, there are always times when I could do with a little more. I could always do with more patience dealing with my kids, dealing with specialists, dealing with schools, dealing with friends & family, as well as dealing with the general community.
Actually, I could do with a lot more patience, when you put it that way!
As much as I’d love to find more patience, it’s not as easy as setting a resolution and sticking to it. This is where I’ve failed in the past. Instead, I need to look at my mindset, my personal outlook and my resilience and adjust how I react to certain situations. That’s only way I’ve been able to gradually develop more patience in the past.
However, I’ll always have bad days and sometimes, even with the best intentions, patience will be in short supply. That’s why this resolution is not always that practical to keep (or to set in the first place).
Cutting myself more slack
I’m my harshest critic. I always have been and always will be. Cutting myself some slack and being kinder to myself would be great. I’d love to stress less, relax more and stop the self-judgment.
However, that would require a personality transplant to actually happen.
In reality, being hard on myself means I’m looking after my kids the best I can. It means I’m always trying my best and always striving to be the best for them. I’m continually self-evaluating and searching for better ways to help them.
No doubt, telling myself to go easier on me would reduce my anxiety. I might even be happier for a little while. However, it might mean I’m not the parent I really want to be. Which would not be a resolution I’d want to keep.
Not comparing myself, or my kids, with other families
Comparisons don’t help anyone - but it’s human nature to look around you and compare what you are doing to others. Sure, I’d love to stop comparing our family to others. I’d love to ignore the fact they can do things that we can’t.
I’d love to be the family that can go out the shops happily. I’d love to be the family that loves the great outdoors and enjoys picnics, bike rides and hikes together. I’d love to be the family who enjoy watching movies together.
I’d love to be the family who can eat the same meal together, happily, and with no complaints!
But we’re not that family. And as much as I know that and I know we find our joy and connection in other ways, I will always catch myself making comparisons to others. So, there’s no point making a resolution otherwise, because I’m human and I’m never going to be able to stop.
Spending more time with my other children
I have made this resolution to myself every year, for the last 10 years. Yet, every year I continue to fall short. Finding balance in a special needs family is pretty much impossible. The additional needs of your child will always impact on the rest of the family.
That’s just a fact.
I would love to be able to commit to spending more time with my youngest daughter, who doesn’t have additional needs. However, if my son is in meltdown or if my eldest daughter is suffering an anxiety attack, I can’t ignore their suffering – I need to help them.
I always strive to spend as much time as I can with Delilah and to find quality one-on-one time with Gilbert and Matilda too (time that doesn’t involve ferrying them to appointments). However, the fact remains, my attention, thoughts and focus will fall more frequently on my older kids. Which is why this resolution is impossible to keep.
Worrying less about the future
I know worrying about things you can’t control is futile. I know I need to put aside what I don’t know and concentrate on what I do know. I know I need to limit the anxiety and the worries I already carry each and every day.
But it’s hard to not think about the future and what that means for you, your child and your family.
Being present and concentrating on the here and now is important. But, so are planning for the future, developing independence and working on strategies to maximize your child’s ability to live their best life.
I’d love to worry less and minimize those sleepless nights where I spend hours musing over the fate of my kids. However, I can’t ignore the future and I owe it to my kids to put plans in place to best help them as they grow to adulthood.
Which is why I can’t commit to this sort of resolution, or any of the others I’d love to make as a special needs parent.
This year, instead of setting unrealistic expectations and having to deal with the guilt and disappointment when I inevitably fail to meet them, I’m going to promise myself to TRY to do the following:
Find time for myself as an individual.
Do the best I can but accept that I am human.
Open my mind to other points of view.
Trust in myself and my instincts when it comes to my child.
Ask for help when I need it.
Listen to my child and understand their wants and needs.
Learn from the experiences of special needs adults.
I feel I can commit to this list, without feeling a sense of failure should I struggle to meet each and every one. They are daily aspirations, things I hope to improve on over the coming year and beyond.
Unlike the list of resolutions I wish I could make but know, deep down, I can’t keep.
Have you made resolutions as a special needs parent this year? Do you think you’ll be able to keep them?