Making Time for Family with a Special Needs Child

As parents, we wouldn’t trade our kids for the world. We fall in love with our children from the moment we see them. But, as many know, parenting is never as perfect or as pretty as the advertisements or books have us tricked into thinking.

There are always ups, downs, tears and trials along with our worst moments as parents and the nagging feeling of guilt we all feel.

Its OK. We’ve all been there at some point.

I wanted to share some stories and tips to help you get through those days of the not-so-pretty side of parenting.

Like every parent, I, at some point, have felt guilty for just about everything for every one of my boys.

Sometimes I feel like I haven’t been there for them enough or haven’t done enough or haven’t pushed enough. Especially having my one son be so medically and physically involved, I feel guilt that I haven’t done enough for him, or felt guilty that I spend so much time and energy on him and do not get to spend the same amount of time with my other two sons.

I feel guilty that I may not be able to spend the time I need with my husband.

I feel pulled in four different directions at any given time.

That’s when I have to stop myself mid-guilt and remember that I’m only one person. I can’t do it all, nor can I be expected to. My kids and my husband will understand.

I have to work to offset the guilt.

When I feel guilty that I may not be spending the same amount of time with my other two boys, I pick my oldest up from the bus stop and take him with me to run an errand at the store while his brothers are at home with dad.

It may not be hours-long, but it is the small time we have, one-on-one, to talk about things. I will do the same with Alex’s twin. One day a week, he has no preschool while the other two have school, so I take him to the park or to the book store and spend some one-on-one time with him. It doesn’t have to be a day-long event to matter. What matters to our kids is that we take the time, what little you may have.

Making Time for Family with a Special Needs Child

I do the same thing with my husband. I know it’s hard, but we find the time. Just the other day, for two hours in the morning after putting three kids on the bus, we went out for a date to the local farmers market.

We had brunch and did some shopping. It was time where we could interact and sit down and have some us time to catch up on life.

Sometimes, we put the kids to bed early and have a movie date at home and cook dinner together. We may not have time every week to do so, but I try to have at least one time every two weeks or so.

Another not-so-pretty parenting moment for me would be the ongoing battle to do everything right. You know what I mean if you’ve picked up a parenting book. It lays out everything you need to know or do or how to handle situations. But does life or parenting really go by the book? Nope. Parenting is chaotic and unpredictable. Its a learn-as-you-go, fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants thing. No two days are alike and you have those “did I just do that?” moments.

An example of this for me is the day I found out about my son’s medical issues. I’ve gotten so many diagnoses, test results and options over the last five years — they make my head explode. From teachers, doctors, strangers, therapists, family, friends, co-workers and everyone in between.

I have found that no two days are alike and no matter what anyone else says or suggests, only I know what works or doesn’t.

You can never fully be prepared for anything. It’s safer to take it one day at a time and work on one accomplishment at a time.

For me, it was working on my son’s potty training vs. working on his walking. He is going to kindergarten this fall, and I’d like him semi potty-trained before he begins. Walking will always be a huge battle for him with his diagnosis, but we have plenty of therapy and time to work on that with him later.

The way I look at it, studies and options and diagnoses will come and go. You will have good days and bad days and so will your kids.

If you set one goal at a time, like potty-training, your kids and you are less likely to become frustrated or overwhelmed.

You don’t have to always do it right. Parenting is not always pretty and you are doing the best you can with what you can. Your children see you at your best and your worst and will always love you.

No guilt!

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