5 Ways to Fight Loneliness as a Special Needs Parent

Parenting a special needs child can be really lonely and sometimes we bring it on ourselves. Last year, we were barely hanging on and we found ourselves just trying to get through. We didn’t have people over because the last time we did it didn’t go well. We didn’t go to events because they just don’t work very well with our sensitive child. We really didn’t do a lot of things, we hibernated our little family at home. This summer we didn’t even go to the beach, we bought an above ground pool and we stayed in our backyard.

A big part of doing those activities or not doing some activities is that it feels safer for us. We don’t want to take our public tantrum throwing child out in the world. We fear the next explosion or what our friends will think if she hits one of their kids.

Last year, we felt safer to just stay at home.

But, what we didn’t realize is that we need communion with other people. We need friends and people in our life, to laugh, to forget about our crisis that we have at home every day. So this year, we are making it a priority and so far it has been so worth it.

Since, I lost touch with a few friends last year a big part of me blamed it on them. Maybe it was their busy life or maybe they just didn’t want to be friends anymore. I somehow thought that might be true. But, the funny thing is that when I reached out they were craving this friend thing too.

I can tell you from experience that you probably have a million what ifs, or possible reasons why you may not have friends by your side right now. I’m going to be honest here and it might sting a little, the truth is that you need them.
I know it can be a hassle trying to schedule things, I know that your child might explode and you might feel judged. I also know that getting to do something with someone else can bring so much joy into our challenging life as parents.

5 ways to fight loneliness as special needs parent:

Push out all the negative thoughts and replace them with the possibilities. Sometimes we get stuck focusing on all the reasons why don’t have people in our life. We get crushed by our fears. We lose sight of the possibilities. Every time a negative thought of why you don’t have people in your life starts to push its way into your head, push back with the possibility or idea of doing something with a friend.

Put yourself out there. Someone has to be the one who initiates.  Do you have an idea of something that you’ve always wanted to do with someone? Did you think about having people over for some kind of event? Do those things. Ask someone to join you and your family for an activity.

Get real with your friends and pre-warn them of what your life is like and your child. This is something that you need to be picky about who you share it with because your delicate life situation is not going to be understood by everyone. Find those who you can share your life and your child with and pre-warn them what might happen if you do something together.

Find understanding and non-judgmental friends. The friends I had pre-parenting versus the friends that I have now are actually completely different and new! If you don’t have any friends in your life where you can be completely real (see above) with them, then it’s maybe time to consider finding someone who can empathize with your life. Often, this is another special needs parent!

What’s the worst thing that could happen? If you happen to have bad public and social experiences with your child think about what is the worst thing that could happen. If you realize that maybe it’s not that bad, you can pre-warn your friend that this situation may happen with your child and they are understanding, you just might build your confidence to being more social again.

I really never thought we’d have to re-learn how to socialize. It’s a challenge that has become definitely worth it. We go in planning for the worst, hope for the best and don’t sweat the meltdowns.

You might also enjoy:

How to be Friends with a Special Needs Mom.

Dear Friends and Family Who Don’t Know my Child has Sensory Processing Disorder.

Dealing with Anger & Aggression

80+ Toughest Challenges of Parenting a Child with Sensory Processing Disorder

My 2017 Goals as a Special Needs Mom

I’ve already determined that 2017 is my year.  This is my year.

I think it’s pretty common for moms to lose themselves, at some point.  We take on this whole role as part of our identity and sometimes we let go of other parts of our life to make room for that.  As a special needs mom I felt like this happened at an intense level.  There was a point in the past 6 years where I didn’t even care that I laughed at the thought of trying to floss because I couldn’t get anything done and I wasn’t taking care of myself at all.

We have this shelf in our basement that we call our dead dreams shelf.  It’s loaded full of our music equipment and also our baby equipment.  You see, somewhere along the way we let go of playing music because life got more challenging.   We stored away all the baby equipment as we didn’t add more babies to our family.  And, there it all sits.  Maybe for you it’s different things that you’ve stored away, but my guess is that you have a few dreams that are dead too.

So this year, I’m getting back into focusing on me.  JUST ME.  This is my year.  Because I want to get to those dreams and I want to fully live out who I am created to be.  Last year, right at Christmas time of 2015 I hit rock bottom, as we ended one of the most expensive therapy treatments we’ve tried for Miss S I literally fell apart under the weight of it not being effective.  I lost a lot of me.  Life became more about coping to make it, instead of enjoying every moment.  This year, I feel a little bit more energized to focus on me and what I want and need.  It’s something that doesn’t come easy for me at all but as a special needs mom, I’ve learned it’s the best thing I can do for our family.

It’s time I start dreaming again.  Although, I have a few big dreams in the back of my mind all of these little details this year will definitely help get me there!  This year is all about decreasing my stress level, focus on improving myself and learning to love where I am at.  This is my year!

House Goals:
Keeping the counters completely cleared.
Keep the floors picked up.
Make my bed.

These are the areas that I could easily see that I realized were stressing me out.  I realized that I can easily focus on these areas and it helps reduce my stress level.  Sometimes, I am really surprised how much my environment can stress me it.  Sensory Dad, on other hand is never bothered by how messy it is.

Financial Goals:
Live on a budget.
Get rid of debt.
Increase our income.

Over the past few years we’ve been very fortunate to not have to live on a budget.  I realized however that we aren’t being very intentional with our money and we have bigger goals that we’d like to meet.  I’d like to get back to living within a budget, take care of a little bit of debt and increase our income.

Health Goals:
Less sugar, more fruits and veggies.
More water.
More sleep.  (Go to sleep earlier).
My fitness: cardio, weight lifting and yoga.

A lot of these goals we are doing as a family.  This month we are having a monthly water challenge and tracking how much water we are drinking as a family.  Next month, we are going to focus on cutting out sugar.  I like to keep things simple and tackle one thing at a time!

Personal Goals:
Get dressed and make up on to take Miss S to school.  I learned that I feel more awake and definitely a little more put together than when I crawl out of bed throw on a sweatshirt, boots and a hat (and generally feel and look like a train wreck).

More reading. I’ve got a giant book list to tackle this year.

Create more: paint, draw, scrapbook.  I’m starting a once a month get together with a couple of girls to do craft nights!

Music: focus on learning one new song a month.  I often don’t make time for this but I enjoy doing it.

Spiritual goals:  One course or book a quarter.  Since, we don’t go to church, Sensory Dad and I, are starting an online course this quarter through Bethel Church in Redding, CA.  We also started reading If God is Good by Randy Alcorn together.

 

 

 

My Overachieving Book List for 2017

One of my goals for this year is to read more.  I used to read multiple books at one time and far too often right now I read the kindle free sample and then I don’t buy the book but save it to go back and buy it and I never do.  Complicated I know.  I am going to try going back to read hard copy books, although, I love my kindle I am hoping this might also help me go to sleep!  Because, devices at night are known to interfere with our ability to fall asleep. (This post contains affiliate links for your convenience).

So here is my ambitious book list for 2017.  I will probably be adding more to this list as the year goes on.

FOR JUST ME:
The Miracle Morning: The Not-So-Obvious Secret Guaranteed to Transform Your Life (Before 8AM) by Hal Elrod

The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are by Bene Brown

How to Be Here: A Guide to Creating a Life Worth Living by Rob Bell

The Obstacle Is the Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials into Triumph by Ryan Holiday

The More of Less: Finding the Life You Want Under Everything You Own by Joshua Becker

Present Over Perfect: Leaving Behind Frantic for a Simpler, More Soulful Way of Living by Shauna Niequist

Uninvited: Living Loved When You Feel Less Than, Left Out, and Lonely by Lysa Terkeurst

Great Day Every Day: Navigating Life’s Challenges with Promise and Purpose by Max Lucado

10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works–A True Story by Dan Harris

Full Catastrophe Living (Revised Edition): Using the Wisdom of Your Body and Mind to Face Stress, Pain, and Illness by Jon Kabat-Zinn

Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers: An Updated Guide to Stress, Stress Related Diseases, and Coping by Robert M. Sapolsky 

The Adrenal Reset Diet: Strategically Cycle Carbs and Proteins to Lose Weight, Balance Hormones, and Move from Stressed to Thriving by Alan Christianson NMD

Thinner Leaner Stronger: The Simple Science of Building the Ultimate Female Body by Michael Matthews  

For Special Needs Parenting:

The Whole-Brain Child: 12 Revolutionary Strategies to Nurture Your Child’s Developing Mind by Daniel Siegel

Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids: How to Stop Yelling and Start Connecting by Laura Markham

Far From the Tree: Parents, Children and the Search for Identity by Andrew Solomon

NeuroTribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity by Steve Silberman

Aspergirls: Empowering Females with Asperger Syndrome by Rudy Simone

The Autistic Brain: Thinking Across the Spectrum by Temple Grandin

The Difficult Child by Stanley Turecki

Girls Growing Up on the Autism Spectrum: What Parents and Professionals Should Know About the Pre-Teen and Teenage Years by Shana Nichols 

The Loving Push: How Parents and Professionals Can Help Spectrum Kids Become Successful Adults by Debra Moore

Uniquely Human: A Different Way of Seeing Autism by Barry M. Prizant 

The Autism Revolution: Whole-Body Strategies for Making Life All It Can Be by Martha Herbert

Asperger’s and Girls

Raising Girls with ADHD: Secrets for Parenting Healthy, Happy Daughters

Focused: ADHD & ADD Parenting Strategies for Children with Attention Deficit Disorder by Athea Press

Mindful Parenting for ADHD: A Guide to Cultivating Calm, Reducing Stress, and Helping Children Thrive by Mark Berlin

Parenting Children With ADHD: 10 Lessons That Medicine Cannot Teach by Vincent Monastra

What is on your reading list?  I’d love for you to share in the comments!

Something Good: December

When we live in crisis, it’s easy to slip into some level of losing your enjoyment in life.  This year, my husband and I made it a goal to focus on ourselves as parents.  We’ve spent so much time doing therapy for Miss S and hoping for grand results only to end up with not much of a return on our investment.

For me, working on myself means I have to sometimes fight to find the good.  It’s easy for me to get discouraged and forget about all the good in life.  It’s a process to remind myself about things that I am excited about and that make me feel good about life!  So today I’m sharing a few things I’m into right now and super excited about…in my monthly something good series.


Good things jar.
I’m really excited to start this for 2017.  I had also shared the image above on facebook from Hip2Save and I absolutely loved this idea!  Although, I’m hoping we stick with it until December 31, 2017 I highly doubt we will make it that long.  I am hoping to fill our jar with great things over the next year.


Kitchen towel.
Sometimes it’s the smallest things in life that bring me joy.  I have a tendency to procrastinate buying everyday things that need to replaced, like towels.  It’s really bad that my when my mother notices she usually does it for me.  That’s how horrible looking my towels end up.  Like with stains and rips and holes and I still use them.  So this little towel in my kitchen now brings me so much joy.  Mostly because it has polka-dots and it matches my kitchen.   I know it’s weird.  But, if this rings true for you too, BUY THE NEW TOWELS!!

 
The Fringe Hours.

I bought this book and the companion journal for myself for Christmas.  Yes, I buy my own Christmas Presents.   I am really enjoying reading an actual live book instead of from my kindle, like I normally do.

Having Sensory Dad home over break.
I don’t know if I would survive Christmas break if it wasn’t for Sensory Dad being home for 10 days with us.  I’m so thankful that he’s here to help.  We’ve got a ton of fun things planned, lets hope we survive!

Netflix
Netflix has a new season of Rescue bots that lets me sleep in!! It’s been 6 years of sleep deprivation and we will take any extra amount of sleep possible!

You can read more posts from my something good series here.

2016 Goals & Resolutions Update

Last year in January, I wrote two different posts for the new year.  One with my goals for 2016 and one with my resolutions.

I’ve heard it said that most people usually never complete their News Years goals.  So, I thought I’d take a look back to see how I did.  Considering that I forgot about a few of these doesn’t make me think that I did really well.

From my resolutions post.  (You can read the complete resolution here.):
Be more Compassionate.  Compassion for myself and Miss Sensory. I’ve learned this year that I am beyond tough on myself. I expected myself to be better at parenting. I thought I wouldn’t feel like a failure so often. I sometimes forget that Miss Sensory takes in all the sensory information in the outside world and appears like she is handling it all and then later explodes and I get mad. I need to be reminded that her battle is just as hard as mine.
Overall, I think did better at this during 2016 it’s a hard line to draw sometimes between behavior and disorder.  I know that this life isn’t just tough for us as parents it’s also really hard for our diagnosed kids.  I really did better at having more compassion for myself!!  I learned become more OK with our life and accept that this is it, I’m still not 100% there but I’ve made a lot of progress. 

An example of calm instead of anger.
If there is anything in life that I feel like I am doing well, I’d say this!   I still have my moments that these disorders make me more mad than anything but I hold it in so much more.

Celebrate.
 I’ve done better at this during this last quarter of 2016 and I’ve got a few big plans of how I am going to make this a part of our life for 2017.

Slow Down.
This was a definite change in our life this year.  We took life a lot slower, we weren’t in such a race to the next therapy treatment.  We really hibernated at home a lot.

Parent how I need to not how I thought I would, or how I think others think I should.
This is definitely an area where I have grown a lot this year.  A big part of this is being around other parents less I think.  That has made me stronger as a parent. 

From my goals post (You can read the full post here.):
Me
Create something, I had intended to do Journal 52 throughout the year but I only made through week 2 🙁
Exercise daily.  I have really failed at this year, I’ve battled a few major health issues and they won this year!  This month again I’ve picked back up with Holy Yoga and of course plan for more in 2017!
Sleep, the plan was to work on going to bed at 9pm.  YAY… that never happened.
Time to myself.  This is something I’ve done really well at this year!

Marriage:
I did really well the first 6 months of the year meeting these goals but…

At least one over night a month.   This has gotten non existent, mostly from feeling guilty asking for this.
Baby sitter every other weekend.  This is also non existent.

Therapy:
At the start of 2016 we had Occupational Therapy (at home and skype check ins), Vision Therapy (at home plus check in appointments every 8 weeks), Speech and Language (Tied in with Occupational Therapy at home starting in January), Psychologist (play therapy at home, check in with therapists as needed).
Decisions we were needing to make were:
-another trip to the Star Center in Denver for this year. (We decided against going again after realizing it wasn’t working). 
-a DIR floortime training class for us (furthering the therapy we learned in Denver) and to find a Certified Therapist here.  (We did start classes and decided that they wouldn’t be effective in helping us complete this therapy at home.  We did look for a DIR therapist and the nearest one was 2 hours away and not covered by any insurance). 
-hire a maid to relieve some of my stress so that I can focus more on Miss Sensory’s therapy, since I am it (we are traveling for therapy less so this is one thing we could add to help me).  (This was the absolutely best thing we have done EVER!!  It has helped our family so much). 
– For us as parents- we are going to be working on coping strategies and managing our stress this year with Miss Sensory’s Psychologist.  (We are still continuing to work on this and I am afraid it’s going to be a long process).

 Finances
At the start of 2016 I started this savings plan and made it about 6 months in, then we needed the money for something and that was the end of it.
I did end up taking on two extra side jobs in 2016 to help us achieve some of our financial goals.