Parents: Give Yourself A Break

DSC06725.JPGA friend posted this article from Motherly this morning about how self-care isn’t enough and parents (especially moms) are burnt out.

I can completely understand. As the mom of a kid with ASD and ADHD, and well as a neurotypical firecracker of a 4-year-old, I feel like I am always going going going. And really, I feel like it’s not enough.

This summer I’ve said NO a lot. No to racing off to an activity each morning, no to lunches out, no to 5 playdates a week, the craft dates, all-day zoo adventures, and sojourns to the beach. Oh, and this would have been just 1 week of summer activities in the past. Imagine that for 8 weeks. Are you tired now?

This is something I want everyone who reads this to take the heart: NO IS A COMPLETE SENTENCE. 

Plus, I still need to do household chores, cook, laundry and make sure the big kid gets to therapy twice a week, I need to exercise at least 4 times a week.

In saying no to all of these activities, the kids are able to relax, which means they are in a better mood, which mommy is in a better mood. We are still doing stuff, but it’s more things that the kids can do at home or in a small group of friends.  We’ve been swimming at our community pool each day in the late afternoon, playing at the local park. We’re going to the YMCA a few times a week in the afternoon so the kids can play while I exercise. Stuff that is low stress.

Why is parenting harder? Why are we burned out? This article gives us some ideas. The increase in activities for kids (If you want to go to an Ivy League school Little Timmy, you need to start your extra-curricular activities at birth!), social media expectations (It’s like Keeping up with the Joneses on crack), the constant barrage of information and data being thrown at us (pics of our kids, nanny/daycare cams being sent to us, text messages, chat apps, always being connected to people and media). It’s overwhelming. It’s tiring. Being expected to be Instagram-ready or Insta -Perfect is frustrating and exhausting.

For special needs parents, it’s harder because, for the most part, our kids aren’t  “like everyone else”, so frequently we are ostracized from activities. It’s the truth, and it sucks. and it hurts. To shield my kids from this hurt and keep myself sane, we’ve stepped back from activities this summer.

I’m not going to give you a list of self-care activities that will help you de-stress. You already know what works for you, your family, your budget.  This is what I do.

What I want you to know, moms and dads that read this post:

You are not alone. There are other parents and caregivers out there that are feeling the same way you do. You don’t have to keep up with everything you see online. You are doing the best you can for your family. YOU ARE ENOUGH!

I found this shirt on Amazon and I had to share it. 

The Annual Toy Purge: Clean up & Help Others!

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Each year after Christmas and when the big kiddo is back to school, we go through the house and get rid of the toys that are no longer played with (Duplos), or are broken (So many things), or were taken away and never asked for back (I’m looking at you Nerf Gun). We also weed out the multiples. That way we only have 1 of each kind of train (no one needs 5 Thomas trains!), one of each kind of toy dino/animal in each size, and enough accessories for each Potato Head (but not tons).

IMG_7862We call this the Great Annual Toy Purge.  I enlist the help of my mom (who lives less than a mile away) to come and help me sort through all the toys.  We have toys in bins that are labeled, but sometimes, the toys migrate.

At the same time, we go through the toys. There are three piles:

  • Broken or missing pieces (discard/recycle)
  • In ok/good shape (donate to local thrift store)
  • Great/like new shape (There isn’t a lot in this category- Donate to some places in our local area that needs toys, or give to friends)

Then there is the Big Ol’ Black Trash bag- The trash goes straight in there.

I didn’t get a before picture, but, it was awful. Toys everywhere, junk, empty boxes… You know, kid stuff.

Here is a photo of the after:

IMG_7849IMG_7848 There are still a few more boxes of toys that need to go down to the garage (Stuff that we are saving for the when the Littler One gets bigger), and I vacuumed and we made his bed.

Unwanted toys were moved out of the house yesterday before school pick up. It’s raining right now, so our project is on hold until the rain stops. Next up is Bitty Bird’s room. It’s much smaller and she has less toys, but there are son many small pieces (doll clothes, toy food)- I’ll be stocking up on more 20 quart Sterilite tubs with lids.

Now, there are some toys that live in the living room because they get a lot more play. Mean Animals/Toy Dinos, Guy Men (action figures), and a small tub of Legos. We have them in a 2×2 Kallax Bookshelf from Ikea.

I’m participating in #declutterlikeamother, which is something fellow blogger Allie Casazzara does. A few of my friends are doing it too. While I wouldn’t jump off a cliff if others were doing it, I will definitely get rid of so much clutter and confusion with my friends!

I’ve already cleaned out the hall closet, the kitchen and hall junk drawers, and cleaned out my desk (which was basically just two junk drawers).

We’ve also cleaned out our wardrobes. We donated, recycled, shared hand-me-downs, and prepped bags to take to an upcoming clothing swap.

I encourage everyone to #declutterlikeamother. It’s incredibly liberating not to not feel suffocated by so.much.stuff. It feels so good to let go.