Today is the first day my daughter is in an autism-based treatment program in Minneapolis, which marks the end of summer for us. It’s been a big day at my house with my son also starting school today too. Over the long Labor Day weekend, we had some warm, sunny days. Today, it’s like the weather knew about the change in our schedule and changed with us. All day it’s been cold and overcast. We have officially transitioned into fall and our new fall schedules.
For many reasons, I have decided to drive my daughter to and from her program everyday (there is a care cab option). The program is 3 hours long, Monday-Friday. As I now have 3 hours to kill in the Twin Cities on a daily basis, I find myself 2 blocks away at a coffee shop that is buzzing. (We live too far away to go home in-between drop-off and pick-up).
It’s so energizing to see people working on laptops and socializing with friends. I tend to not notice much beyond my daughter when I am out in public with her. I tend to forget what it is like to not have my her attached to my hip. She would never allow me to sit at a coffee shop for more then 10 minutes without needing an iPad or attempting to run away. A melt down would be inevitable if I was here with her for more then 20 minutes. But here I sit peacefully on her first day.
As I have ample free time today, I am scheming. Thinking and planning out all the things I will be able to accomplish with all of my free time. Having a child with special needs means you have to make many compromises in your life. My initial plan for my stay-at-home-parenting was that I wanted to stay home long enough to see all of my kids’ firsts. The first time they walked, the first time they rolled over, the first time they giggled. I didn’t want to miss it. I figured as soon as they were both old enough, I would enter the work force and find something for me. Boy, was I wrong. Her complexities make it difficult to leave her with anyone except grandparents and trained professionals.
Knowing that working full-time in the near future is not in my cards, I am embracing the things I can do. This means I will be devoting more time to my blog and to a few other hobbies and projects that I am able to do. I am joining a fitness center and am going to make it a priority to get back in shape. (Luckily for me, the fitness center and coffee shop are in the same building and are only 2 blocks away from her).
I am also starting some new habits that are more self-care related. My hubby and I have imposed a 10 pm bedtime (and it will likely end up being more like 9:30 pm for me on normal nights). As mentioned in my Top 10 stress relievers post, I am making it a point to find ways to relax. Sunday night bubble baths are one of my new traditions and I started doing yoga. I love to read. A new goal of mine is to read at least 15 minutes everyday. There are lots of little goals that I now have time to accomplish on a daily bases.
I am truly looking forward to picking my daughter up in a little over an hour (I kinda miss my little side kick). Until then though, I am enjoying the hum of other conversations around me at the coffee shop. I am enjoying doing something for me. And I am enjoying the fact that I haven’t had to talk to anyone since I ordered my smoothie. Lately, I have found that I have been burning myself out caring for her 24/7. She requires constant supervision and taking breaks is not only healthy, but necessary.
With the start of our new schedule today and the changing of the seasons I am trying to put my best foot forward for her, myself, and our family. Today, as I’m scheming, I am realizing more and more exactly how long 3 hours is. How much is possible to accomplish in that amount of time. And how fortunate I am to have gotten her into such a great program. My current favorite mantra: “You can do anything, just not everything.” I am sorting out who I want to be and what I want to do. I’m taking time for me. In the coming months I will be letting go of pieces that don’t fit me anymore and adding new ones. Anything, not everything. The best part, I am not going to let myself feel guilty for not doing everything. People today are too busy. Trying to do everything. It’s ok to say no. Cheers to #newbeginnings.
Have you ever found that you were burning both ends of the stick a little too fast? What did you find worked for a break or self-care?