As a parent of a child (with or without a disability) it is often tough to take care of yourself, both physically and mentally. More often than not there’s just no time and on the rare occasion when there is, there is no desire or energy left to give. Life seems to pass us by, our time consumed by someone else. Of course, we wouldn’t change this for the world and we, like every other parent, would lay down our lives for our children. But we do often get left behind. Friendships crumble, relationships struggle, jobs are lost or given up and although watching your child progress is wonderful, sometimes we are left with a feeling of emptiness in the small hours of the morning. Those dreaded hours where the mental monsters appear. Am I enough? I guess we can often loose our identity as an individual. Like many parents, we become known as so and so’s mum. Not a bad title at all but one that can leave us screaming inside that we are also an individual! This is true for all parents at some stage and the million dollar question is how do we change that? How do we regain some sense of self?
Here are my top tips for finding yourself again post children (and diagnosis!);
- Firstly go easy on yourself. Lots has changed (and not necessarily because children came along). Everyone changes as they get older and what served us before may not serve us now. And thats ok.
- Start with baby steps. If you are physically and mentally exhausted take time to just be. Even sitting quietly will help. Your mind will wander and eventually it will latch onto something. Run with that.
- Accept that it’s a case of trial and error. Not everything that you think of will work out how you want it to. That’s ok too.
- Remember that things take time. If you try something and you kind of enjoy it don’t throw in the towel too soon. Give things time to develop.
- Challenge yourself. My biggest break through came from doing something that I really, really thought I’d fail at. As my t-shirt says, “life begins at the end of your comfort zone’. How true that turned out to be.
- Realise that as you re discover who you are, some friendships may fall by the wayside. If they do, remember that you’ll find new people in time.
- Listen to yourself. Don’t let those around you fill your head with what they think would suit you. They might have your best interests at heart but they are not you. They do not feel what you feel.
- There will be set backs. Whether that’s because of children, relationships, life or your favourite class being cancelled, don’t panic. Life has a funny way of moving us in the right direction when the time is right.
- It’s about walking before you can run. Even if you stumble across the greatest idea, you need to take it slowly. You might want and be ready for a massive (life) change but those you care for might not be. Ease them, and yourself, in gently.
- Enjoy yourself! Love falling in love with the things that you love. Own it and don’t let anyone tell you that whatever you choose is wrong. If it feels right then do it!