Single Mothers Raising Children with Special Needs :: Is a Balanced Life Realistic?

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Being a single mother raising children with special needs can be overwhelming. In a perfect world, every mother would have the option of being able to stay at home, to commit their time and energy into the development of their children. Unfortunately, life doesn’t work that way and we must learn to prioritize work, home, children, therapies, doctor’s appointments, and our sanity. Is there a way to achieve that “balanced life” we hear so much about? How do you create that balance with so many unexpected situations???

There has to be some type of balance right?

A quick peek into my life:

If you read my blogs (shameless plug I know) you know I have 3 girls, two with special needs. I also work full-time 5 days a week. I try to make sure I schedule and attend therapies, medical appointments, reevaluations, and extracurricular activities that my other daughter loves. This doesn’t include the things to keep me functioning properly.

A few of my dilemmas:

Appointments are made without my knowledge (like seriously), and I’m not sure of the policy, but for me this is extremely inconsiderate. It would be nice to get a call and see how it fits in my day-to-day. Yes I work, yes I have other children…and YES there are some things I need to do for me. Some children with special needs require a little more attention when it comes to school. Just making sure the IEP (individualized education plan) gets followed is a job within itself! And over the years my overly social and active middle child has been involved in cheer, gymnastics, drama, choir, and dance just to name a few. Oh, we did soccer one year too. I love that she is so energetic but me…not so much. I have also heard about this thing called “me time,” but I haven’t been able to experience it on a regular basis.

So how did I find a balance:

Balance is overrated! Just joking. This is just my opinion (insert drum roll here), but I really don’t believe that one person can find a balance when having children with special needs, working, raising a family, and fitting in time for self-care. There are too many uncertainties. I have another B word for you (it’s clean I promise).

BOUNDARIES!

We must create boundaries moms.

It is okay to say NO. Let me repeat that…it is okay to say NO! It is okay to put yourself first when you can. It is okay to let unimportant issues slide. Your children are breathing, they are happy and health,y and you managed to take a bath…GREAT JOB! Don’t feel guilty about setting boundaries for yourself and your family. Here are a few tips I’ve learned along the way:

STOP FOCUSING ON BALANCE

Just find a happy medium. There will always be uncertainty and instability in life, especially when raising children with special needs, so you’ve just got to learn to roll with what is thrown at you. I spend a lot of my mommy days improvising. No one knows your life better than you. Create a system that works for you and your family. 

SET BOUNDARIES FOR YOURSELF AND YOUR CHILDREN

It is fine to say no or to change your life to accommodate your situation. It is just fine to say no to your children too. Extracurricular activities are great for my daughter, but if it doesn’t fit into our schedule then it is a no. Some places and events we just can’t attend. Make a priority list and put yourself at the top.

ENJOY MOMENTS OF NOTHING

There are days that I feel guilty about not doing anything. I remind myself that resting is doing something. Don’t fill your schedule with busy time. Rest your mind and your body. 

BUILD A SUPPORT SYSTEM

Yes you are super mom, but if you have options utilize them. Some people are not so fortunate. It may take a bit of trial and error but allow those that are willing and that you trust to help with appointments, meetings, babysitting, shopping, etc.

REACH OUT TO LOCAL COMMUNITY GROUPS

It is imperative to connect with moms that understand what you go through. These women will celebrate your triumphs, give you great advice, point you in the right direction and support you when you need it the most. When my daughter learned how to drink from a straw, I went straight to my Facebook community and posted it, because they knew exactly how I felt in that moment. 

Have you been able to find a balance? What advice can you offer other moms?

 

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Angela has Memphis running through her veins. Born and raised here, she loves traveling but Memphis is always home. There is no other city like it. Angela is the mom of three amazingly unique girls: Jordan (June 2003), Carmen (January 2009), and Norah (June 2014). Jordan has Autism and is a talented artist; Carmen is the entertainer that loves dancing and competitive cheering (yes, she is a cheer mom!), and Norah has Down Syndrome and is full of sass. Besides being a full-time mom and a full-time employee, she is also a full-time advocate for her girls with special needs. She enjoys spending time with her family creating memories, vacationing whenever the opportunity arises, and dancing in the kitchen while cooking. Her mottos for life are: with God all things are possible, every day is a new day to be grateful, and live to love and love to smile.