Managing Your Stress, Part Three: New Normal

Getting settled into a new routine after a emergency or crisis is one of the hardest things I’ve had to handle as a mother of a special needs child. One of the tricky things about not having a diagnosis is that you never know if you’re looking at a new illness (virus, infection, etc.) or a new feature of the undiagnosed syndrome. It’s happened several times that the new problem has turned out to be another clue to the underlying syndrome and we’ve had to adjust what we’re doing to accommodate. So, that’s all well and good, but how do you do that?

The best way I’ve found is to put everything that needs done on paper. It doesn’t have to be graceful, pretty, or organized. As long as you can read it, that’s all you need. In the places where choices have to be made, or specialists consulted, make note of them and keep going through your list. There’s probably going to be a couple of spots like that. Ignore those spots for now. Once you’re done with your list take a look at it again. Now you know why getting things together was completely overwhelming. You probably have at least two, probably more, doctors to call and at least one decision to make that could seriously impact your child’s well being.

Go ahead and leave messages with all the doctors. None of them are going to actually take your call anyway, and they’ll (probably) call back at different times. If you can’t decide what to drop to make room for the new things you need to do, alternate days until you decide. Some people make decisions quickly, but if you’re not one of them you’ll need to give yourself some time to think. That squares away what to do for your child, but you also need to figure out how to stay sane and manage the new routine.

Every person needs an absolute minimum at least 30 minutes a week of quality time to relax and decompress. Ideally you would get at least 30 minutes every day, but I have yet to meet a special needs Mom that was willing to take half an hour of time every day they could be using for their child to do something for themselves. If you can do it, great! I highly encourage it. I’m a bit ashamed to say, when I take time for myself I’m overwhelmed with guilt. If I had to deal with the guilt every day I wouldn’t be able to look at myself in the mirror.

It feels easy to stay in crisis mode. It’s a lot of work to transition into a stable routine that will work week after week for not only your child, but you as well. It’s worth it though, and I hope this post helps you get through what you need to do in order to find balance.

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