In honor of the 2014-2015 school year, I thought I'd make some New School Year's Resolutions related to an area of my life I need to improve: self-care. Like many parents of children with disabilities and special health care needs, I often have difficulty carving out time for myself in between medical and therapy appointments, IEP meetings, volunteer work, and the additional demands of everyday family life. Although I don't blame myself entirely, I admit I have a tendency to put my children's wants and desires above my own -- even when it's unclear whether doing so is actually in their long-term best interests. But simply resolving to "go to the gym three times a week" isn't going to do the trick. What I really need to do is MAKE TIME for myself by avoiding unnecessary obligations, and then writing "GO TO GYM" on my calendar every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 6:30am.
So, here goes: my top 10 new school year "making time for self care" resolutions:
1. I will not, under any circumstances whatsoever, become so frustrated with the task of getting my child out the door on time fed and dressed in an outfit appropriate for the weather, that I suddenly decide to homeschool her. I tried this last year. It seemed like a good idea at the time, but wow. Not so much; not for me. If it works for you, you have my undying admiration and respect, but I will never do this again.
2. I will not take either of my children to another state for medical care unless I receive 3 sworn and notarized affidavits from top medical specialists stating that treatment is necessary to avoid imminent bodily harm or death, and the state is Hawaii.
3. I will not host a birthday party at my house for either of my children, no matter how few children are invited or how much my children beg. Last time I did one of these, I couldn't walk for 4 days and I gorged on leftover sheet cake for the whole next week.
4. I will not permit myself to experience more anxiety or invest more time in my children's class parties, homework or school projects than my children themselves do. For example, if my child suddenly remembers to inform me on the way to school that she was supposed to bring homemade tamales for the class holiday party scheduled for last period, I will not drop her off, cancel all my plans, rush to the supermarket to buy ingredients, cook all day, then rush back to the school at 2:30 with a platter. I'm just not doing it.
5. With the exception of therapies the effectiveness of which have been demonstrated through scientific, evidence-based research published in a peer-reviewed journal, I will enroll each child in only one extracurricular activity at a time, and such activity will not require me to drive more than a 15 mile radius from our house or wake up before 9am on weekends.
6. I will not host playdates at my house with children who are slobs, jerks, or whose parents do not reciprocate.
7. I will not buy my children any "stuff" unless they donate or discard some other "stuff" of equal or greater size. More stuff = more unnecessary cleaning for me.
8. I will not adopt or foster any animals of any species, including, but limited to: dogs, cats, hamsters, gerbils, guinea pigs or any other kinds of rodents; reptiles, amphibians, fish, or insects, even if my child says, "I promise I will take care of it all by myself...Pinky swear."
9. I will not intervene in sibling fights or arguments unless one child is in immediate physical danger or I am in danger of completely losing my mind.
10. I WILL apply my own oxygen mask first, every day, prior to placing them on my children.
How about you? Are you taking good care of yourself? I'd love to hear your resolutions for the coming school year!