As the saying goes "you have to look after yourself before you can look after others" and it is so true.
Last week I was flat out with work, looking after my little superheroes and my husband, and getting everything ready for our holiday that I neglected myself. You know the feeling - your head is stuffy, you have a lingering headache that just won't go away, you feel like you have no energy, you just want to crawl into a warm bed, curl up and go to sleep preferably without the little superheroes in the bed too. Yep, well was me last week but you have to get on with daily life.
I said to my little charges at work that I was going to miss them while I was on leave. Nah, who am I kidding, I'm going to relax and try not to think of them so that I can go back refreshed and ready for next term!
I discovered very quickly into our Autism journey that I needed to find something to do to relax. Be it reading, spending time outdoors, take up a hobby, do some running - I don't run unless I have to so that is out - just something that I could to do to take my mind off of what was happening in our busy household. Something that meant that I could just chill out and relax. Something that I could do late at night when L was in a I-don't-need-to-sleep mood that wouldn't disturb the rest of the family. Something that we could do as a family that didn't cost a lot and was fun.
I love reading, I set myself the task of completing a reading challenge earlier this year. I'm kind of on the way to completing it and I have read quite a few books so far. I've discovered old gems that I'd forgotten about or put off reading and I've also discovered new books that I wouldn't have thought of reading. It has also been great for my little superheroes to see Mum reading a real book, rather than reading an e-version on the iPad or the phone. Nothing beats having a real book to read and it is great role modeling for the little superheroes!
I've also read a heap of publications on Autism, Anxiety, Aspergers, Sensory Processing Disorder and anything that relates to those topics. I figured that the more I read about them, the better informed I would be when going into speak to all the therapists and specialists that we see. If I can keep up to date, then perhaps I can pass the knowledge onto L and O's teachers. I wanted to know what goes through L and O's brains on a daily basis, why they might react to certain things in certain ways. Reading these publications has opened my eyes and made me realise that at times I needed to change the way that I was speaking with O and L.
Gardening - O and L love being outside, playing with our menagerie of animals, digging in the dirt, running around like crazy kids! This year we decided that we'd create a vegie patch in the backyard. It got off to a great start, O and L helped to chose what to plant, it was quite relaxing to go in and create the patch and tend it as well. O's fairy friends came and created a fairy garden for her and a dinosaur garden for L, so they'd be in the patch for hours playing with the bits and pieces that the fairies left behind. And then our rabbit found a way in and the kids "helped" with some weeding. So unfortunately the vegie patch has been a little neglected. It's on the to do list for term 4!
The other way that I relax is to be creative - sewing, cross stitch, crochet, drawing, give me a project and I'll give it a go.
In January this year, I made a list of things to do this year:
- Teach myself to crochet - I can tick this off my list. I taught myself to crochet by watching youtube clips and not once did I swear or give up or throw everything across the room! Next step is to attempt more complicated patterns.
- Make an item every week of the year - Yep, can tick this off too. We're up to week 38 and so far I've made 104 items. I've made sensory gear for my little superheroes. I've mastered how to make Bucket Hats as O decided that everyone needs a bucket hat. I've made clothes and toys for my children and their friends. I've made gifts for people, I'm planning to make gifts for my little superheroes teachers. I've made book week costumes for both my little superheroes. I've attempted patterns that I thought were beyond my ability and I've had a ball so far!
- Rediscover cross stitch. This is something that I used to do all the time and then it fell to side when O came along. Now I just need to work out what to do with the finished pieces.
- I wanted to finish all the UFO's - or unfinished objects - that I seem to have on my sewing table by the end of the year. Am almost there, only a few to go!
- I wanted to make resources for O and L - can tick this off the list too. There are so many homemade toys and resources that can be made. Do you know how many common items there are around the house that can be turned into a sensory toy?
I have noticed that when I don't get the chance to do something for me, I start to fidget and am unable to relax and I become a little anxious. I guess it is a bit how O and L feel at times - they struggle to sit still, they struggle to concentrate and they need to express themselves in a very noisy manner.
When I am sewing - be it hand sewing, machine sewing, cross stitch - I go into my own little world and block out what is happening around me. I can escape from reality for a while!
So if you are on this marvelous journey called Autism, take up a hobby so that you can escape. It's much better than sitting on the bathroom floor crying, trust me!