The day I threw the plates will pretty much go down in infamy in our home. It was just an ordinary Tuesday. You know, the kind where 2 children are literally running around in circles and another is asking a million questions. And your teenager is arguing about taking out the trash. You know, an ordinary Tuesday.
In my frustration, I got up to unload the dishwasher because that would be a good way to calm down. Carefully, I put the plates in the cupboard so as to not add any more noise to the chaos I was swimming in. I’m not sure what exactly the last straw was, but something was just too much.
So I threw a plate.
I have to admit, it really felt good. So I threw another. And another. I really don’t recommend throwing plates—it’s expensive, it’s scary, and it’s a big mess to clean up. But clearly, I was not myself. Three plates, a cup, and a dustpan later, I regained my senses.
I swept up the mess and promptly walked into my walk-in closet, closed the door, and cried. Finally, it was quiet. But I felt horrible!
Thankfully, I was already seeing a therapist and could process the whole mess with her. She told me I sounded like I had been in a state of emotional overwhelm. Who knew that was even a thing? We talked it through and there is a simple, but difficult remedy: self-care.
It turns out 6 appointments a week, 4 kids, and two disabilities is a lot for someone to handle. It was a tough pill to swallow. I took pride in my ability to keep up with it all. In reality though, I was barely getting done what had to be done. Worse, it was taking a toll on my mental health and my body. Something had to be done.
The first step I took was to lighten the load. It was hard at first. I felt lazy if I didn’t clean. But I gave myself a rule. I could either clean, or I could go to an appointment. But I could not do both in one day. Soon, I ventured out into new things—like not unloading the dishwasher. I watched as my husband put dishes in all the wrong places without saying a word. It was starting to feel good.
Next, I had to find myself a hobby. I used to have them before I had kids. But honestly, I couldn’t remember what I liked to do anymore. It started so naturally. I began to craft projects for my kids. A Barbie bed here, and Bat Cave there.
I discovered that creating is energizing for me. I began to allot myself an hour a week just to create and craft things. Soon, I began to have less tension and better moods. Here’s the funny part: I felt so much guilt at first, but after a while I noticed I was nicer, less irritable, and honestly, more loving.
When I first heard I needed to do more self-care it seemed painfully vague. But even the small steps I started with made a big difference in how I felt and my ability to enjoy my family!
Take good care of yourself for you and your family. Self-care is one of the most important things you can do. Here’s an excellent article about how parents of children with disabilities can practice self-care.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, we asked parents of children with disabilities and special health care needs to share their tips and stories about caring for their children during difficult times.