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.
As a parent to a child with a disability, we often must learn little tricks to get things done. Each month one parent shares some of the tips and tricks she has learned along the way.
Sometimes we are lucky enough to find the profession that is our life’s work. I did.