The Single Parent Three Ring Circus
Juggling the day to day routine of working and raising children is overwhelming for any family but when you're flying solo or tag teaming in a co-parenting situation your day to day routine can feel like a three ring circus. Each week can begin to feel like a movie marathon of "Ground Hog Day" repeating hectic events over and over. Last fall I took my juggling skills to a whole new level as I reentered the work force in a position that had many new requirements much different than my last position. While full of exciting new opportunities it has required me wearing the masters of ceremony hat when planning the simplest of daily routines. Working, running a household and raising three teenagers keeps you on your toes but when you add autism, and communication delays it can be pretty darn overwhelming!
Laundry, grocery shopping, homework, ARD meetings, in-home training, dance lessons, doctor appointments, choir performances, business plans, action items and meeting deadlines with projects at work leaves little room for down time much less breathing. Trying to live in the here and now is constantly competing with the heaviness of planing for your families future.The past ten months has forced me to reevaluate what areas of my life or tasks are worthy of being spotlighted in the three rings. Learning that I cant realistically do and be everything I would like to because there are only 24 hours in a day and only 7 days in a week. That in itself was a shock, I was sure there were 30 hours in a day but to my surprise I was wrong. So, how do you successfully walk the tight rope of life as a single parent while working and trying to maintain some semblance of normalcy?
While my plan is not full proof it has allowed me to overcome huge obstacles and provide the strength needed to face each day without constantly feeling overwhelmed. Here are a few things to consider when you feel like you're at your whits end and are ready to call in the clowns.
1. Eliminating clutter or half finished projects around the house can provide relief from the stress that comes each day as you are reminded what has not been finished or begs to be wrapped up. Chances are if you haven't used something or finished a project in the past year you wont have the time in the next or it isn't as important as you once thought it was.
2. Have friends and family who can provide encouragement and support who are able to understand the dynamics that are unique to being a single parent and having a child with special needs. While it's nice to have many friends and family members one or two good friends who you can be real with is priceless.
3. Reevaluate what or who the people are in your life that deserve the little time you have available. This doesn't mean that you shut people out, it simply means that you need to think about the people you spend time with. There are two types of people, those who can be positive and supportive, providing encouragement when you need a little reinforcement to stay strong and move forward or those who tend to be negative and lack understanding. This is critical to your own emotional well being. If you are pouring all you have out to others you have to be filled yourself.
4. No matter how bad the day seems, find something you can focus on that has improved or you have accomplished and overcome. This past year was devastating at times as situations transpired with my son who has autism. Going through puberty and having difficulty in verbally expressing himself led to very stressful situations. Those situations by far were the hardest I have recently endured as each were unexpected. While they were followed with hours of me crying and emotionally being shaken to the core I forced myself to put that days events in perspective to the progress we had made over the years and the goals he has accomplished.
5. Try to take time for yourself even if it's to simply enjoy a moment of peace and quiet sitting on the porch in the sun. Having time that doesn't require thinking, asking, answering or planning can be therapeutic and allow you to recharge so that you have the reserves to meet the demands of all you have to do. Peace promotes patience and patience gives you the ability to cope with everything from your day to day routine as well as the unexpected.
6. Never lose hope that with each new day comes new and great possibilities for you and your family!
I know many days life still feels like a three ring circus but by reminding myself of those 6 simple truths I am able muster up the strength I need to face another day because ultimately the show must go on.