I have a five-year-old boy with moderate to severe autism. To say that our house has been chaotic (even pure hell at times) is an understatement. His father/my husband is partly nocturnal - stays up until 4:00 or 5:00 and then sleeps until noon. At some point I realized that our house was sinking, that I could not possibly do all that needed to be done. I want to share a few things that I have learned and employed mainly this past year.
1) ENERGY is required. I began finding ways to shake the fuzz from my brain and to invigorate my tired 41-year-old body. I began eating healthier and drinking ashwagandha tea (small doses as too much is like taking steroids). I found myself wanting to clean out closets, wipe fan blades, etc. This is good! Less coffee, more ashwagandha tea. On another hand, ashwagandha seems to make me aggressive in ALL ways, so I sometimes drink skullcap or kava tea as "insurance" that I will remain calm when things get "out of hand." These kids are pure and deserve only love, not contagious waves of anger and frustration. "Happy teas" keep me in check.
2) A SCHEDULE is required. I literally wrote out a detailed schedule that begins with getting the coffee going as soon as I crack my eyes open. Morning time is MY time. It is my only alone time. I work from home as a publisher. I have computer time until 11:00 a.m. and my boy gets the rest of my day until 11:00 p.m. which is when I switch from Mommy to Wife. This time often includes a glass of wine to unwind and remember that life is good. My hours are many in a day (again, see #1).
3) SELF-DISCIPLINE is required. I was always as laid back as a house-cat in a sunny window, as flexible as a willow tree, but I had to establish rules for myself. I want to share this part because it's important: When I wrote out my daily list of "chores," I kept in mind my THREE PRIMARY ROLES as a woman: 1) Mother; 2) Wife; and 3) Lady of the House. I have "chores" that I must do every day. I started small. When I felt it was manageable, I began adding more "chores," claiming responsibility for my environment.
EXAMPLES of basic chores:
1) Keep a clean and clear dining table.
2) Keep a clean toilet.
3) Keep trash from overflowing.
4) Make my boy's bed every day.
5) Work on at least one major life skill every day.
6) Keep the front porch clear and swept.
7) "Dress" for my husband each night.
8) Light a candle.
These chores are incorporated into my daily schedule. I must say that life is running much more smoothly, and my boy is slowly learning to respect order. He sees me cleaning and he learns that a clean home is a happy home. My husband isn't left out of it. He gets a few hours at night (and occasional wine plus ashwagandha make it wonderful). I must say that life is looking more hopeful.
I hope this note inspires mothers who feel like they are on a sinking ship with "special needs" plus all else.
--Christina from West Virginia