A new (I assume, since I don't get many comments here lol ) reader, Annalise, left this comment on my Once Upon a Time post yesterday:
"I am also a homeschool mom of a son on the spectrum. Running is a great outlet for me but I struggle with feelings of guilt and balancing my responsibilities with my own needs! Would love to hear more about that."
I took some time during this morning's run to think about that and formulate a response. Being a mom is hard work. Being a stay-at-home mom is very hard work. Being a stay-at-home homeschooling mom is very, very hard work. Being a stay-at-home homeschooling mom to a child with special needs is extremely hard work. This really isn't coming out the way I want it to. I don't want to start a mommy wars, really I don't. And I don't mean to suggest that certain circumstances are harder than another. I've been around the block long enough to recognize that all of us are struggling with something in our lives. Nothing in life is easy.
But for me, being a stay-at-home homeschooling mom to two children with autism (and their typically developing sister) is extremely hard work. It is draining and exhausting, both physically and emotionally. I am sure others are out there who have more on their plate and handle it with much more grace and class and ease than I do! And I think that's fantastic! But for me, it's truly a challenge.
When we started our therapy program for autism - called Relationship Development Intervention, or RDI for short - one of the first tasks we were given by our consultant was to make a chart with the responsibilities we have and block off the time that each of those take. Then we had to block off time for the daily RDI work with each child. And finally, we had to block out some segment of time for rest and rejuvenation. Yes, the parents need time, both independently and together, away from the responsibilities of the children. This was a hard concept for me and my husband as we had never had a babysitter at that point (and our oldest was 10 years old). My mom had watched the kids for us twice in that time. She lives out of state and works full-time.
So basically how I deal with the guilt of tending to my own needs is knowing that I need to take care of myself to take care of my kids. I need to recharge, and I found running does that for me.
As far as how to balance the many responsibilities, I do my running in the morning before the kids wake up. My kids are older, though, which makes it possible to leave them home alone. Back when I started running, and my son's seizures weren't under control so I couldn't leave him alone, I would run as soon as my husband got home from work. I have a very understanding husband, who has always supported me to get the time away I needed. I wasn't a morning person when I started doing this, but I have since become one out of necessity! :)
So this is how it works for me! :)