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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Finding Balance

As the holidays are winding down, I've been reflecting on the past month, and generally getting down on myself for not being more "on-top" of things. My plan was to work with my son intensively during his school break, while keeping up with my family and work obligations, still finding time for myself somewhere along the way. No matter how much I get done, it never seems to be enough.

I know that other RDI parents are feeling this same pressure. How do you find time to work with your child, while still giving your other children the time they deserve, never mind your spouse or significant other, and extended family and friends? And how to you integrate this with the pressures of daily life, especially in these rather frightening times with the flagging economy.

I know that when I am tense, it affects my interactions with both of my children. I find myself getting short-tempered with my son, and he is less able to rise to the challenges I am working on helping him to master. Like all other RDI parents, I am familiar with the feeling of trying to squeeze in some "taping time", in the midst of other obligations. I know the frustration of trying to capture that perfect moment on tape, which somehow rarely seems to happen when the camera is rolling.

Unfortunately, I don't have any easy answers. In my work as an RDI consultant, I talk to families about filling out stress management plans, but real life has a way of stepping in. Consistency is important, but it is also important to take a step back once in a while, and to admit that we are doing the best that we can.

Our children learn by watching us. If they see us putting pressure on ourselves, they will do the same, which ultimately takes away from the joy and connection that we are working so hard to establish. I think it is important that we, as parents, learn to give ourselves a break. All challenges are here for us to learn and grow, but that can't happen if we are too tense to notice.

As the new year begins, I would like to propose that RDI parents, and all parents raising special-needs children, make self-care a priority. I find that my son's progress is enhanced when I am relaxed, and ironically, less focused on the end product of a given interaction. When I am feeling uptight, he is more likely to shut down. Building resilience in our children is one of RDI's long-term goals, and the best way to do this is to model it. Let our children see us taking time out for simple pleasures, and letting go of the pressure of daily life for a while. We generally can't change the world, but we can change our minds about the world. Take care, and happy new year.

1 comment:

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