Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Saving Your Sanity In The Summer

All of Moses’ Teachings are summarized in a single statement,
"Love your neighbor as you love yourself.” ~ Galatians 5:14, GW

The word "summer" engenders all sorts of joy for families around the nation.  Picnics and pools, trips and treats, family and fun all come to mind when people think of the months of June, July and August.  The opportunity to relax and take life at a slower pace tends to bring a smile to the face and happy anticipation to the heart.

However, that's not always the experience of parents raising children with medical, psychological, or cognitive diagnoses.  While our hopes lay in being able to enjoy a typical summer on the beach or at a baseball game, our reality can look quite different.  Months of 24/7 with no break in caring for our children, their disorders and their behaviors can actually make summer a tough time of year for us parents.  Exhaustion abounds as we try to participate in the sweet parts of average life while still trying to manage care of our children.

So, I have to ask, What are you doing about it?  Do you even have an awareness or acceptance that this is a challenging time of the year for you?  Are you maintaining boundaries with your children to keep the stress to a minimum?  And are you being intentional about creating any time for yourself this summer?

God tells us numerous times in His word to "Love your neighbor as yourself." (highlighting mine)  You are in no position to love another if you are not caring for your own well-being.  Here are a few helpful ideas:
  • Take a walk prior to the kids rising or after they are asleep to steal some time to enjoy the weather and clear your head.
  • When your spouse is home or another person who can care for your child is available, schedule some girlfriend time for coffee, a movie or even window shopping.  Having that adult time with peers you love is always a treat that will fill your emotional tank.
  • Get a book that is not related to special needs that you've always wanted to read, and spend time with it this summer.  Even if you have to put it in the bathroom to read a page at a time, filling your mind with something other than the challenges with your child gives better perspective and brings some personal enjoyment.
  • Avail yourself of scholarships to send your child to a week of overnight camp, day camp or other daytime programming.  This will allow you to carve out some refreshment for yourself while your child is broadening their experience.
  • Have a summer play date with other families in the same position as you.  No one understands better than another who has walked a mile in your shoes.  Being able to hang out on a patio with one another's children casually can offer terrific relief.  With a small group of friends like this, there is no shame to having special dietary requirements or having to scoot out early.  No explanation of behaviors or treatments is necessary.
These are just a few ideas to prime the pump.  The point is to be deliberate about filling yourself to be poured out another day.  Of course, spending time in God's word is a must for keeping our sanity, but it will only be possible if you plan for the interruptions that summer inevitably brings.  I urge you to come up with your own strategies for this challenge today!

PRAY:  Father, thank You that You care for me!  Too often I get wrapped up in the serious demands of my life, especially when there is no break in the summer.  Grant me wisdom in remembering to also care for myself, so that I can be the effective parent you want me to be.

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