The New Year is here. What are your thoughts when you look back on the past year, what do you see?
For families with children who have special needs, it could have been a great year, a stressful year, a promising year, another learning experience. Each precious moment, continues to be something to treasure, a wonderful memory to share for years to come.
Many people see us in ways that we don’t see ourselves. We are so busy looking after everyone else, we often forget, to take time for ourselves, to look after ourselves the way we should.
There is this ‘exercise’ that some of you perhaps have seen come through via email this past year, it’s called One Word. Here is what you do. Send an email or even post on your facebook status the following: How would you describe me? It can only be ONE word.
I was very surprised at the replies I received. I had no idea people thought of me the way they did. I am very blessed to have such wonderful family and friends who think so much of me. I have printed off that list and it hangs in my office in front of me on my bulletin board.
Every now and then I look at that list and again am reminded of all the things I truly am, even if I don’t feel like them at the time.
Families sometimes find it difficult to find that balance between family, work, life, children, relationships, friendships. There is no sure fire way that will work for everyone, but there are many things that can help you work towards it.
1. Accept that life is an on-going process. It’s ok to not be perfect. Don’t fret if you don’t get everything on your list done. Make sure to take a few moments at some point in the day and take a breather, focus on what you’ve accomplished today, no matter how big or small it was.
2. Know when you have done enough. Many of us are overachievers when it comes to preparation, household chores, work responsibilities, or all three. Don’t be hard on yourself. Make sure you take time to relax and enjoy with everyone. Working two hours late at the office is not REALLY necessary; family and friends will do fine with smaller tins of fresh-baked cookies; it’s OK if your floors are less than pristine.
3. Share the workload. You tend to do everything for everyone. Think how routine tasks can be completed differently. Housework can become quality family time.
4. Understand what activities are important to you. It is easy to become overwhelmed. Prioritize things according to what’s important to YOU. If seeing your daughter’s school play is what matters most on a particular day, then put that ahead of all else. Most other responsibilities can wait until another day.
5. Focus on gratitude. Instead of obsessing over what needs to be done, be grateful for what you already have. When you consciously express positive and emotional appreciation, you attract more feelings of contentment and peacefulness. This will create positive change in both your personal and work life.
6. Consciously direct your reactions. Happiness is a choice. Finding the positive–delight, excitement, and contentment–in everything you do will change the outcome of each day.
7. Organize your whole life, not just work, with a planner. Buy a planner that includes other aspects of your life besides work. Home, health, and spirit/soul are all critical for your complete happiness. By using a day planner that recognizes this, you allow yourself to better enjoy both work and personal life.
8. Drop Unnecessary Activities
By making a list of what really matters to you, you may discover you’re devoting too much time to activities that aren’t a priority, and you can adjust your schedule accordingly.
9. Protect Your Private Time
You would probably think twice before skipping out on work, a parent-teacher conference, or a doctor’s appointment. Your private time deserves the same respect. Protecting your private time often leads to “greater satisfaction in both work life and personal life, greater productivity, and more creativity.” If you’re your own boss, it’s up to you to create boundaries that keep work from intruding on family time.
10. Accept Help to Balance Your Life
Allow yourself to rely on your partner, family members, or friends — anyone who can watch the kids or run an errand while you focus on other top priorities.
To get more alone-time with your partner, accept babysitting offers from friends and family, or try arranging a regular trade-off with another couple.
11. Plan Fun and Relaxation
Fun and relaxation are an essential part of living a well-balanced life.
“If you believe that the most important thing is to be happy in life (not when I’m a millionaire or when I retire but right now) then you can always make time.”
Until you get into the habit of taking time for yourself, set aside space in your planner for relaxation and fun. Plan what you’re going to do and make any necessary arrangements, such as childcare, to ensure you’ll be able to keep your commitment. “Remember, you make time for what you want to make time for”. If something is important to you, don’t brush it aside with a dismissive “I don’t have time for that.” You are in charge of your own schedule — it’s up to you to make time.
I hope one or all of these, you find helpful to get back on track for this New Year.
All the best to you and yours in 2010!