I did it! I’m at the letter Z! A few months behind schedule, but it’s done, yippee! Now I can go back and add in the topics that I wanted to also do as some of the letters. But, before I do that….I have to find my Zen. Because Z is for Zen and finding your Zen in this crazy IEP world!
The traditional or older definition of Zen is that it is a type of Buddhism.
However, I prefer to view it with the more modern definitions:
Or, even better, the words that are related to Zen thinking:
I think that last one is probably what most people think of when they hear the word zen. Plus, it started with a Z and I needed a Z word!
Zen means different things to different people. And this won’t be one of the posts for caregivers about “you need to take care of you!” Because when I see those, I roll my eyes.
But, we can’t be walking around like these wrapped-up stress balls either. The IEP process is stressful. It sucks being on the learning curve as often as we are. We learn Early Intervention and then we have to learn Preschool, and then school age…and then we have to learn everything about our kids going to school, the stuff that regular parents have to know…we have to know that and the IEP stuff. And just when you’re feeling on top of it all–BAM! A favorite team member leaves. Or your child develops another condition. Or puberty hits. Or, hel-lo, age of transition! It never ends.
Here are some things that I do to stay calm. Some are actual action items, some are philosophies.
If I need/want something for my sanity, it is up to me to make it happen. My husband may buy me a massage gift card on some holidays, but by and large, it’s up to me. Ladies, if we are waiting for hubby to come home and say, “Honey, why don’t I watch the kids while you go get your nails done?” I think we’re going to be waiting a while. And while we’re waiting, resentment builds. So don’t wait, if you want it, get it. You deserve it.
If you don’t live this life, you don’t “get it.” Did you know any special needs families before you were one? Did you really understand what this life was like, before you lived it? I didn’t. And chances are, lots of other people don’t. Now-I don’t care if people get it and I’m not going to waste my time trying. If I need validation or support, I know where to go. It’s ok to feel disconnected (in some ways) from people who were previously close to you. Build on the areas where you can and fix the relationships worth fixing and the ones that are fixable. Some parents see this as a flaw–that if a friend/family member cannot truly understand what you are going through, then the relationship is inherently flawed because they cannot truly appreciate your struggles. If you can get over that piece and just accept that we don’t know as much about each others lives as we thought….it brings a level of peace. I mean it! Because as Robin Roberts has said, “Everybody’s got somethin’!” and we don’t know what everyone else is dealing with. And that’s ok.
Don’t let your indulgences take over. Whether it’s having a glass of wine or doing some shopping therapy or exercise….be on the lookout for “too much.” Adult-onset eating disorders, alcoholism…it happens. We do deserve a break, but keep it in check.
Be honest with yourself. Know your limits. Don’t overextend yourself. Don’t be afraid to say no. Remember, when you say yes to something, you are saying no to something else.
Seek professional help when you need it. It’s not at all uncommon for parents of disabled children to develop Generalized Anxiety Disorder, PTSD, depression or some other related condition. Know that it’s ok to ask for help. We have been given a lot on our shoulders. Knowing to ask for help and asking for help is a show of strength, not weakness.
You define what is your zen. I’ve had several people tell us that we need a vacation. Honestly, I love being with my kids. Sure, I need a break from them sometimes. But I really don’t want to take a vacation without them. And that’s ok! Just because the Poconos Travel Bureau keeps telling me that my marriage needs this, I define what I need. I’ve jumped in on the latest trend of adults using coloring books, and I really like it. I like walking my dogs each day. I like gardening. You define what gives you a break and your zen.
Other ways for special needs parent to find their zen:
- visiting a library
- outdoors activities
- window shopping
- watching trashy tv
- reading trashy books
- massage/beauty treatments
- gossip magazines
- thrill stuff–like rides and extreme sports
What do you do to find your Zen?