Christine A Howard

Finding Balance as a Special Needs Homeschool Mom

Balance is a word we so often hear today, isn’t it? We are told that we need a balanced diet, a balanced work and home life, a balanced budget, and so on. But what does balance look like when you don’t have ducklings in a row and instead have squirrels at a dance party? After all, most of us special needs moms feel that way at times, and then throw in homeschool on top of all of that, and it can feel pretty unbalanced. Here is how I find balance in my everyday, and I am hoping it helps you find balance in your’s as well.

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Know Your Limits

I know you have all seen the meme going around about God giving special kids to special people. While this can seem very offensive, I do have a theory about why people tend to say that. It’s not because they are trying to be ingenuine. I truly believe that they can see just how hard we special needs moms work to provide everything our kiddos need. They are not trying to be mean, as much as they just don’t have a great way to express their amazement at what we can accomplish in a day.

All that awesomeness gets tiring though. We have to realize that even though we want to do everything, we simply can’t. By knowing our limits, we can focus on the things that are truly important, and let the less important things slide a bit. Am I preaching to the choir yet? Of course I am. We all know that we need to set limits for ourselves, right? The real kicker comes in when we start to look at where we can say “no.”

My mother used to say that if you won’t remember it in 5 years’ time, it doesn’t truly matter. This is a rule I try very hard to live by today. When something comes across my plate to get worried about, I ask myself that question. If the answer is “yes,” I give it my time and attention, but if not, it goes by the wayside without a bit of regret.

Know Your Child’s Limits

I am so guilty of this. There are times that my heart just morns for the losses that my kids face. Our kids miss out on so many things that typical children have. I find myself working so hard to bring these same experiences to my own kiddos that sometimes I forget to ask some very important questions. I can get so caught up in mama-bear-mode, that I can forget to include my child’s well-being into my march for equality. So before I go to battle over some inequality in my child’s life, I need to ask a few questions first.

Who actually wants this?

How will this benefit my child?

Will this be remembered in 5 or so years?

There are so many times that I see something that I think would be a wonderful memory for my kids, and go running after it. Typically these are things I wanted as a child and didn’t get, or things I did get as a child and thought were amazing. Too many times, I find out that my child isn’t as excited as I am.

Recently, my youngest daughter was asked to participate in a choir event at a local church. We politely declined. To provide a little background, my daughter is a tiny 12 year old, non-verbal cutie with Down Syndrome. At first, I was like yeah! They are finally understanding inclusion. But, then on second thought, I realized that this would not be great for my daughter. Yes, I wanted the photo op and the Facebook love, but I really wanted my daughter’s happiness more.

She would not have understood what was going on, and she really loves her swing time after dinner. This would have been just for me, and I realized that our Tuesday evening would be much quieter and stress-free if we declined. So that’s exactly what we did, and I have zero regrets.

Know When To Have Fun

There are days when I look back on the hours and realize we have actually accomplished nothing but arguing. The math is not done, no books have been read, and my sanity (and the kids quite frankly) is in a huddled mess, hiding in a corner somewhere. That’s when a little mood therapy is in order. Balance means knowing when to lighten up.

Laughter is really the best medicine, and sometimes you have to just take a breath, step back and take a moment to have fun. Have a silly, nonsensical conversation. Watch a 30 minute video together. Get outside for a minute or two.

The best part is that you get to model self-care to your children. Trust me. They are going to need to know how to manage self-care as they get older. By showing them that you can take a break and have a little fun, you are teaching them to take care of them.

We are super great at making sure our kids eat the right foods, become likable people and learn what they need to know. Let’s also make sure we teach them to take care of their stress-levels and emotional selves.

Know When To Throw In The Towel

There are times that it truly feels like we have hit a wall in our house. We will have spent what seems like weeks on a concept with zero progress and sometimes even regression. And of course, I am spinning my wheels trying new things, scouring the internet for more new ideas, and falling further and further into frustration

When life gets like this, I am certain my daughter feels like a total failure. It can’t be good for her self-esteem watching me hammer away at something that maybe shouldn’t be worked on at the moment. Sometimes being the best mom I can be means throwing in the towel.

I don’t mean stop being a mom, or even stop homeschooling. That would be a bit drastic. What I mean is that sometimes we have to let go and admit temporary defeat. Kids will hit a wall in their learn on occasion, and that is perfectly okay. We need to be able to set things aside for a time to keep things moving forward peacefully.

My daughter had hit a wall with one of her reading workbooks. She couldn’t get anything correct anymore, and I had no good reason as to why. After too much frustration, I decided to put the book away for a few weeks. We brought it out again today, and it went amazingly. She picked up the workbook like it has always been the easiest thing for her. Throwing in the towel, even for a little while, provided the balance she needed to keep moving forward.

Know When To Be Content

Shocker. Life is not perfect. I am only telling you this, because I need to hear it. It seems that I can forget this detail sometimes, and I can push for perfection. As special needs parents, it is our job to push. We push our kids to work hard, we push society to accept our kiddos, and we push ourselves to be the best parents for our kids. All this pushing can become so ingrained, that we can forget that it does not all have to be perfect.

Balance comes in being content. I have to remind myself that I don’t have to have all my ducks in a row. Actually, I can be very content with my squirrels at the dance party. Dancing is fun, right?

The truth is, where ever we happen to be, we can be content knowing that we are doing our best and our kids will be okay. Finding balance means that instead of looking at what could be, we start looking at what is and making peace with that.

Artists know one simple fact. There is perfection in the imperfect. We can be content with the imperfections that make our lives beautiful, just like an artist is content with the brush strokes that make her painting. Finding balance means that we need to be content with ourselves as well as our children. Then our stress-levels go down and our joy increases. And everyone can use more joy.

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4 thoughts on “Finding Balance as a Special Needs Homeschool Mom

  1. Excellent reminders for all. Great post. Thank you for sharing it with everyone and linking it up through the Blogging Through the Alphabet linkup.

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