What is breaking point?
In a nutshell, we all have a certain level of stress that tips us over the edge. It differs from person to person, and we’re the only one who will know what that level is for ourselves. When I was working, my boss used to ask if I had capacity to take on more work. Invariably, I’d do everything in my power to say yes, after all that was what I was being paid for. There were a few occasions though, particularly towards the end, when I had to say no. In those cases he’d ask someone else to do the work.
With parenting it’s kind of the same, but oh so different. Unless you have other people you can pass the baton to, you don’t get to say no. You don’t get to reach capacity, and even if you have reached capacity you have to find reserves from somewhere, somehow.
While parenting autistic children (and home educating them in my case), it can feel like we’re constantly at full capacity. The extras fast tip us over the edge. Sickness bugs, accidents, sleep deprivation, long term illness. It all adds up, and means we are unable to do much more than the basics. It means that anything else is likely to push us to breaking point.
Saying no to the things that aren’t important in the grand scheme of life
Learning what to say no to is a great tool to have in your box. For me, it’s been a gradual skill that I’ve been developing over the last ten years.
It started by saying no to social occasions, which had always been a weakness. Prior to that I’d run myself into the ground, burning the candle at both ends. Then I started saying no to certain people at work, which was an absolute revelation. The trouble with being a yes (wo)man is that people take advantage.
Nowadays, I have to say to no to a lot of blog related things. Events I can’t go to because they aren’t child friendly. Sponsored posts and reviews that are time consuming and low paid. If it will yield little long term value, then I say no.
I don’t fill our days going to home ed meet ups that I know will end in disaster. We only spend our time with people who bring us joy. I try not to put my kids into awkward situations that will lead to meltdowns. I’m well aware that they will need to navigate these situations for themselves one day, but right now, while they are so young, it’s not a priority.
Having priorities in the right places
I think that’s what it all boils down to: having our priorities in the right places. Hubby and I made the decision to home educate. Although with our local school, we weren’t given much choice in the matter, no-one put a gun to our heads and forced us. Which means I can’t really allow myself to get to breaking point.
I have to put measures in place, to ensure that I always have a teeny bit of capacity left for a disaster. As hard as it’s been, I’ve had to properly come to terms with the fact that I shouldn’t expect to rely on anyone else. I saw a meme the other day which went something like:
In the end, everyone is just trying to save themselves.
It says it all really. People often want to help, but when push comes to shove, they aren’t in a position to. So I’ve been spending less time on social media, and more time focusing on these measures. I thought I’d share them, just in case they can help you.
It’s often the smallest things that make us the most happy
Eating well: I’ll bang on and on about this until I’m blue in the face, because it’s so important. It helps that I’m a lover of real food, and am used to cooking from scratch. Eating sugar free, low carb, paleo/keto doesn’t bother me in the slightest. Eating well makes me feel well, and these days I don’t even get tempted to veer off track, because I know it leaves me feeling dreadful. If you’re mood needs improving, the first place to look is your diet.
Exercise: Back in the day I would get up at the crack of dawn, and go to a 7am spin class before work. Then I got into hot yoga and loved it. When I was pregnant with Polly I did loads of pregnancy yoga. Then I had two more babies in three years, and boom. My love of exercise went out the window. You won’t see me getting out of bed at the crack of dawn now, unless it’s to pee and go back to bed.
I did my first spin class in about fifteen years a few weeks ago, and it nearly killed me! BUT, there is always room for something. So I’m establishing a good habit of doing planks, which are great for core strength and toning, among other things. I’ve started gentle, and am currently do five planks before getting in the shower each day. I hold the position for 45 seconds and rest for 15. It’s a tiny habit that can be built upon, because doing a tiny something is always better than doing a big fat nothing.
Creative outlet: I didn’t work on my novel for months, because I’d lost confidence in my writing abilities. I had convinced myself it was a steaming pile of poo and that it was unpublishable. I was afraid to reread the manuscript in case I hated it. But I did read it, and you know what? It’s not a pile of poo at all, far far from it.
So I’ve been working on it again, and I cannot tell you how good it’s making me feel. I’m proud of this book, and I will ensure it gets published. I’m enjoying the editing process, and I’m looking forward to seeing where I can take it. Watch this space.
Kindness: Kindness to others is a given, but boy am I hard on myself. I always have been, probably because when I was younger I knew no-one else would be pushing me to succeed. I had to learn to be my own cheerleader long ago. If you’re a regular reader, you’ll already know that I’m no stranger to the darker side of life, and I’ve come to conclusion recently that I need to stop fighting it.
No-one escapes a past like mine unscathed, that’s a fact. And no-one escapes the reality of super challenging children without having days that make you want to leave the house and never come home again. Call me an over-sharer, call me a tortured soul, call me a mess. I have my demons, I have my dirty little secrets. I still drink too much sometimes, because I’m still bloody useless at knowing my limits and always think I’m more sober than I actually am.
With the darkness comes the flip side
I have a hunger for learning, and growing.
I’m never afraid to look in the mirror and take responsibility.
I can bring words to life.
I have magic hands when it comes to food.
I am the best friend you will ever have, because I’m loyal and honest and always there.
As much as I think I’m at breaking point some days, deep down I know that I’m okay.
The kids are okay.
The husband is okay.
And things are going to work out just fine.
Ahhhhh life, it really is the simplest things that bring us the most joy. A shared punnet of British strawberries while we wait for the train to take us to the splash park = a trio of happy kiddos. 💖 Post-holiday blues, more teeth drama, witching hours that would send the sanest of us crazy, and as always a lack of Zzzz’s, have meant the last couple of weeks have been phenomenally hard. 💖 So I’ve taken solace in my little loves. Been creating like mad in the kitchen. I’ve forced myself to exercise, even did a spin class at the weekend, for the first time in about 15 years. But perhaps the biggest thing for me, is that I’m cracking on with the novel. After being afraid to even look at it for months because I’d convinced myself it was a pile of crap. 💖 You know what? I’m starting to feel much better. We really do have to do anything and everything in our power to make ourselves happy. Because if we aren’t smiling, the whole world falls apart. 💖 Have a great day folks 😘