I'll admit that I do tend to be juggling a lot of things all at once. I've speculated a bit about why I do this, and come to the conclusion that I just like to have a busy mind as it stops me obsessing about just one or two stressful things all the time.
I have a variety of different kinds of things that I do, that serve different purposes. I garden for relaxation and enjoyment. I keep pets because I find both the kids and I find them therapeutic. I hang with friends because it is nice to have mutually beneficial relationships where I am valued and valuable while receiving moral support and receiving different perspectives on life. I do housework when I have to because it is good for my family to have a clean house at least some of the time. Sometimes I sit and watch tv (well- usually a rented movie because I don't much like tv) because it does me good to switch my mind off for a while. I go to meetings and appointments to make sure my ASD kids are getting what they need at school and in therapy. Sometimes I leave all the kids home with the oldest charged with watching the youngest so I can go out with Hubby (OK so we usually go to the shops and get groceries and the like, but it is still uninterrupted conversation time!!).
I try to balance the activities I choose keeping in mind that the kids need stuff done and I also need to look after my physical, emotional and mental health to be able to look after them. I stay pretty busy, and make sure I slot in regular planning sessions where I can look ahead and see what is coming up that I *have* to do and decide what else I can fit in. This is a time issue, an energy issue and to be honest a budgeting issue as well! There are always tough decisions involved. Some of these decisions are harder to make than others.
A recent tough one has been deciding to stop our weekly trips to a brilliant Occupational Therapy centre with G. I had to take into account that 1. even though the sessions were benefitting her, they were an hours drive away and took up most of a day by the time we got ready, drove there, drove back and dealt with G's tiredness afterward, 2. although we had funding available to us to pay for the actual appointment, I couldn't manage to pay for the petrol on an ongoing basis, and 3. even though it worked into our routine OK last year, this year with all the extra effort that will go into preparing G for her transition from preschool to school, I could't handle the thought of trying to fit the OT into the week as well. It's no easy thing to make a decision to stop taking your child to therapy. I sometimes feel guilty. I sometimes feel angry that I had to choose.
During a decision making process like this I often stop doing lots of other things. I spend a lot of time looking like I'm doing not much while I think, and process and deliberate. The house gets pretty messy, dinners get boring.... you get the idea.
I've been mulling over a decision the past few weeks. I have been studying psychology at Uni, with the hope that I'll eventually get to a level of study that will allow me to research education methods for kids with special needs and help to facilitate some change in our public school system. It's a big goal and will take me many years. I started it last year, just before we had G diagnosed. As I mentioned here I had been expecting a diagnosis of Aspergers, and came away with one of Autistic Disorder. Not much changed in practical terms initially, and I even harboured secret hopes that soon enough the Paediatrician would see that the work we were putting in was paying off and he would "downgrade" the diagnosis to Aspergers. As last year went on I had to admit to myself that the Paediatrician is right (!!!) she is Autistic and it is not just going to be a case of what worked for L will work for G. She is going to need a lot of support to transition to school. I have some great support in place from the preschool G attends and a local early intervention service called Connect. The school I and K go to, that L was at last year, is great and I know they will do everything they can to help too. It is just going to take up a lot of my time. I've looked at it and looked at it, and there is no way around it. I have a busy year ahead, even if I didn't have much else to do!! Something is going to have to go. As much as it pains me, I think it's going to have to be my Uni studies.
In order to progress to the next level of study when I finish the 4 subjects I am enrolled to do over the next 2 years, I need to achieve at at least a "Credit" level, if not "Distinction" level in each subject. I just can't see how I can do that with the time I have available this year, and I really don't want to waste my time and money to have to go back and repeat the subjects later. Not to mention that when I have difficult subjects to get through (like the level 3 Statistics that I should be starting this semester) the amount of stress that trickles back to Hubby and the kids is just not fair. So I am about to decide to defer my Uni studies. And I have to admit, it's disappointing and it's making me cranky. I love to study- it is good for my brain to have something interesting to focus on and it is good for my confidence and sense of self worth to achieve goals. I like doing something that is not all about looking after kids and running a household. I like doing something for myself.
But ultimately- the study will wait and the kids can't.
It does irk me that mothers of kids the same ages as mine are able to do other things, are even free to think about returning to the workforce to earn some extra money, and I am not. Even with G in preschool 2 days a week, I am still stuck in full time mothering role. Between G and L I need to be available. All. The. Time. And I feel like the balancing act is going to get more and more spectacular this year, even after dropping a major activity form my schedule. And I'm already tired! Better get on with it!