I took my kids to work this week to set up the therapy room. The building was abuzz with excitement, teachers arranging (and then re-arranging) furniture, bookbins, and chairs, whilst chatting animatedly to each other. My kids automatically picked up on the high energy felt as they walked through the halls, and happily spent a good part of the day bouncing, jumping, and exploring as my co-OT and I set up the space for the soon-to-be-arriving children. I had no time for chatting! I was watching my kids and moving furniture. Can’t say a little, teensy part of me was not a bit wistful.
On the way home, as my kids dozed on the bus, all cuddled together in a warm pile, thoughts floated through my head, as I tried to get a handle on my own goals for this upcoming year, as I reflected on past years.
I have often looked upon being a working mother as a rather difficult position, at times, in the workforce (speaking for myself personally!); feeling so worn out in situations where I was kept up at night as I held a sick child, or running ragged as I prayed every single day that I would sprint fast enough to catch the right train to get the right bus (and that there would be no traffic)-so that I could be there to get my own children from the school bus stop. The list goes on and on and on. I had those moments where I would walk into work, bleary-eyed and gulping coffee, and be greeted by bright-eyed co-workers who had already gone to the gym! A little disheartening. The good news is that it is getting easier! The basic jist is: how can I do it all, and do it all well? (I’m not even going to get into my writing books-I basically don’t sleep😉).
Yet, on that bus ride, it hit me, and hit me hard (and I don’t know why). These three loves of my life, my priorities, actually give me an advantage that I haven’t utilized. I have the position of being a therapist, being a mother, and a special-needs mother. I have a foot in many different doors, affording me many different lenses. Have I used them enough in my day-to-day life? I’m not entirely sure, but I do know that I can always work to do better. That’s the point of life, isn’t it? I think that it comes down to outlook.
I am going to be brutally honest: I’m not perfect, life is not perfect-we cannot expect perfection out of children, parents, schools, etc.-just like I tell my children (and myself, when I can remember!), I think it’s about trying our best, give it our all. It’s not worth getting upset or angry over little things; life is just too short. If there is an issue or problem that crops up (as life tends to throw some of those our way, no?), try putting yourself into the opposing shoes; look at things from their perspective. It’s the hardest times in life, where you actually do this and overcome negativity and the desire to submit to lesser behaviors, that make you that much stronger. Our reactions in those moments are some of the strongest teaching tools that guide our children in their own ability to handle and manage stressful or difficult situations (no matter the magnitude).
As its back-to-school time, there are so many posts on tips and strategies for parents, teachers, caregivers, and therapists. I know I recently wrote one! You can’t do it all-and it’s not like there is a cookie-cutter recipe that will work for all of your kids, right? One thing that I do know is that:
-Kids learn by example; how you conduct yourself in your daily interactions, as well as your reactions to difficult situations is key.
-Be consistent. You don’t need to micromanage every part of your day, but if you can have even one small part of your day with certain rituals that are routine (ie-unpacking routine, bedtime routine, morning routine, community body break exercises routines in the classroom, etc), this helps kids feel regulated.
-Take care of yourself. Make sure you have time to do things that you enjoy. That will translate to positive energy all around, which will of course shine to your kids! You are setting up an environment of positivity:)
I wanted to write this before school starts (or at the beginning of school-for some of you). Whatever lenses you have to look at the world (and I’m sure you have a multitude!)-use them on a conscious level on a daily basis. Life is not just black and white; it’s all shades of colors. Make it that much more beautiful and full of depth. Wishing you all the brightest, happiest, and most positive start of the year!