Being a mom means you’re constantly being bombarded with decisions that need to be made, especially when it involves the care of your differently abled little one. How can you discern if you’re making the “right” decision? How can you make decisions quickly, without allowing it to follow you for days or weeks on end?
When you’re face with having to make a difficult decision, you can hit a state of paralysis which leads you to do nothing with the fear of making the “wrong” decision.
Here’s the thing friend, not making a decision is a decision.
Choosing to do “nothing” is a simply avoiding the situation, but it doesn’t make it go away. Just like that spilled milk… you can either clean it up now, allow it to sit there for a while, and allow it to collect mold by the time you get to it.
Or you perhaps you’re procrastinating on making a decision, because you’re suffering from decision fatigue.
You need to decide what groceries to buy for the week, what clothes to dress your children in (if they’re not able to pick out their own outfits), what sunscreen to buy (is it non-toxic, what other chemicals are hidden in there?!), meet your child’s dietary restriction, what projects need to be done at home (and at work), which therapy center or therapists should you child is, are you able to take on that role on the PTA/PTSA?
Feeling exhausted already?
Let’s help you work through some things to consider before making that decision that’s been lingering for quite some time:
1) Make space to think. Oftentimes referred to as getting still. You need to have some time “away” to do this. And by away, I mean, setting aside time away from our herd of not-so-tiny-humans.
That’s why my morning quiet time is so important to me. And for you, it could be at night when the kids are asleep. Close out all those apps, create some physical distance between yourself and your phone (or the tv remote– I’m looking at you Netflix).
And take some to really think about the decisions you have to make:
a. Will it serve you and your family in this season that you’re in? If adding special needs swimming or girl scout is going to tip over an already full plate, it’s okay to say no.
b. Only say yes to the things that truly serve you, and are life-giving. Does your chest tighten a little bit at the thought of attending a PTSA (or PTA)? You don’t have to go. It’s okay if Becky gives you the sideways glance. You
do don’t need her approval.
c. Or that coffee date that you’re dreading? Either because you always leave feeling as though you’re not measuring up or you felt forced into meeting other moms, it’s okay to not go.
2) Quit things that no longer serve you. Speaking of meetups and other social gatherings- if it’s energy depleting, and your energy can be spent better elsewhere: aka you want to disappear and zone out from the conversation…. just don’t go.
I repeat: just don’t go.
Half-way through a difficult season, and things were rough with our middle daughter, I stopped attending our local MOPS group. The women in my group were nice enough, but it felt as though we were in different worlds. The world of special needs parenting is hard to grasp, unless you’re living it daily. And when I’m with someone, I want to make sure I’m able to give them my undivided attention, and not be completely zoned out from lack of sleep and worry.
So, I took a break from that group half-way through the year. It’s okay to let things go that no longer serve you. Sometimes, we begin things with the best of intentions. We join a MOPS group, a committee, and we have good intentions, but then #lifehappens.
Finish off any commitments you have, you don’t want to just drop the ball (unless there’s a family emergency!). But finish off your duties to that committee and let it go. It’s okay to say, “hey, I really thought that this would work for our family, but in this season, I have a lot going on, and I’m going to have to discontinue being on the committee after my duties are fulfilled this month.
This doesn’t make you a bad person. You shouldn’t feel bad, or allow others to make you feel bad because something isn’t a good fit for your family.
What’s worse? Showing up resenting the task and the people around you, or finishing up whatever’s required of you and leaving on a positive note?
Going back to the MOPS thing, these women are still my friends. We even used one of them as our realtor when we purchased our home and we’re driving two hours to see her and her family for her son’s birthday. Because she means a lot to us, and we love them.
3) Consult your closest friends. Never be afraid to share aspects of your life with other people. My dearest and closest friends don’t have a child on the spectrum, but these girls are literally my “ride-or-die.” I’ve been friends with them long before Phirun ever entered the picture.
We’ve held each other’s babies, bathe them, cared for them, held each other’s hands during delivery. They know when to give me just the right amount of push and when to give me space.
So, when I’m having a hard time making a decision, I go to them. More than anything they allow me to externally process what’s on my heart. And sometimes, what we think is the problem actually isn’t. And they help me to uncover that. They allow me the time I need to share what’s on my heart and help me to break it down to understand the full consequences of my decisions.
4) Weigh its value in your life. Does it matter to you (or to someone else)?
This can be something as simple as deciding to join the PTSA (or PTA) or deciding how I want to run my blog. When I set out to build this blog, there’s a lot of information out there on how best to build a business out of it. Everyone had and shared their opinions.
But I chose to build it base on what I value most, which is why every piece of content is very intentional.
From the color palettes to the design of the free resources to blog posts to the group programs I offer– it’s all designed based on what I value: serving you content that lifts you, inspires you, encourages you on your journey as an autism mom. When I’m approach by brands and bloggers that wants to collaborate with me, I’m able to discern what’s a good fit for my readers.
Will this help you feel better about yourself, truly? Will it serve you? Or will it be just one more thing you have to add on top of your already full plate? And for the last six months, the resounding answer has been no.
So, is the decision you’re making something that you truly value? Does it align with who you are? If it doesn’t, and you can sense that it’s going to go against what you value, then my guess would be “no.”
5) Consider your available resources. Do have the resources to make this happen right now? Do you have the time? And if you do, where will it fit? What will you have to say “no” to in order to say “yes” to this?
Tim Ferriss will often say that time is money.
If you view time from this lens, you’ll understand that currency is finite. You don’t have “all the money in the world” and money doesn’t grow on trees. So, should I give my time aka my money to this. Or should I keep my time (my money) where it is? Either way, my time is being spent somewhere.
6. Consider financial resources. Do you have the financial resources to make this happen? I’m a big believer in financial stewardship, and governing this resource well. Where (if any) would you be able to pull the money from in order to make this happen?
7. Conserve your energy for life-giving activities, and for the things and people who matters most. Do you have the energy for this? You are always doing something, even if you’re scrolling, you’re doing something with that time. (side note: I love Instagram. That’s where a lot of my Autism mamas are, and I love seeing what Y’all are up to and how your babies are doing. I hardly ever deal with negativity on that platform, and if I ever encounter some I simply block immediately– I don’t allow trolls to take away my energy).
8. Consider its worth. Is it worth your energy? And remember, just because it’s something you can’t say yes to right now, doesn’t mean it’s something you’ll say no to forever. We’re created for seasons, and perhaps the circumstances of this season doesn’t allow for it.
But as your child grows, things may change, if you feel really discouraged because you have to say no.
9. Limit how many decisions you have to make. Everyday you’re being tasked with decisions to make, from your spouse, your children, to teachers, therapists, friends, etc. One of the ways to take decision making out of things like, “what time should I get up today?” or should you run or load the dishes, you know the mundane tasks, is by making it habitual.
There’s one of two ways you can go about addressing the whole “I don’t know what to wear to school today, mama:”
Check the forecast for the week on Sunday, and if your child is able to do so, have them pick out their outfits for the week. If they can’t, just pick it out for them. I usually pick out Jacob’s clothes for him for the week, but he always gets to pick out which pajamas to wear.
Declutter and cut back on their clothes, so they are able to easily pick them out the night before. Again, if your child can’t do this, just pick it out for them.
As far as decluttering goes, I don’t like to make decisions for our children on what they can and can’t wear, especially because my girls both have their own unique sense of style.
Our youngest loves anything with fairy dust aka anything that sparkles or is covered in glitter. My middle daughter is a leggings with anything kinda gal (kinda like her mama), and Jacob lives for comfort. So, he lives in sweatpants or shorts year-round.
As far as decluttering their closet goes, my girls are able to able pick-and-choose what to keep or donate. They’re expected to fold their own clothes and maintain their dressers/closets. So, they understand that they have to maintain what they keep. They’ve also taken to the whole KonMori method of folding clothes (thanks to the new Netflix series).
As for the famous question of “what’s for breakfast?”… it’s okay for the kids to eat the same/similar breakfast every day. For breakfast, we usually do a smoothie, hard boiled eggs with rice, and toast– I usually boil the eggs while I’m prepping dinner from the night before), throw some bacon or breakfast sausage onto the George Foreman grill, and we’re done. The same rule applies to lunch.
Dinners require a bit more planning ahead, and some day you’re just going to have to wing it no matter how good your intentions are. I’m not the best at meal planning, but I keep it pretty simple throughout the week: we usually do Taco Tuesdays, Spaghetti Mondays, Pizza Fridays. We usually eat what was leftover from Sundays (I enjoy cooking, and usually make a lot of food on the weekends) on Monday. I usually make Phad Thai or Curry on Wednesdays.
10. Automate wherever you can. I limit my grocery shopping to once a week, and bring along a list. When I would write out what I need, I found that I would always forget to bring my list. So, instead, I’ll write it out and take a picture of the list. There’s a 1% chance I’ll forget to bring my phone with me, and having a picture of a list has saved me so many times.
I usually shop at Fred Meyers or Winco, and try to stick to browsing only the sections I need to be in…. Unless, I just want some extra mom time, then I’m going down every single aisle! But I usually never deviate from what’s on my list.
I order from Smith Brothers Farm once a week, because I simply don’t have room for big gallons of milk in my fridge, and I prefer the taste of their milk and eggs. I stick to what I know we like so I’m not spending time trying to decide what brand of milk or eggs we should by. I’ll sometimes forget an item or two on my grocery run, and will add that to my Smith Brothers cart as well.
For fresh produce that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg, I order from Imperfect Produce weekly. This also helps to keep costs down, and my kids really love their in season fruits and veggies. I love both of these services, because they save me time and money, and I can cancel and skip orders if needed (which I seldom ever do!).
It’s one less trip to the grocery store that I have to make, and that’s one less decision I have to make.
Because let’s be honest, who doesn’t add a bajillion more things to your cart than when you go to the grocery store to “simply pick up bread or milk?” Have you tried walking into Fred Meyers or your local grocery chain with only bread or milk? You’re going to spot a “great deal” or realized “oh yeah, I’ve been meaning to get (or try) that.”
I used to do this all the time because it’s a $1 less. I didn’t account for the gas I spent to save that extra $1, the time spent at the grocery store– which could be spent doing anything else, or the fact that I’ll spend more time and money on impulse purchases. No thank you!
I choose to automate where I can, and so far it’s paid off with less stress on my end.
Now, it’s your turn! Declutter your calendar. Say no to the activities that no longer serve you in this season in motherhood. Then, automate, delegate, and systemize wherever you can, mama. To help you get started, make sure to snag your FREE guide to Making Better Decisions below!
Always rootin’ for you,