Autism Mom, Autism Parenting, Life Management, Self-Care

Letting Go of Chaos To Parent From a Place of Peace

Parenting Autistic children in the midst of life changes can be challenging. Here are some things I’m letting go of so I can stay afloat in the midst of a move and changes to our daily rhythms and routines. (Not sure what I’m referring to? Check out my post on Supporting Your Mental Health in Hard Seasons of Motherhood)

We skipped spelling lessons and opted for leaf watching. Jacob really enjoyed watching the leaves and squealed with delight every time the wind picked up.
  1. I’m letting go of our spelling lessons for the time being. (Our son is non-speaking, and spells with a letterboard along with his proloquo2go to communicate.) We’ll try to get a few lessons in here and there but I’m not really pushing it. Speaking of lessons, fall is one of our favorite seasons with cozy blankets, sweaters, and the beautiful array of colors that make up Autumn. Here’s a great spelling lesson about Autumn Leaves from our friends over at I-ASC for your Autistic children. 

If you’re homeschooling your child, (supplementing their learning or running a home-based therapy program) and things are challenging right now or busier than usual– lean in closely, friends– it’s okay to skip teaching days. Our kids are still learning as they engage with the world around them. It can be via going for a walk, visiting your neighborhood playground, playing outside, or simply listening to music or an audiobook. Our Autistic children are sponges, absorbing information as they do throughout the day, and the latest research shows that your child will retain information better through play and as they engage with their environment. 

What are some of your favorite natural learning activities?

Jacob is leading from the back and moving at his own pace. We knew eventually he’ll catch up to us, and allowed him the space he needed to go at his own pace.
  1. I’m letting go of our timeline for flipping our previous home into a rental. Originally, we thought we could do it within two weeks…. and then reality sets in. It’s going to take us longer than we’ve hoped. While we don’t want to be in a position of having to pay two mortgages, we’ll be okay if things don’t work within our timeline. We’re taking the pressure off ourselves, and I’m able to breathe a sigh of relief just typing that. Likewise, when it comes to the goals you may have set as a part of your IEP team, or even your home-based therapy program, it’s okay to let go of the timeline. 

Your child will make progress at their own pace. It may be slower. It may feel like they’re barely making any progress, but they’ll get there at their own pace. This is something I’m constantly reminding myself as well. Because the reality of it is that sometimes, our children will show signs of regression — and as a parent, it’s difficult to watch them struggle. There are always setbacks, give yourself and your child extra time and grace, they’ll get there when they get there… and really there is no actual destination. 

What are some goals or timelines you’ve set for yourself or perhaps your Autistic child that you’re willing to part with and allow things to happen at their own pace?

I’m taking a step back to allow him to lead the next team meeting. I’m blessed to have a husband who is dedicated and as involved as he is and am giving him more opportunities to lead the team.
  1. I’m letting go of my need to lead every meeting. We’ve met with Alyssa’s team this previous spring, and have her 504 Plan meeting coming up next week. I’m going to take a step back and hand this one off to my husband. As mothers we often feel like we’re the only ones who CAN do things… and we tend to forget that we have partners who can step in and help. My husband is involved and attends almost every single meeting with me— and I don’t take that for granted at all. I’ve already looked at the accommodations, and our daughter is excelling at school this year. 

If you’re in a busier season right now, what’s something you can allow your partner or someone else to take the lead on? It doesn’t always have to fall on you, friend! 

The problem and blessing with being everyone’s go-to problem solver? Well, 1) mothers are natural problem solvers so everyone wants to come to us to solve their problems (“mom… where’s my coat, homework, etc”) 2) it gives others the opportunity to lead. That could be your husband, your other children, or if you work outside the home, serve at church, or volunteer at your child’s school– someone else can take the lead. 

It will be okay. Who can help take the lead on your next project, meeting, etc?

We decided to tackle a lot of things ourselves in an effort to save money, and we realize along the way that it’s okay to NOT DIY everything, and hand tasks off to the pros so we can get back to spending time with our babies.
  1. Letting go of DIYing everything, and decided it’s time for us to outsource what we can. I’ll be honest here, and say that as someone who teaches and has helped countless women work through their mindset— the scarcity mindset still rears its ugly head every now and then. If you’re not familiar with our story— you can read more about it here— but the jest of it is that we used to be poor. We both grew up in poverty (our families were both refugees), we got married young, had kids young, and were barely getting by. Friends and members of our church would bless us with clothes, and random food drop offs. This isn’t a sob story, I promise… because out of that season of poverty— God has not only provided for us through an incredible community— but has blessed us with a new vision and greener pastures. Fast forward to this day, and here we are. All that to say that we grew up and lived with a scarcity mindset all of our lives… and this home purchase was a reach for us. Not because we didn’t have money for it (praise God), but we were terrified of spending it. 

Now, completely debt-free (thanks to Dave Ramsey), we only have our home and rental property to worry about it. We’re in a time crunch, and were afraid to hire out— so we did a lot of things ourselves. Replaced our fencing (complete newbies here, and it was our first time using a concrete mix for fence posts), and worked on landscaping and curb appeal. We’ve decided that it’s not realistic for us to tackle every single thing on our own given how quickly we need to turn things over. After some honest conversations, and working through our money mindset (again), we realize we can easily pay someone else to do a deep move-out cleaning and to finish off the landscaping in our backyard. 

And I don’t take it for granted at all and am so grateful for how God has blessed us. If you’re working through some abundance mindset and money mindset yourself, here’s a mini-guide I’ve created to help you get started. 

Our children feed off our energy, and I knew I had to say goodbye to grumpy mama.
  1. Letting go of my need for our home to be presentable. We have boxes everywhere, and the more frantic I move in my desperate attempt to make the house look presentable, the more irritable I become… and children FEED off our energy. Even if it’s not directed at them, they can sense it from a mile away. My middle daughter’s stress response is FAWN (people pleasing), in her attempt to help me remain calm. And that’s not fair to her, or my other kids. The more agitated I become, the more Jacob becomes agitated. And I didn’t fully recognize this until Monday, when it all became too much for him— his desperate need for a sense of familiarity, and normalcy— met with my need for our home to be presentable. 

So, I’m letting go of my need to have our home presentable ASAP, and doing things in smaller chunks. I’ll start by focusing on the rooms that are most noticeable for me. Right now, that’s the formal living room and our formal dining room/my office. To help me show up less grumpy (I mean… who really wants to be around grumpy mom? Definitely not my husband or kids.). I’m making sure to give myself transitional breaks throughout the day. This is such a simple practice that you can do anytime, but I’ll sometimes forget to do: between tasks take a moment to BREATHE. Inhale fully. Hold for 4. Exhale for 8. Inhale fully. Hold for 4. Exhale for 8. I repeat this about 3-5 times, and this alone helps to lessen my stress level. 

How is your energy around your Autistic children? What’s something that you can do to help lessen your stress so you can parent from a place of peace and calm? 

I hope this was helpful and it encourages you to let go of one area of your life that’s been stressing you out.

Always rootin’ for you!

-Michelle 

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