Joel and I often chat about being in survival mode…Survival mode consists of basically getting through whatever we are facing and taking life one day at a time. Like Bear Grylls in the wilderness spending all his time and energy just to find food to stay alive, somedays it feels like that…just not quite as extreme! This is often as due to a lack of sleep and in challenging situations we struggle to think any further forward than what’s in front of us at that time. In one sense survival mode is ok, we all have seasons in our lives when things are tough and we have to dig deep and keep pushing forward. However if these seasons go on for an extended period of time it is easy to loose perceptive and become completely exhausted and unfunctionable (I am aware this isn’t a real word but I talk about being functionable all the time…basically able to function!) Here are some of my top tips for surviving –
1). Sleep when you can. My Doctor chatted to me this week about the long term effects of sleep deprivation. She reminded about parts of the world that keep people awake for long periods of time as methods of torture. We are designed to need sleep…that’s the way God made us. I know when I have long periods of time without sleep I really struggle with everyday life and things that I often take for granted – talking to people, everyday tasks and thinking straight! Toby’s had a much better week in terms of sleep and we were encouraged that a new combination of two different sleep medications seemed to be working, however he got up this morning at 1am and so maybe I should take my own advice and go to bed. I do often have crazily early nights and it is not unheard of for Joel and I to go to sleep as soon as the boys are asleep. I often leave washing up in the sink and just sleep as the washing up will still be there in the morning!
2). Meal plan. Call me crazy but I meal plan for a month at a time. I sat down today and wrote a plan for the whole of February. This took a lot of mental energy but I find it really helps me in the long term. It means that each week I can just look at it and make a few adjustments if needed as often things don’t go to plan and that’s ok too! We have night’s where we all have fishfinger sandwiches as we’re too tired to cook anything else but hey that’s ok! It means I don’t have to think too much when going around the supermarket and we do mix things up when we see things on offer or plans change but I find it a really helpful tool and I don’t cook anything that takes more than 30mins prep…simple!
3). Freeze meals. This fits in with with point two but I often make a double batch and freeze half so we have a meal for the following week (this is all planned in the meal plan…I am sad I know!) This means that some nights I just have to defrost some chilli and cook a pan of rice which requires minimal effort and mess – winner!!
4). Pick your battles. Teddy has been quite challenging recently – this week he tried to throw a wooden car garage at speech and language therapist who was doing a home visit as I has talking to her (and not to him!) He’s just two and has a lot of character that needs shaping. Somedays I just don’t feel as if I have the emotional energy to deal with him so we try and work through one thing at a time and be constant with that rather than trying to deal with lots of issues.
5). Book in important jobs. My memory isn’t great at the moment so I use my calendar to book in things I need to do. Eg ring and order nappies, email so and so, check Toby’s updated EHCP….
6). Be flexible. ‘Check Toby’s updated EHCP’ (Education and Health Care Plan) was in the diary for yesterday evening however it didn’t happen so it’s booked in again for one eve again next week. It is very important (but not urgent!) the meeting was in November and I got the report last week and so it needs looking at but I need to be awake enough to do it!
7). Find some good friends. We have some great people in our lives who encourage us, pray for us and help keep our perspective right. They know who they are. We would really struggle without their friendship and support.
(have you noticed these point are getting shorter and shorter…ha…Zzzzz!!)
8). Find something that allows you to be you. I often feel better when I have had a bit of time to be me and not just Mummy. I enjoy seeing friends (without the boys), colouring, blogging (believe it or not), reading (sometimes when my brain is working!) and I find exercise really clears my head and helps me to think straight.
9). Don’t try and cram too much in. I’m the sort of person who goes mad being stuck in the house all day as I love to be busy and seeing people. However I do also need space in my week to get jobs done around the house and chill. Some days I just need to have a quiet day in with Teddy (especially if I haven’t had much sleep) Probably the best day this week involved a short walk to the post office and then making a giant den in the living room and watching films for the rest of the day until Toby came home. We watched three films and I’m sure I dozed off a few times but hey we enjoyed ourselves!
Teddy chilling in our den!
10). Pray for grace! These are in no particular order as this one is probably the most important. I know I cannot love and care for these boys in the way I should in my own strength. I’m human and pretty worn out at the moment. I need grace, patience, strength and plenty of other things too. I believe in a God who has given me these boys and so has everything I need to do the job and to thrive in survival mode. I need to keep my perspective right and be confident in the fact that I am not alone in all of this.
And it’s now 9pm so I’m taking my own advice and heading off to bed! Nightnight!