It feels a little bit vulnerable to write about the importance of Healthy Rhythm to this group. Because let’s be honest, raising a child with any kind of special need does NOT lend itself to that. There are so many things that are unpredictable and our plans change frequently. Because that is our reality it makes rest so much more important.
Early on in our special needs parenting journey my husband and I were really lucky to be a part of a church that highly valued healthy rhythms of rest, work, and relationship, and so they became priorities for us.
So, let’s dig in and talk a bit about healthy rhythms.
One that is extremely important for all parents, but even more so those of us parenting child with high needs is REST. I define rest as something that brings you life. And that might look extremely different person to person. For me rest is active. I don’t do still well. So getting to go peruse target- kid free, while listening to an audio book feels restful. Or spending some time being creative, whether that is doing a home project, or sewing, that process of creating while might seem like work gives me life. Now my husband would consider both of those things work. And his rest often looks like getting away to watch whatever NFL game is on with a buddy. Or having literally nothing on the schedule.
Rest is something that is so vital for us to remain or get into a healthy place, but it feels impossible at times. So how do we make it happen?
We have to Plan & Protect it.
I don’t know about you guys, but nothing LITERALLY NOTHING important gets done unless it is on my calendar. Especially not something that is for me and me alone. No matter how vital something is to me I will push it off to meet the more urgent needs. But if I fail to take care of my needs it leads me to a thin place and then things start to unravel.
Rest for me started when a friend offered to watch my daughter 1 day a week for a few hours. It meant I had to let go a bit, trusting my friend to take care of my complex (then seizing) kiddo. At first it felt awkward setting aside those four hours to myself every week to not get things done, but to instead bring fresh air to my overwhelmed life. Then it became a habit. It became a time I relied on and resulted in me coming back as a better mom, wife and woman. Over the years it has transitioned to my husband allowing me the time every week and me doing the same for him. But we have to start by planning and protecting it.
God did not design us to work endlessly and then fit in rest at the end if possible. God created man on day six. And then day seven was a rest day. THEN, only after a day of rest Man set to work in the garden.
How would our lives change if we committed to scheduling a block of rest time- something that is life giving every week and doing it- and then working from our rest instead of resting from our work?
Written by Laurisa Ballew
Laurisa Ballew is a nurse by trade and mother to a special needs child by fate. She fiercely believes hope and grief walk hand in hand in life, and that storytelling is the universal language that connects us all. Laurisa has three daughters and writes about the constant humility of parenting in her blog Raising A Sisterhood.