Taking Care of You
You know how when you fly, the flight attendants go through the emergency procedures? Good, stay with me. You know how they tell you to put your mask on before you help your kids or anyone else? Okay, good. That brings me to the point of this post...

We have to take care of ourselves in order to take care of anyone else. 

As parents, we all know this. We've been told this very thing over and over, but very rarely are we ever told how to make it happen. That's what I'm about to do. I'm going to tell you how I've made it happen, but not all at once. My goal here is to keep things simple and not unload 10 years worth of research onto you in a single post. 

One thing that I was struggling with more than anything when I first became a parent was the isolation. (I'm saying this as a big time introvert and lover of alone time.) However, I had just given up my government job to stay home, I lived in a new town in a new state in a new area of the country, my own parents were living in Europe, I was experiencing major health issues, AND I had a "high needs" baby. I knew I needed community and I needed it fast. So...

I joined a knitting group at my local yarn store! It sounds nutty, but it didn't happen overnight. I had been wanting to learn to knit so I watched tutorials on YouTube, looked at yarn, visited local yarn and fiber stores, etc. I finally decided on a time and place to take a class, and I went. Next thing I knew, I started going regularly to their informal gatherings on my husband's days off. Those ladies were amazing! They were patient and kind and gave me the gift of a hobby that I still enjoy almost 9 years later. 

Now let's translate this into something tangible for you. 

Do you have a hobby? Reading, painting, cooking, photography, gardening, etc. If not, what's something that you've always wanted to learn or do? Set aside 15 minutes (seriously, just set a 15 minute timer) every day for one week to do something related to your hobby. Make a Pinterest board, check books out of your library, search for online articles, see if there's a local group that meets up, etc. 

After a week, do one thing directly related to your hobby. 

-Choose the next book you're going to start and buy/borrow it, or set a 15 minute timer and start reading.
-Get your art supplies out of storage and put them in a place of honor where you'll see them every day, or make a plan to buy what you need.
-Pick an easy recipe that'll utilize what you already have on hand and make it that day, or watch a basic cooking tutorial.
-Take a photo, edit it, and post it today (give yourself a time limit), or learn how to take quality photos with a virtual unscheduled class.
-Spend 15 minutes gardening (indoor or outdoor), or decide what low-maintenance stuff you want to plant.

The idea here is just to work this passion into your existing routine in small increments, so it becomes a natural part of your rhythm. Keep it simple, low maintenance, and don't overwhelm yourself by trying to achieve perfection. Trust me. Part of my job is to help people do this. "Progress over perfection."

If an accepting community is something you need right now, we'd love to have you in the Everyday Sensory Life group. We're an inclusive group that shares resources, tips, and all the things for parents of complex needs kiddos. Click the image below to join in!

Check out other posts like this on my original blog Everyday Sensory Mom!