Time does not fly when you're a single parent of three, a son with autism who has a sleep disorder and rarely goes to school. All days seem to merge into one, yet somehow you turn round and your eldest is preparing for University!
I'm a runner; I say that loosely, my days of running 8-10 miles three times a week along the stunning Cornish coast are long gone, three years and eight months to be exact. It's a miracle if a get out for a mile these days, my 'me' time has turned into a sneaky five minutes sat in the car after shopping, stuffing a secret chocolate bar down as quick as I can! The endorphins released after a run last longer, both mentally and physically, they just don't taste as good!
I'm not really sure where the night ends and the morning starts.
By 10pm I'm exhausted, usually spend time catching up on social media (for business, honest!), courses I've enrolled on, ironing, washing up etc. before I know it, it's almost midnight and my son is still awake.
He refuses his melatonin and if he's not been active during the day, he just doesn't feel sleepy. Getting him to be active is a mammoth task, sad, as when we lived in Cornwall, we were hardly indoors at all.
By the time I get into bed, I've secured the downstairs like a prison, otherwise he goes on a food hunt. The rest of the night is interrupted numerous times, often woken by a beam of torchlight as if it was a random cell check! So it goes on until 6.30am when I finally crawl out of bed to get everyone up for school.
It can be an instant meltdown just by asking him to get ready, or he'll fall back to sleep. Mornings are incredibly stressful and after I return from dropping the girls off, I have the battle of trying to get him in before I go to work at 12pm. This means that 'free' time I could have to myself for three hours is actually spent either defusing a meltdown, controlling a meltdown or just simply not doing what I need to do for myself, certainly not going for a run.
I go to work, having made sure he's safe or asleep, collect the girls, then the evening is spent cooking, cleaning, taking the girls various places, dog walks etc.
The night pans out and we hope the next day brings sunshine and school.
So, no respite, no break, no time for me.
With Easter holidays, the school pressure is off and I live in hope for making more moments count for myself.
It's so important to try and find 'me' time. It's not selfish, far from it. Mindfulness and exercise help create the best version of yourself, which in fact benefits not only you, but also those around you.
I'm heavily reliant on my eldest daughter to help out with looking after him, usually so I can pop to the shops, on rare occasions I meet up with friends. Any chance of going on a date is out of the window not that it matters; it's only been six years!
So here's to a Happy Easter filled with more 'me' than usual instead of filling myself with more chocolate!
Simple exercises for mind, body and soul
Mind - Have a mini de-clutter. Choose a couple of items from your wardrobe and take to the charity shop. Always gives you a feel good factor.
Body - Inhale peppermint to suppress food cravings and boost mood and motivation. (Check on the quality of the oils first and always ensure they are suitable for inhalation or you could always use fresh mint leaves).
Soul - Spend fifteen minutes writing your thoughts down, anything that is bothering you or creating negative thoughts. Then burn the paper or rip it up and throw it away. You will feel powerful and in control of that negativity.
Doing small acts of self care little and often will create a happier, more contented you. Caring for children with special needs is hard whether you are a single parent or not and by looking after yourself, you are able to be the BEST version of yourself. Think of your car, if you neglect it and don't give it regular maintenance checks eventually it needs a complete overhaul.
You deserve the best you and so do they!
Look after yourself.
Jane is a new Family Fund blogger, she has been a single parent for six years. She has three children, it was clear that her son was in need of great support & the long journey of numerous assessments began. He was diagnosed with Autism in April 2016. Read more of Jane's blogs at - www.coffeeandglow.co.uk