For those of you who own a home I’m sure you understand the work associated with maintaining your home. I don’t particularly enjoy fixing things around the house, but since I’m a bit on the cheap side I usually try and do the repairs myself. Mrs. SuperDad has learned that it is best to keep AC and MC away from daddy when he is “fixing” things unless she wants them to learn creative new words. I’m not proud of that and I try to stay calm, but sometimes I lose it when that 15 minute job takes 8 hours and 3 trips to the hardware store. I think most of us can identify with that frustration.
For me, maintaining my sanity induces the same feelings as maintaining my house. Both are hard work, require more time than expected, and can be extremely frustrating. Since my ADHD brain can be a bit difficult to follow at times, let me elaborate. How our day goes is highly dependent upon what side of the proverbial bed AC rolled out on. If AC is in a bad mood everything, that she doesn’t want to do, becomes a meltdown. I’m in constant awe of how Mrs. Superdad hasn’t completely lost her mind yet. I can go to work and deal with a different type of craziness, but she doesn’t have that option. However, no matter how awesome you are there are going to be days where life kicks you around and your sanity is stretched to the breaking point. Even if you did everything “right” all it takes is one mega meltdown to get you that front row seat on the crazy train. Some days it is like living on the side of an active volcano waiting for the eruption.
So how do I maintain my sanity? I can’t… at least not all the time, but my moments of temporary insanity have become a little less frequent by doing just two things. First, get involved in something outside the house. I know some of you are thinking “You don’t understand. I can’t leave”. This is the way we felt and lived for years, but you can if you make it a priority. Start small and be creative. Look for local respite care or seek out someone you trust to watch your kid. If you don’t have the money to pay for someone to watch them then trade watching their kids, cooking them a couple of meals, etc… Remember keeping your sanity isn’t just about your welfare, but your child’s as well. You might start at once a month, but I suggest working to get out once a week as quickly as possible. The second is to take a mental health day. This is more than just a few hours away. This is 6+ hours of you time. For Mrs. Superdad and I it might just be sitting in our bedroom, door locked, binge watching a TV series or just reading a book while someone else watches the kid. I think these mental health days are vital when you start feeling as if your life is getting more and more out of control. If you lose hope your mental state can deteriorate pretty fast. I’ll be honest: I’m not always good at spotting my need for a mental health day and sometimes I wait too long. This is when I’m most prone to reaching that breaking point.
Autism is hard and none of us are perfect. We are SuperMoms and SuperDads because rather than run away we stay, fight, and do the best we can every day. We are not robots or perfect. There are days when I don’t feel much like an Autism SuperDad. However, I know that I don’t carry on just for myself, but for my family. So that means like keeping the house in working order, I need to keep myself in working order.