Special-needs parenting: Coping trick for difficult days

Sometimes all it takes is a simple little trick to help you get through the tough days.

1Anchel
Syona shares a laugh with mom. Photo: Anchel Krishna

Overall, life is good. I have a family I love, a job that I enjoy, and a beautiful, spunky daughter who I consider to be healthy. My perspective on life has changed since having my daughter—especially since she was diagnosed with cerebral palsy.

Being a parent brings me the most absolute, pure, unbridled joy. A simple giggle from my girl can transform the most mundane task into a fun moment. A car ride that includes listening to her favourite songs brings smiles to our faces and makes the kilometres pass quickly. Basic trips to the park, farm-stand or grocery store are some of my favourite family memories.

But being a parent can bring a lot of tough moments, too. Sometimes “mommy guilt” gets the best of me. Big life changes—like moving or a job loss—can often leave you feeling worse for wear. Syona’s special needs can add an extra layer of complexity. Sometimes she says things that break my heart. It’s easy to get lost in envisioning the future, with its mess of questions and unknowns. Sometimes simple things, like your child going to school, end up complicated.

It’s easy to get overwhelmed and certain things can leave you in a melancholy state. Over the years, I’ve been working on a toolkit to help me get over these moments so I don’t miss any of the good things that come our way. One of the first questions I asked myself was “Do I have enough?” which was inspired by an article in The Atlantic.

Just last week I had a conversation with my friend Cheryl, who blogs for Beautiful Side of Hectic, about one of my other favourite tools to battle gloomy days: my happy list. Here’s how it works: On a good day, think about all the things that make you happy. Write them down. Keep your list handy. When you’re having a down day, refer back to the list and start doing the things on it until you feel like yourself again.

Need some ideas to get you started? Here’s some of the items from my happy list:

  • Rolling around on the floor with Syona, playing and giggling.
  • Getting Syona to do her stretches and calling it yoga. Getting Syona to say the word yoga.
  • Listening to Pharrell’s song “Happy” with Syona.
  • Binge-watching just about anything.
  • A bowl of popcorn.
  • Goat cheese.
  • Sharing a big belly laugh with Dilip over just about anything.
  • Watching Syona and her cousins play together.
  • Chocolate cake.
  • Baking.
  • My first cup of tea in the morning.
  • Crossing something of my “to do” list.
  • A hug from my mom or dad.
  • Telling my in-laws I love them and hearing “love you” from them.
  • A good conversation with my sisters or friends (whom I don’t get to see nearly often enough).
  • Going to sleep at the end of a tough day, knowing the next day is a fresh start.

And, of course, if you aren’t feeling like yourself again and it seems like too much, reach out for help and talk to someone about how you’re feeling. We all need extra support sometimes.

Do you have a happy list? What brings you out of the tough moments?

Follow along as Anchel Krishna shares her experiences as mother to Syona, an extraordinary toddler with cerebral palsy. Read all of Anchel’s Special-needs parenting posts and follow her on Twitter @AnchelK.

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