Ways to Help Parents of a Child with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Plan for the New Year
We’re about to wrap up the third week of January 2022, which means we are fast approaching that humbling moment where claims to better ourselves are about to be dropped, forgotten about, left in the cold depths of the winter season, as the chaos of our daily routines drags us back to reality. And right on cue is that deceiving little voice in our heads reassuring us that we’ll do better next year. It’s a collective experience we go through because change isn’t relatively something that comes with ease.
The burden of committing oneself to a big resolution feels overwhelming at the best of times. And making this commitment as a parent of a child with special educational needs and disabilities amid a global pandemic is a little much to add on, to say the least.
So, my humble readers, I’m writing this blog to suggest an alternative route; instead of trying to commit to big resolutions this year, why not try and keep small promises to yourself?
What do I mean by small promises?
Well, these are little things you can do every day and make them a habit by implementing these promises into your daily routine. These aren’t typically exhausting tasks, but the consistent effort can create a big difference to your overall wellbeing.
Here are some examples of small promises:
Drinking more water – Dehydration alone can contribute to feelings of fatigue, low energy levels and decreased concentration. So, implementing this could very well help with your quality of day-to-day life.
Committing to practising mindfulness throughout the day – Mindfulness is a brilliant way to reduce parenting stress and helps with being more present. An easy way to schedule this is by creating a reminder and saving a breathwork video on your phone, which you can return to as and when you need.
Taking 15 minutes to read some pages of a book – I’ve linked some recommendations for best reads of 2021 here.
Prioritise scheduling rest – You know your day-to-day schedule best even if you can only carve out 10 minutes, do it. This time is there to refocus your mind and your body.
These small promises won’t just help you cope with your days better, they’re also a great way to instil trust in yourself that you can be there for yourself.
If you like this concept and want to make these small changes, but don’t exactly know how to start, read on to discover a technique that may be just the thing for you.
SMART Goal Setting:
There’s a saying that goes as follows: “A goal without a plan is just a dream.” Dr Edwin Locke, a researcher for goal setting, concluded in a study that 90% of the time, specific and achievable challenging goals led to higher performance than easy, generic goals. I’m going to let you in on a little technique that’ll put you on the favourable side of those stats: SMART goal setting.
SMART goal setting is a mnemonic acronym, which is a criterion for setting goals and objectives. It essentially helps you achieve whatever you want to aim for through a feasible plan that’s just right for you.
Specific – target a specific area for improvement.
Measurable – quantify or at least suggest the change that will be an indicator of progress.
Attainable – quantify a realistic amount of time for the goal to be achievable.
Realistic – state what results can realistically be achieved, given available resources.
Time-related – specify when the result(s) can be achieved.
Resolution: “I want to prioritise my mental wellbeing so I can be present for my family” – An admirable desire, but the generic statement lacks any applicable steps to help keep to this momentary intention.
Now let’s try this as a SMART goal with our small promises.
“I don’t drink enough water and that has been a cause of headaches. I’d like to drink more water.”
“‘I’ve wanted to read but sitting down with a book has always seemed overwhelming and too time-consuming for my busy load. I want to read at least a little more, though.”
“I never have any me-time. Prioritising myself has never been an easy task. I need some time in the day where I can sit down with a cup of tea.”
Measurability + Attainability:
“I usually drink a couple of glasses of water a day. I know that’s not enough, so I aim to drink four glasses worth every day and gradually increase this as the months go on. Four glasses is achievable with my current schedule.”
“I know I can spare some time every day to read around ten pages before bed.”
“Carving out around 15 minutes during the day/evening just for myself seems doable for my otherwise busy schedule.”
Realistic and Time-Related:
These goals are to help YOU. So, if they start to feel overwhelming, you have the power to adjust your approach to your schedule.
I suggest reflecting on a few questions to help keep these goals a part of your routine:
1. Is it truly bettering your quality of life? If so, how?
2. Is the timeframe you’ve given to achieve this goal realistic enough? If not, how can you adjust it so that it is?
3. Will you be able to keep this goal a priority?
Asking yourself these questions will not only hold you accountable to these goals/promises, but they will also refresh your motivation to keep going.
Good luck, and a happy new(ish) year.
Oh, and one last thing; you’re doing the best you can with what you have, and that is more than enough. I hope this year is good for you.
Blog by Samia Ali