happy father and son sleeping on sofa at home

Special Needs Parenting: It’s OK To Admit You’re Knackered

I am absolutely knackered.

I’ll come on to why but it’s also good to get that out from the start as an excuse for what follows. I’m tired, that means that what I think to be good writing will be rubbish, you should lower your expectations accordingly.

I’m knackered because I’ve been working quite a lot of late, til beyond midnight the last four nights.

Staying up even after working also hasn’t helped, I claim I need to unwind, but really, I just get comfy on the sofa. Last night, I got so comfy I found myself watching the 1959 film version of Jules Verne’s Journey to the Centre of the Earth on More4 until 2am. It’s a terrible film made from a great book – if you want to waste 3 minutes of your life, the trailer is below. They don’t make trailers like this any more, which is probably a good thing.

I’m knackered because I’m not getting much sleep because of ongoing wisdom tooth pain, every night at around 3am I wake and reach for more tablets, trying to do the maths to think whether it’s been 4 hours since the last dose and then deciding that it really doesn’t matter either way, I’m having one. (Not official medical advice, always refer to the label…)

On top of all this I have the tiredness of being a parent and being a parent to a child with additional needs. It’s not a competition, all parenting takes energy to be done well but you’re not going to convince me that being a parent to a child with additional needs doesn’t add an extra level of tiredness.

There’s stress about school, medical appointments, thinking to the future and just trying to get the child to sleep before 11pm occasionally. Routine minutiae is tiring – teeth brushing, trying to find the most acceptable option for hair cutting, little battles over clothing.

To do additional needs parenting well you give everything extra thought. It’s what we do but it is bloody tiring.

I’m reminded of this now because today I haven’t got all that much done and I’m feeling guilty, and yet today is a day I had planned as a lazy(ish) day. I had looked forward to it.

Four days ago, with 40 hours work, dental pain and interrupted sleep ahead of me I had looked forward to today and thought ‘Monday, when the kids are dropped off at school, that’s it. I’m going to go back to bed, or have a bath, or just sit in a cafe and have a cake and coffee for an hour. It’s me time.’

And then – and I’m sure you’ve been there – today comes around and not doing much feels too indulgent, it makes me feel guilty, there’s always stuff that could be done, whether it’s freelance work, or tidying the garden or searching for a much-loved missing toy.

The end result is a sort of worst of both worlds, like finding your country is in the midst of an existential crisis and Boris Johnson is about to take the helm. You don’t get much done (exhibit A – I put a wash on, hung it on the line, didn’t notice it had started raining an hour later) but also don’t rest up and relax.

We are all tired, we’re all operating on a bit less sleep and a bit more stress than might be ideal.

If a chance comes along to rest up, take it, not doing so doesn’t actually benefit anyone. It doesn’t help you, it doesn’t help tick much off the mental checklist of ‘endless stuff to do’ and it doesn’t much aid your child or family either.

A bit of me time is actually a bit of everyone time, everyone benefits from it. Be good to yourself, rest and relax when you get the chance.

Not the best final few pars there, but this was meant to be a lazy day. Just writing a blog post is an achievement. I’m doing well, I deserve a bit of down time. You do too.

With that, I’m off to eat cake.

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