This past week I was subjected to Black Friday (BF), a day of shopping madness, that became popular a few years ago here in New Zealand. I work in retail, and the store where I work did not have a Black Friday sale. It’s unusual to buck the trend and stick to your guns in this way, some people challenge you on it, others understand that business is business, and if the retailers don’t make any profit, eventually there will not be ‘retail’ where we can touch, smell and try on products before we purchase. But the mall was super busy and lots of people were buying up to get ready for Christmas.
I made a feeble attempt to buy a 70% off electric shaver for Mitchell at Briscoes. (Yes, he has whiskers and it is time). But I couldn’t find the advertised product and didn’t want to wait in the line that was 12 deep.
Anyway, it got me thinking about how busy our lives are, and how we push ourselves to do so much, especially in the month of December. What I have learned over the years is that the problems we face as families raising high needs children do not magically disappear just because it is the festive season. For me, December and early January are always a challenge for rostering staff and keeping up with the regular routines.
At our monthly High and Complex needs (HCN) meeting last week, we were discussing a new date to catch up after Christmas and one of the professionals commented that my life must be a scheduling nightmare. She was right on the button. Like any parent, as the school year ends there seems to be an increase in the need to taxi the kids to and fro, with exams and events starting and finishing at different times. In our case, we add in doctor and specialists’ appointments, on top of the ordinary chaos. Phil works Monday to Friday, with some travel and late nights for international meetings, I work 20 hours per week on between Friday night and Monday on a regular basis, plus some additional casual work. I then co-ordinate the staff roster, appointments and respite around our work and transport options and it’s not easy being available at the right time to make it all work. HCN has given us more time with Occupational Therapists, a Speech Language Therapist and a psychologist, but adding in their programmes to an already hectic life has made our somewhat already busy life a tightly scheduled organisation. BUT we can make it work AS LONG AS I DON’T WORK FULL TIME.
Dr and specialist appointments are not flexible, and Mitchell can’t choose when he is going to be sick. So far this year, he has had 35 days off school – that’s 7 weeks and that is better than the previous year. Annual leave, sick days are just not enough to be available for all of that on top of actually having annual leave for a holiday. Ha, ha and then, there is that stuff called housework.
That’s me when someone is coming to visit, otherwise, you will catch me these days with piles of washing, an unmade bed and dishes on the bench. I try – really I do, but if something has to give it is the chores.
But here is the thing. I got tired of being busy to a point that it was no longer healthy. When I stopped drinking I realised that I was so focused on keeping up, that I was just doing, doing and doing it all. So, while I still do a lot, there are times when I just sit and do nothing much at all these days. It’s quite tricky this business of doing nothing, but once you get used to it, it’s not bad. Doing nothing for me, is actually having a nana nap, reading a magazine, book or watching mindless TV.
So, this is what I have been reading of late. I know, it’s not exactly nothing, but it’s nothing that has a purpose, nothing that pleases anyone else, except myself. And it feels good.
Because I’ve slowly learnt, that I’m not much use to anyone else when I am not feeling good about my life.
So, as I/we go into the madness of December, don’t forget to take a breath, read a paragraph, stretch your legs. And I will try and remember my own advice too.