Happy New Year!  This is a great time of the year to take a bit of time and reflect on what has happened over the last 12 months.  Now that the hectic festive season is (hopefully!) calming down, I invite you to look back and congratulate yourself on ALL the wonderful things you’ve done to make your family a cohesive, happy and relaxed unit.  Equally, be curious about things that are not quite working yet, it is the nature of living within a family that you are bound to have some issues which are still a ‘work in progress’.

Let’s do some reflections on 2018 and analyse what worked for your family.

Tips before you start:

  • The paper and pens you use do not have to be lined
  • If it works for you, you could use different colours and potentially use blank paper
  • Sometimes the freedom of blank paper will allow you to express yourself how you want to, without any constraints
  • If you prefer to use a tablet or a computer, feel free to do so – if you choose this though, make sure you print it – so that you can see what you have written
  • If you can, find yourself a quiet space, where you know that you will not be disturbed and if you need to, you can always set a certain amount of time to give you parameters to work within.  (All humans like to have boundaries, it helps us feel safe!)

So, take a bit of time out of your busy day, make yourself a cuppa, find yourself a pen and paper and answer the following questions:

What were the wins for your child/ family?

  • Be kind to yourself, sometimes it can seem like you have no wins to celebrate
  • BUT take a step back, look at the big picture and write down some of those WOW moments that you’ve experienced over the last 12 months (and even further back than that if you want to – you could look back at 1 year ago, 3 years ago and then 5 years ago)
  • Remember, it doesn’t matter how small these wins are – little steps are just as valuable as big steps
  • What matters is the continuity of you not giving up, and when you have needed to, being willing to break everything down into small enough chunks so that your family CAN cope with it
  • Remember also, all of those times when you have wanted to give up, but you haven’t!  You have been willing to persevere, to keep taking a deep breath and to keep following the routine that you have decided on
  • This reflective process isn’t just about the young person in your family that may have SPD or have autistic tendencies, anxiety or any other challenges; it is all about how you and your significant family who have had minor or major wins throughout the time span that you are looking at
  • Be generous and compassionate with yourself and your family, be willing to write down what seems insignificant things – which actually are wins!

What areas are still hard and you want to make easier at home?

  • Ok, here’s your chance to write down all the areas that are still hard, the things that continue to frustrate you and all of the members of your family
  • Give yourself permission to just write – leave the analysis and thinking for later, this is your moment to be able to scribble down things for as long as you want to, until your pen stops!
  • I’d encourage you to do this in a totally non-judgemental way – leave out the ‘shoulds’ and the ‘can’ts’ – when you notice yourself about to write those sort of words with a potentially negative connotation …. take a deep breath and make what you write more neutral and less personal

What are your ways forwards as you welcome in the 2019?

  • It is totally up to you, you may want to continue and answer this question straight away OR you may want to walk away and leave what you have done
  • Your mind is a very powerful machine and you will find that once you have committed something to paper, it will often help to allow for some time for your brain to collate, order and think about what you have written.  It is often in moments when you are not specifically working on these questions that you will find clarity and ideas for how to move forwards
  • If your child is able to, it is also a great idea at this point to invite them to work through ways that you can all move forwards together.  If you get agreement with your kids for future plans, they can be much easier to implement successfully
  • Take some time to look through relevant articles on LifeSkills4Kids – this will provide you with countless ideas of how to tackle areas that you are still finding hard.  On our site you can find articles, podcasts, webinars and practical tips and suggestions to help you
  • If you are a regular visitor to our site, you will know that I am an Occupational Therapist with 20 years experience of helping and empowering parents

Remember that 2019 is a new year for you to experiment with and explore different strategies to help yourself, your kids and your family.  Remember also, that you are not alone – we are here to help you and help your kids to find ways to deal with their anxiety, sensory issues and to provide as many skills for all of you as possible.
You might find the following links in our website useful:

Written by Deb Hopper, Occupational Therapist

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