Friday, August 17, 2012

Three HOURS!

I recently attended a three-day seminar for professionals who work with children with challenges.  There were approximately 25 attendees from a variety of professions---occupational therapists, speech/language pathologists, physical therapists, etc.  They were all very dedicated to their work and exhibited a real passion for helping children.  It was a pleasure to learn with them.  During this seminar, the instructor told of a family she had worked with, and how they had successfully overcome their son's challenges.  However, there was a disclaimer---this family had worked THREE HOURS A DAY with their son.  An audible gasp swept the room.  THREE HOURS!?!?

I gasped, too---and thinking about it makes me gasp every time.  But I am gasping at the gasping.  I feel a wave of sentiments when I think about people being shocked by a family spending three hours a day helping their child.  Is it so rare that a parent would devote 1/8 of their time each day to the lifelong progress of their child?  I hope not.  I really, really hope not.

I know none of us thinks we have any "extra" time.   But please consider that your work with your child(ren) is worth more than the spare change of your day.  I know there are responsibilities parents must not neglect---yes, clothes must be washed, food prepared, bills paid, etc.  But with careful planning, you can dovetail those tasks to be happening WHILE you are doing the program.  Washing machines, crockpots, auto bill pay, etc are all tools that I would recommend investigating.  Find out how you can organize your household tasks to maximize your availability.  If you are not quite sure how to do this, you may want to consider .  She is a wonderful coach for organizing your household---and more.

It is great to actually track how you spend your time each day.  Write down what you do and for how long.  Then look at that list and decide if those activities can be re-arranged.  And you will inevitably find that some of them have to go.  You can't do everything every day.  So it becomes about priorities.  What is the MOST important thing you can do each day?  What will give you the most lifelong rewards and satisfaction?  When you look at your day through that lens, how you manage your time becomes clearer. 

And you MUST manage your time.  It is entirely too easy to let tasks take more time than they should.  I read once that cleaning out a closet will take exactly as much time as you give it.  If you don't set a time limit, it could take all day.  And what closet is really worth an entire day of your life???

It requires a lot of self-discipline to continue working on a program when there is precious little immediate gratification.  Your child's brain will most likely not be drastically improved after three days of programs---or perhaps three months.  The speed of their new brain organization is very, very individual and depends on a LOT of different factors.  One of those important factors is CONSISTENCY.  And that consistency will take a lot of commitment from you.  And I'm pretty sure that when you look at the big picture, you see that you ARE committed to your child(ren) and working through their challenges.

Ahhhh, the big picture.  We all love the "big picture."  I've climbed mountains, been in the Sears tower in Chicago, Reunion Tower in Dallas, the North Rim of the Grand Canyon and even climbed trees----just to have a view of the "big picture".  I wanted to take in the entire scene at once.  People everywhere are always seeking the best vantage point for the "big picture".  We are inspired when we look out and see the sweeping landscape.  It is sometimes peaceful when we are "above" the crowd and can see things without the hustle and bustle of being "in" the crowd.  So make sure you keep your big picture fresh--review how your child is doing, what is their next step for progress and how are you doing in achieving those steps.  If your child has been evaluated by Parents With Purpose, review the documents from that evaluation.  They figuratively give you a perch at the top of the tower so you can see the big picture.

So back to gasping at the seminar.  THREE HOURS???? GASP!!  Yes, you will need to devote time to helping your child's brain grow.  But I am confident that you can do it if you

  • organize your daily tasks
  • track how you spend your time
  • prioritize your activities
  • eliminate time-killers that don't contribute to your goals
  • limit the time you give to certain tasks
  • keep the "big picture" fresh in your mind
One more tip---listen to other mothers who have taken this journey before.  Learn from their wisdom and be inspired by their examples.  Contact me for encouragement and answers to questions.  

Ready yourself to say, "Yes, I devote <insert however long it takes> amount of time to my child's growth and development each day.  I've made it the priority because that is how I see being a mother.  I can't think of anything more important to do with my day."  You may even want to write this down and remind yourself when there are tough days---and there will be MANY TOUGH DAYS---especially at the beginning.

And then you will win.  And then we will celebrate.  And then you will look back and say, "It was all worth it" because the prize is that good!

If you are struggling with your child, please take it one step at a time .  Feel free to share this information with a friend who might benefit.  Parents With Purpose is happy to help.