Learning to say NO!

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by Rebecca Toal
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As any parent understands, learning to say NO comes with the territory! 

But when you have a little one with special or complex needs, it takes on a whole other dimension…

And I’m not talking about just saying “No!” or “stop that!” to our children. Which happens many times during the day I am sure J

I’m talking about saying NO to housework.

Saying NO to laundry.

Saying NO to extra-curricular activities.

Saying NO to meetings.

Saying NO to get-togethers.

Saying NO to appointments.

Of course there is a time and place for all these things, and they are necessary and generally good things in our lives!

But sometimes, we have more important things to do at that exact point in time…Like kangaroo-care with your tiny premature baby clinging to life, or stretching and strengthening exercises with your little toddler with cerebral palsy.

The life of my family changed dramatically five years ago when we welcomed the teeniest of girls into our home.

She came home after six months in intensive care, along with her oxygen tank and feeding tube, and a whole lot of needs.

Most of all, she needed love and attention, and TIME… no, she demanded SO MUCH TIME! An.d many times other things would have to go undone, or just wait. I learned to just say NO! I can’t do that right now.

Sometimes I would feel guilty about not being physically able to do all the things I used to do. I had a new little person to care for and boy was she complicated!

But then I began to accept that it was OK to say NO! It really is!

So I’m writing this for you mums and dads who are feeling overwhelmed. You have found yourself unexpectedly in this group of “special needs parents”.

Maybe you are at the end of your tether. You feel pulled in every direction. You are depressed. You are exhausted. You don’t know how much longer you can go on like this.

Please take heart. I’ve been there. I still am there some days.

But I learned a few years ago that life would have to change, I would have to change.

I’m a mum of four girls, but I’m also a full-time carer for my daughter with disabilities.

I wouldn’t have it any other way. I need her as much as she needs me!

I’ve learned to protect our time and say NO (or wait) to many other things.

Life is precious. Our time is precious.

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