I realised today that I’m always tired.
I am tired because the children are always special. 24/7 they need managing. We have read many books and talked to experts and the truth is that pretty much we know the things we have to do, the way we have to arrange things, what tirggers them off and what calms them down. The difficult bit is doing it, all day, every day. Keeping it up throughout car breakdowns, spontaneous holidays, people being ill and the myriad of ways that life can wear you out and once you’re worn out that’s puts you off your next day’s game.
I am tired because the children don’t sleep. After years of arguing we found out that ASD messes up their melatonin production. So, when it comes around to our idea of bedtime, chances are they just don’t feel tired. Forget all about routines, they’ll throw out every possible excuse and delaying tactic. And this then ripples, from the Youngest to the Eldest, to the refrain of “I’m not going to bed, he only went to bed ten minutes ago, it’s not fair!” This has got better over recent years because they all read so well. Youngest two would read all night if we let them and Eldest is a teenager in the middle of exams so he actually wants to go to sleep and catch up!
I am tired because the mental health system, especially for children is fragmented and under funded. As I said last week, I’m working as a project manager for the children’s care. All the meetings to attend and forms to completer are like having a small business on top of running the household. At the moment we have a confluence where both Youngest and Middlest are suddenly making progress and generating meetings and reports.
Because I am tired, I don’t achieve what I would like to. From tiny, daily things like not recycling as much as I would like. (Batteries. I have five different recycling bins in the home and I can’t add in batteries. It’s just a step too far!) I have cut down to two loyalty cards because I didn’t have the energy to organise any more. I was getting stressed trying to remember the voucher details to remove £1.37 from my bill!
To bigger things, like the house being full of half-finished or even not started projects. I don’t tend to go out very much in the evenings, and I have noticed that our socialising is becoming less and less frequent. It’s not finding and paying baby sitters – it’s the rearranging their schedules and dealing with the fall-out. Sometimes we’re simply not strong enough.
I used to be the one who would put up his hand, volunteer for the committee post, go and help, pitch in. Now, I don’t. I think about where I could add value and how much energy I have left, if there are gaps in my schedule. And if it really matters to me. There have been exceptions, but overall I am reducing the amount I have to do.
Because we’re tired, the house is always untidy. Yes, I know, we have always been messy but some days there are a lot of things that we just don’t quite catch. We’re not as organised as we were. This year I let the car insurance just roll over because I couldn’t face the price comparison sites. The Wife wants to change to a green energy supplier and again, I don’t know if I have the time. If I have to choose between cheap and easy, more often easy is going to win!
I do know that it will all be worth it. We are helping them to grow and to integrate and to find their place in the world. Their behaviour is definitely improving and they are happier.
I didn’t mean this to be a whinge, just a plea for understanding. If I seem a bit vacant, if I don’t turn up or if I retire early there’s a reason for it. If you haven’t seen me down the pub or at that meeting or helping around the school so much, I can explain.
I am tired.