(Or “You don’t have to be perfect”)
I read something somewhere that our brain can’t visualize a negative. “Don’t shout” is harder to process than “Speak quietly”. It makes sense to me, so following that, this post is about Being Imperfect.
Right now as I type, my ADHD child is “doing Maths” behind me. That’s to say, he’s singing at the top of his lungs, asking me a million questions (“How long is summer?” “Why does this Cheerio always land this way up when I drop it, when this Cheerio lands both ways?” “When will that tree outside have leaves on instead of just flowers?” “What makes those batteries charge?”) and doing a Level Up celebration on my bed everytime he answers one question.
I woke up this morning and almost immediately had to wash cat poo off one of our cats, go out and rearrange the rain cover on the chicken coop and take a phone call from the GP as well as coaxing my recalcitrant 12 year old to open her Grammar book and teach my 10 year old how to divide decimals by a 2-digit whole number (why-oh-why?????).
Life is BUSY.
And in all that busy-ness, there’s also the need to meditate, to work on eating clean, to scrape out some time to do something I love and get to bed on time.
It’s not easy.
A few years ago I was watching various recovery things on YouTube from people who’d been where I was and recovered and one particular video stuck with me. He repeated several times throughout that “You can’t cheat, you just can’t cheat”. The trouble with that is that when you’re bone-shatteringly exhausted and you crawl downstairs, grab a bowl and all you can manage is to pour in some Weetos, add milk and eat it spoonful by knackered spoonful, the whole time you’re so aware that you’re cheating. You have gluten in the cereal, plus sugar, plus dairy – all things you’re told to avoid if you’re trying to recover. So not only do you feel like every last speck of energy has been siphoned from you, you also feel guilty knowing that your body would appreciate a fresh smoothie far more.
But you know what? You CAN cheat. You CAN be imperfect. It’s ok to fail at doing everything we’re supposed to in order to recover. Yes, recovery might take you longer but on the other hand, not dealing with the guilt or the pressure to get it right might mean you recover quicker.
Right now my house is a mess (still/again, choose your favourite adverb) and I really could do with cleaning the bath. It’s easy to look at all the stuff I haven’t done or I still need to do and let that frustration eat away at me but I’m learning two things at the moment.
- Work out what I HAVE to do and focus on that.
I know I need my hour’s meditation every morning. I need that like I need vegetables, clean water and sleep. I do that at 11am, every day. If we’re half-way through maths, I stop, go and have my hour, then we pick it up again afterwards. I try my best to book any appointments to leave that hour free, and if we’re out then ok, I try and fit it in later in the day. The only way I can make sure I get that meditation in is by having a set time that I do it, otherwise I don’t get it done.
I know I have to teach my children. That’s harder. I have one child who just does what he needs to, I have two that need constant chivvying so if I go and do some housework, I’ll come back to find neither of them have done a single thing. But, this home ed thing is what we have to do right now, so that’s something I make time for.
I have to get a decent night’s sleep. For me this means getting to bed before 10pm every night (I do best going to bed at 9.30pm but evenings just fly by and that doesn’t happen as often as I need it). It also means getting a bit of daylight on my eyeballs in the morning to try and regulate sleep hormones etc.
So those are the things I make sure to get squared away every day, other things can slide a bit if necessary or my husband can pick up the slack. I home cook everything, but if it’s a choice between having the energy to cook or teach, I’ll choose to teach and throw something quick together.
2. I focus on what I have done, rather than on what I haven’t done.
This is definitely a work in progress but learning to see what you’ve succeeded with is far better for your recovery than dwelling on what you haven’t managed. If I managed an hour’s walk yesterday, but today could only go out and sit and watch the chickens for a couple of minutes, that’s great! I love watching the chickens. If I had to rely on supermarket pre-prepared stir-fry vegetables because fibro made my joints so sore I couldn’t peel carrots or cut cabbage, that’s great! I made a stir-fry!
Little by little it gets easier to appreciate the things you’ve done during the day. Writing them down can help so every evening you take the time to notice what you can do instead of picking through what you can’t.
I have spent enough time stuck in bed with the curtains closed to never want to go back to that again. I have spent far too many months living life in 3 minute segments with rests in between to ever want to do it again. I also am imperfect. I struggle with self-motivation. But even with a bit of cheating, I am recovering.
Recovery is S-L-O-W but I also firmly believe that it’s possible.
Focus on what you need to do and notice what you have done.
(Sorry if this comes across as disjointed…hard to concentrate with your own mini Mario chirruping away in the background)