Thank you to reader Melinda for sharing her thriving at home story.
I have 5 children, ages 7, 6, and 2.5 year-old triplets. My 6 yo boy and one of the triplets (boy) have Fragile X Syndrome. Fragile X Syndrome (FXS) is a genetic condition causing intellectual disability, behavioural and learning challenges and various physical characteristics. It is also the most common single gene cause of autism worldwide. ~ The Fragile X Association of Australia
This comes with many difficulties for them (and for us!), but they are also absolutely delightful boys. I began my struggle with the ‘housework game’ about 5 years ago now, but I have learnt one valuable lesson that I would love to share, which has completely taken the stress out of it for me and the family as a whole. I’ll use a question to symbolise the lesson I have learnt. Here it is:
What is more important to you: having some decorative sticks in a vase, or a happy, stress-free family and happy home?
That may sound a bit strange, but I’m just using “sticks in a vase” as a representation of all things decorative/ on trend/ magazine-worthy etc. I love home decor and interior design and always used to strive to have a clean, tidy home with the latest cool decor trends (albeit on a budget!) However, like your article ‘Create a game plan – keeping a tidy home with a special needs child’ rightly points out, now that I’m a special needs Mum, the rules have changed.
Let’s explore the “sticks in a vase” analogy for a moment. If I were to have a big floor vase with those trendy big sticks in it, here’s what would happen: one or both of my Fragile X boys (and to be honest, probably the other 3 as well) would be tempted to play with said sticks. This would stress me out because I’d be worried they might hurt themselves or break the vase or something else. So I would direct them not to touch the vase/sticks. This would be too hard for them and they would inevitably play with them again. I would get gradually crankier and frustrated and they would gradually more stressed and upset. I would probably end up removing the sticks/vase, but not before losing my cool and getting extremely frustrated that ‘I can’t have anything nice in this house!’
Well, here is the conclusion I have arrived at: cool decor will NEVER be more important than the happiness of my boys or my household and certainly not more important than the relationship I share with my boys. If the temptation is not there, the whole stressful scenario is eliminated. It doesn’t mean I can’t have a ‘nice’, ‘cool’, homely home, I just have to be a little more creative than the average Mum and constantly ask myself the question “is this item causing stress?” If the answer is yes, it goes. It’s a complete shift in mindset. And guess what? I feel so free!!
The other simple thing I’ve done is halve the amount of toys and organise them well so that everything has it’s place. It just means that if I have to pick up every single toy we own, on a regular basis, it’s really not that big of a deal.
The nice bonus to this set up is that if I have another family/Mum come to visit with their special needs child, we are perfectly set up to accommodate them and the parents can relax knowing they don’t have to worry about their child breaking something or making a mess. I love this bonus!! Being able to go to another family’s home with your child/children and actually be able to relax a little and not worry about what your kids are doing is invaluable.
I sincerely hope this helps someone else! ~ Melinda
PLEASE SHARE YOUR TIPS
Through the new series ‘Helping mums thrive at home‘ I will be sharing my stories and tips, but I would love to read and share yours as well, just like Melinda’s. I am positive those who are feeling out of control at the moment will find some comfort and help reading how other mums have managed to get through these times, be it that you struggled too or you found one simple tip made a difference or you found a way to manage from the beginning. Your story and tips can make a big difference to another mum. Please email me your story or tips.
This post is a part of The Organised Housewife’s guide to help mums thrive at home series. You can view all other posts in the series here.