In the coming weeks, CTN’s Neuropsychology Team will be sharing a series of posts to support the mental wellness of the children, youth and families we serve. We hope that these posts and additional resources will provide comfort and encouragement as we adjust to our new ways of working, interacting and going about our daily lives.
The second post in this series is from Dr. Jennifer Saltzman-Benaiah, Psychologist & Specialty Team Facilitator, Children's Treatment Network and Mackenzie Health. Dr. Jen has been supporting children, youth and families with disabilities and developmental needs at CTN for over a decade.
Go on…ask me how I’m doing?
I’m okay. I had a busy day. I did laundry, arranged a contact-free grocery pick up, cooked dinner and tried to help each of my kids with their home learning. I chatted with my mom on the phone and the kids played with their friends online for hours, so everyone has been in a pretty good mood. The toilets still need cleaning, the laundry hasn’t been put away and I haven’t finished writing the new post for work, but tomorrow’s another day, right?
I’m starting to see life in terms of new goals and I am meeting expectations with some success. But it’s still overwhelming. With home education, extra cooking and cleaning, there seems to be more goals than ever and there are still only 24 hours in each day. I’m exhausted by 7 p.m.
We all have a limit to our energy and mental resources each day. How can we best use these resources to successfully achieve our goals and expectations?
One way to think about goals and expectations is in terms of a budget. Just like a budget, we need to think about what we can manage (or afford) and what we need the most. Anxiety and behaviour often happen when the demands (or costs) are too high for the resources we have. Limiting goals and adjusting expectations can reduce costs and help keep our budget in check. Lowering certain expectations doesn’t mean they aren’t important. They’re just not a priority right now. You can make changes later when you can afford it.
Here’s an example…before physical distancing, the goal of self-care and hygiene involved choosing clothes, getting dressed, combing hair, brushing teeth and showering. There were daily expectations that happened in a particular sequence and at a specific time so that we could all get to work/school in good shape and on time.
During physical distancing, many of us are spending our days at home. Does it really matter if we wear pyjamas or clothes? Is it important to shower every day? Are these things a priority? Why not simplify these routines to reduce demands?
In our house we still have a goal of maintaining self-care and hygiene, but we have adjusted expectations to focus our energy and resources on other aspects of life. Here’s an example of some expectations in our home:
There were two ways to be happy: improve your reality or lower your expectations.
Barrie Skating Club - Adaptive Learn to Skate Program - Barrie
Do you have a child with special needs? Do you wish to have your child learn to skate in a safe and supportive environment that can be adapted to meet their needs? If so, we have the program for you!
Canada's National Ballet School - NBS Kids Adaptive Dance Program - Toronto
The NBS Kids – Adaptive Dance Program was created by Canada’s National Ballet School (NBS), in consultation with Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital. The program offers adapted creative movement classes for children ages 6-9 with diverse cognitive, physical and developmental needs. These 45-minute sensory-friendly dance classes provide
opportunities for children to explore creativity and expression through the use of movement and music.
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