Why I Restructured our Families Core Values
Towards the end of 2013 i was really struggling to find many positives in my life. I was faced with some dictions that were difficult to contemplate. Do we send our kids back to public schools? Do I go back into the work force finding a job? Possibly this would take the incredible financial burden of being the soul provider for our family off of my husband? Do we move across the country? Do we continue to pursue the military? Do we move closer to Brandon’s work?
My brain hurts. I became exhausted, overwhelmed and depressed. I still find myself struggling with the fact that i am mostly a single parent every other week while my husband works his third shift job them comes home and sleeps all day til he goes back to work again. We still struggle with the fact that our kids don’t sleep at night. most days several of the boys if not just Ammon are up every couple of hours. I swear it is worse than Chinese water torture to be woken up every hour for weeks or months at a time and then have to go all day homeschooling, doing all my daily chores, doing all the different therapies i have to get done with the kids every few hours.
I often wonder how i haven’t died from complete exhaustion. I read an article recently that compared the stress of being a parent of an autistic child to being a military person in a combat zone. As the parent you are on CONSTANT ALERT and never able to be unaware. We must be constantly ready for ANYTHING or at the very least be ready for the next outburst or freakout from your consistently overwhelmed autistic child.
We have been in our Autistic war zone for 7 years now and man am i ready for some leave time. Sadly i have none coming so i had to take a good look at our lives and figure out how to make some changes so that we can survive the next 7 years.
One of the things i realized right off the bat was that we were leaving the house too much. In the beginning months of our homeschool journey was packing up all four kids several times a week to go to good educational or therapeutic activities. We went to the Library once a week. to the Ymca 2 times a week, once for swim lessons and once for the adventure center. We also had field trips every other week to go learn from an expert or to a museum. Not that these weren’t great activities but we live a least 20 minuets from everything and 45 minuets from all the museums and stuff down town.
So our new rule is no school on Wednesdays and that is our out of the house day. We only added Saterday morning swim lessons once the kids got the idea that we were home so stop asking to go places. This changed many things with in the family. We had much more structured school room time and structured out of the house time. This cut down on a lot of the kids anxiety about what is happening for the day. They just look at our Days of the Week chart and see which day is marked as today.
The other thing this change means for us is a lot more therapy done at home. So we spent a bunch of time setting up different parts of the house for different types of therapy and education we have to do with the kids. We turned our garage into a motor room with a trampoline, nylon hammocks, Slides, and several large sensory bins filled with things like, sand, rice or beans. Our upstairs is split with a wall and we converted one side to a play room with ALL of our toys and the other room is a Dark Room complete with tons of glow in the dark stars and other stuff and a black light.
We are blessed to have a larger home that we can dedicate to these spaces but you could just as easily turn a closet into a cozy dark room, or find another place to do therapy in.
The pro to this change in our life is that we found more unity in our family. We spent more time coming up with games and fun things to do together that we started appreciating all the home time. We spend less time yelling at kids about getting ready to go somewhere (it always takes at the least 30 minuets to finally be in the car ready to go and often it does take 45 minuets to an hour) and that is always a happy things in our home. We hate getting our kids ready to go, i mean REALLY hate it. We aren’t good at transitions of any kind.
So back to our Family Core values. Along with the above changes to our lives i soon realized that just "staying home" wasn't going to be enough. I had to spend a lot of time thinking and praying about what needed to be our main focus in our home. I knew that we had a good foundation but that i needed to fine tune our focus when it comes to everything that we do. I knew what i wanted our family to be able to evaluate the things that we do both individually and together as a family. I knew what things had been important to me my entire life. I knew what carried ME through my most difficult moments. From that i was able to come up with 5 things that would give our family the tools to evaluate what it is we were teaching and learning and holding true to for eternity.
So our first core value is God. We have created a Christ centered home and wouldn’t change it for anything. The ONLY reason we have survived so far as a family is because we KNOW FOR A FACT that God doesn’t make mistakes and we are the way we are on porpoise. God made us the way we are for a reason and he is daily molding us into who he needs us to be here on this earth. And because we are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (The Mormons) we believe that we are going to be able to be a family for all of Eternity. So we might as well learn to love each other because we are together for ever.
I think my son said it best one night at dinner when he said, “I love our Godly home!” Me too. We try our best to make sure that all our activities allow us to keep Gods spirit close to our heart. And if we find that what we are doing is bringing only negative into our lives we are committed to reevaluate and make changes where needed.
So our second core value is FAMILY. We don’t want to add things into our life at the expense of our Family’s unity and happiness. We take a good look at everything we agree to do and ask ourselves is it going to be worth the effort and disruption of the families routine or not. If the answer is no than we don’t do it. We have made a choice to put family first with NO exceptions. We made a well thought out choice to become a family and we are committed to making ours an eternal one. Not just a family that we tolerate but one we truly love to spend as much time as possible with.
Our third core value is Education. We are an education focused family. I have found over the past 7 years of having my children in my life that EVERYTHING can be educational. Ask questions, have a conversation, just plain old talk to your kids about things that YOU are interested in too. “If it isn’t fun, then it’s just work.” I promise that the most boring moments can be filled with laughter and fun by just realizing that you need to change gears and make it interesting.
We were sitting in a restaurant one day and the boys were getting restless. I looked up and saw a picture of a wind turbine. I simply started talking about all the cool things about a wind turbine. The were totally engaged and we ended up talking about and learning about wind turbines for the rest of the day. It was AWESOME!! While leaving the restaurant i actually had a complete stranger stop me and tell me he thought i was a great mom for spending that kind of quality time with my kids. lil pat on me back for me.
That encounter taught me 2 things. 1. it was so easy to take an almost insane outing and turn it into a fun, exciting and educational day by just starting a conversation with the kids. and 2. I should really open up my mouth more often and let other moms know i have noticed how awesome they are in a moment that i have encountered them. It really made me feel soooo good when that random guy stopped me like that. I would love to make other moms feel the same way if i see them being just plain Awesome.
Our fourth core value is Adventure. At a young age i was diagnosed with Lupus after being Very ill for 2 years before my diagnosis. I spent almost 2 years trying to just survive from my bed and it was HORRIBLE!!! in every way shape and form. It was hard and i am soooo glad that that part of my life is behind me. But i try really hard to take my trials and learn valuable lessons from them so that i NEVER have to go through them again.
So the entire 2 years i did nothing more but dream about what i would do if i could. No dream was too big or unrealistic. Since i was so ill i slept all the time and the time that i was awake i was in that half asleep half awake thing you feel right before falling asleep. So my whole world was this dream state where all I did is come up with amazing things to do with my life because I new I had a future. There were many times many people thought I didn’t but I knew that i would make those things come true.
Adventure became my driving force and most definitely my saving grace. I vowed over and over again to myself and to God that I “wanted nothing” but to be able to fill my life with adventures i could share with a family one day and serve him the entire way. Don’t get me wrong. It all sounds corny and i have had many of my very low times but i was determined to live my life with NO REGRETS. and so far. It has been an amazing journey and I am so excited to teach my family how to make everyday and adventure so they can learn to LOVE LIVING LIFE EACH DAY.
Our fifth core value is Fun. It sounds stupid to make it a core value but for us it is one of the five most important things. If your aren’t having fun so many chemical things are happening in the brain and body to rail road the sanity of the family. The negativeness just radiates from one person to the next like the radiation from a nuclear blast spreading til it consumes the entire day. It is awful and who wants to be miserable all the time.
I have a firm philosophy that if you are bored, so are they. Why on earth would you continue to do the things that make you miserable when you can find SOME WAY to make it fun. Seriously, you can make anything fun. Rains on you picnic at the park day, go anyway and splash in the puddles. Stuck inside on a snow day, make it “Fun fort Friday”. Life is what happens when your making other plans. That is never gonna change. But what can change is your attitude about the things that are bothering you. By the way the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Stop driving yourself insane.
I had to change doctors recently and today was my first visit. I was there to get established with the doctor because i take some daily meds for my Hypothyroid and Lupus. He said something as we were talking that stayed with me all day. He said, “Comparisons are self set Limitations.” It makes me think about the fact that if i find myself being miserable I or the situation was not living up to what I thought it should. That is NOBODIES problem but MINE. All I have to do is flip my attitude and change how i am viewing the situation. This practice has NEVER failed me. I love that over time I have learned to not let a situation or another person dictate who I am and how I react. I am striving to teach this to my children and how I am doing it is simply by teaching them to HAVE FUN!!!
So now you have Our Family Five. It is as follows: Family, God, Education, Adventure and Fun
If everything we do together as a family focuses on those five Family Fives we will not fail. We will be able to go to bed each night knowing that we have done our best as a family, as a couple, and as individuals to magnify our calling as parents and as children of God.
All we want to do is raise Righteous Warriors who do what is right and lead by example and always remember that every individual is a Child of God and deserves to be treated as such.
I was asked once if i died tomorrow “what would be said at my funeral? is it the same thing I would WANT them to say?” I know it is morbid but i have really been thinking about this lately. I think that i would want them to say that i did my very best every day. That i tried my hardest to create an environment that focused on Family, God, Education, Adventure and Fun. She loved life and her family and everyone knew it.
You know life is never gonna be easy, it’s not supposed to be. We are meant to be like rocks tumbling through life like a stone in a stream. Having the rough edges knocked til they are polished and smooth til one day you look up and you sparkle in the light. And you begin to shine for eternity. I Know it’s hard but stay strong out there. It’s a scary world and God needs strong Righteous Warriors. He for sure needs you too.