The Parents Survival Guide

Well I don't know about anyone reading this, but I know for sure that I need a pick me up after writing such an important but depressing chapter!

Today the sun is shining, the birds are singing.. .and the house is in chaos - nothing new! It is Anna's birthday and as usual I am the first one up, having been dragged out of bed by my nose by Ben. He had actually awoken at 2.30am and so I had positioned him in front of a video with a bowl of popcorn and fallen asleep on the settee. Awaking with a start two hours later I realized that I hadn't locked the kitchen door.. .the sight when I left the living room was a wonder to behold! Joe was fast asleep on the hall floor, dummy in mouth and fully clothed with three sets of clothes on, football kit and goalie gloves included. In the kitchen, cling film was wrapped around all the chairs and woven in and out of the door handles. Sticking plasters were stuck to all the doors and work surfaces and raw sausages were impaled on chopsticks and scattered around the kitchen - all in all a total mess!

Now you may be wondering what this little story has got to do with surviving as a parent? From a busy parent's perspective, the above scenario is an infuriating display of destruction.. .though when looking at it from Joe's point of view, however much mess he made, I

can't help but smile! Being his sister's birthday, Joe had got up at 3am and 'decorated' the kitchen.. .with sticking plasters and cling film. He had 'cooked' a party tea but knew that he was not allowed to cook (well done Joe!) and therefore had made raw sausages on sticks (chopsticks). The reason he was dressed in so many clothes was because he had been trying to dress up and look smart for his sister and couldn't decide what to wear so he had added layer after layer, not thinking to remove any first. He was fast asleep on the hall floor because he didn't want to vacuum as it would wake everyone up so he was picking up crumbs off the floor...and exhausted from all the excitement - had fallen asleep!

If I hadn't stopped to think about the reasons behind such antics and had been too busy or annoyed to listen to Joe's explanation, the scenario could quite easily have been different. Instead of applauding Joe for his efforts and having him help me add to the 'party' he had already made, I could quite easily have been angry and have dealt with Joe quite differently. If we can learn to view things through the eyes of our children, wherever they are on the colourful spectrum, then it is far easier to understand and thus cope with our children's antics, survive and even smile at all manner of seemingly difficult behaviours.

If anything at all is going to be remembered from this book, I would like it to be this chapter. It is not at the end ofthe book because it is of least importance - it is here because I wanted you to remember this above all else! If we as parents don't survive both mentally and physically, then our children lose their source oflove, support, encouragement and advocacy. Our children need us to be strong and well. Whether you are parenting a young child or a teenager, whether you have a large multicoloured family like my own or one or two children, whether you have children without any 'added extras' or are parenting a child with autism, AD/HD, dyspraxia, dyslexia, AS or any shade in between: one thing that is absolutely certain is that mentally, emotionally and physically, it is often an exhausting task and any tips that can make life that bit easier are gems to be treasured.

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