Keys To Contentment

(or at least feeling vaguely content for some of the time)

Love What You Have

Don't you just hate it when you are talking to someone and they are continually looking over your shoulder to see who else they can talk to or what else they could be doing? But here's the deal, most of us do that in life. We are so busy looking for the next distraction, thinking about the next holiday, wondering if that guy we met would make life more exciting for you, that we forget to look at what we have in our hands and realise how blessed we are. Alright so life with a special needs kid can be more challenging than someone elses - but take a second to look at your partner, your beautiful children, the people in your life. Learn to love, appreciate and want what you have more deeply, more often and more sincerely.

Celebrate The Moment

Life is full of memories, full of moments in time that will be etched into your memory forever. The key to capturing those and locking them away as treasure is to notice the memory in the ordinary. So instead of seeing the walk home from school as a trial to be endured - see it as an opportunity for memory making; stop to show the kids the slug on the side of the lamp post, turn it into a treasure hunt, talk about what shapes the clouds make. Turn the normally stressful dinner time into a fun family time by focusing on some child-centred conversation and not even worrying about how little they are eating.

Ben and I were at the park recently when it started to rain - cue the dissapointment from Ben. But We turned it into a game with a quick distraction - the slide became a water flume, the wooden bridge became a bridge over a raging river. When an icecream van pulled up by the park my normal response would have been 'no way, we don't eat icecream in the rain' but then I thought why not? so we sat on the kerb in the pouring rain eating icecream and talking about the water flume. We made memories.

Take Time Just To Be

Parenting a child with special needs can be so all consuming sometimes that you get to the point where you can't actually remember the last time you sat and did nothing. I mean nothing - no TV, no celeb gossip mags and no paperwork. When was the last time you had half an hour to go for a walk on your own, to sit on a rock and look at the sunset and just be? Ok so walking and sunsets might not float your boat (they do mine) but you could take a bath, put some relaxing music on, stare at an open fire - whatever will make you stop and just be. Take take to sit and watch the grass grow sometimes.

Hold Your Head Up High

When you have a child with special needs you can fall into the trap of avoiding social situations because you are embarrassed or fed up with constantly having to apologise for or justify your child's behaviour. Believe me I know how this feels - Ben is extremely impulsive and hits other children (and adults) frequently. But I refuse to let my life and Ben's experience of life be restricted by the fear of what other people will think or even worse - say.

Likewise on a personal level, so many people are gripped by fear of what people will think about them and they let this fear determine what they do and where they go. One of my personal mottos in life is 'I'm just me, and I make no apologies for it'. It has taken me years to get to the point where I am actually confident in who I am - but inner confidence has made a huge difference to my approach to life and how I interact with other people. When I walk into a room I figure that most of the people in that room are probably more concerned with what I will think of them, than what they think of me - hold your head up high!

Here's a tip for free - contentment can only come from being happy with who you are, where you are and what you have. If you can't find it in yourself, you will never find it by looking elsewhere.

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