When you’re the parent or the caregiver of a child who has hearing loss it can feel like you’re on a treadmill of always having to catch up. I think this is true no matter what age your child is when they are diagnosed – whether your daughter was diagnosed at birth or if your son was diagnosed at age 5.
There can definitely be a feeling of overwhelm as your to-do list just keeps growing and it seems that you can never check anything off. You think you have things figured out then it’s time for your child’s re-evaluation and you find out that they haven’t progressed as you thought they would or there’s a new area that needs attention. Or there’s a new specialist to see.
As parents we want to do as much as we can for our children and it’s so easy to feel that we are never able to do enough. And what’s even worse is that it’s so easy to put pressure on ourselves to have the next steps figured out before we even get there.
A big part of parenting is feeling that you never do enough – that somewhere, out there, there is always something more that you could do to make your life easier or to help your child. There is always an extra therapy session you could take your child to, there is always one more lesson you could teach, or one more sound you could get them to make.
How do you begin to try and figure out what is enough when you are busy juggling work, home, child care, appointments, and IEP meetings?
We become overwhelmed because we are surrounded by messaging that is constantly telling us what we should do, what we need to do, what we ought to be doing if we want to raise successful, well-adjusted children and lead happy lives.
But, I think it’s important that we begin to think about the “conditions of enoughness” in our lives and how that impacts our child and their hearing loss. I started thinking about this after talking to a friend who confessed she had pulled her middle schooler out of all therapy sessions because he was becoming a “therapy kid” that all he did in his spare time was go to different professionals and tutors.
Jennifer Louden, in her book The Satisfaction Finder, talks about these conditions of enoughness. It’s a process she’s developed that can help you to sit down and figure out what you really think is enough for you, your child, and your family.
Ms. Louden states, “enoughness is a daily declaration of what you want and the action you will take to create it.” There is no room in this space for the opinions and ideas of others, it’s all about you and what you believe is important to do now.
There are four parts involved in working towards enoughness:
- Name what is enough in simple facts. What’s the simplest thing I can do next? Asking ourselves a question like this removes the pressure from always having to think we need to be perfect even before we start.
- Include a time element of when the conditions will be met.
- Ensure the conditions are dependent on ONLY YOU on what you can achieve on an AVERAGE day.
- Declare you are satisfied when your conditions are met – even if you don’t feel satisfied.
What does this look like when put into practice?
- If you’re feeling overwhelmed by your child’s schedule what’s the simplest thing you can do to fix it? Is there an activity you can remove? Is there a therapist that’s closer to your home? Is there a chance to carpool with someone?
- Give yourself a time frame for you to complete the next step. Is it something that can be sorted out in an afternoon? A week?
- Make sure this condition isn’t dependent on other people, that it’s dependent only on you and that you don’t need the sun, the star, and the moon to align for you to make it happen.
- Once the condition has been met (or the schedule has been changed) declare that you are satisfied, even if it’s not the absolute perfect solution.
Ms. Louden suggests you can use the elements in a more formal way by writing them out, or go through them quickly in your head. You can use this method “on the fly” or to do a project over time.
But, How do I Know What is Enough?
I love the story that Jennifer shares in her book about the poet William Stafford when he was asked how he wrote a poem every day for a year. His response was, “I lowered my standards.” Which is completely brilliant, because when we set out to do something that we really care about we hold ourselves to impeccably high standards where only the best will do. And sometimes the best really isn’t what we should be holding onto, there comes a point when there’s diminishing returns and burnout in our children, in ourselves, and in our families.
So to put an end to all that crazy that runs through your head about what you should do, instead ask yourself this question, “What is the simplest thing I can do?”
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Image credit to: http://accordingtolara.com/2013/10/i-am-enough/