5 tips to becoming a happier family unit TODAY!!

So I was pondering marriage and autism tonight and I realized how many single parents are out there. I see so many happy couples that have a typical family (whatever that means anymore) and it seems like they are so “hallmark” in many ways. I think that for the majority of divorced or separated couples it was just too much and there just isn’t a support system set up or any pre-counseling prior to getting the diagnoses (which how could there be). Many of us dreamed of many kiddos running through the house, carpools, soccer games, piano lessons, and afternoons with other moms and dads sharing stories of our kiddo’s latest accomplishment. When we get hit with the diagnoses it almost feels like someone kicks the wind out of us and before we know it our spouse is a complete stranger to us. We are so busy researching autism, diets, biomedical treatments, therapies, schools, funding, sensory integration and doctors as nothing else seems to matter. Our days and nights are filled with trying to take care of our child, work full time jobs (for some of us) and Google becomes our best friend as it is the only thing that holds some answers to at least some of our questions. By the time our head hits the pillow we have already filled out 3 packets of 22 pages medical forms, written multiple letters to schools and insurance companies, tried unsuccessfully making a loaf of GF/CF bread (which our kid didn’t touch and even the dog wouldn’t eat), argued with the in-laws to why we can’t go the family reunion this year and to top it off we don’t even remember if we brushed our teeth this morning or if we took a shower. We can’t even think about our partner, let alone sex, as all you can think about is sleep. Somewhere along the way we stop talking and prioritizing one another. Tonight I happen to be out to dinner with what I would call a “hallmark family.” You know this family if you have ever seen a TV show that has 3 healthy kids, a beautiful wife, a handsome husband, 2 dogs and in the matter of 30 min any family crisis can be resolved and everyone hugs…. As I sat there and observed this family I started to ask myself what are they doing that so many of the autism families aren’t? Is there some special recipe to this and are they the only ones that know the ingredients? Was there a secret society that they belonged to that gave them the secret to happiness? As I watched the dad watch football with his sons and the mom look at her family with such love and pride, I couldn’t help but think what makes them stand apart from anyone else? What could we learn from this?

Well, what if we first just started with 5 key things to help our family unit right now:

1. When your significant other comes home you both prioritize hugging each other and holding each other for at least 2 minutes (no talking allowed)

2. Have SEX with your spouse (this is a huge one for some of us) prioritize connecting, even if you have to get a hotel room for the night (heck even an afternoon)

3. Have DATE NIGHT at least once a month (or a lunch date if you can’t do evenings) it doesn’t have to be expensive as you can even just go to the local coffee shop and spend time together

4. Be proud of where your kiddo is right now and you leaving your computer for a few hours is going to be good….WALK AWAY FROM THE COMPUTER YOUR CHILD WILL STILL HAVE AUTISM WHEN YOU RETURN….the difference will be that you will be mentally rested

5. When your family unit is together and your spouse doesn’t do something the way you would do it (example: clean up something, etc.) ask yourself is that really what is most important and cherish the time you have together…don’t sweat the small stuff as at the end of the day it truly doesn’t matter if the coffee cup is not put back in the right spot.

If you are not currently married you can still prioritize yourself and allow yourself to be happy. I recommend doing something for 5 min at least twice a day just for you and have dates with yourself or a good friend. Sometimes we get so into the autism world we forget we were people before this and I truly believe we can be those happy “hallmark people” with a child with autism. When I think about the gifts my son has given to me I feel so lucky to have such a pure child that is just love as he doesn’t know how to lie or do anything malicious. He just loves me because I am mommy……

With over 80% divorce rate in the autism community, it just seems like if we could remind ourselves that we are doing the best we can and to honor our relationships, then our kiddos could have the best of both worlds that they are currently in…..

Wishing you all the best,

Kristin Selby Gonzalez AKA: Jaxson’s Mom