autism,  COVID life,  teen years

Life Skills

We’ve been out of a washing machine since November 19. To say that a broken washing machine is an inconvenience for 12 days is a slight understatement. Remember, this is 2020, and we’re still living in a pandemic.

I don’t know about the rest of you out there, but the Beck household goes through about 3-4 loads of laundry a day. We are an active family. Everyone in our house runs, which means we go through a lot of workout clothes. Because of all of those workouts, we also shower a lot, so there’s also quite a few towel loads to go through. J also has tactile sensory issues, which means if his fingers get wet or sticky at all, he is so desperate to get rid of that feeling that his first instinct is to wipe his hands clean immediately–usually on his clothes–because he can’t get to a sink fast enough. We go through a lot of laundry.

We are also living in a pandemic, which means we’re washing masks daily. I’m also washing jeans daily. I know you can go a few days on the jeans, but I don’t know, there’s a lot of germs floating around, I just rather have everything washed ASAP. So yes, to say that having a broken washing machine is an inconvenience is an understatement.

At the same time, having a washing machine broken in the middle of a pandemic is pretty much on par with 2020.

I went on my own for the first trip to the laundromat. I took the kids along for the second trip. It was the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, so the kids didn’t have school. It was the perfect time to do it. After all, learning to do laundry at the laundromat is a life skill.

These last few months have had me thinking a lot about life skills. In our typical life, the kids are running around to different activities all of the time and so I’ve given them a free pass for a lot of life skills tasks. Now they’re home all of the time, and they’re perfectly capable of helping out more around the house.

In this weird pandemic living, there seems to be a lot more time to “do more things” which seems like the perfect opportunity to teach my kids more life skills. That doesn’t mean that I have the energy to do more things. In fact, that’s been the biggest struggle. All of the daily decision making of dozens of covid-related decisions (do I let J make a Thanksgiving dinner at school and let him eat it with classmates when our numbers are so darn high right now? should I stock up on toilet paper again?) stacked up against wacky schedules and squeezing in novel revisions everything is so darn mentally exhausting that teaching life skills right now seems even that more overwhelming. Sure, “make your own pizza night” (hand made dough, chopping up onions and garlic for sauce, toppings, etc) looks like a good, fun, family time and a perfect life skills teaching moment. But 3 hours in the kitchen when it would take me 30 minutes is daunting.

So for now, I’m picking the life skills battles when I’m in the best state to confront them. Pizza night two weeks ago was great, but it might be another month or two until we try that again. The new washing machine arrives today, and I’m perfectly fine with having the kids do their own loads at home. We don’t have to go to the laundromat any time soon. If I’m up for supervising a full top to bottom cleaning of the bathroom (and redoing the countertops and toilet later–J in particular needs a lot of direction), that’s great. If not, that’s fine too. I’ll get it done in 20 minutes or wait until next week to decide if I want the kids to tackle it or not.

I think one of the biggest things I’ve learned this last year is how to be more gentle with myself. Normally I would hold a lot of guilt for seeing all of the ways I could help my kids improve and where I could of taught them more things in the way of independence. But we’re 8 months into this high stress way of living. I don’t have that same energy I had when this whole pandemic started. Yes, I see things I need to work on with my kids. Yes, I want to teach them new skills and help them in the areas where they are lacking. Yes I’m tired. They’re tired. Some days we’ll be learning how to navigate a kitchen for pizza nights and some days we’ll learn how to make laundromat trips, and some days we’ll be doing nothing, because we’re just not up for it that day.

Learning when your feeling overwhelmed and being okay with saying no to things is a good and necessary life skill to model too.

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