Managing Demands

If you don’t already know about the Spoon theory then you can read up about it via this Link. I’ll be using the term spoons to describe the energy needed to manage demands.

When someone finds out that they are a PDAer or have a PDAer they may begin using PDA strategies, one of the first ones is to reduce demands. This does help overall as less demands means less anxiety and stress so the demands that are left are easier to manage. Getting the balance right between which demands need to be kept and which can be removed/delayed, can be difficult. How many demands an individual can manage daily depends on a number of factors. How much energy they wake with daily (the number of spoons they have), how many spoons each demand takes and how well each demand is managed, what environment the individual is in/will be in, outside stress factors, etc.

Some PDAers are in a ‘bad place’ and need a removal of almost all demands in order to get back to a stable position, from there demands can be built back up at a rate they can manage. Some PDAers have been managing a certain level of demands for years and just need further management to ensure they don’t become overwhelmed. When it comes to managing demands, what’s needed will be personal to each individual, what might be a difficult demand for one might be easy for another so working out how many spoons each demand take for each person is important. It’s also important that both the PDAer and those living/working with them remember that how many spoons each demand takes can and does change, sometimes on a daily basis.

There are Unavoidable Demands which we have to manage everyday. There are ways to adapt to these demands to make them more manageable, but they are always there and so will stay on the list of demands we have to manage. How many spoons the unavoidable demands use will vary from person to person, but due to the frequency of these demands they usually do use a good number of spoons, leaving less for other demands. For me, breakfast and lunch take several spoons and skipping one of these meals can help retain spoons needed elsewhere.

Important frequent high demands such as work or school take most spoons from most PDAers. Even with the best environments and accommodations these frequent high demands use the majority of spoons. For some people it isn’t possible to remove these demands so they will need to allocate a high number of spoons to them and remove other, lesser demands to even things out. Some people are able to remove these demands (one of the reasons I don’t currently work), this leaves spoons available to use elsewhere.

Housework and parenting are frequent high demands too. For some they have loved ones who can help share the demands or are able to pay for help such as a cleaner or day care. While housework usually stays constant in it’s demands, parenting however is a constantly changing demand. This is more true if the PDAer has PDA children themselves. For some, parenting takes so many spoons that there is few left for other demands, and because parents tend to put their children’s needs above their own, the unavoidable demands end up suffering most.

Important demands. These include paying bills, attending meetings/appointments, shopping, making phone calls, visiting family, health and safety rules etc. Often these demands use many spoons but some are demands that are infrequent. The importance of these demands can make them harder to manage so cost more spoons. Some find it easier to allocate one big demand a day/week, therefore ensuring there isn’t too much pressure on them to succeed and any extra demands met are a bonus.

Non-important demands. These demands are usually optional or demands that can be allocated to other people. Things like recycling, general tidying up, gardening, non-essential shopping, socialising, etc. What classes as un-important may vary from person to person, some may see gardening as essential whereas others may not even have a garden. These demands are ones that get avoided or delayed in favour of more important demands or are done when we have extra spoons or in order to avoid more difficult demands. Some may not be seen as demands at all and so may take few spoons, making it easy for them to be met.

Social demands. Demands such as talking to people, masking, answering questions, using the ‘correct’ tone of voice/volume/words, non-verbal communication including body language, being in groups, communicating needs, etc. Even communicating with family is a social demand. The more people we are around the more spoons we need to manage. Social demands are usually overlooked as most wouldn’t consider having to listen to a parent speak as a demand, this can lead to avoidance if the PDAer doesn’t have enough spoons to manage these little but constant social demands. Sometimes we need time alone to recover from being sociable and to reduce the demand.

Fun/relaxing/recuperating demands. Hobbies, games, music, sleeping, doing nothing, we all need ways to relax and recover from the daily grind. PDAers are no different. In fact for some, we need more resting time than others. It’s hard to sit around and do nothing, I myself need to be doing something to keep busy, usually that involves some activity like playing a computer game or a jigsaw. While fun and relaxing things can help us de-stress and recover from other demands, these things themselves can be perceived as a demand. It sounds counter-productive to have to use spoons to rest and replenish our store of spoons, yet that’s exactly what it’s like for us PDAers.

I try to do at least one demand a day from each group (except for the unavoidable demands group), this way if I don’t have many spoons one day then I should be able to get everything on the list done, and on days when I have more spoons I can get extra done without the pressure to meet every demand. Others may find it necessary to just stick to the unavoidable demands and a few important demands like house rules if the PDAers anxiety is high and their spoons low. Others may want to stretch themselves or be going through a ‘good’ period so may have many demands on their list. However a PDAers list looks like, as long as they are managing demands and getting positive results from it then that’s all the matters.

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