When your child has special needs, you have no choice but to be strong. In the face of the unique challenges, you must soldier on for your family. Not only are your child’s needs different than kids who are perceived as “normal,” finding the resources you need for their care isn’t always easy, and the people who surround you may have little to no idea what it’s like. This might leave you feeling frustrated, powerless, isolated, sad, and angry. It’s important for you to be proactive about addressing these feelings, not only for yourself but for your child and your family as a whole. You can’t pour from an empty cup. Therefore, it’s essential that parents of children with special needs prioritize self-care. In this blog, we will go over some tips so you can make your own care a priority.
Reach Out for Support
As isolated as you might feel, you are not alone on this journey. You are not the first person to walk this path. Finding a support group for parents of children with special needs may help you form a community with people who understand what you’re going through. Even if this doesn’t interest you for whatever reason, finding a supportive space is an important way to care for yourself. You could join a faith community, a book club, a running group, for example. What is most important is finding a place with people who will listen to you, validate your feelings, support you, and celebrate your successes. Finally, you may benefit from professional help. A therapist or life coach can teach you how to manage the many emotions that come from being a parent of a child with special needs, and provide you with a safe space where you can talk about your feelings. Whatever path you take, make sure you have emotional support you can rely on.
Make Time for Yourself
It’s likely that most of your time and energy goes towards making sure your child has everything they need to thrive. Many parents in this position feel selfish for dedicating their time to themselves, particularly when they could be doing something with or for their child. If your child has a long-term disability, it is especially important for you to make sure that you don’t get burnt out. A great way to do this is to make sure that you are scheduling in “you” time. However you like to relax and recharge, make time for it. It might help to start by writing out a list of things you would do if you had more time. Maybe it’s a hobby, such as painting or hiking; maybe it is spending more time with friends; or maybe it’s getting a facial or a massage. Block out a time in your schedule on a weekly basis where you can explore this list. Even if it is as simple as taking an hour to sit and read a good book, treat this time with respect and always take it for yourself.
Many parents of children with disabilities have this problem: you are so concerned about your child’s health, you neglect your own. One of the most common areas that people neglect is exercise. Being a parent is a physically and mentally demanding job, and exercise not only makes you stronger, it gives you amazing stress relief. Find a form of exercise you love and can fit into your schedule, whether it’s running, biking, a Zumba class, or strength training.
It can be hard to live in the present moment when your child has special needs. You might spend a lot of time wondering what you could have done differently, or reflecting what the future will be like for your child. This can be completely overwhelming to stew in your regrets and fear. This is why it is very important to be as mindful as possible, but this is easier said than done. One way to invite more mindfulness into your life is through meditation. You don’t have to commit huge chunks of time to it; just 5 to 10 minutes a day is sufficient to help you become more accepting of your life as it is. You could use an app such as Simple Habit to follow guided meditations during small breaks throughout your day, or simply go to a quiet room and sit for a moment, tuning into your body and mind. However you do it, make a point to be here, now, and be grateful for what you have rather than what you don’t.
Parenting a child with a disability isn’t an easy life path, but you don’t have to walk it alone. If you need in-home care for your child with special needs, Evergreen Home Healthcare can help. Contact us today to learn more about our pediatric home health care services in Denver.