Self Care for the Special Needs Parent

Jul 19, 2021

Written by Tosin Ade

You cannot pour from an empty cup. You’ve probably heard this saying over a million times. Also, if you are a frequent traveler, you’ve also heard a variety of this: “In case of an emergency, please put on your oxygen mask before helping other passengers.” At face value, this sounds selfish and alludes to self-centered behavior. Based on societal pressures and self-imposed standards, parents often shy away from anything that might remotely place them in a selfish light.

We have come to create this benchmark of determining the best parent as that one who puts him or herself last. The closer you are to the bottom of the totem pole as a parent, the more admiration you get for your “selflessness”.

Are you really giving your best as a parent if you’re constantly drained, on-edge, and a few seconds away from a volcanic emotional eruption?

Don’t get me wrong. Being a parent is not a walk in the park. However, you are more likely to be happier, more tolerable, and relaxed around your kids when you take the attention away from everyone and place it on yourself. Your child deserves the gift of a happy parent.

How do you give your child the gift of a happy parent? Be selfish! Yes! Take care of yourself. Take time to recharge your parenting batteries.

Here are five (5) ways to supercharge your self-care:

  1. 30 MINS ALONE: You will be amazed at what 30 minutes of daily alone time can do for your health. Setting aside 30 minutes daily can allow you to unplug and recalibrate so you’re able to face the remainder of the day. This could be listening to your favorite playlist or audiobook. Better yet... you could just lay on the bed, stay still, and relax. You do not need to overthink what you need to do to occupy these 30 minutes. All you need to do is breathe - Inhale, exhale.
  2. ASK FOR HELP: Asking for help as a special-needs parent can be very daunting. It can make you feel like you’re running away from your responsibility. It is absolutely okay to ask for help. If you are lucky to have an individual or a community of people around you, do not hesitate to ask for help. The people who care will never judge you. Most likely they will be honored to offer their help and support. Go ahead. Ask for help.
  3. DO SOMETHING YOU LOVE:  You most likely had things that you enjoyed doing pre-parenthood. These things brought you absolute joy. As a parent, you have put these activities on the back burner. It might be impossible to incorporate them into your daily life. Challenge yourself to bring back these activities and engage in them at least once a week. You’ll be elated. Permit yourself to reconnect with the person you were before you became a parent.
  4. RESPITE CARE: The services of respite care allow you to take a well-deserved break from the daily grind of taking care of a special needs child. Respite care is designed to give a break as a caregiver. This frees up some time for you to be able to do things you ordinarily would not have time to do in the absence of help. Respite care gives you the best of both worlds - time for yourself and quality care for your loved ones. Respite care can be provided in the comfort of your home or at a facility. You can have it for a few hours or a few days. You probably qualify for respite care as a special-needs parent. Check your state Respite Coalition for more information.
  5. FIND YOUR TRIBE:  It takes a village to raise a child. Finding a support group that lets you know you are not alone is very vital. This group is where you will find your strength on days when you believe that you cannot carry on. Embrace your support group. Meetup.com and Facebook groups are good resources to find support within your community.

Which one of these self-care tips will you implement this week or before the end of the month?  

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