Self-Care For Special Needs Parents is So Important
Being the parent of a child with special needs isn’t a full time job, it’s a 24/7 job. The stress of being “on call” all day, everyday takes its toll on moms and dads. A break from your duties (even a short break) will help you more than you realize.
Who remembers the old commercial for Calgon bubble bath with the woman getting stressed from her everyday life and saying “Calgon take me away,” suddenly to be transported to a luxurious bubble bath?
Oh, if it could be that easy to get away for a much-needed break. For some of us, locking ourselves alone in the bathroom for a little self-care just is not realistic.
As the caregiver of a child with special needs many of us are on call 24/7 and it is hard to take care of ourselves.
You might have heard it said, “If Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.” I would like to change that saying a little bit. “If Mama doesn’t take care of herself, then no one is going to be well taken care of.”
We are not Wonder Woman, though our job as caretaker of our precious children with disabilities is wonderful. As moms, we tend to put others needs before our own, not necessarily a bad thing, just not sustainable long term. Well, at least not, without getting a little respite.
Can I Take A Break?
Mama, may I be brutally honest with you. You are doing an amazing job, but you can take a break, you deserve a break and you NEED a break.
Parenting a child with special needs is extremely rewarding yet very hard all at the same time. Let me answer a question before anyone has a chance to ask it.
No, it is not selfish for a caregiver to take a break.
I know you had that nagging little thought in the back of your mind that you should just be able to handle everything. I know you had that thought because I’ve had it as well.
Think About It This Way…
If you watch professional basketball, do the same five players play the entire game? No, they have someone sub in for them so they can get a break.
Have you seen how many pitchers are on a baseball teams’ rotation? Several, so they can get a break. They also have specific pitchers designated as relievers. Know what their job is? To relieve the starting pitcher after they have worked hard and are getting tired.
How much more important is your job of a caretaker than that of a basketball or baseball player? You deserve a break that much more. It is not just okay to have some respite, it is important for your health and wellbeing as a caregiver.
As caregivers, we all need to learn how to take care of ourselves so that we have the mental and physical energy to take care of our loved ones. Make it a priority to find a way to get a break.
Self Care For Special Needs Parents Is So Important
There are many different types of stress that come with being a parent of a child with special needs. Some of these are short term stresses, like researching to find the right specialist, stress as you walk into an IEP meeting or figuring out how to get respite care.
The stressors that tend to cause us the most problems as parents are those that do not resolve themselves quickly . . . if ever.
Knowing that your child might never live on their own, might not live to adulthood, will need specific care for the rest of their lives, that we miss out on opportunities in our jobs, hobbies or with friends and family because of our job as caregiver to our children with special needs. Those are the stressors that tend to weigh heavily on us as parents.
The list of ways that stress can manifest itself can be exhausting, and I bet if we asked for replies from readers this list would grow exponentially. Here are a few examples you may be feeling that signal that you need a break.
- High Blood Pressure
- Acne and other skin problems
- Digestive problems
- Stomach aches
- Loss of sexual desire
- Sleep problems
- Menstrual problems
- Headaches and Migraines
- Weight gain, or weight loss
Every parent needs a break sometimes, as parents of children with special needs it is necessary so that we can continue being the caregiver and advocate that our children need.
Want to learn more about where to find respite care? Jump over to Finding Respite Care where we break down different places to find the break we need.
More articles about finding ways to take a break as a Special Needs Parent:
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