Special Needs Parents Need Time For Self-Care
Being a special needs parent is exhausting. You have added struggles with increased duties, ranging from medical care to education. This causes stress and fatigue. It is rewarding but also taxing on your health, mind, and soul, and it won’t take long before you are suffering from burnout.
Special needs parents often feel guilty about taking any time for themselves, but YOU NEED A BREAK.
You want to give everything you have to your children even when it means jeopardizing your own health and sanity. However, when you’re burned out, your disabled child will not get the best of you.
You have to take care of yourself so that you can give your best to your child. Below are some self-care tips when you have NO TIME for yourself.
Have you considered looking for respite care in order to get some time to yourself? It’s a difficult decision, but it might be what you need to care for your family at peek performance. Caregiver burnout is a big problem in special needs families.
Feeding Your Body
I cannot stress enough how important it is to eat healthily when having an active lifestyle, such as caring for children with special needs. You need the right amount and the right kinds of calories to boost your energy levels to keep you going strong throughout the day.
Don’t skip breakfast! A high protein breakfast will keep you going. Your breakfast could be as simple as boiled eggs, steel-cut oatmeal, or a high protein breakfast cereal.
Fresh fruits and vegetables along with whole grains for lunch and dinner will help fuel your body so that you make it until bedtime.
You might be tempted to reach for something sugary and quick like cake or cookies for snack, but eating sweets will leave you feeling deflated and drained of energy. Save the sweets until after supper.
Self-Care For Your Body
Exercising may not seem like self-care for special needs moms, but it’s a great mood booster and stress reliever. If you have trouble finding the time, aim for 5 minutes of stretching or a quick jog to the mailbox. Squeezing in a few minutes throughout the day really adds up.
One of my favorite ways to get my heart pumping is turning up the music and dancing. The kids love it too!
Find a 10 minute remix song with a fast beat and just dance. It doesn’t matter if you don’t have any rhythm…jump up and down, flap your arms, BE SILLY!
Special Needs Parents’ Mental Health
During this pandemic, caring for a special needs child is even harder than ever. Most stores require masks, and if your child is suffering from autoimmune issues taking a trip to the doctor or the grocery store may feel like walking through a live minefield.
People are stressed and scared and are not always kind or understanding, which can be devastating for a parent doing everything in their power to care for a child with special needs. It is essential to take care of your mind but, how can you do that when there’s no time? Here are a few ideas for taking a few minutes to yourself.
Find Your Tribe
Having a group of family and friends that you can connect with is so important for combating special needs mom burnout. it helps to have someone to talk to on particularly difficult days.
Special needs parents often spend long hours in doctor’s offices and hospitals, and your tribe will help you get through those days.
If you don’t have a tribe, work on forming one. Surround yourself with caring people that you can talk to. Here are tips on why a tribe is so important.
Mint is Great For Relaxing
A simple, quick way to treat yourself while feeding your body and mind is the herb, mint.
Mint is an inexpensive herb that can be ingested that can aid in brain focus and function. It can be bought fresh, dried, or in essential oils. You can even grow it yourself, and it spreads like crazy!
Take a moment to have a soothing glass of ice tea with a few mint leafs. This will help center your thoughts and leave you feeling refreshed.
Share some one on one time with your child by making a simple smoothie together. This will be relaxing for you both and delicious. Allow your child to squash berries or pick apart bananas for the smoothie.
This will help them with fine motor skills, and your child will love being your helper in the kitchen! Having some messy fun with your little one will be very therapeutic for both of you.
Rubbing peppermint essential oil on your temples and neck helps with stress and headaches of caregiver burnout. It can help you feel more focused and energized.
Do Special Needs Moms Have Time For Hobbies?
My favorite form of self-care is working on hobbies. Can you make time for reading, writing, or cooking? Many hobbies can be done in small amounts, or spurts, throughout your hectic day.
If cooking is your passion, try some new recipes for your family. Research and have your family vote on what new dish they would like to try and dive in to prepare a tasty meal. You will feel fulfilled by doing something you love, and that is nurturing your family.
If you enjoy writing, carry a small notebook and pen nearby. Writing out your thoughts or feelings can be helpful.
Here’s a list of hobbies that can be broken down into small chunks of time:
Some hobbies can be shared with the kids. Though you won’t get any alone time, taking time out of your day to do something creative is a great way to reset your mind. The kids will love the attention too, which is a bonus.
Give these hobbies a try and see if your kids enjoy them too:
- Paint kindness rocks
- Do jigsaw puzzles
- Color – There’s something fun about a new set of markers or colored pencils. Here are some inspiring free coloring sheets that you and the kids can color together.
- Flower or vegetable gardening
The Parent Map website suggests carving out 15-30 per day for some “Me Time”. You can do something as simple as read a magazine, have a glass of wine, or take a bubble bath.
Let’s say you don’t care much for writing; maybe you like to shop. The art of finding a great sale is your hobby and you know how to find a fantastic deal!
I bet you often shop for others, but rarely for yourself. When was the last time you bought something JUST FOR YOU? I’m not talking about the new pan you bought, or that you splurged on name-brand paper towels.
As parents buying things for our children or home can feel like gifts for us as well, but it’s not.
Buy something for yourself that no one else will need or use—something you want but feel too guilty to purchase because it’s not necessary. You are worth it! Buy those new earrings you have been wanting or a t-shirt that has your favorite band on it.
You don’t need to break the bank to treat yourself. If money is tight, it can be something under five or ten dollars like body spray, eye shadow, or an inexpensive baseball cap.
This could be as simple as an online purchase that takes seconds, and I don’t know about you, but knowing I have something I picked out for myself coming in the mail makes me feel great!
Nurture Your Soul
Negative vibes from daily stressors can make you feel tense and deflated . If you have a religion, snatch small moments to pray.
If you don’t practice a religion, sit down for a few moments, close your eyes and take deep breaths and meditate. This is a fantastic way to release negative energy and tension.
Yoga is a great way to clear your mind, tune into your spirit, and to relieve body aches.
Read or watch something that inspires you! It can be anything that moves you and lifts your soul. If you have no time to sit and watch a whole movie, break it up however you need. Watch an hour before bedtime or watch thirty minutes while your child is enjoying screen time.
Taking care of a special needs child is a 24/7 job, but you must steal small amounts of time to care for yourself. Your little one is counting on a physically, mentally, spiritually healthy parent to thrive!
Self-care for parents of children with special health care needs is probably the biggest struggle. Most of these suggests are quick activities to give your brain and body a break throughout the day, but you need to find ways to get a longer respite like sending your additional needs child to camp. It’s a difficult decision, but you DESERVE a break!