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Me Time: Self-Care For Parents Of Kids With Special Needs

Self-Care Tips For Stressed Out Parents

One of the hardest things for parents, especially parents of children with special needs, is scheduling some personal time. Parents have a tendency to dismiss a little alone time in order to care for their kids and give them the best they can offer. This self-sacrificial act is noble and yet it can lead to some serious burnout. Parents of children with autism and other special needs often find themselves stretched thin because of the unique demands and behavioral challenges of their children. The drive to put yourself on the back burner to dedicate all of your energy into raising kids can be detrimental in the long run. You will require your strength and clarity to deal with meltdowns. Finding routes to be an effective parent through self-care will make the path much easier in the adventure of parenthood.

Take Time For Yourself

Kids become the center of our world when we become parents and their needs fill up our schedules. When it comes to our kids, we wish we were superheroes with multiple arms and the ability to see every obstacle before they appear, but then reality brings us back down to earth. Parents need to remember that they are still human with necessities and emotional requirements that must be met. There are many things that parents of children with special needs can do to set aside time for self-care, including waking up 10 minutes early for some alone time, taking time for a shower or bath, or planning alone time with a partner. It’s also important to give yourself the resources you need to parent effectively, such as regular sleep, exercise, and a balanced diet. These are necessary to improve your mood, manage your stress and keep you functioning throughout the day. Make sure to take time for some emotional clarity.

Parents often ignore their emotional necessities to be an advocate for their kids, but this can lead to outbursts or even resentment in the long run. Take time to be sad and find a moment to vent in a healthy manner and also take time to celebrate yourself a little bit when you accomplish your goals. At the same time, express your emotions effectively and in a manner that isn’t negative. Avoid falling into “self talk” about other parents or into distracting emotional self-abuse like blame or guilt. Overall, take a little time to center yourself in all things, so you can be the best parent to your kids. As one author put it, you have to “put that oxygen mask on yourself before you assist your children.” Make sure that you work in some time for self-care so you can best take care of your child.

Seek Support

A good support system is an asset to parental and family health. You have to “find your tribe” as a different parent remarked. Anyone from family, friends, and neighbors to healthcare professionals are a valuable resource to parents, particularly when it comes to self-care. Rely on partners or family to give you some personal time in-home or time away from the home to collect your thoughts and emotions. Schedule time with friends and family that you can express your frustrations and emotions to that will be understanding of your unique situation. Hang out with people that bring you up, instead of pull you into a negative mindset and you will be rejuvenated and refueled.

Trust Professionals

While every parent has to decide what’s right for the care and education of their child, seeking some professional support and intervention helps alleviate the challenges that many parents face. You can enroll your child in helpful special education programs or schools that are specifically equipped to manage their needs and support them academically. You can also seek some professional intervention through in-home or out-of-home respite programs which are often tailored to provide family support and education as well as care for individuals with special needs.

However you choose to advocate for a bit of self-care, a parent needs to take time to care for themselves in order to give the best to their child. If parents are running on empty and stressed out beyond relief, children often notice these things and that stress can affect their lives. For the sake of your sanity and health, and in the name of being the best parent you can, don’t be afraid to take a little “Me” time.

If you have questions about this topic or are interested in finding some professional resources for care and education for your child, click here to explore the options that Lexington has to offer.

To read more like this, check out the previous blog post.