Parenting special needs children can take a toll on one’s mental, emotional, and physical health. The financial burden of therapies and gadgets can also add to the stress. With the additional difficulties of COVID-19 this past year, including masks and reduced school support, there is no doubt that some parents and guardians are being pushed to the breaking point, and are downright exhausted. Fortunately, there are ways to combat stress and find ways to rejuvenate, even under these circumstances. The key thing to remember is to be intentional about self-care. Here are some key ways to make sure that you are at your best.
Plan, plan, plan. The only way that you will have rest is if you plan to get it. Schedule time that is just for yourself, even if it is 15 minutes or a half-hour. Work it into the daily schedule and give yourself some much needed attention. You may need to take something less important out of your schedule, but it will be worth it.
Get help. Insurance may cover the costs of respite care, which is hired help. You may have a family member or trusted friend take over for you so that you can run errands in peace or just take a break. Many states offer such family services that you do not have to pay for 100%. Someone can come to your home, or there may be a facility that will look after your special needs child for a few hours. Look into what your state and your insurance have to offer and take advantage of it. You do not have to do this alone.
Make friends. Forming bonds with other parents in similar situations can be life-saving. Being able to connect with someone else who gets it can truly be a way to reduce stress. Having friends can also provide the opportunity for you both to help each other out with the kids. Find local parent groups on Facebook or other social media. Check your state for autism centers and introduce yourself to other parents.
Workout. Getting just 20 minutes of exercise can make a world of difference in your mood and stress levels. Go for a walk, practice yoga, dance, jog, or find exercise videos on streaming services or YouTube. Anything that requires your body to move will do.
Enjoy yourself. Do the things that you love to do the most, at least once in a while. Take up a new hobby or find a way to work in your passion on a daily basis. Even if you only spend a few minutes having fun, it can give you the boost that you need to continue to care for your demanding children.
Remember that one of the best things that you can do for your special needs child is to take good care over yourself. The healthier and stronger you are, the more you can give to them. You are also setting an example for them to take good care of themselves, too.