When I was a new mom of 6-week old twin boys, I ended up very sick with an infection. I had to call in grandparents to help with the boys because I could not get out of bed. I realized that I had not been adequately taking care of myself and that in order to take care of my babies I had to start with myself. It is kind of a crazy weird notion that you can’t take care of someone else without taking care of your own basic needs first. This theory does not just apply to eating, showering, and sleeping, we need to take care of our emotional needs as well.
Acknowledge your Limitations
Being a parent to a child with disabilities can be very hard. They require extra attention, patience, and guidance. Sadly, we do not have a never emptying bucket of that available and sometimes we just need a recharge because too long without one is never pretty. How do we avoid this burnout? First, I think we need to be aware of our limitations. We all have them and it does not make us a bad or weak parent to run out of patience or guidance. I think that acknowledging our limitations, actually makes us a better parent.
Once we have acknowledged our breaking point, now we can place safeguards so we don’t actually reach that point. Safeguards will be individual because our schedules and our lives are unique. For one person, going to the gym or walking might be just what they need. For another, it could be taking a class, scheduling alone time, or even a nightly bath. Find what relaxes and refreshes you and make a point doing it often.
Finding your Village
This idea of acknowledging your limitations brings us to our next point of finding a village. Whether it be family, friends, church, or support groups, we all need a village. Finding your village is not always an easy task especially if you do not have family in the area. So how does one find their village? There are so many resources out there, but sometimes it is difficult to find them and even harder to find one that is understanding of your child. Here is a list of ideas on finding a support network for you and your family.
- Plan a playdate with that mom you see every week at your child’s therapy
- Attend a church
- Join a Group
The idea is to find something that fits with your schedule, your child, and you. Finding your village helps us parents find commonality and helps us to never feel alone in our struggles.
Utilizing your Village
Once we have found our village, we need to utilize our village. Remember part of acknowledging our limitations is knowing that we cannot do it alone. One of the most challenging parts of being a parent to a child with special needs is finding childcare help when needed. This is where our village comes in. Trade-off childcare with that mom that you just had five playdates with, find someone at your church who has experience with special needs kids and ask them if they would be willing to help on occasion or find resources from one of the groups listed above.
You are an amazing parent. You give everything, every day for the care and growth of your child. You should never feel bad about taking care of you because that helps to take care of your child. You got this!