Do you need a self-care challenge?
It can be easy to lose track of you in your role as special needs parent. But just like putting your oxygen mask on first in an airplane, you have to find a way to maintain your own mental and physical health, or you will be less effective in managing your child.
You are likely your worst critic. Sometimes you need to lower the bar for yourself, just a bit, and give yourself credit for making the game, even if you didn’t bring the snacks. Or showing up for the meeting, not running it. What do you need to give yourself credit for?
- Self-Care Challenge #1: What is is one thing you are already doing that you can give credit to yourself for doing?
- Self-Care Challenge #2: What three new things can you do in existing timeframes?
- Self-Care Challenge #3: What is one thing you can you stop doing, delegate or reframe so that you can add an element of self-care to your life? Can you hire a caregiver a few hours a week so you can work out, draw or paint, or go to a movie? Can you hire a housecleaner, and use the time you gain to work on your writing, your running, or your cooking? Can you say no to any unfulfilling commitments and use the time to go for a walk with a friend, get a massage, or go shopping – for fun!
Self-Care Challenge: How to carve out “me time“
You need time for yourself. That being said, special needs parenting is not typical, so your approach to “me time” will also likely not be be typical. The irony is not lost on us that our nonverbal, autistic son was born on Groundhog’s Day. What has been important to find the joy in the routines and to use the structure to maintain healthy habits.
Unlike most people, I can tell you that the last Friday of March, I will be at occupational therapy, and the third Tuesday of July, at precisely 2:30 pm, I will be pulling into the horse arena just in time for equine therapy. These structures are rigid, but they can also be calming in their rhythm. Here are some ideas to help you “fill your bucket” even while managing a special-needs household.
- At a therapy session: Find out if the occupational therapist (or speech therapist or physical therapist or…) has WiFi, and plan to bring a portable device. Use the time for some online shopping, drafting a blog post, or simply scrolling social media.
- During home sessions: Home-based ABA or other therapies? Use the session as a timer for yourself to try a new recipe, or make it mani or pedi time.
- Early bedtime: If your special needs loved one has an early bedtime, be creative with the rest of the evening. Consider a game or movie night with your typical kids and/or partner. Or send your typical kid on a sleepover (or late-over) and have a date night in. Get your favorite takeout, crack open a bottle of wine, and enjoy some kid-free time – dressing up is totally optional!
- Poolside (or, in the winter, “bathside”): We are lucky to have a safe swimmer, so I am able to catch up on my Color Street emails, make some graphics for a blog post, or read a book. But almost any water-loving kid is good to hang out in the bath for long enough to let you reset your brain a bit.
- Drive time/parking lot time: A special needs schedule often involves a lot of driving – and often waiting- as you cycle through various sessions. Choose fulfilling and interesting podcasts and audiobooks to help you pass the time, or your favorite playlist.
For more ideas on how to carve out me time, especially during the busy holiday season, click here.
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