On my way home from grocery shopping. I thought for a moment,”When is there time just for me?” I was blessed with silence in the car, no kids. Just me with my thoughts. These moments are few and far between. But we need to make time for ourselves to refuel and recharge. You can’t ride on an empty tank for too long.
I live my life like someone in recovery. Except I say “One moment at a time.” A day can be too long and tiring. A day may have been filled with melt-downs and mishaps. But a moment…well a moment could be beautiful.
A moment can contain a smile, a gentle kiss on your cheek from your child, your 13 year old son hugging you goodbye after you drop him off to school (because he missed his van because you both slept in because he decided not to sleep all night stimming and kept you up.), a new word spoken or sentence, your child trying a new food. Little moments make a big difference.
I recently got to witness my 13 yr old (autistic) and 10 year old ride their scooter and bike down the road like normal siblings. That simple act, that most parents I’m sure take for granted, brought tears to my eyes. It still does.
It is important caregivers try (and I stress TRY) to find a moment for yourself. Sometimes finding a moment means you are handling your child’s needs better. This will help free up time for yourself. Here are a few tips and tricks for caregivers taking care of special needs children.
- Get educated. Learn how to be an advocate for your child. Learn about services offered, training, treatments, and therapies. Knowledge is power. The more you know the less afraid you are. Fear is not a friend.
- Own your feelings. It’s okay to cry, be scared or angry. You have a right to your feelings. Just don’t be angry at yourself or your child. Know that some behaviors he/she cannot or has a very hard time controlling. Don’t stay with your negative thoughts. Acknowledge them and find a way to help the situation. Find solutions for yourself and family. Most importantly don’t stay angry or frustrated with yourself. If you are doing all you can at the moment. Then you’ve done all you can. When you know better, you’ll do better.
- Join a support group. Meeting parents that can understand what you’re going through can make a difference. Sometimes it will feel like you live on another planet. It’s nice to know someone living on Planet Autism too.☺
- Do something for yourself. Recharge and refuel. Whether its finally taking a long relaxing bath, watching a movie, reading a book, journaling, or just listening to music and dancing like no ones watching (my favorite thing to do). Just do it! Find the time. Ask family or friends to watch your child if only for an half hour. But do that. You deserve it.
- Spend time with your partner, other children and friends. Caring for a child with autism can be all consuming. Don’t let this take away from time spent with loved ones. They need your time and attention too. Try doing an activity where everyone can participate. Make time each week to spend time individually with every child and don’t forget your partner and friends. Unfortunately respite care has been cut from most states budgets. This was once a lifesaver for our family.