Tonight I took a bath and read a good book while Husband spent time with Champion. Last week I took a long walk by myself, while Champion’s respite worker was here. Next week I’m going to start attending a ladies only small group at church.
As a mom to a child with special needs, it is VERY easy for one to forget to take care of themselves, to forget who they are, to not take any time to be rejuvenated, recharged, and refreshed.
The minute Champion was born, life changed drastically for us. As with any newborn we needed to adjust to his schedule, be sure we met his needs, and provide him the care he needed.
However, normally as time goes on, babies become older and slowly more independent. When a child has special needs, that independence can take a very long time to come, if it comes at all.
Therefore the demands on the parents doesn’t naturally let up, as it does in a “typical” situation. Finding relief from those demands can be extremely challenging for the special needs parent.
When Champion was younger the guilt I felt for taking time for myself was overwhelming. I felt so bad stepping away for a bit to regroup that when I did, it did me no good.
I would think how instead of being away I needed to spend this time doing x,y, and z with Champion, because if I don’t then he will never ______(fill in the blank with whatever skill we’re focusing on at that moment.) So I didn’t really take breaks, and if I did, I spent the time feeling very guilty.
Fast forward a couple of years and continuing like that got me on an aspirin regimen for risk of heart attack and stroke, extremely sleep deprived, a messed up thyroid and depressed.
And on top of that my time with Champion wasn’t being spent the best it could. My energy level sucked, my motivation to work with him was disappearing, and I just plain wasn’t happy.
Maybe this sounds familiar to you. Maybe you’ve been doing like I was and not caring for yourself the way you need to.
If you’re the parent of a child with special needs, or in any type of situation that places extremes demands on you, you know one of the hardest things to do is to make sure you are taking care of yourself. For some reason its our nature as women and especially as Mommas to put ourselves last.
But I’ve slowly learned that doing this actually does more harm than good. We think we’re doing good by trying to do it all, but the long-term effects show that we’re not. And it actually models the wrong thing for our children. We want them to learn to hopefully take good care of themselves and if they don’t see us doing it, they’re not learning it.
So I’ve started taking care of myself. I’ve come to the conclusion in my heart that it’s not selfish to take time away, to do what I enjoy, to participate in activities that refresh me.
I realized that the more I do this, take time to take care of myself, the better I am for my family when I am with them.
Making it a priority to take care of myself is making a big difference for me and for those that I love most.
I want to encourage you, if you are reading this and you are struggling in this area like I have, please do what you need to do to take care of you.
Even if it’s just something simple, like a walk or a bath or a coffee outside by yourself, please find a way to make it happen regularly. I’ve found even the littlest efforts I make to take care of myself go a long way.
By taking the time to take care of ourselves, we can each be the best that we can be, for the people in our lives who desperately need us so much.
Let’s Talk: Are you struggling with taking care of YOU? What’s one thing you are going to do this week that will refresh and rejuvenate you? If you are doing good taking care of yourself, please share some tips to help others get there too!
Photo Credit for both photos : return the sun