Too many times special needs parents forget to take care of themselves. I know because I’m one of you. We are so busy focused on our child’s needs that our own needs come in dead last. We struggle with fatigue, ridiculous amounts of stress, and at times are battling feelings of depression. We become consumed by our child’s needs and feel guilty if we try to put our needs first.
I’m going to tell you something. It’s OK to be selfish once in a while. In fact it’s necessary. You will be a better support for your child, partner to your spouse and overall better person, if you just give yourself a break. And folks, this isn’t just good advice for special needs parents, it’s good advice for ALL parents.
I understand everyone’s situation is different. Maybe you have family that can help out, but you’ve been too shy to ask or maybe you don’t have a family member or close friend you can ask to come sit with your child, so you can grab a much overdue nap or run a few errands, just to get out of the house for an hour. But that’s ok. There are many highly trained individuals who specialize in providing respite services. If you don’t know where to start or how to find these people, begin by speaking to your child’s development team. Often times they know of nursing students or therapy students that are well trained and looking to make a few extra bucks. There may even be students doing work placements with them that are trying to break out in this field and are looking to do respite full time. Another great resource is talking to other special needs parents and finding out who they use; maybe their worker would like to pick up a few hours working for you too.
If your budget doesn’t allow for respite services, you can look into funding through your province or local and national organizations that grant this type of funding.
If none of this applies to your situation than look into community groups that offer special needs playgroups where you can talk to other parents sharing the similar experience; maybe you’ll even connnect with one and start a friendship, or special needs support groups where you can at least have a platform to share your feelings. It might not be the complete break you need, but at least you are among those that can understand what you are feeling and can lend an ear.
In the end my point is this….take a break. You owe it to yourself, your child and your family.