Take care of yourself

imgIt should come as no surprise to parents of children with special needs that holidays can add to the stresses already present in our lives. In a survey done by the authors speaking at our Author Luncheon Benefit this coming April  in their book Married With Special Needs Children, some common causes of stress in couples raising children with special needs include:

  • lack of a diagnosis
  • information overload
  • financial issues
  • time constraints
  • mental and physical fatigue
  • dealing with the reactions of others

Give yourself a gift (or two) this holiday season: Take care of yourself! Put on your own “oxygen mask” so you are able to take care of your child and your family. What might this look like?

  • write in a journal
  • exercise
  • take a walk — enjoy nature
  • practice mindfulness…slow down…breathe…have quiet time
  • vent to a friend
  • carve out special moments with your partner, even if only a few moments in the morning over coffee
  • share appreciations and moments of joy
  • give yourself a pep talk if feeling overwhelmed
  • give yourself a “time out” if feeling frazzled (this also models for your children that everyone needs time to regroup)
  • use sayings to focus: “one day at a time,” “first things first,” “this too will pass,” “don’t sweat the small stuff,” “progress not perfection”
  • decide what things are most important and focus on those
  • laugh
  • learn how to ask for help and accept it
  • create informal networks of other parents of kids with special needs to rotate respite times and help each other
  • share the positives about your child, his or her interests and strengths
  • seek out others who understand

The Matrix Yahoo! group can help connect you with other parents (click here to sign up), and our Parent Advisors on the Helpline, 800.578.2592, are great resources for respite referrals and emotional support.

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