Caring for Yourself While Caring for Your Child
You do everything for your child with autism, and you do it without thinking twice. On top of regular every day parenting, you also act as an advocate, therapist, nutritionist, teacher, and social worker. The amount of care that a child with autism requires is not measurable. Standard routines and what we think of as typical daily rituals don’t apply. There are tears of joy and tears of extreme fatigue that trickle down your face on a regular basis, and the amount of love you feel cannot be put in to words. What does get lost throughout this lifelong journey, is focus and attention on taking care of yourself. This article will address how and why it is important to care for yourself while you care for your child.
Working to provide care 24/7 can no doubt be draining physically and emotionally. In fact, you probably are under extreme stress and running on adrenaline a good amount of time. When you are in this state long term, the stress can be very damaging in so many ways. It can lead to depression, anxiety, heart disease, cancer, and countless other afflictions. For your sake, and for the sake of your family, you must focus on stress reduction and put some attention on taking care of yourself. Aside from the stress factor, decompressing and doing things that are self-focused will help your mood, energy level, and overall happiness. Self-care seems simple, but in your situation can be a difficult thing to achieve.
There are many obstacles to caring for yourself that you can probably think of. We won’t focus on that. The bottom line is that for your own health, you must make time to do things for yourself. It’s one of those things that you just have to say, “I’m doing this”.
Here are some helpful hints to get started.
- Plan “me” time ahead of time- put it on the calendar and make sure everyone knows you won’t be available.
- Do things that you like to do- revisit an old hobby or reconnect with friends
- Incorporate physical exercise- this is important not only for your health, but it is a scientifically proven stress reducer.
- Ask for help with child care when needed- You have more people than you realize in your community that would jump to help you out.
- Avoid thinking about your worries for a little while- They will still be there when you get back, but for the moment, be free.
- Stick to a schedule-This has to be an ongoing thing. Once is not going to cut it. Make time for yourself no less than one time per week.
When you devote some time to care for yourself, you will feel good. When you feel good, you will be that much better of a caregiver to your child with autism, and the rest of your family. In fact, your self-care time really benefits everyone. With all that you do on a daily basis, take time to care for yourself. You deserve it, and your child deserves it. Implement your self-care plan, and watch the benefits as they appear.