The importance of finding time for yourself when parenting children with special needs!
Ok, don’t laugh at me! I completely understand that it is easier said than done! You have a child or maybe children that constantly need your attention. They might keep you up all night or sleep in your bed. They might need help with absolutely everything and never leave your side. Small things are massive and even when they are at school, if they go to school at all, you are either that exhausted from getting them there you can’t do anything, or you are dealing with appointments, phone calls, worrying when school will call you back in, working or preparing for when your child comes home.
I know it well, you wake up Monday morning and don’t stop until…well I was going to say Friday but actually you just don’t stop!
It’s not an easy job, it can emotionally drain you, wear you out, make you tired, less patient, even ill and it is so important to safeguard against that when you have children that need so much from you.
Making time for yourself.
How? When do I have time to do that? No One will look after my child for me. I am too tired. There are many excuses and they are all valid but let’s have a look at some options that may help.
Do you have a family member or partner that could look after your child one evening a week, even for an hour so you can do something for yourself?
I know it’s not easy to find babysitters especially if your children have additional needs. Maybe try asking at local nurseries if any of their younger staff want some extra work. The advantage you will have is they will be trained to work with children and may welcome some extra cash one evening a week.
Childminders are another option. Often childminders will pick children up from school and look after them for a few hours while their parents are at work. They can be flexible and you may find a childminder who will have your child for an hour or two every week so you can do something for yourself.
If you work and your child is on DLA or PIP then you are entitled to flexible working which can include changing the hours you work or days and time you work. Maybe you could use this option to get a little time to yourself.
You can ask for a parent carer assessment from your local authority. They will send social services to assess your family’s needs. Don’t worry this is not a judgemental visit but they will look at ways they can help you. They will draw up a plan with services that can benefit you and your child including respite breaks.
Your GP is another person who can help point you in the right direction for respite options.
If you have exhausted all options and can’t find anyone at all to look after your child then try to set aside at least fifteen minutes at some point every day. Occupy your child with a screen or maybe while they are asleep and do something for yourself every day.
So Ive managed to sort out someone to look after my child for an hour a week, what do I do with my new found time?
You could read a book, go for a walk, have a bath in peace, go to the gym or find a hobby. What did you do before you had kids? Take a dance or yoga class, or go for a swim. Phone a friend, draw a picture or just drink a cup of tea without it going cold.
Whatever you do, make sure you do something you want to do. You have carved out that time for yourself and the last thing you want to do is spend it cleaning or hanging up the washing.
This is time for you to recuperate, build your energy and patience back up, lower your stress levels and look after yourself so you are better equipped to look after your child.
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