It’s Okay to Practice Self-Care on Your Own Terms

At the start of the new year, many people set resolutions to prioritize personal wellness and focus on their physical and mental health. However, as the parent of a child with disabilities, it can be hard to grant yourself the freedom to pursue such goals or set aside time for yourself.

It’s important to remember that in order to best care for your child, it’s essential to also care for yourself. You want the best for your child, and that means putting them first and addressing their needs above all else. But that doesn’t mean your needs are any less valid. Mental health always needs to come first, especially when you have children in your household who are developing at a different pace.

While it may be hard to take some time for yourself, it will benefit your health and well-being in the long run and will also benefit your child.

Practice Self-Care

Self-care can look different for everyone. It’s all about determining what you need to relieve stress.

  • Sit in your car and listen to music while your child is in therapy instead of sitting in the waiting room.
  • Take a nap when your child is in school instead of doing other tasks for them.
  • Cook a meal by yourself or with your spouse that you enjoy without worrying about the picky eaters in your household.
  • Give your child their favorite things to play and engage with while you take a hot shower.

Do What You Can

You can’t control everything, but you can take steps to ease some of the burden.

  • Take your kids for a car ride or a trip to their favorite fast-food restaurant.
  • Set up visits with grandma and grandpa.
  • Visit a local indoor pool, library, or other places you know they enjoy.
  • Let your child play with their tablet if you need a break.
  • Give your child a special treat if it helps them relax.
  • Say yes to help when it’s offered.

Give Yourself Some Grace

It’s easy to blame yourself when things don’t go according to plan, but there’s only so much you can do. Be gentle with yourself and take things day by day.

  • Give into tantrums, even if you know you shouldn’t.
  • Pick your battles and give in early. There’s always tomorrow to try again.
  • Be honest with your child’s therapist if the strategies they recommend don’t seem possible at the moment.
  • Remind yourself that you’re doing the best you can.

The new year is a time to reevaluate your own needs and make positive changes. It’s natural to feel some guilt when you put yourself first but remember that it’s okay and healthy to practice self-care in whatever ways you’re able.

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