I’ve been spending a lot of time in contact with moms and grandmas of special needs kids lately.
My heart goes out to them because they are so tired. . . .and exhausted. . . .and worn out . . . .and overwhelmed and fearful or frustrated. Who wouldn’t be? I mean between dealing with appointments and insurance and doctors and complicated service systems and and lack of family support and child who needs a lot of help–there’s enough to inundate anyone.
And they are a lot like I was. I know that overwhelm because I lived it for a long time.
That overwhelm creates stress. A lot of stress.
And unfortunately this stress shows up in a lot of different forms–none of them helpful. Moms start feeling paralyzed. . .or confused . . . .or stuck . . . .or worse.
Or depression or anxiety can take hold. . . .weighing them down. Just going through each day can feel like walking in quicksand wearing army boots.
This is why SELF CARE is vital to parents of kids with special needs.
Self care is self preservation. When you’re constantly giving, and pouring yourself and your efforts ceaselessly into the overwhelming needs of day to day life without taking a moment to refresh, disaster will eventually follow.
In the form of health issues, mental confusion or even mental health issues.
When momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.
So to all you supermoms and dads out there, I challenge you to take care of yourself. Here’s one simple technique that will refresh your soul if you just do it.
Write down a list of 10 – 20 things that you LOVE.
It could be
- taking walk by yourself around the block, or
- a short hike in nature, or
- smelling a flower, or
- getting fancy coffee/tea, or
- turning up the speakers and dance like no one’s watching to Katie Perry’s Roar or Beyonce’s Survivor , or
- standing on grass barefoot, or
- getting your nails done, or
- sitting in the sun for 10 minutes, or
- breathe deeply for 5 minutes, or
- playing with your pet, or
- meditating for 10 minutes, or
- watching a sunset or sunrise, or
- look at a book with beautiful images, or
- going for a run, or
- writing in a gratitude journal, or
- taking a luxurious bath or
- watching that hilarious youtuber who always makes you laugh.
It’s your list. Make it doable. Make it fun. Make every item on the list something that makes you smile. Make them things that are mostly easy to do–that don’t require you to show up at a specific time and day.
Life is full of surprises. Time opens up and schedules change at the last minute. Better to have a handful nourishing activities that you can choose from when you find you suddenly have an extra 20 minutes.
It’s better to not to have too many things that involve spending a lot of money or consuming a lot of sugar, because the idea is to nourish yourself without doing something that will make you feel guilty or judge yourself later.
You’ll notice my suggestions include a lot of being in nature.
That’s because nature nourishes. 
Post this list in a prominent place–like the bathroom mirror. Or set up a reminder on your phone and keep your list on a cloud based note service like Evernote so you could do it anytime and anywhere you find yourself with a break in your day.
Resolve to do one of these EVERY DAY.
Now a couple of rules while you’re restoring yourself. . . . .
- Unplug. Seriously. The world can spin without you for 5 – 20 minutes. It really can.
- Be as present as you can with the activity. If you’re mind is really spinning, choose something that is very body oriented–like running or dancing. The mind jumps to the future and the past. The body exists in the present. The more you are present, the more you give your mind a rest.
- Revel in it. Don’t just enjoy. . . . luxuriate in it. The colors, the smells, the tastes, the feel. Get all your senses involved. See if you can enjoy it in every cell in your body. Summon as much appreciation of the moment and the activity as you can muster.
When you’re done, your life is still there, waiting for you. However, you will find that you can approach it with renewed vigor or peace of mind that wasn’t there before you took a restorative break.
Do this and not only will be feel better, but your child will be better as well. Children are very in tune with their parents’ emotions. When you are relaxed and feeling peaceful, they will tend to reflect that back to you.
So here’s to restoring yourself; one day, one break at a time.
 Sellers, F. (2015. May 28). DC doctor’s rx: a stroll in the park instead of a trip to the pharmacy. The Washington Post. Retrieved December 18, 2016, from https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/why-one-dc-doctor-is-prescribing-walks-in-the-park-instead-of-pills/2015/05/28/03a54004-fb45-11e4-9ef4-1bb7ce3b3fb7_story.html?utm_term=.f3d37ab11382