As part of our role as paediatric therapists, we get to work very closely with parents. Over the past few weeks, there’s been a recurring theme that I’ve been speaking to parents about. Maybe it’s that time of the year and everyone is feeling a little burned out.
To summarise where the discussion always ends – parents – you need to be kind to yourselves.
Parents of children with special needs are rockstars. If you are one - it’s time for you to think so too.
Three thoughts for parents:
1. You need to put the oxygen mask on yourself first.
You need to take care of yourself so that you can continue to care for your child!
This means you will have to intentionally take care of yourself. Ask for help when you need it. Make time for yourself. Seek help from a professional to support you on this journey.
I love this quote: “I have come to believe that looking after myself is not self-indulgent: it is an act of survival.”
Yes, we know this is easier said than done. But we can’t stress the importance of it enough. Is there just one hour a week that you could schedule to be self-care time? This could be to sleep, to read, to wash your hair, to get your nails done, or simply to sit in a quiet room.
2. Parent-guilt comes in all forms – let it go
Parents often feel guilty for not doing enough for their children, they wonder if they are the cause of their child’s struggles, they feel guilty about going to work, they feel guilty about not having enough time. Guilty for starting therapy too early, for holding off to long, for starting that medication, for holding off on that medication.
There is always more to feel guilty about!
BUT…guilt gets you nowhere! Things may be tough but the guilt only makes it harder for yourself. It doesn’t change anything except make you feel bad. Which then makes it harder for you to do your job as a parent, which then makes you feel guiltier; the spiral continues.
Instead of guilt, can you work to be a little more forgiving to yourself? Remember that you’re only human.
3. We think you’re the real life everyday super heroes
Parents – you should never feel embarrassed, silly, or like you have to justify yourself.
If you’ve had a bad day? That’s okay.
You need to cry? That’s okay.
You want to strangle everyone because you’re so frustrated with fighting for your child? That’s okay.
It is not our job or place to judge and we won’t. It honestly never crosses my mind. There are no silly questions. You’re not expected to know everything.
No one else is truly in your shoes nor can they be. But we can walk along side you and cheer you on.