Self care is so important for special needs parents. Over the last two years, I have very much evolved in how I have accomplished self care in my life. Below are my top must-haves for my personal self care.
I say no to everything unnecessary, and I constantly evaluate and re-evaluate the definition of “necessary.”
I really began this path two or three years ago now. First, I took scissors to my VERY busy schedule. In 2014, I devoted the entire year to pursuing whitespace – rest and personal self-care. Once I had our second baby, I went over everything once again with a fine-tooth comb, searching for other things I could say no to. This included cloth diapering, breastfeeding – even houseplants! Most recently, we cut back on Ezra’s occupational therapy and found a provider that was closer to our home. I have cut, cut, cut, and then cut some more. And can I say – WHAT a difference it has made! I did not realize just how stressed out I was until I let go of these very unnecessary things.
I utilize screen time quite liberally – for all of us.
Screen time, in our house, is considered to be a therapeutic blessing. Yes, we MUST be wise in how we use screen time – both for our kids and for ourselves. Our family has a lot of strong personalities, and sometimes the extenuating needs of both my husband and my son can be volatile, depending on the day. There is so much great programming available on Netflix, Amazon Prime, and YouTube that we can – at any time of overwhelm – get some separation from each other and zone out for a bit. This afternoon, both of the boys were incredibly fussy, so I declared that tonight’s dinner was going to be in front of our TV streaming Thomas the Tank Engine, because I just didn’t have energy for the dinner time battle.
Another thing I do – for MYSELF – is to always have a show that I am watching just for me. I take time while Ezra is at school and the baby is napping to watch TV. This is MY time to recharge. Sometimes I fold clothes, but other times I set all the housework aside to just rest. This is a non-negotiable for me.
I use our YMCA membership.
If the YMCA had an affiliate program, I would say “sign me up!” We really LOVE our YMCA membership! I know something like this may seen financially unfeasible for some of my readers, but if you haven’t, please check with your local YMCA to see if they have financial assistance. Our YMCA has evaluated our income and our membership for our family of four is about $46 for the month. This gives us access to several different YMCA branches across our greater metro area. This includes a swimming pool, “free” (with membership) childcare nearly every day of the week (with a 2-hour maximum), and Parents Morning Out and Parents Night Out programs (which are an additional cost, but totally worth it for when I have doctors’ appointments!). On top of getting exercise via the facilities or free group classes, I can go there any time I need a break from my kids. I can sit, drink free coffee, and use the free WIFI to do blogging, talk to my friends, work on school work, or just surf the internet mindlessly if that’s what I need. Our YMCA membership is literally some of the BEST money we spend every month.
I almost always shower twice a day.
I don’t know that I will ever understand the mom-cliche of going days without showering. I find hot showers to be sanity for me. I have showered at all hours of the day or night, but I am most likely to shower after getting home from the Y or right after that blissful moment when both of the boys are FINALLY in bed. There is nothing like it! And water-bill be darned, if twice-a-day showers are my worst vice, I think I’m doing okay!
(Showers and baths are very calming – as well as entertaining – for my boys! So whenever I run out of ideas, or they are fussy, or hot, or cold, or sniffly, or sad, or bored, or just annoying me to death…chances are their butts are getting thrown in the tub or shower too!)
I try to exercise a few times a week – even if it’s just taking a walk.
I’ll be honest, I was VERY slow in coming to the exercise party (read: unlikely gym convert). But now, I find exercise to be a must-have in managing my fatigue, my anger and frustration, my anxiety and depression, and my pain. If I’m not getting exercise, depression creeps up on me so quickly and threatens to overwhelm.
It is very rare that I really FEEL like exercising, but I have learned (the hard way) that I must force myself to do it. Once I’m into it, I ALWAYS feel better on every level.
I maintain creative and emotional outlets.
Having my blog, my social media accounts, my friends I can talk to on Voxer are highly important. Sometimes I need to step back and I will go weeks without writing or talking to friends – and I very much give myself permission for that. But I desperately need my outlets. I also have been able to play the piano more often for church. Getting back into that has been so good for my heart and soul – and ultimately my self care – even though I have to do some logistical gymnastics to make it happen with what we deal with as a family.
Self Care Giveaway for Special Needs Moms!
I have teamed up with some amazing people to offer one lucky reader a whole care package devoted to YOUR personal self care as a special needs mom. Let me introduce them to you below.
Katie Emanuel is (my best friend), a mom of three, two of whom have various special needs. She works part-time for a non-profit and also runs a side business as a Rodan and Fields skincare consultant. She is going to graduate school to get her master’s degree in special education because it is her dream to open up a school JUST for special needs kiddos and their siblings. You can find her blog at katieemanuel.com, where she has a whole category devoted just to self care. Katie has donated a mini-eye cream tube from Rodan and Fields for our giveaway!
Sandra Peoples and her husband, Lee, have written a Bible study for special needs parents called Held: Learning to Live in God’s Grip. You can find Sandra on her website, sandrapeoples.com. Sandra has donated a copy of Held for our giveaway!
Elizabeth Sanders is a friend I know locally. Her and her husband run Horse O Peace Ranch, a home-based soap making business! Their soaps are made from goat’s milk and smells amazing. Elizabeth has donated three bars of lavender soap for our giveaway!
Hannah from Sunshine and Spoons has been personally diagnosed with Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, and also mothers four children with varying degrees of special needs. She recently opened up an apparel shop FULL of amazing designs JUST for special needs parents, including apparel for Ehlers Danlos, tubies, apraxia, food allergies, non-verbal, Spina Bifida, and more! You can check her out on her blog, sunshineandspoons.com. Hannah has donated a coupon code for 100% off a FREE t-shirt of your choice from her shop!
(Hannah was kind enough to let me purchase a t-shirt from her shop at a discount!)
Lisa Lightner is the author behind the blog A Day In Our Shoes, which is the verifiable INTERNET BIBLE of all things IEP related. I found her site to be incredibly helpful over the last year or so as Ezra transitioned into public school. Lisa has a IEP organizer which normally sells for $4.99 that she has donated for free, along with her goal-tracking spreadsheet.
And to top it all off, I am throwing in a $10 Starbucks gift card because I just love you all so much!
In case you were just skimming, one beautiful special needs mommy winner will receive the following:
To enter, use the Rafflecopter app below: