Another Full Time Job
Parenting is challenging enough, add any type of Special Need/disability and you have another full time job on your hands that you need to recharge from! I remember when my son was first diagnosed with ADHD and Autism Spectrum Disorder at the age of 7, I felt so overwhelmed, alone, and confused at the time. I didn't know where to start, what path to take, and I was "mourning" the child that I had lost at the same time. It took us a long time to get him diagnosed, and once it was "all over", I fell into a depression from sheer exhaustion. What seemingly was the end, was really a new beginning for my husband and I.
So Much to Manage
Special Needs parenting is very difficult to explain to others unless they are going through it themselves. Isolation, guilt, anger, resentment, and the chronic worrying and fatigue of it all can really wear you down. Then we have: the IEP meetings, the struggle with teachers, constantly advocating for their rights, finding the right doctor (I am on my 4th Pediatrician now), choosing the appropriate therapies, and finding a way to pay for the therapies (I sold my house and borrowed money). All this while preventing constant bullying and keeping their already low self esteem in check. And don't even get me started on the fear of their future! To add, most of us have full time jobs and other children to care for as well.
I have been in the field of Special Needs for over 20 years and have been the parent of a child with Autism for 10 years. I should also mention that my 13 year old has an ADHD diagnosis as well. So, I consistently have my hands full at work and at home. I have often made the mistake of not putting myself first, and have paid the price. This only led to misery, heartache, burnout, resentment, and an inability to help either of my children in the end. I am here to tell you that you NEED SOMETHING ELSE! You need to recharge and NOT feel guilty about it either (this took me a while). Otherwise, you may end up losing yourself, losing your own identity, among other things.
I am not suggesting that you need to escape your life. Personally, I try my best to live a life that I don't need a vacation from. But I absolutely need a time out from it all in order to recharge so I can better help my kids. Even on a daily basis, if only for 20 minutes. If not, I just get mentally drained with it all and then it transfers to me physically, and then emotionally. It is ALL interconnected whether we want to admit it or not. Your body is always sending you signals. Many just choose to ignore the signals until it's too late.
Of course you have to find what works best for you, but here are a few of the things that work for me: I spend time with my dog, I run, I go for a walk in the woods, I have coffee with a friend, I go shopping ALONE, I eat my favorite dark chocolate while sipping on coffee, I keep a gratitude list, I practice 60 seconds of deep breathing (meditation sessions longer than 5min are not necessary...and who has the time?), and I often wake up earlier than everyone else just so that I can have some quiet time and spend time with myself!
Love Yourself First
The point is that you cannot just go on and on without loving and taking care of yourself first. It just doesn't work out for the best. It is not selfish, or egocentric. Instead it is vital and necessary to your physical, emotional, and mental health. In the end, if you are well..your child is well!
By: Angela Maciocia
Angela is a Mother of 2 awesome boys, wife, athlete, runner, dog lover, clean eating cooking fanatic, and an adult special education teacher. Angela blogs to share her journey, life experiences, training, meals, & health/wellness tips in hopes of helping, guiding, inspiring and most of all connecting with others. Angela has two boys ages 14 and 11. Her youngest is on the Autism Spectrum and her oldest has an ADHD diagnosis. She’s been in the field of special needs for over 20 years! She currently works for the Lester B Pearson school board with the endeavour program at Place Carter in Beaconsfield. You can follow Angela at www.Angelamaciocia.com