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Making time for self care can be a challenge! As a mom in a special needs family, it’s especially hard to find time to indulge, shop, heck, even take a shower, let alone find time to de-stress with self care practices.
This isn’t a complaint, but a reality. I cannot simply hire the teen down the street to come babysit. Nor can I just jump in the car with my kids (on the fly, without planning…oh, the horror!)
Our lives have more stress than non-special needs families. Researcher Marsha Mailick Seltzer studied parents of children with ASD and found their cortisol levels akin to soldiers in combat. It’s imperative to find ways to de-stress and practice self care.
We all have crazy, busy lives. Our headspace is filled with work, the latest research, the never ending to-do list, the next case manager visit, fear for the future, another application to complete, and the 10 phone calls we need to make. Oh, yeah, and plans for living eternally, because we simply cannot die, ever.
It is not selfish to take care of yourself, but moms often neglect this practice in an effort to take care of everyone else, particularly when they are also a caregiver. The truth is, when we don’t take time for ourselves, we burn out and aren’t much help to anyone. Oftentimes, getting enough sleep is simply not an option (although we should always strive for it!)
Although there may not be lots of extra time to get out of the house, there are some self care activities you can practice at home, with minimal time (or financial) investment.
As a special needs mama, we can be full of worry. Writing hopes and fears into a journal can help. Set a time for 10 minutes, and write what comes to mind. This type of self care helps clear your mind and can reduce anxiety.
2. Be grateful
Similarly, practicing gratitude – writing down 3 things I’m grateful for each day before bed, moves my mind to a positive place. Don’t have time to put a pen to paper? There’s an App for that! This type of self care helps put things into perspective, and truly appreciate all that is good.
3. Listen to a PodCast
This type of self care is such an easy way to fill your mind with positive thoughts and encouragement while you are going through your daily routine. I really like Kori at Home’s podcast about autism family life and Lakikid’s Ask an Autism Mom. Looking for inspiration? Try Good Life Project blog and NPR’s TED radio hour.
4. Take a break from social media
Scrolling through pictures of the perfect family vacation sans meltdowns or the award that Johnny received can make us feel bad about the seemingly small accomplishments our kids have made. (We all know the small stuff is the big stuff when it comes to accomplishments!) Use social media time wisely!
5. Find your tribe
OK, I know I said to take a break from social media. When you’re going to be on, find groups with like-minded people where you can share and connect about your unique lifestyle. Search Facebook parent groups; Tumble into Love hosts a Parent Connection group for those living a special needs lifestyle. Having a place where you feel understood can be a great way to take care of yourself (and others)!
6. Get papers organized
Use a binder to hold all of the important paperwork that you reference routinely – medical appointment summaries and evaluations, IEPs, important meetings, etc. Being able to put your hands on important paperwork easily is a great stress reducer. Here’s a great how-to from a Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism blog.
7. a movie
With the family or alone – it can be the perfect diversion for a while. Snuggle under a blanket on the couch.
8. Put on a song that makes you smile
One that takes you back to a time or place that gives you that warm, nostalgic feeling. Or maybe it’s one that makes you rock it out. Whatever your style, you’ll never regret 3 minutes of musical bliss.
9. Shop, Shop, shop!
Can’t get out? It’s as simple as a laptop and a glass of wine. Here are some ideas to reduce stress and practice a little self-indulgence. Purchase something that will save time, your sanity, or find a product that makes you happy:
Are you overwhelmed with stuff? No time to create a system? It’s OK to get help with a system that will bring you less stress and save time. It can be well worth the money spent to find a professional. Find someone in your area through the National Association of Professional Organizers.
Meal delivery service
Eating healthy, nutrition meals is a great way to practice self-care. Delivery services can reduce the need for going to the grocery store, and eliminate the stress the question “What’s for dinner?” brings. Here’s a list.
Looking for something more economical than meal delivery? Create crockpot freezer meals for a no-fuss, no-stress dinner any night of the week. Here are 31 gluten and dairy free freezer meal recipes!
Buy something that makes you feel happy
As part of my self care routine, I love simple things that feel indulgent – lotions that make my skin feel fabulous, a tee shirt that’s so soft I never want to take it off, expressive clothing that embraces difference, and unique (but affordable) one-of-a kind jewelry. You know, a conversation- starter. Something that makes me smile when I put it on.
Lately, I’m obsessed with Deco by Deb, a local artisan who makes awesome, one-of-a-kind cuffs. Choose your deco design…elegant, fun or one that makes you feel like a rock-star…she has something you’ll love (and that no one else has!). The average price is just $45. Check often for her latest creations!
In conclusion, self care can come in many forms, and doesn’t have to take too much time.