a Blog #207~Special Needs Parents: Coping When Life Gets Tough
Let’s face it, being a parent is exhausting at times. When you have a child with special needs, it’s amplified. Sometimes you just can’t catch a break. You have to walk on eggshells, and keep your cool, so your child doesn’t have a meltdown. The physical needs your child may have can take its toll, zapping your energy levels each day and night. Autism and sleep disorders go hand in hand. Endless nights of interrupted sleep will beat you down. My son Nick is 24 years old, and has Down syndrome and autism. I’ve got many years under my belt, of taking care of his needs. I can hold it together pretty well and keep my patience in tact. Believe me, Nick does try my patience daily. But every once in a while it gets to be too much, especially when sleep is disrupted.
So how do you find ways to catch a break and re-charge? I thought a lot about this over the weekend. There are times in life where you start to get your footing, but the next thing you know, a few more hurdles block your path. In the worst of times, when my son was going through puberty and having multitudes of meltdowns, I questioned how I was going to survive.
I repeated this mantra to myself……
Here are 7 things to keep in mind which will help when you feel stressed out…..
- It’s totally NORMAL to feel overwhelmed.
- When you do feel stressed out, seek BALANCE and prioritize what MUST be done and what can wait.
- Stop feeling GUILTY.
- Give yourself a BREAK, even if it’s a mini break to keep you at your best both emotionally and physically.
- Ask for HELP from family, sitters and respite caregivers. You can’t do it alone. Delegate household chores to all family members.
- CONNECT with support groups who better understand what you are dealing with on a daily basis. Being a parent of a child with special needs can be lonely. But you know what, you are NOT ALONE.
- Keep GRATITUDE in your heart. Every day look for the blessings. The good stuff will keep your focus positive.
This weekend was very busy, and my usual Saturday catch up routine was interrupted. That evening I was looking for a clean pair of underwear for my son. I dug through 3 clean laundry baskets that had yet to be put away. Not one single pair could be found. It was late, I was tired, and it was all too much. While Nick was in the shower, I went into the closet and started yelling, “T, you suck.” And yes, the swear words were flying. Nick ended up in a pair of his Dad’s boxer briefs that were on the baggy side. I spoke into the Amazon Echo, “Alexa, put F-ing underwear on the shopping list!” Alexa acknowledged the request, without using the expletive, as she is polite that way.
The next day, Nick went to brunch with Kelsey, his respite caregiver. I took my own advice, and put myself first. I also took a moment to be grateful that Nick was fully toilet trained (no easy feat), and able to wear underwear. Before making a Wal-Mart run for groceries and F-ing underwear, I headed over to my happy place, DSW Shoes. I was loaded down with preferred customer coupons and a gift card that I got for Mother’s Day. It was only a twenty-minute mini break, but it did me a world of good! Oh and I came out treating myself with two new pair of cute sandals. 🙂
Being a parent of a child with special needs carries a unique set of responsibilities that can be overwhelming. Know that you are not alone, and that it’s essential to give yourself a break without guilt. Even in the darkest days and nights, things will get better.
So I leave you with this final mantra when you are taking on what seems to be the impossible…..
That’s what is in my noggin this week. 🙂
Facebook and Pinterest @Down Syndrome With A Slice Of Autism