One thing that special needs parents need more than anything else is to take care of themselves. This doesn’t happen as often as it should. The majority of parents or caregivers with special needs children are often emotionally and physically exhausted to the point where they can’t take care of themselves, let alone their child. This is the time when the parent or caregiver needs a break.
This is the time when respite is needed, for the sanity of all involved.
When most people think of respite, they think of the traditional sense that is reserved for the most severe of special needs kids. This is where you drop the child off at a place (a home, a hospital, wherever your child can be accepted) and leave them there for a few days or even a week.
For those of us who don’t have access to the traditional respite, there are lots of other ways to “recharge the batteries.”
My favorite ways to get “respite” when my life becomes too consumed with IEPs, therapists and other things related to Isaac’s special needs are to do one of three things
1. Go and spin. Literally. This is my absolute favorite. I toss on my workout clothes, drop Isaac off at a drop in play center all of 3 minutes from the spin gym, and work out on the bike for an hour and a half. I get all of my negative energy out and I “spin away” the stress that comes along with the territory. It’s also a good way to burn off the stress eating I’m prone to! Double bonus!!
2. Head over to the yarn shop and knit with some friends. I picked up knitting a few years ago and love to knit socks. I spent a lot of time in the winter therapeutically sock knitting. The shop I go to has time where we can all sit and talk and knit and talk and knit. It’s a way to get something fun done and get a break from dealing with things. Yarn shops are like hairdressers-good therapy.
3. Go out with a friend. Kid talk is off limits. We must go somewhere that kids are not welcome-be it an adult eatery or a movie that is totally not appropriate for kids. There are nights we end up at a hockey game-just the girls! We act like we did when we were in college and it’s all good.
The largest thing about recharging your batteries is that you can’t feel guilty about doing it. For the longest time, I’d go escape and recharge, but feel totally guilty about leaving Isaac with a babysitter or at the drop in play-care.
I know-easier said than done.
Feeling guilty about taking time out for you defeats the purpose and doesn’t recharge your batteries. This is fully different than missing your child and being happy to see them when they’re back with you.
What all kids, especially special needs ones need is a parent or caregiver who is on their game and ready for anything. You can’t be that type of person when you’re exhausted-either physically or emotionally!
So, make sure to take time out for you! You AND your kids will thank you for it!