As parents of children with disabilities, we spend so much time worrying about how they are doing in school, taking them to and from medical appointments or therapies, and dealing with medications, behavior issues, etc. The list is endless and can be mentally and physically exhausting. So how can a parent keep it together and still have the energy to support their child’s needs? Here are some suggestions that might help.
Find a Local Support/Parent Group – Support groups can be beneficial in many ways. Support groups help a parent to not feel alone in the process of raising a child with a disability. Other parents in the support group can offer suggestions and ideas on how to cope or where to find resources. If making it to meetings is difficult or impossible, take a look at the online groups parents can join. Many are on Facebook, Yahoo, and other locations.
Accept help from friends and family – We’ve all heard the saying “It takes a village.” Asking for help can be difficult. Everyone is busy and that can make it hard to ask for or accept help. Sometimes we don’t feel someone can take care of our child as well as we do. And sometimes we want to believe we can do it all ourselves and that asking for help is a sign of weakness. Though it’s sometimes hard, asking for help isn't a sign of a weakness but rather one of strength. Recharging your batteries once in a while can help you be a better parent, partner, and person!
Look into Respite Care – Respite can take place in your home with trained professionals or it can be in a variety of out-of-home settings. Some churches and other groups offer parents night out. Parents can take this opportunity to have a date night, run much needed errands, or maybe even get in a nap.
Be realistic in expectations – Don’t compare yourself to others. Sometimes we get a picture in our head of what life should be like or how someone else’s family life appears to be. Not comparing ourselves to others and accepting the uniqueness of our own family can help us to be content with the day to day.
Sometimes dreams are interrupted by life and its realities. I am proof that dreams can be restarted and accomplished—just on a different and surprising schedule.
Holidays often bring family stresses and pressures. Understanding, patience, and flexibility can make things easier, but that does not always happen. Here is one mom’s story of the guilt a parent of a child with a disability can feel during the holidays.