We all need time to recharge our batteries. Getting a few moments to exercise, reading a book, seeing a movie, spending time alone with a partner, or just going to the grocery store by ourselves will really help us manage stress.
But when you’re the main caregiver for your child, those precious minutes can be hard to come by. It might be hard to allow ourselves to take time away from our families. It can be hard to find a qualified person to give care. Even if you find a great caregiver, it can be hard to trust someone else with your child. And it might be hard to figure out how to pay for it.
But taking this respite – or break from your usual time taking care of your child – is especially important when you’re the main caregiver. Mental health professionals and counselors recommend respite for parents of children with disabilities or special health care needs. And, in the end, your child might just thank you for taking the time to recharge.
Why Use Respite Care?
- If you don’t take care of your own needs, you will have a much harder time taking care of your child.
- Respite care reduces your stress levels and the risk of burnout.
- Having time to spend alone with your partner or your other children helps your whole family have better relationships with each other.
- It’s very easy for us to let our own health suffer while we care for our children. Respite is important for taking care of our physical and mental health.
- Caring for a child with a disability or special health care needs is much more than a 40-hour-a-week job. You deserve some time off!
How to Find Respite Caregivers
Making Respite Work for You
- Ask a family member to watch your child for a few hours.
- Find other families who have children with disabilities or special health care needs and have a babysitting co-op, where you take turns or have a few parents watch a few children at once.
- If you don’t want someone else putting your child to bed, consider having your child-care provider come after your child is asleep.
- You don’t have to leave your house for respite. Having someone come so you can take a long bubble bath or read a book is worthwhile.
Five Questions to Ask Any Respite Care Provider
- How long have you been a caregiver?
- Are you licensed?
- What health care training do you have?
- What are some disabilities or health conditions that your other clients have had?
- Can you provide me with references for other families you’ve worked with?
- Are you open to having a background check?
Suggested Links to Additional Resources