After my son was diagnosed with autism in 2007, my world crumbled down. I had worked very hard to lose over 50 lbs a year before that, and then the weight started to pile up and then some when having to face reality with my son. I fell into a dark hole, I was grieving, and I also found myself only caring for him, and not giving enough attention to my daughter. However, I completely neglected myself in every way possible.
A year before the diagnosis, I was proud of my weight loss and wore nice clothes. I had joined groups and created a nice social life for myself. However, after the diagnosis, my weight came back and then some because the only comfort I found was in food. I lost interested in my appearance and I pushed everyone away. It was a very dark time. I admit I am still having my dark days due to battling depression but I am definitely in a much better place now than I was 8 years ago. And I have learned that it is extremely important for mothers raising children with special needs to find time for themselves so they can find a little peace and restore some sanity. If they do not have their me time, then it is not possible to think that they will be good for anyone else. I know I was not during that time.
The most important thing for moms raising children with special needs is to get enough sleep. Sometimes that is difficult, especially if the child does not sleep well. However, it is very important to get enough sleep. Find time during the day if possible if this is the situation.
Another thing to do is make sure the moms are eating well and getting exercise. I realize that when I was in the depths of despair 8 years ago, this would have been the last thing I would have wanted to do, but it is crucial for your well being. I had the mentality that I was entitled to eating junk food because I had it tough. There is nothing wrong with indulging in a treat once in a while, but if that is your diet, you will feel worse. Exercising is also very important so find at least 10 minutes to get some exercise. It may not take away the frustration and struggles, but this type of self care will help you a lot. You will be able to manage life much better.
Going on an exotic vacation may not be in the cards for a mom who is raising a child with special needs, not for the time being anyway. However, it is important to get some respite. Go have a coffee, or meet up with a friend. Look for resources that provide respite care if family or friends are not an option when it comes to watching the child. Also do not make the mistake that I made, which was pushing friends away. You will end up more lonely and depressed.
Yes, you are responsible for the growth, development and well-being of your child, or children but you are also responsible for your own care as well.
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