As a parent or family member of a child on the spectrum, much of your time can be spent caring for your child’s needs. Often, it feels like every extra moment is spent thinking about them and how you can support their growth, development, and independence. Though this is important, it’s arguably just as important to take you and your family’s needs into account as well.
In this post, we’ll talk about the importance of holistic care for parents and family of children on the spectrum as well as tips for ensuring self-care is a priority in your life.
It’s no secret that parents of children with special needs are at a much greater risk of mental stress, burnout and marital stress. With an adaptive schedule and the extra work it takes to setup our children for daily success, anything extra can fall to the wayside. When it comes to understanding holistic care, consider the following:
Taking Care of Yourself will Help you Take Better Care of Your Child
The tips we’ll discuss may seem frivolous or unnecessary to someone who wants to devote all their extra time to their child. However, it’s important to note that in one sense, taking care of yourself is also a factor in taking care of your child. Getting plenty of time for self-care, rest, and regular physical and mental wellbeing checks will better equip you to handle your child’s care, guaranteed. Though that isn’t the only reason holistic care is important, it’s one that can be easily overlooked.
Time is of the Essence
Time is a precious resource that can be extremely difficult to manage. For true holistic care, we recommend setting aside dedicated time for check-ins with yourself and your family. Take stock of:
- Everyone’s mental wellbeing with a mood and feelings check.
- Your own needs and wants.
- If you’ve taken sufficient time for yourself on a weekly basis.
- What stressors have you spent the most time thinking about this week?
Once you’ve assessed these things you’ll be better equipped to make a plan for self care. Taking the time to think through these things in itself is a form of holistic care. Consider taking short breaks during your day to reflect on what’s on your mind. If it helps, schedule those breaks out in advance to make them a part of your routine.
Identifying your daily or weekly stressors is the first step in creating a long-term solution for how to handle that stress. For example, if you find your morning commute to be a point of tension- you can practice holistic care by taking steps to reduce that stress and tension. If it’s a time-consumption issue, consider taking steps to make your morning more efficient- like waking up early or starting a carpool with local families.
Those long-term solutions don’t need to necessarily solve the issue to be effective. They can come in the form of tactics to reduce stress levels or reframe the stressor as something positive. The key is to find what works best for you and what can be replicated on a daily basis while taking into account your physical and mental health and wellness as a priority.
Get Extra Help
Talking things through is a great first step to taking care of your mental wellbeing. Whether it’s in a group or family setting or just solo, therapy or counseling is an excellent way to deal with stress.
From a physical perspective, take time to learn what your body needs in terms of exercise and nutrition from a professional. Group fitness classes are also a great way to reduce the pressure of making your own fitness routine.
If it’s time away you need, consult your favorite travel site or autism resource for a sensory-friendly vacation destination.
No matter what you decide on, it’s very important to remember you are by no means alone. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, use your resources and assess and reassess your strategies for holistic care constantly.