Looking after yourself as a parent!
We often talk about parents needing to look after themselves, but why is it so important? Firstly when we have healthy and happy Mums and Dads it is much easier to have happy and healthy
children. Further, we know from the evidence that parents of children with additional needs are more likely to have mental and physical ill health than their peers with children who are within typical ranges.
We use the Oxygen Mask analogy at LHA, parents need to put their mask on first. That way even if the child is in crisis, Mums and Dad’s are more able to respond to it as they are well. If they put the child’s mask on first and not their own, and then the child is in crisis; everyone is in a rather big pickle!
It is easy to say ‘look after yourself’ but much much harder to actually do it!
Thinking about who can help can be challenging; we often say to parents to keep it simple. Further, where possible see what you can outsource to help you create more time for you.
Ideas of people to help outsource jobs include:
- Online Shopping – make use of the “lists” functions for your regular shops, and work the deals so you can get free delivery. We find as a family this really cuts out time otherwise travelling to and from and completing the grocery shop. It also helps us to be more organised with meal preparation.
- Cleaners – if you are able to outsource this, its amazing! If not, thinking about ways you can blitz clean to create more time; we do the bathroom before or after a shower, ensure the dishwasher is emptied first thing in the morning so it can be loaded throughout the day and then put on, we use a hand held vacuum to do regular spot cleans. Some families we work with have robot vacuums – a great idea if that will work for your family and budgets!
- Babysitters – Having a regular slot once a month or every 2 months with a babysitter that is familiar with your child and their needs is a great way to create time. We often encourage families to set this up (even if it is with family or friends); sometimes just knowing you have a night off is enough to get you through!
- Respite and support services – depending on your child’s levels of need you may be eligible for various community supports as their carers. Make sure you are aware of what is available to you in your area (your health care professional will know about this or will know who to ask!)
- Easier said that done
- Making or taking 10 mins every day just for you (even if it is taking a shower, finishing a cup of tea before it goes cold)
- Outsource what you can, use that extra time for you (not for other life admin work!)
- You need to be healthy (mentally and physically) to be the best parent for your child; this is true for every child and every parent.
Touch base with your support networks, but find out blog post about relaxation here.
You can also take a look at the Raising Children’s Network families page here.